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If ever anyone had thought to put into words the real reasons why we research and discuss the men and activities of the U-boatmen, it has to be our British associate, Christopher Lowe. Christopher states, in a recent letter, that he is glad that this organization exists so “we can talk freely about U-boats together without that damn propaganda.” I think he put into words what the rest of us felt. Thanks, Christopher.
We also sends thanks to Christopher for his information, which you will begin seeing in this issue, pertaining to former commanders of each U-boat. This portion of the KTB comes entirely from Christopher.
Another new addition to this KTB newsletter is a bit called “DID YOU KOW THAT……….?” for which we thank Ernst Schmidt, former U-boat captain.
Now on to the details at hand……
I wish I could put together an issue of the KTB without having to mention Roger Miklos and his hunt for financial backing to pursue his “mystery” U-boat that he claims is sunk in the Caribbean somewhere…… However, it will not be this issue that I can forget him, as we have more and yet more news. From Christopher Lowe in England, we learn that Miklos is still “stumping about”, even trying to drum up support and money for this venture. Seems Miklos has even been on British T.V. with his plea for financial support.
A friend in the American G.S.A (John Taylor, by name) sent a clipping concerning Mr. Miklos, from an American paper – John could not remember which publication. In this article, Miklos claims to have dived the “mystery” U-boat six times. What puzzles me is why on at least one of these dives, didn’t he think to bring along a camera to remove all doubt to the existence of this so called discovery….. Perhaps there was nothing to photograph but imagination. The article further quotes an official with the respected Treasure Salvers of Key West, Florida (Donald Kincaid) who says that his firm had to go to court a year ago to prevent Miklos from pirating a wreck site on which Treasure Salvers was working.
Much as we have tried and tried, we have not been able to locate Roger Miklos anywhere.
The news on the “lost art treasures from the Louvre” is no better……I had the letter from that museum’s Director translated and he says that this is a popular story, but one with no basis in fact. So much for that.
There is, however, a glimmer of something on that U-boat that carried Uranium to Japan, but not enough to hang any hopes on.
We did, however, receive more information on that possible U-boat sunk off the west coast of Florida……matter of fact; we may just have struck GOLD! I made the stupid error of thinking that this guy the Museum of Science and Industry mentioned as trying to put together a salvage operation some 10 or so years ago was referring to U-166, which is in fact down off New Orleans. And when the guy in the bar mentioned the story of the U-boat sunk off the west coast of Florida, I again assumed that he meant U-166. I had based all my assumptions – incorrect assumptions – on the fact that none of my research showed any U-boats being sunk by any action of any kind in that area. Dumb! I guess I should sometimes open my eyes and look past the obvious.
One of our associates, who for obvious reasons will not be named, relates the story to me in a recent letter. The boat was sunk by enemy action off the American east coast during the war, then raised and was being towed, for whatever reason, around Florida. A storm caught the group and the U-boat swamped and sunk off the west coast of Florida. In 1974, a friend of this associate of ours actually dived this U-boat and removed some artifacts, which he gave to our associate. We are attempting to track this one further as it would make a hell of an expedition, wouldn’t it?
Further, we are continuing to receive bits of information on another U-boat sunk in the Florida Keys. We now have a second person claiming to have firsthand knowledge of this boat and we are defiantly pursuing this.
And some of my other feelers are beginning to pay off….in response to a request for information I placed in the newsletter of an organization called the VETERANS OF THE OSS, I have just received a letter from a former OSS agent who, just after the war ended, had heard of such operations going on in the Caribbean. Seems there was a small island between St. Barts and St. Martin that had been used as a staging or refueling base of some kind by U-boats. The mayor of St. Barts was a German and was supposedly helpful to the U-boats. This lady and her husband chartered a boat and went to the island in question, and they saw an airfield completely disguised as shack buildings and the runway was outlined with cactus plants. They found aircraft engines hidden in the brush.
They further heard rumors, and checked out, that Cozumel, the island off the Mexican coast, was the site of a small U-boat repair shop while the Mexican government was “neutral.” The lady and her husband went there too, and found U-boat parts laying around.
Being properly trained by the OSS, the lady leaving nothing to chance and checked out the facts with the locals (much as I did with Darby Islands in the Bahamas) and found that these were indeed true facts.
Hans, you were on U-505 during two patrols in the Caribbean, do you know anything of these locations? As for the other veterans of the Kriegsmarine who receive this, have you any further knowledge of these locations?
It was places just like these that Charles Highams mentions, although not by name or location, in his newest book “TRADING WITH THE ENEMY”. Further, the brother of Ernest Hemingway, Leister Hemingway, wrote several articles for LIFE magazine (I think it was LIFE) in which he details several of these U-boat repair/refueling bases in the Caribbean and along the Central American coast. In an article sent by Don Goble, I read that Leister Hemingway was an apparent suicide victim in September of 1982…..too many researchers with information unpleasant to American (?) have a problem with “apparent suicide”. I personally have received a letter from a major American (?) auto maker, telling me that I am proceeding “at great personal risk” with my research into their involvement with the Nazi government during the war….so if I suddenly commit “apparent suicide” I hope someone will continue to do this KTB.
Don Gobel has also thoughtfully set along copies of various clippings, which I will present here in rather random manner. One states, in part, that “U-boats running to Japan have their keel plates removed and the space filled with mercury. It was said that a million marks worth of mercury had been shipped to Japan” we know that this was probably an erroneous report, as it is commonly known that German didn’t have much – if any – mercury during the war years. But if anyone has knowledge of this, please advise.
There was included the article from the September 15, 1982 PLAIN DEALER telling of the “apparent suicide” of Leister Hemingway.
Another clipping covered an attempt to clear the wreck of U-352 of any unexplored ordinance, this article from the PRESS, June 25, 1980.
In an item from an unidentified paper, dateline September 4, 1971, under the headline “SUNKEN GERMAN SUB’S DEADLY MERCURY CARGO THREATENS FLORIDA” the article tells that U-166 that went down from the depth charges from a US Coast Guard aircraft has been drifting beneath the surface and is now off the west coast of Florida. This must be the U-boat that our associate tells about in his recent letter to me. The article further says that this U-boat is drifting along beneath the surface and had covered some 400 miles from New Orleans to the west coast of Florida, with Oberleutnant Kuhlmann taking the place of the legendary Captain van der Straaten in this modern twist to the Flying Dutchman! Some divers claim to have been to the wreck and positively identified it as U-166, a Type IX-C that went down in 1942 off the Mississippi Passes near New Orleans. An official of the EPA at the time the article came out said that the boat had some 200 tons of mercury on board. Do any of you former U-boat veterans have knowledge……was mercury used on any U-boats during World War II?
In an undated and untitled article, under the headline, “GERMAN NOTE MAY BE FROM LOST U-BOAT” the article tells of a note, saying “We have been hit by a bomb. Our submarine I resting on sea bottom, torpedo and engine rooms flooded. Five men beside me are still alive.” The note was dated November 11, 1941 and bore the signature of Captain Heinz Ratsch. Our records show that Captain Ratsch was in command of U-583 and this Type VII-C boat was sunk on November 15, not on the 11th as the note said – but wartime dates have been known to be a few days off. However our records show that U-583 was lost by collision in the Baltic, not by enemy action. Who knows….was this note from Ratsch? Was he trying to warn the Nazi High Command of the new device called SONAR that tracked…and ultimately helped sink……U-583?
In another vein, I happened to watching the television on Sunday, the 3rd of July, tune to a program called “ONE STEP BEYOND” which tells hard to believe but true stories. What caught my eye on this Sunday is that the story was about a German U-boat…..U-147. According to this story, while U-147 was under attack and attempting to remain silent, a loud metallic pounding was heard to ring through the boat. This of course gave away the location of the boat to the Allies, who then blasted away with depth charges. However, according to the show, U-147 escaped and after the surrender of Germany, the U-boat was cut up for scraps……but while workman were cutting the boat apart, they found a skeleton inside the ballast tank, and the skeleton had a large wrench in its hand. The story implies that this guy was banging on the hull of the boat and betraying her position. They asked if this was a slave laborer entombed inside the U-boat during its construction in the yard, or a brave German who hated Hitler and the Nazi party for what they were doing to Germany.
What makes this story even harder to believe is that U-147 did not survive the war to surrender and go to the cutting torch; the boat was sunk with all hands on June 2, 1941 off the coast of Ireland…….
As you probably know, in June of 1984, we will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the capture of U-505 by American forces on the high seas. We will of course have some festivities planned, but w would like to find a way to assist the veterans of U-505 to come over to this country for the celebration. I have spoken to the Sales Manager of Lufthansa German Airlines on this, asking him to perhaps find a way to allow these men to ride at no charge. It was his position that he might to do this if we can show him how he would get some excellent advertising for Lufthansa from this. Think, give me some ideas so I can go back to the Sales Manager and show him how allowing free passage of these men would give great promotional advertising value to Lufthansa. Thanks.
Now we come to that same old problem……money! Many of you have not sent along the $12 I mentioned in the last KTB, and I’m afraid that we will not be able to continue to send this out to you unless this small amount of $12 is received from you before the next issue is mailed. Why not do it now, while it is fresh in your mind.
DID YOU KNOW THAT…….The Knights Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to U-boat Commanders for sinking at least 100,000 tons of merchant ships or for sinking one Capitol Navy ship such as an aircraft carrier or Battleship?
As mentioned at the beginning, we are going to indicate former commanders of each boat from now on, so let’s back track and add this information to the U-boats that have already been profiled here.
Former Commanders of:
U-1 included Ewerth, who went on to U-26 and U-850
U-2 included Rosenbaum, who went on to U-73…….
Heidtmann, who went on to U-559…….
v. Wilamowitz-Moellendorf who went on to U-459…….
Schawaff, who went on to U-333
U-3 included Schepke, who went on to U-100………
Schreiber, who went on to U-95………
v. Baulow, who went on to U-404……..
Trojer, who went on to U-221………
Zander, who went on to U-331
U-4 included v. Klot-Heydenfeldt, who went on to U-122……..
Hinsch, who went on to U-569………
Zetsche, who went on to U-591………
Bernbeck, who went on to U-461………
Leimkuhler, who went on to U-225
U-5 included Lehman-Willenbrock, who went on to U-96….
Bothe, who went on to U-447…….
Mohs, who went on to U-60 and U-956
U-6 included Matz, who went on to U-70………..
Schnee (the snowman) who went on to U-201 and U-2511…..
Leibe, who went on to U-332……..
Bopst, who went on to U-597
U-7 included Reeder, who went on to U-214…….
Bruller, who went on to U-407……
Kuhlmann, who went on to U-166…..
Koitshka, who went on to U-616
U-8 included Lehman-Willenbrock, who went on to U-96……
Kentrat, who went on to U-74 and U-196…….
Deckert, who went on to U-73
U-9 included Luth, who went on to U-181, U-43 and U-138…..
Kaufmann, who went on to U-79
U-10 included Schulz, who went on to U-124……
Mutzelberg, who went on to U-203
U-11 included Schutze, who went on to U-103
U-12 included v. Schmidt, who went on to U-116
Type II-C was improved further over the Type II-B by again increasing bunkers and radius, and the inclusion of slightly more powerful electric motors. Only 8 Type II-C were built, mainly used for training.
Displacement: 291/341 tons
Dimensions: 144 x 13 ¾ x 12 ½ feet
Power: Twin shaft diesel/electric motors 700/410 BHP/SHP
Speed: 12/7 knots
Fuel Capacity: 23 tons
Range: 1,900/43 miles @ 12/4 knots
Torpedoes: Three tubes fwd. only (21 inch)
Guns: Single 20mm A.A. gun (later increased to four)
You’ll note that the displacement was increased as was the fuel capacity and the range, but the speed went down a knot, probably due to the increased fuel load with no increase in diesel engine power output.
U-13 Type II-B Built by Deutsche Werke (Kiel), launched November 9, 1935. This boat, under Oblt Max Schulte, was sunk off London (position on file) by HMS WESTON on May 31, 1940. Former commanders include Scheriger, who went on to U-26.
U-14 Type II-B Built by Deutsche Werke (Kiel), launched December 18, 1935. Another of the Type II boats t survive the war, her last commander was Oblt Hans-Joachim Dierks. The boat was scuttled by her crew (RAINBOW?) on May 2, 1945 at Wilhelmshaven, but was later salvaged and scrapped…between 1947 and 1953. Former commanders include Wolfarth who went to U-556; Bigalk who went to U-751; Konenkamp who went to U-375 and Kohntropp who went to U-995.
U-15 Type II-B Built by Deutsche Werke (Kiel), launched February 15, 1936. Under, KL Peter Frahm, this boat was lost at sea (position on file) after collision with German torpedo boat ILTIS on February 1, 1940. Former commanders include: Bucholz who went to U-195 and U-177.
U-16 Type II-B Built by Deutsche Werke (Kiel), launched April 28, 1936. Under command of KL Horst Wellner, this boat was sunk with all hands off Goodwins (position on file) on October 24, 1939 by attack of HMS PUFFIN and HMS CAYTON WYKE, then U-16 struck a mine. She was stranded on Goodwins. Former commanders include Weingartner who went to U-851.
U-17 Type II-B Built by Deutsche Werke (Kiel), launched November 14, 1935. Another of the boats that made it through the war, under Oblt Friedrich Baumgartel, U-17 was scuttled by her crew (RAINBOW?) but was later raised and scrapped – between 1947 and 1953. Scuttled at Wilhelmshaven. Former commanders include: Steiber who went to U-512; Heydemann who went to U-268; and Schmidt who went to U-37 and U-3526.
That wraps it up for KTB #6….don’t forget to send your check, it’s the only way I can keep these newsletters coming your way. Hope you are finding the information contained in here of great interest.
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