German submarine U-256
|Ordered:||23 December 1939|
|Builder:||Bremer Vulkan, Bremen-Vegesack|
|Laid down:||15 February 1941|
|Launched:||28 October 1941|
|Commissioned:||18 December 1941|
|Status:||Converted to a Flak boat, May 1943|
|Recommissioned:||16 August 1943|
|Struck:||23 October 1944|
|Fate:||Captured in Bergen, Norway, and broken up|
|Type:||Type VIIC submarine|
|Displacement:||769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
|Length:||67.1 m (220 ft 2 in) o/a
50.5 m (165 ft 8 in) pressure hull
|Beam:||6.2 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
4.7 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
|Draft:||4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)|
|Propulsion:||2 × supercharged Germaniawerft 6-cylinder 4-stroke F46 diesel engines, totalling 2,800–3,200 bhp (2,100–2,400 kW). Max rpm: 470-490
2 × electric motors, totalling 750 shp (560 kW) and max rpm: 296.
|Speed:||17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
|Range:||8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
80 nautical miles (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
|Test depth:||230 m (750 ft)
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
|Complement:||44–52 officers and ratings|
|Armament:||5 × 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four bow, one stern)
14 × G7e torpedoes or 26 TMA mines
1 × 8.8 cm (3.46 in) deck gun (220 rounds)
Various AA guns
|Part of:||8th U-boat Flotilla
(18 December 1941–31 July 1942)
9th U-boat Flotilla
(1 August 1942–5 October 1944)
|Commanders:||Kptlt. Odo Loewe
(18 December 1941–30 November 1942)
Oblt.z.S. Wilhelm Brauel
(16 August 1943–27 June 1944)
KrvKpt. Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock
(2 September–18 October 1944)
|Operations:||1st patrol: 28 July–23 September 1942
2nd patrol: 4 October–17 November 1943
3rd patrol: 25 January–22 March 1944
4th patrol: 6 June–8 June 1944
5th patrol: 4 September–17 October 1944
|Victories:||One warship sunk (1,300 tons)|
German submarine U-256 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II, she also served for a short time as an anti-aircraft submarine under the designation U-flak 2. During her career, U-256 completed five wartime patrols and sank one warship of 1,300 tons.
The submarine was laid down on 15 February 1941 at the Bremer Vulkan yard at Bremen-Vegesack as 'werk' 21. She was launched on 28 October and commissioned on 18 December under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Odo Loewe.
During the patrol, U-256 unsuccessfully pursued Convoy SC 94, and early on 25 August was detected by the radar of the Norwegian Flower class corvette HNoMS Eglantine astern of convoy ON 122. The U-boat crash-dived when illuminated by star shells, the corvette attacked with depth charges. The boat eventually made her escape when the corvette was obliged to return to convoy protection duties, but the submarine was damaged enough to have to abort the patrol.
On the return journey, on the morning of 2 September, the U-boat was attacked by a British Whitley bomber of No. 77 Squadron RAF in the Bay of Biscay. The aircraft strafed and dropped several bombs, but the U-boat's flak hit the aircraft and it crashed into the sea. U-256 limped into Lorient the next day, due to the extensive damage from the two attacks, she was withdrawn from service in November 1942.
During an overhaul which included extensive repairs, U-256 was converted to a Flakboot (Flak boat) in May 1943. One of just four U-boats so modified, she was given an increased complement of anti-aircraft guns, to give her and other German submarines a better chance of fighting off enemy aircraft. U-256 was re-commissioned as U-flak 2 on 16 August 1943.
The boat's second wartime patrol started on 4 October under the command of Oblt.z.S. Wilhelm Brauel; her mission was to rendezvous with and protect U-488, a Milchkuh ('Milk cow' or re-supply U-boat). Such submarines could re-supply multiple U-boats at sea, and were consequently the prime target of Allied aircraft trying to disrupt U-boat activities.
On 8 October, the outbound boat was attacked by a Leigh light-equipped British Wellington bomber of No. 612 Squadron RAF in the Bay of Biscay. U-256 was not damaged by the six depth charges that straddled her, and escaped by crash-diving. U-256's return fire had hit the starboard elevator and rear turret of the aircraft, but it returned safely to base.
U-flak 2 was caught on the surface by the American destroyer USS Borie on 31 October. The U-boat escaped, but with minor depth charge damage.
On 16 November the inbound boat encountered a Halifax Mk.II aircraft of No. 502 Squadron RAF in the Bay of Biscay. The aircraft was damaged by flak and turned away. When the Halifax returned to the area, the U-boat had already escaped by crash-diving.
U-flak 2 returned to her base at Brest on 17 November. The Flak conversion was not considered a success, U-flak 2 was converted back to her original configuration in the winter of 1943/44 and renamed U-256.
U-256's third patrol started on 25 January 1944. She steamed west and southwest of Ireland and on 20 February damaged the anti-submarine sloop, HMS Woodpecker which later sank while under tow. On 19 March, inbound in the Bay of Biscay, the U-boat was strafed by a Leigh light-equipped British Liberator of 224 Squadron. The Germans observed hits from their 20 mm and 37 mm AA guns, before the aircraft dropped six depth charges, and then crashed into the sea 500 meters away. The boat was not damaged in the attack, and returned to Brest on the 22nd.
On 4 September 1944, under the command of Korvettenkapitän Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, U-256 became the last U-boat to leave Brest before the port was captured by the Allies. The transit from Brest to Bergen in Norway, would be U-256's last patrol. She reached her destination on 17 October, and was decommissioned there on 23 October.
Summary of Raiding Career
|20 February 1944||HMS Woodpecker (U08)||Royal Navy||1,300||Sunk|
- "The Type VIIC boat U-256 - German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
- "War Patrols by German U-boat U-256 - Boats - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
- "Patrol of U-boat U-256 from 28 Jul 1942 to 3 Sep 1942 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- "Patrol of U-boat U-256 from 4 Oct 1943 to 17 Nov 1943 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- "HMS Woodpecker (U 08) (Sloop) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- "Patrol of U-boat U-256 from 25 Jan 1944 to 22 Mar 1944 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- "Patrol of U-boat U-256 from 6 Jun 1944 to 8 Jun 1944 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- "Patrol of U-boat U-256 from 4 Sep 1944 to 17 Oct 1944 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- U-256 at uboat.net
- U-256 at ubootwaffe.net[dead link]
- Bishop, C. Kriegsmarine U-Boats, 1939–45. Amber Books, 2006.
- Williams, G. Wolf-Pack: The Story of the U-boat in World War II. Osprey Pub., 2005.