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View Full Version : Patrol Diary of Herbert Altmeier Part 7b (long)



paulhager
10-30-2005, 12:04 AM
1 Jul 1944
Yesterday and the first part of today were spent traversing the Bay of Biscay. Much of the time we were submerged, running on batteries or snorkeling.

Today, Willi and I resumed our 1600 speed chess games.

2 Jul 1944
Shortly after midnight, I had the con. Seehofer was at the helm and von der Leyen was doing double duty €" a combination of watch and celestial navigation. I walked over to the chart to check von der Leyen€s estimates for time and fuel consumption to our patrol zone, grid square AL28.

Von der Leyen reported from the bridge, €œRadar warning sir.€ I told him to sound the alarm. Turning to Seehofer I said, €œCrash Dive, level off at 50 meters.€ The klaxon sounded and men emptied their bunks for the rush forward to the bow of the boat.
http://tinypic.com/f35qow.jpg

We leveled off and I ordered ahead slow. First Willi, then Lippisch entered the control room. I reported to Willi. Willi left me in command and went forward to the hydrophone room. Lippisch took over for Seehofer who moved to the weapons station.

Less than a minute after leaving, Willi returned to say that the SO had picked up a warship bearing 240 and closing. €œRecommendations?€ I said, let€s take him on. Lippisch said, €œI agree.€ Willi told me to proceed with the attack.

I ordered all quiet, periscope depth, course 330. I was going to introduce our uninvited guest to the scorpion€s sting in our stern.

I raised the scope. The rising moon gave me a good view of the warship €" a River Escort. Range was around 2800 meters. I gave the range and bearing information to Seehofer. From the bow wave, I guessed the speed at 16 to 18 knots.

Second check. Range was now 1700. I passed this and the bearing information to Seehofer. €œI make the speed 15 knots, Sir.€ I agreed.

I ordered the torpedoes depth set to 5.0 and raised the scope for a final check. I gave the AOB estimate. €œFlood the stern tube and prepare to fire.€

The escort seemed to be slowing €" it was preparing to run a search pattern. I aimed just behind its stern and fired.
http://tinypic.com/f35r2p.jpg

€œDive, level off at 50.€ As we were passing 30 meters, we heard the satisfying sound of a hit. €œCancel the dive €" periscope depth.€

I raised the scope. The escort was around 1200 meters away, dead in the water. I secured from all quiet and maneuvered the boat for a bow shot from Tube III. The hit broke the escort€s back €" it sank in seconds.
http://tinypic.com/f35ra8.jpg

We surfaced and left the area at standard, making use of darkness and the good weather to bring in two of our external reloads.

At 0610 I was still in my bunk asleep when lookouts spotted a small freighter traveling unescorted. Willi took the boat to periscope depth and dispatched the freighter with an under-the-keel shot at 800 meters.
http://tinypic.com/f35rhw.jpg

Just before we dove the boat for a routine sound check, the radar detector picked up emissions. Our adversaries turned out to be aircraft, spotted at long range just before the dive commenced. The planes depth charged empty ocean astern for several minutes.
http://tinypic.com/f36buu.jpg

We continued submerged €" Willi and I started our chess game half an hour late.

Surfaced the boat just after sunset.
http://tinypic.com/f36c5e.jpg

3 Jul 1944
Schmidt, our radio operator, is fluent in English. He periodically listens to the BBC and relays enemy news broadcasts. Heavy fighting is reported around the enemy beachhead. Our own news says that we are counterattacking the enemy invaders.

Weather is excellent. Between surface and submerged runs, we average 8 or 9 knots toward our patrol zone.

In the afternoon, an enemy ship was spotted. It turned out to be a trawler. We dove and continued on course, leaving it unmolested.

4 Jul 1944
Weather remains excellent. Maintaining course and speed.

5 Jul 1944
Heavy rain and wind struck during the night. Visibility near zero. Spent much of the day submerged, surfacing only long enough to recharge batteries and renew the air.

6 Jul 1944
Weather finally broke shortly after midnight. Surfaced to allow von der Leyen to do celestial navigation.
http://tinypic.com/f3cors.jpg

Weather gradually worsened during the day. We should reach our patrol zone tomorrow.

7 Jul 1944
Again the weather is terrible. Have spent most of the day submerged.

I haven€t written a single letter to Yvette since leaving. I haven€t read any of the books I€ve brought with me, including the Bible. If it weren€t for my chess games with Willi, I€d probably just lie in my bunk doing nothing. Not that there is anything to do.

When will we see some action?

8 Jul 1944
The bad weather continued through the night and most of the day. It finally let up just before sunset. We ran on the surface for the rest of the day.
http://tinypic.com/f3coyd.jpg

9 Jul 1944
Today we expanded our search pattern into grid AL37. Seas heavy but visibility good. No reports of ships or convoys.

I started a letter to Yvette €" wrote the first sentence and stopped. It said, €œI love you so much.€ What else is there to say?

10 Jul 1944
Moved search pattern into grid square AL38.

Shortly after noon, while submerged, picked up sound of a warship. SO tracked it passing us at long range. No shot possible.

At 1330, rose to periscope depth. I had the con while Willi went to the head. Two members of the watch crew looked through the attack and observation scopes for enemy aircraft and, seeing none, indicated all clear to surface. Only seconds after the watch crew had taken up their stations on the bridge, someone spotted a lone PBY approaching and sang out. I turned to Lippisch and said, €œShall we spit at him, Chief?€ €œAbsolutely,€ was his answer. The 37 mm crew was part of the watch and began firing almost immediately. The rest of the FLAK crew was in place and firing by the time the PBY was making its final attack run.
http://tinypic.com/f3cqo2.jpg

The FLAK crew brought down the PBY but it still managed to release its bombs, which hit close on the port side. Fortunately, only superficial damage was sustained to the conning tower.

The failure of the watch crew to spot the plane is troubling. I talked to Albrecht about it. I impressed upon him the need to see that the men know the proper way of using the scopes €" particularly the observation scope. This mistake could have killed us.

Albrecht is to institute remedial training on the use of the observation scope immediately. I€m going to monitor the procedure to make sure Albrecht gets the job done satisfactorily.

I resumed my letter to Yvette and wrote a second. My malaise seems to have lifted.

11 Jul 1944
Searched today between grids AL36 and AM15.

Willi wanted a conference with me and Lippisch €" we had it in place of chess. Willi wanted suggestions on how to proceed with the patrol. We€ve gone nearly 10 days with no reports of enemy shipping or convoys. Normally we€d have gotten several reports by now. It was as though we were the only U-boat in the Atlantic.

Lippisch recommended heading East, close to the northern convoy route. I concurred. Even if BdU has nothing for us, we might get lucky.

12 Jul 1944
Seas heavy, skies overcast.

Sound checks yield nothing. From BdU there is only static. Except for our boat, the ocean is empty.

13 Jul 1944
Lippisch suggested today that we search farther north. We might pick up traffic between England and Iceland.

14 Jul 1944
Finally, BdU relayed a report: lone enemy merchant sailing toward Iceland on the England-Iceland route. Speed slow. Three hours sailing at standard should bring us in contact.

When we reached our ambush point, we dived and listened for the enemy freighter. Nothing. We waited, hanging at 25 meters for two hours. Nothing. Presumably, the freighter changed course. More frustration.

15 Jul 1944
I relieved Seehofer on bridge watch tonight €" half of the reason was that the weather was excellent and I could watch the moon rise.
http://tinypic.com/f3cqrc.jpg

We continue to search to the north. There have been no further reports from BdU about possible targets.

16 Jul 1944
This morning, Willi, Lippisch, and I discussed what we should do now. Should we turn back for base? At best speed we can be back in 6 or 7 days. At a more leisurely pace, we could run search patterns and take a couple of weeks to get back. Lippisch was in favor of the leisurely return. I was conflicted. If we were going to return to St. Nazaire, then I agreed with Lipisch €" the slower return would maximize our chances of encountering enemy shipping. The problem with going back to St. Nazaire is that the enemy is sure to eventually break out from the Cotentin Peninsula. Going back risks capture €" or worse. Going back I could be with Yvette again but being captured with me would almost certainly make things worse for her. What I eventually said was that St. Nazaire was probably going to fall soon. At best speed we could be in Bergen in 3 or 4 days and continue fighting from there.

After listening to both of us, Willi said that we€d make for Bergen but continue to run search patterns for another couple of days.

I think that Willi€s decision wasn€t influenced by my argument €" at least not directly. Going to Bergen makes it more likely that he€ll be able to reunite with his family. Two weeks leave would easily be enough for him to get to Munich and back. If Yvette were in Germany, that option would be available to me also. She could even move to Bergen and be with me there. I should have thought of this possibility. How could it have escaped me?

17 Jul 1944
More storms hit in the early morning hours. Again, we spent much of our time submerged. No search patterns were possible. We set course directly for Bergen.

18 Jul 1944
Storms continued unabated. Based upon dead reckoning, we reached grid square AE68 in the early morning hours.

19 Jul 1944
Storms continued.

While surfaced to recharge batteries, Schmidt caught a BBC report that St. L´ was captured by the Americans yesterday.

The storm subsided late afternoon. We surfaced and began a high speed run to Bergen.

20 Jul 1944
About the only thing of note was that Willi finally won a game today. I was playing the black side of a Sicilian Fianchetto and he transposed into a variation popularized by Hungarian Master Geza Maroczy 30 or 40 years ago. It was so uncharacteristic of Willi that I just drifted for several moves. I soon found myself in a python€s grasp €" he slowly squeezed the life out of me. When my flag dropped my position was hopeless. €œWonderful!€ I said.

21 Jul 1944
Made our final run to Bergen along the eastern arm of Byfjord.
http://tinypic.com/f3cqww.jpg

We docked a 0700. Security was much heavier than normal. I€ve never been asked for identification upon leaving the boat. What€s going on, I wanted to know.

€œSomeone tried to assassinate the Führer yesterday.€

paulhager
10-30-2005, 12:04 AM
1 Jul 1944
Yesterday and the first part of today were spent traversing the Bay of Biscay. Much of the time we were submerged, running on batteries or snorkeling.

Today, Willi and I resumed our 1600 speed chess games.

2 Jul 1944
Shortly after midnight, I had the con. Seehofer was at the helm and von der Leyen was doing double duty €" a combination of watch and celestial navigation. I walked over to the chart to check von der Leyen€s estimates for time and fuel consumption to our patrol zone, grid square AL28.

Von der Leyen reported from the bridge, €œRadar warning sir.€ I told him to sound the alarm. Turning to Seehofer I said, €œCrash Dive, level off at 50 meters.€ The klaxon sounded and men emptied their bunks for the rush forward to the bow of the boat.
http://tinypic.com/f35qow.jpg

We leveled off and I ordered ahead slow. First Willi, then Lippisch entered the control room. I reported to Willi. Willi left me in command and went forward to the hydrophone room. Lippisch took over for Seehofer who moved to the weapons station.

Less than a minute after leaving, Willi returned to say that the SO had picked up a warship bearing 240 and closing. €œRecommendations?€ I said, let€s take him on. Lippisch said, €œI agree.€ Willi told me to proceed with the attack.

I ordered all quiet, periscope depth, course 330. I was going to introduce our uninvited guest to the scorpion€s sting in our stern.

I raised the scope. The rising moon gave me a good view of the warship €" a River Escort. Range was around 2800 meters. I gave the range and bearing information to Seehofer. From the bow wave, I guessed the speed at 16 to 18 knots.

Second check. Range was now 1700. I passed this and the bearing information to Seehofer. €œI make the speed 15 knots, Sir.€ I agreed.

I ordered the torpedoes depth set to 5.0 and raised the scope for a final check. I gave the AOB estimate. €œFlood the stern tube and prepare to fire.€

The escort seemed to be slowing €" it was preparing to run a search pattern. I aimed just behind its stern and fired.
http://tinypic.com/f35r2p.jpg

€œDive, level off at 50.€ As we were passing 30 meters, we heard the satisfying sound of a hit. €œCancel the dive €" periscope depth.€

I raised the scope. The escort was around 1200 meters away, dead in the water. I secured from all quiet and maneuvered the boat for a bow shot from Tube III. The hit broke the escort€s back €" it sank in seconds.
http://tinypic.com/f35ra8.jpg

We surfaced and left the area at standard, making use of darkness and the good weather to bring in two of our external reloads.

At 0610 I was still in my bunk asleep when lookouts spotted a small freighter traveling unescorted. Willi took the boat to periscope depth and dispatched the freighter with an under-the-keel shot at 800 meters.
http://tinypic.com/f35rhw.jpg

Just before we dove the boat for a routine sound check, the radar detector picked up emissions. Our adversaries turned out to be aircraft, spotted at long range just before the dive commenced. The planes depth charged empty ocean astern for several minutes.
http://tinypic.com/f36buu.jpg

We continued submerged €" Willi and I started our chess game half an hour late.

Surfaced the boat just after sunset.
http://tinypic.com/f36c5e.jpg

3 Jul 1944
Schmidt, our radio operator, is fluent in English. He periodically listens to the BBC and relays enemy news broadcasts. Heavy fighting is reported around the enemy beachhead. Our own news says that we are counterattacking the enemy invaders.

Weather is excellent. Between surface and submerged runs, we average 8 or 9 knots toward our patrol zone.

In the afternoon, an enemy ship was spotted. It turned out to be a trawler. We dove and continued on course, leaving it unmolested.

4 Jul 1944
Weather remains excellent. Maintaining course and speed.

5 Jul 1944
Heavy rain and wind struck during the night. Visibility near zero. Spent much of the day submerged, surfacing only long enough to recharge batteries and renew the air.

6 Jul 1944
Weather finally broke shortly after midnight. Surfaced to allow von der Leyen to do celestial navigation.
http://tinypic.com/f3cors.jpg

Weather gradually worsened during the day. We should reach our patrol zone tomorrow.

7 Jul 1944
Again the weather is terrible. Have spent most of the day submerged.

I haven€t written a single letter to Yvette since leaving. I haven€t read any of the books I€ve brought with me, including the Bible. If it weren€t for my chess games with Willi, I€d probably just lie in my bunk doing nothing. Not that there is anything to do.

When will we see some action?

8 Jul 1944
The bad weather continued through the night and most of the day. It finally let up just before sunset. We ran on the surface for the rest of the day.
http://tinypic.com/f3coyd.jpg

9 Jul 1944
Today we expanded our search pattern into grid AL37. Seas heavy but visibility good. No reports of ships or convoys.

I started a letter to Yvette €" wrote the first sentence and stopped. It said, €œI love you so much.€ What else is there to say?

10 Jul 1944
Moved search pattern into grid square AL38.

Shortly after noon, while submerged, picked up sound of a warship. SO tracked it passing us at long range. No shot possible.

At 1330, rose to periscope depth. I had the con while Willi went to the head. Two members of the watch crew looked through the attack and observation scopes for enemy aircraft and, seeing none, indicated all clear to surface. Only seconds after the watch crew had taken up their stations on the bridge, someone spotted a lone PBY approaching and sang out. I turned to Lippisch and said, €œShall we spit at him, Chief?€ €œAbsolutely,€ was his answer. The 37 mm crew was part of the watch and began firing almost immediately. The rest of the FLAK crew was in place and firing by the time the PBY was making its final attack run.
http://tinypic.com/f3cqo2.jpg

The FLAK crew brought down the PBY but it still managed to release its bombs, which hit close on the port side. Fortunately, only superficial damage was sustained to the conning tower.

The failure of the watch crew to spot the plane is troubling. I talked to Albrecht about it. I impressed upon him the need to see that the men know the proper way of using the scopes €" particularly the observation scope. This mistake could have killed us.

Albrecht is to institute remedial training on the use of the observation scope immediately. I€m going to monitor the procedure to make sure Albrecht gets the job done satisfactorily.

I resumed my letter to Yvette and wrote a second. My malaise seems to have lifted.

11 Jul 1944
Searched today between grids AL36 and AM15.

Willi wanted a conference with me and Lippisch €" we had it in place of chess. Willi wanted suggestions on how to proceed with the patrol. We€ve gone nearly 10 days with no reports of enemy shipping or convoys. Normally we€d have gotten several reports by now. It was as though we were the only U-boat in the Atlantic.

Lippisch recommended heading East, close to the northern convoy route. I concurred. Even if BdU has nothing for us, we might get lucky.

12 Jul 1944
Seas heavy, skies overcast.

Sound checks yield nothing. From BdU there is only static. Except for our boat, the ocean is empty.

13 Jul 1944
Lippisch suggested today that we search farther north. We might pick up traffic between England and Iceland.

14 Jul 1944
Finally, BdU relayed a report: lone enemy merchant sailing toward Iceland on the England-Iceland route. Speed slow. Three hours sailing at standard should bring us in contact.

When we reached our ambush point, we dived and listened for the enemy freighter. Nothing. We waited, hanging at 25 meters for two hours. Nothing. Presumably, the freighter changed course. More frustration.

15 Jul 1944
I relieved Seehofer on bridge watch tonight €" half of the reason was that the weather was excellent and I could watch the moon rise.
http://tinypic.com/f3cqrc.jpg

We continue to search to the north. There have been no further reports from BdU about possible targets.

16 Jul 1944
This morning, Willi, Lippisch, and I discussed what we should do now. Should we turn back for base? At best speed we can be back in 6 or 7 days. At a more leisurely pace, we could run search patterns and take a couple of weeks to get back. Lippisch was in favor of the leisurely return. I was conflicted. If we were going to return to St. Nazaire, then I agreed with Lipisch €" the slower return would maximize our chances of encountering enemy shipping. The problem with going back to St. Nazaire is that the enemy is sure to eventually break out from the Cotentin Peninsula. Going back risks capture €" or worse. Going back I could be with Yvette again but being captured with me would almost certainly make things worse for her. What I eventually said was that St. Nazaire was probably going to fall soon. At best speed we could be in Bergen in 3 or 4 days and continue fighting from there.

After listening to both of us, Willi said that we€d make for Bergen but continue to run search patterns for another couple of days.

I think that Willi€s decision wasn€t influenced by my argument €" at least not directly. Going to Bergen makes it more likely that he€ll be able to reunite with his family. Two weeks leave would easily be enough for him to get to Munich and back. If Yvette were in Germany, that option would be available to me also. She could even move to Bergen and be with me there. I should have thought of this possibility. How could it have escaped me?

17 Jul 1944
More storms hit in the early morning hours. Again, we spent much of our time submerged. No search patterns were possible. We set course directly for Bergen.

18 Jul 1944
Storms continued unabated. Based upon dead reckoning, we reached grid square AE68 in the early morning hours.

19 Jul 1944
Storms continued.

While surfaced to recharge batteries, Schmidt caught a BBC report that St. L´ was captured by the Americans yesterday.

The storm subsided late afternoon. We surfaced and began a high speed run to Bergen.

20 Jul 1944
About the only thing of note was that Willi finally won a game today. I was playing the black side of a Sicilian Fianchetto and he transposed into a variation popularized by Hungarian Master Geza Maroczy 30 or 40 years ago. It was so uncharacteristic of Willi that I just drifted for several moves. I soon found myself in a python€s grasp €" he slowly squeezed the life out of me. When my flag dropped my position was hopeless. €œWonderful!€ I said.

21 Jul 1944
Made our final run to Bergen along the eastern arm of Byfjord.
http://tinypic.com/f3cqww.jpg

We docked a 0700. Security was much heavier than normal. I€ve never been asked for identification upon leaving the boat. What€s going on, I wanted to know.

€œSomeone tried to assassinate the Führer yesterday.€

paulhager
10-30-2005, 12:10 AM
Here is the complete list of episodes to date:

<UL TYPE=SQUARE>
<LI>Episode 1 (http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/857101043/m/2141067563)
<LI>Episode 2 (http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/857101043/m/9141086663)
<LI>Episode 3 (http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/857101043/m/7411026763)
<LI>Episode 4 (http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/857101043/m/6311026763)
<LI>Episode 5a (http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/857101043/m/2041009763)
<LI>Episode 5b (http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/857101043/m/9351068963)
<LI>Episode 6 (http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/857101043/m/7461079073)
<LI>Episode 7a (http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/857101043/m/3701021273)
[/list]

doug.d
10-30-2005, 11:26 PM
Gr8 stuff as usual, keep em coming. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/11.gif

baggygreen
10-30-2005, 11:57 PM
I must admit that after what, 9 parts to the story (treating 7a and 7b as seperate entities, etc) I am half expecting the story to start getting repetitive or boring, or just to lose its edge in some way. BUT NO! It just keeps on getting better! I love it! keep it up mate, this saga is brilliant!

Tigerboat
10-31-2005, 01:55 AM
We are going to keep complimenting you so that you keep writing! I wish the people I work with worked as hard, and they get paid for it.

Gasman_Ice
10-31-2005, 04:30 AM
Good work Mi8 http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif Great stories http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif