German submarine U-124 (1940)

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For other ships of the same name, see German submarine U-124.
U-124 emblem
Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-124
Ordered: 15 December 1937
Builder: DeSchiMAG AG Weser, Bremen
Laid down: 11 August 1939
Launched: 9 March 1940
Commissioned: 11 June 1940
Fate: Sunk by British warships west of Portugal, 3 April 1943 west of Oporto at 41°02′N 15°39′W / 41.033°N 15.650°W / 41.033; -15.650Coordinates: 41°02′N 15°39′W / 41.033°N 15.650°W / 41.033; -15.650
General characteristics [1]
Class & type: Type IXB U-boat
Displacement: 1,051 tonnes (1,034 long tons) surfaced
1,178 tonnes (1,159 long tons) submerged
Length: 76.5 m (251 ft) o/a
58.7 m (193 ft) pressure hull
Beam: 6.76 m (22.2 ft) o/a
4.4 m (14 ft) pressure hull
Draught: 4.7 m (15 ft)
Propulsion: Diesel/Electric
2 × MAN M 9 V 40/46 supercharged 9 cylinder diesel engines, 4,400 hp (3,300 kW)
2 × SSW 2 GU 345/34 double-acting electric motors, 1,000 hp (750 kW)
Speed: 18.2 kn (33.7 km/h) surfaced
7.3 kn (13.5 km/h) submerged
Range: 12,000 nmi (22,000 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h) surfaced
64 nmi (119 km) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Complement: 48 to 56 officers and ratings
Armament:
Service record
Part of: Kriegsmarine:
2nd U-boat Flotilla (Training)
2nd U-boat Flotilla (Front or operational boat)
Commanders: Kptlt. Georg-Whilhelm Schulz
K.Kapt. Johann Mohr
Operations: 11 patrols
1st patrol:
19 August–16 September 1940
2nd patrol:
5 October–13 November 1940
3rd patrol:
16 December 1940–22 January 1941
4th patrol:
23 February–1 May 1941
5th patrol:
10 July–25 August 1941
6th patrol:
16 September–1 October 1941
7th patrol:
30 October–29 December 1941
8th patrol:
21 February–10 April 1942
9th patrol:
4 May–26 June 1942
10th patrol:
25 November 1942–13 February 1943
11th patrol:
27 March–2 April 1943
Victories: 46 ships sunk for a total of 219,862 gross register tons (GRT)
two warships sunk of 5,775 tons
four ships damaged for a total of 30,067 GRT

German submarine U-124 (nickname "Edelweisseboot"[2]) was a Type IXB U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. She operated in the Atlantic as part of the 2nd U-boat flotilla, both west of Scotland and east of the eastern US coast. She was also present off northern South America.

She was sunk with all hands west of Portugal in 1943.

Service history[edit]

U-124 was laid down on 11 August 1939 at the DeSchiMAG AG Weser yard in Bremen as yard number 956. She was launched on 9 March 1940 and commissioned on 11 June, with Kapitänleutnant Georg-Wilhelm Schulz in command. He was relieved on 8 September 1941 by Korvettenkapitän Johann Mohr. He remained in command until the boat's loss in 1943.

Operational history[edit]

U-124 conducted 11 war patrols, sinking 46 ships, totalling 219,862 gross register tons (GRT) and sinking two warships, totaling 5,775 tons. She also damaged four ships, totalling 30,067 GRT. She was a member of two wolfpacks.

1st patrol[edit]

U-124 '​s first patrol began with her departure from Wilhelmshaven on 19 August 1940. Her route took her across the North Sea and through the gap between the Faroe and Shetland Islands. She attacked three ships northwest of Scotland; Stakesby, Harpalyce and Firecrest, all on the 25th. To avoid retaliation from HMS Godetia, the boat dived to 90 m (300 ft). The Royal Navy Flower-class corvette dropped 12 depth charges. Striking rocks on the sea-bed, the boat lay there for an hour, the corvette lost contact, but the collision had damaged three of her torpedo tubes. As a result, she spent the rest of the patrol reporting on the weather.

The submarine docked at Lorient on the French Atlantic coast, on 16 September.

2nd patrol[edit]

U-124 '​s second foray was conducted further northwest of the Scottish mainland. Her first victim was Trevisa; sunk on 16 October 1940 218 nmi (404 km) west of Rockall. The next day, 17 October, the Royal Navy River-class submarine HMS Clyde fired three torpedoes at her. All missed, and U-124 remained unaware of the attack.

U-124 went on to sink another four ships; Cubano, Sulaco (there was only one survivor) both on 20 October, Rutland on the 31st and the Empire Bison on 1 November. The latter ship's four survivors, on a raft when the U-boat came to investigate, played dead as they did not wish to be taken prisoner.

3rd patrol[edit]

On her third sortie U-124 sank Empire Thunder north-northeast of Rockall on 6 January 1941.

4th patrol[edit]

On her fourth patrol the boat sank 11 ships, four on the same day north of the Cape Verde Islands on 8 March 1941; Nardana, Hindpool, Tielbank and Lahore . She then destroyed another seven vessels southwest of Freetown, in Sierra Leone: Umona on 30 March, Marlene on 4 April, Portadoc on 7 April, Tweed a day later, Aegeon on the 11th, St. Helena on the 12th and the Corinthic on the 13th. 102 people died as a result of her sinking Umona. One account claims that after sinking her, U-124 surfaced and captured the liner's fourth officer from a lifeboat, and that he was never seen again.[3]

Corinthic was first struck by a dud torpedo, but another functioned correctly and sank the ship.

5th patrol[edit]

U-124 drew a blank on her fifth sortie, failing to destroy a single target. She scoured the central Atlantic southwest of Gibraltar, but found nothing.

6th patrol[edit]

She was back in the money for her sixth patrol. Mohr, (her new commander), rather ambitiously claimed two ships totalling 15,000 tons sunk and a third vessel of 8,000 tons damaged. The reality was rather different. Baltallin (1,303 tons) on 20 September 1941 and Empire Moat (2,922 tons) also on the 20th, were both lost from Convoy OG-74; they went down north northheast of the Azores.
In addition, Empire Stream was sunk on 25 September. Among the dead were two stowaways. A final effort on 26 September accounted for three more ships, also near the Azores: Petrel, Cortes and Siremalm, (there were no survivors from the latter vessel).

U-124 returned to Lorient on 1 October.

7th patrol[edit]

After almost a month in her base, U-124 started her seventh patrol on 30 October 1941. On 24 November, she was engaged by the Royal Navy Danae-class cruiser HMS Dunedin which, with two consorts, had been searching for the Armed Merchant Raider Atlantis and her supply ship Python. Dunedin was hit by two torpedoes, despite being outside the theoretical range of the U-boat's projectiles and sank 17 minutes later. 419 men died; there were 67 survivors.

The submarine remained in the South Atlantic and sank the US Sagadahoc on 3 December. She was the fourth and last of the so-called neutral ships to meet her end. Her demise followed a six hour chase and her lights not being set correctly.

U-124 was shelled by the coastal battery at Fort Thornton, Georgetown on Ascension Island on 9 December; no damage was sustained.

8th patrol[edit]

A change of operational area saw the boat deploy to the Eastern United States seaboard following the success of Operation Drumbeat (Paukenschlag); leaving Lorient on 21 February 1942. Like the original 'drumbeaters', Mohr found the US defences easy to penetrate.[4]

The boat scored her first victory before reaching her destination; sinking British Resource about 230 miles (370 km) north of Bermuda on 14 March.

She then sank seven ships and damaged two more – all in March. One of them, E. M. Clark, was hit in such a way that her whistle sounded continuously until the ship went down. Another, Esso Nashville, was hit by a torpedo which failed to detonate, but a subsequent torpedo broke the tanker's back. She was held together only by deck plates and piping. The bow and stern sections soon separated, and the bow soon sank. The stern was towed to Baltimore where it was fitted with a new fore-part and the ship returned to service in March 1943.

Two more ships were hit before U-124 returned to Lorient. It was her most successful patrol; 68,215 tons of shipping was lost or incapacitated.

9th patrol[edit]

It was back to the mid-Atlantic for the boat's ninth patrol, as part of Wolf pack Hecht, beginning on 4 May 1942. Four ships from Convoy ONS 100 were sunk end on the 12th. U-124 '​s next victim was the Free French corvette Mimosa which was sunk with heavy loss of life on 9 June. Many of the casualties came from St. Pierre et Miquelon. The impact of the sinking had a lasting effect in the community.

Two more ships were sunk before the boat returned to Lorient on 26 June.

10th patrol[edit]

Another change of operational zone, this time to the northern coastal area of South America. The submarine left Lorient on 25 November 1942. She sank Trewloras about 50 miles (80 km) east of Port of Spain, Trinidad on 28 December.

The boat was attacked by a US Catalina flying boat on 1 January 1943 east of Port of Spain. No damage was caused.

She sank four more ships; Broad Arrow, Birmingham City, Collingsworth and Minotaur, all on the 9th. Collingsworth's helmsman swung the ship to port so hard that one torpedo missed by about 10 feet (3 m). Unfortunately this torpedo then hit Minotaur despite strenuous evasive action by her helmsman.

11th patrol and loss[edit]

U-124 left Lorient for the last time on 27 March 1943. Heading southwest, she had hardly left the Bay of Biscay when she was attacked and sunk by two British warships, the Flower-class corvette HMS Stonecrop and Black Swan-class sloop HMS Black Swan west of Oporto in Portugal 2 April 1943.

All 53 crew members died.

U-37, a U-boat similar to U-124 at Lorient in 1940. Note the twin rudders.

Summary of Raiding Career[edit]

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate[5]
25 August 1940 Firecrest  United Kingdom 5,394 Sunk
25 August 1940 Harpalyce  United Kingdom 5,619 Sunk
25 August 1940 Stakesby  United Kingdom 3,900 Damaged
16 October 1940 Trevisa  Canada 1,813 Sunk
20 October 1940 Cubano  Norway 5,810 Sunk
20 October 1940 Sulaco  United Kingdom 5,389 Sunk
31 October 1940 Rutland  United Kingdom 1,437 Sunk
1 November 1940 Empire Bison  United Kingdom 5,612 Sunk
6 January 1941 Empire Thunder  United Kingdom 5,965 Sunk
8 March 1941 Hindpool  United Kingdom 4,897 Sunk
8 March 1941 Lahore  United Kingdom 5,304 Sunk
8 March 1941 Nardana  United Kingdom 7,974 Sunk
8 March 1941 Tielbank  United Kingdom 5,984 Sunk
30 March 1941 Umona  United Kingdom 3,767 Sunk
4 April 1941 Marlene  United Kingdom 6,507 Sunk
7 April 1941 Portadoc  Canada 1,746 Sunk
8 April 1941 Tweed  United Kingdom 2,697 Sunk
11 April 1941 Aegeon  Greece 5,285 Sunk
12 April 1941 St. Helena  United Kingdom 4,313 Sunk
13 April 1941 Corinthic  United Kingdom 4,823 Sunk
4 July 1941 Auditor  United Kingdom 5,444 Sunk
20 September 1941 Baltallin  United Kingdom 1,303 Damaged
20 September 1941 Empire Moat  United Kingdom 2,922 Sunk
25 September 1941 Empire Stream  United Kingdom 2,922 Sunk
26 September 1941 Cortes  United Kingdom 1,374 Sunk
26 September 1941 Petrel  United Kingdom 1,354 Sunk
26 September 1941 Siremalm  Norway 2,468 Sunk
26 November 1941 HMS Dunedin  Royal Navy 4,850 Sunk
3 December 1941 Sagadahoc  United States 6,725 Sunk
14 March 1942 British Resource  United Kingdom 7,209 Sunk
17 March 1942 Acme  United States 6,878 Damaged
17 March 1942 Ceiba  Honduras 1,698 Sunk
18 March 1942 E. M. Clark  United States 9,647 Sunk
18 March 1942 Kassandra Louloudis  Greece 5,106 Sunk
19 March 1942 SS Papoose  United States 5,939 Sunk
19 March 1942 W. E. Hutton  United States 7,076 Sunk
21 March 1942 Atlantic Sun  United States 11,355 Damaged
21 March 1942 Esso Nashville  United States 7,934 Damaged
23 March 1942 Naeco  United States 5,373 Sunk
12 May 1942 Cristales  United Kingdom 5,389 Sunk
12 May 1942 Empire Dell  United Kingdom 2,609 Sunk
12 May 1942 Llandover  United Kingdom 4,959 Sunk
12 May 1942 Mount Parnes  United Kingdom 4,371 Sunk
9 June 1942 FFL Mimosa  Free French Naval Forces 925 Sunk
12 June 1942 Dartford  United Kingdom 4,093 Sunk
18 June 1942 Seattle Spirit  United States 5,627 Sunk
28 June 1942 Treworlas  United Kingdom 4,692 Sunk
9 January 1943 Birmingham City  United States 6,194 Sunk
9 January 1943 Broad Arrow  United States 7,178 Sunk
9 January 1943 Collingsworth  United States 5,101 Sunk
9 January 1943 Minotaur  United States 4,554 Sunk
2 April 1943 Gogra  United Kingdom 5,190 Sunk
2 April 1943 Katha  United Kingdom 4,357 Sunk

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Gröner, p. 105-6.
  2. ^ Michael Gannon, Operation Drumbeat: The Dramatic True Story of Germany's First U-boat Attacks Along the American Coast In World War II, New York: Harper Perennial, 1991, p. 23
  3. ^ "Edwin Clarke – His Story". Merchant Navy Unsung Heroes. Keystage Arts and Heritage Company. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Gannon, Michael (1990). Operation Drumbeat – the dramatic true story of Germany's first U-boat attacks along the American coast in World War II. New York: Harper and Row. p. 308. ISBN 0060161558. 
  5. ^ "WWII U-boat Successes Ships hit by U-124". Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
Bibliography
  • Gröner, Erich (1985). U-Boote, Hilfskreuzer, Minenschiffe, Netzleger, Sperrbrecher. Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815-1945 (in German) III (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe). ISBN 3-7637-4802-4. 

External links[edit]