7th U-Boat Flotilla: Doenitz's Atlantic Wolves (Spearhead) by Angus Konstam

By Angus Konstam

The seventh U-Boat Flotilla - 'Wegener' - was once shaped in Kiel in June 1938 with six boats, just one of which survived operationally to the top of the warfare. Early battle motion from Kiel replaced thoroughly after the autumn of France while the flotilla moved to St Nazaire, the place it's going to stay till the Allied advances led its final boats to maneuver to Norway.

Some 114 boats observed carrier with the flotilla and so much of them served within the North Atlantic the place their operations virtually introduced Britain to its knees. the tale of the flotilla begins with the tale of the convoy predators; throughout the grim realities of the convoy method whose escorts benefited from extremely decrypting of the Kriegsmarine's codes; the bloodbath of the U-boats trying to halt the invasion of Europe; to the ultimate coda as 14 boats escaped from St. Nazaire to Norway.

Ian Westwell spent 5 years within the Royal military sooner than changing into Curator of guns on the Royal Armouries. After a spell as a marine archaeologist he turned leader Curator on the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West. He moved again to England to write down complete time in 2001.

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Opposite, Above right: Security was often of secondary importance during quayside welcoming receptions, and servicemen and civilian guests mingled freely on the dock and even on the boats secured alongside Opposite, Below: Formal inspections and parades were also a feature of life in the 7th U-boat Flotilla. In this photograph, a guard of honour is formed up for inspection outside St Nazaire's Prien Barracks. Above: U-97 identifiable by its seahorse emblem, passes through the larger New (South) Lock Entrance into St Nazaire's U-boat Basin.

Walker. which included two escort carriers, steamed to the area, and sank 11 U-boats in as many days. The two sinkings achieved by Franze were to be the only successes of the flotilla that spring, 56 IN ACTION Above: AType vIle with the later conning tower arrangement to accommodate heavier anti-aircraft guns. The common configuration was two 20mm twins on the upper platform and a 20mm quadruple or single 37mm on the lower one. The bulge at the top of the conning tower housed a radar detector and some armoured shelter to protect lookouts when they came under aircraft attack.

Reinforcements arrived during late 1942, and by October the U-boats which needed extensive overhauls were matched by the number of new boats embarking on their first patrols. These new boats and commanders included U-410 (Kptlt Kurt Sturm), U-221 (ObltzS Hans-Hartwig Trojer) and U-617 (Kptlt Albrecht Brandi), a trio who became some of the flotilla's most successful captains. Brandi became renowned for sinking four ships on his first operational patrol. The flotilla's remaining aces (Hans-JOrgen Hellriegel, Erich Topp, Karl Thurmann, Wilhelm Schulze and Gerd Kelbling) had all taken trainee U-boat commanders with them on their patrols, and continued to pass on their knowledge to the newcomers.

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