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DE Uboat Action in WWII

DE Crew Paints
Recording Their First Nazi Submarine
Sinking - U-371 - on 4 May 1944

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From 1940 into 1943 the German U-boat took a tragic toll on Allied ships in the Atlantic and other oceans.  Control of the maritime trade routes fueled these battles.  By mid-1943, Allied anti-submarine tactics and warfare turned the tables on the U-boats.

The implementation of the "convoy" system at the beginning of WW II proved to be an effective deterent to U-boat attacks. Convoy escort was a defensive operation designed to ward off enemy submarine and aircraft attacks on ships carrying men and equipment for the overseas war effort.  Destroyer escorts were classified as a major combat vessel and played a major role in these convoys.

In general, DEs were deployed in four types of operations. The first consisted of escort divisions of six or more DEs each, escorting merchant marine convoys, navy supply vessels, or troop transports.

The second grouping operated as part of "hunter-killer" (HUK) teams in task forces, each consisting of a small aircraft carrier (CVE) and five or six DEs that went to sea for the specific purpose of locating and destroying submarines.

A third operation, more common in the Pacific than the Atlantic, was antisubmarine and antiaircraft screening of capital ships as they bombarded enemy shore installations prior to amphibious assaults

The fourth assignment developed in the Pacific in the later stages of the war. The DEs manned "picket" stations on the outer perimeter of fleet and landing operations to engage kamikazes and to warn inner perimeter vessels of their approach. This was very hazardous duty and DEs suffered personnel and material casualties.

There were DEs that accomplished unbelievable attacks and rescues and set records by their actions. The following reports of U-boat action are only a few examples of the might of the DE in anti-submarine warfare.

USS England DE 635  |  RO-501  |  U-66  |  U-233  |  U-371  |  U-490  |  U-505  |
U-515  |  U-518  |  U-546  |  U-550  |  U-853  |  U-866  |  U-869  |  U-873  |
U-879  |  |  U-1062  |

Click on any photo for a larger view and more information

USS England DE 635

USS England

The record written by England is unsurpassed in the annals of antisubmarine warfare. In the last two weeks of May, 1944, England destroyed six Japanese submarines: I-16, RO-106, RO-104, RO-116, RO-108 and RO-105. She was award the Presidential Unit Citation.  Read the full story.

Sinking of RO-501

Task Group 22.2 Sinks First Japanese Sub in the Atlantic

USS Francis M. Robinson DE-220, USS Haverfield DE-393,
USS Swenning DE-394, USS Willis DE-395, USS Jannsen DE-396

The destroyermen presumed they had polished off a U-boat. As indeed they had - the U-1224. It was not until after the war that they learned this  same U-boat was also the RO-501. There in the Atlantic Francis M. Robinson had sunk a Japanese submarine!  Read the story of this historic event.

Sinking of U-66

USS Buckley DE-51

tn_Cmd BuckleyOn 6 May 1944, USS Buckley DE 51, Task Group 21.11, engaged U-66 in an Epic Battle that included hand-to-hand combat.  Read the full story.

LCDR Brent Abel, USNR, received the Navy Cross for action as Commanding Officer of USS Buckley DE 51

Sinking of U-233

USS Card (ACV 11), USS Thomas DE 102, USS Bostwick DE 103,
USS Breeman DE 104, USS Baker DE 190 and USS Bronstein DE 189

tn_U-233 Ramming A5 July 1944,Task Group 22.10 was patrolling 200 miles from the Sable Islands in the North Atlantic. 1907 that day was a fateful moment for U-boat 233. USS Baker DE 190 gained sound contact at 2200 yards and dropped her first depth charge pattern.   Read the full story, Action Report and Recollections of Lieutenant Sheridan Bell, Chaplain Corps, USNR

Sinking of U-371

USS Pride DE 323 and USS Joseph E. Campbell DE 70
Torpedo Damage to USS Menges DE 320

USS Menges DE 320 A USS Menges reported a surface target astern 10,000 yards.  She reversed course and a few minutes later the contact was lost at 3,500 yards.  Menges went in for a sound search.  Ten minutes later, Menges notified convoy commodore by TBS light that she had been torpedoed. Her sister ships sought revenge.  Read the full story, View Photos, USS Pride Action Report and information from the Interrogation
                          of U-371 POWs.

Sinking of U-490

USS Croatan (CVE 25), USS Frost DE 144, USS Huse DE 145, USS Inch DE 146,
USS Snowden DE 246 and USS Swasey DE 248

tn_270273The duty radioman on USS Inch DE 146 picked up a German message being transmitted to her home base.  Moments late, USS Huse DE 145 intercepted a morse code transmission in German. The stage was set.  See Photos and Read the Action Reports

Capture of U-505

USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60), USS Pillsbury DE-133, USS Pope DE-134,
USS Flaherty DE-135, USS Chatelain DE-149, and USS Jenks DE-665

U505 attackOn 4 June 1944, a hunter-killer group of the United States Navy captured the German submarine U-505. This event marked the first time a U.S. Navy vessel had captured an enemy vessel at sea since the nineteenth century. Read the story, Citations and see photos.

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Sinking of U-515

USS Guadalcanal (CVE 60), USS Chatelain DE 149, USS Pope DE 134, USS Neunzer DE 150, USS Flaherty DE 135 and USS Pillsbury DE 133

tn_U-515Chatelain1Twice in the early morning of 9 April, 1944, planes from USS Guadalcanal attacked a surfaced sub. She dived both times after returning fire from the aircraft. Pillsbury and Flaherty arrived at the scene 45 minutes later. Pillsbury gained sonar contact and made two hedgehog attacks while Flaherty conducted a circular search around her. 
Read the full story and see more photos.

Read the Chatelain Action Report   |   Read the Pope Action Report
Read the Recollections of Lieutenant Commander Dudley S. Knox, USNR

Sinking of U-518

USS Carter DE 112 and USS Neal A. Scott DE 769

Moonlight was blurred by a light overcast, but the seascape, wind-roughened, was illumined, with 5-mile visibility.  Flag ship Carter swept up a submarine contact and the battle began.

Sinking of U-546

Task Unit 22.7.1

The U-boat skipper who fired at the Frederick C. Davis DE 136 must have known he was courting suicide.  For the DE scouting line closed around the U-boat like a noose. After 10 1/2 hours of being attacked, U-546 surfaced, unable to further endure slow suicide.  Read the full story.

Sinking of U-550

USS Joyce DE 317, USS Peterson DE 152 and USS Gandy DE 764

The tanker SS Pan Pennsylvania, one of the largest tankers in the world, was unwisely straggling behind her convoy and the U-550 torpedoed her. The tanker quickly caught fire and began to sink. As the tanker settled, the submerged U-boat
sailed underneath her in an effort to hide from the inevitable counteract by the
                          convoy's escorts.  Read the story.

Sinking of U-853
The Battle of Point Judith

USS Atherton DE 169 and USS Amick DE 168

Not far from the lighthouse at Point Judith is a small plaque dedicated to twelve merchant mariners who died just hours before the end of hostilities in May 1945. And on it's black surface is the story of the last battle of the Atlantic War.

Sinking of U-866

USS Lowe DE 325, USS Menges DE 320, USS Pride DE 323
and USS Mosley DE 321

In the spring of 1945, the German U-boat Command sent three U-boats to patrol in Canadian and U.S. waters.  One of these, U-866, a Type IX C/40 U-boat, had a radio message intercepted by Canadian forces and two Canadian escort groups began the hunt. After the U-866 unsuccessfully attacked two merchant ships off the coast of Cape Cod, the US Navy decided to form a "hunter-killer" group made up of available US escorts to hunt down and kill the U-boat. And the escorts did their work well.  Read the full story.

Sinking of U-869

USS Howard D. Crow DE 252

Not until 2005 was DE 252 given credit for sinking U-869.  Thanks to a chance encounter by some divers in 1991 and the persistence of a few of them, the history of how two vessels met with fatal results in World War II is now coming to light.  Read the full story.

Surrender of U-873

USS Vance DE 387

On 2 May 1945, Vance departed New York with her last Mediterranean-bound convoy. On the morning of 11 May - four days after German had surrendered - Vance sighted a light up ahead in the convoy and rang down full speed to investigate.  She captured U-873.

Sinking of U-548
(formerly credited as U-879)

USS Buckley DE 51 and USS Reuben James DE 153

Buckley and Reuben James were operating with USS Scroggins DE 799 and USS Jack W. Wilke DE 800 as part of TG 22.10.    Buckley picked up a sonar contact that was soon evaluated as a U-boat.  The sub hunt began and the enemy was found.

Sinking of U-1062

USS Fessenden DE 142

In September of 1944, a "nuisance" pack was operating in the Cape Verdes area. It was detected by Task Group 22.1.  Post-war records named the victim as U-1062.




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