Convoy HX 112
|Convoy HX 112|
|Part of Second World War|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Admiral Karl Dönitz||convoy:
escort : Cdr Donald Macintyre
|5 U-boats||41 ships
|Casualties and losses|
|2 U-boats sunk||6 ships sunk|
HX 112 was a North Atlantic convoy of the HX series which ran during the battle of the Atlantic in the Second World War. It was notable in that it saw the loss of U-boats commanded by two of the Kriegsmarine's (KM) foremost U-boat aces, U-99 with Korvettenkapitän Otto Kretschmer (POW) and U-100 with Kapitanleutnant Joachim Schepke (KIA).
It was escorted by 5th Escort Group which consisted of two destroyers, HMS Walker and HMS Vanoc and two corvettes, and was led by Commander Donald Macintyre of HMS Walker. 5th Escort Group was reinforced on this occasion by an additional two destroyers, in view of the importance of the cargo, and met the convoy as it entered the Western Approaches.
On 15 March 1941 HX.112 was sighted by U-110 commanded by Fritz-Julius Lemp, who sent in a sighting report and commenced shadowing the convoy. He was joined throughout the day by four other boats; U-99 (Kretschmer) U-100 (Schepke) U-37 (Clausen) and U-74 (Kentrat).
On the night of 15th/16th the attack started; U-100 was able to torpedo a tanker, which burst into flames, but survived to reach port; all other attacks that night were frustrated by the activities of the escorts.
Keeping up with the convoy on the surface during the day, the pack tried again as night fell on the 16th.
U-99 managed to penetrate the convoy from the north, on its port side, and sank four tankers and a freighter in under an hour. Remaining with the central column of the convoy she sank another freighter 15 minutes later before making her getaway.
Meanwhile the escorts, searching for U-boats outside the convoy perimeter, found U-100 around 1.30am moving in on the surface. She dived, but Walker attacked with a depth charge pattern at close range. U-100 evaded further damage, and surfaced, to be sighted and rammed by Vanoc just after 3am; Schepke was killed when Vanoc smashed into his periscope structure and U100 went down with most of her crew.
As this was happening, U-99 was making her escape; she nearly collided with a destroyer in the dark and dived. Picked up on ASDIC by Walker, she was depth-charged and severely damaged. Saving U-99 from being crushed as she sank deeper and deeper, Kretschmer brought her to the surface, where she was fired on by the encircling warships. U-99 was sunk, but Kretschmer and most of his crew were saved, to be taken prisoner.
There were no further attacks on HX.112 and the convoy arrived in Liverpool on 20 March.
HX.112 had lost six ships totalling 50,000 tons. However, the loss of two of the Kriegsmarine's U-boat aces, one of which was the highest scoring submarine commander of the Second World War, was a severe blow to the Kriegsmarine offensive. The defence of HX.112, coupled with the successful defence of Convoy OB-293 and the loss of U-boat ace Günther Prien along with his sub German submarine U-47 (1938) the previous week, marked a minor turning point in the Atlantic campaign.
- Stephen Roskill : The War at Sea 1939-1945 Vol I (1954). ISBN (none)
- Dan van der Vat : The Atlantic Campaign (1988). ISBN 0-340-37751-8
- Arnold Hague : The Allied Convoy System 1939-1945 (2000). ISBN (Canada) 1 55125 033 0 . ISBN (UK) 1 86176 147 3
- Paul Kemp : U-Boats Destroyed ( 1997). ISBN 1-85409-515-3
- Axel Neistle : German U-Boat Losses during World War II (1998). ISBN 1-85367-352-8