German submarine U-527
|Ordered:||15 August 1940|
|Builder:||Deutsche Werft, Hamburg|
|Laid down:||28 October 1941|
|Launched:||17 June 1942|
|Commissioned:||12 August 1942|
|Fate:||Sunk by US aircraft south of the Azores, July 1943|
|Class and type:||Type IXC/40 submarine|
|Beam:||6.86 m (22 ft 6 in) o/a 4.44 m (14 ft 7 in) pressure hull|
|Height:||9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)|
|Draught:||4.67 m (15 ft 4 in)|
|Test depth:||230 m (750 ft)|
|Complement:||4 officers, 44 enlisted|
She carried out two patrols and sank one ship. She also sank one warship and damaged one commercial vessel. She was a member of four wolfpacks.
German Type IXC/40 submarines were slightly larger than the original Type IXCs. U-527 had a displacement of 1,144 tonnes (1,126 long tons) when at the surface and 1,257 tonnes (1,237 long tons) while submerged. The U-boat had a total length of 76.76 m (251 ft 10 in), a pressure hull length of 58.75 m (192 ft 9 in), a beam of 6.86 m (22 ft 6 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.67 m (15 ft 4 in). The submarine was powered by two MAN M 9 V 40/46 supercharged four-stroke, nine-cylinder diesel engines producing a total of 4,400 metric horsepower (3,240 kW; 4,340 shp) for use while surfaced, two Siemens-Schuckert 2 GU 345/34 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 1,000 shaft horsepower (1,010 PS; 750 kW) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.92 m (6 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres (750 ft).
The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 18.3 knots (33.9 km/h; 21.1 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.3 knots (13.5 km/h; 8.4 mph). When submerged, the boat could operate for 63 nautical miles (117 km; 72 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 13,850 nautical miles (25,650 km; 15,940 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-527 was fitted with six 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at the bow and two at the stern), 22 torpedoes, one 10.5 cm (4.13 in) SK C/32 naval gun, 180 rounds, and a 3.7 cm (1.5 in) as well as a 2 cm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of forty-eight.
The boat departed Kiel on 9 February 1943, moved through the North Sea, negotiated the gap between Iceland and the Faroe Islands and entered the Atlantic Ocean. There, southeast of Cape Farewell (Greenland), she sank Fort Lamy on 8 March. HMS LCT-2480 was also lost.
She damaged Mathew Luckenbach on 19 March. U-523 came across the drifting wreck and finished her off.
U-527 was attacked by a Sunderland flying boat on the 20th - damage was slight.
She entered Lorient, on the French Atlantic coast, on 12 April 1943.
2nd patrol and loss
Having left Lorient on 10 May 1943, she was in the middle of "attacking a large ship under tow, when a corvette was summoned, which dropped 15 depth charges", damage sustained was minimal. Her sortie continued as far as the Gulf of Mexico.
On the return leg, on 23 July 1943, she was sunk south of the Azores by Avenger aircraft from the carrier USS Bogue. Pilot : Robert L Stearns from Bogue dropped four shallow-set depth charges as U-527 made for cover in a bank of sea fog. The pressure hull aft was blown open, U-527 sank instantly.
Forty men went down with the U-boat; there were 13 survivors. One survivor died in the water of internal injuries. Twelve survivors, sharing four punctured life-vests, were picked up after considerable time in the water; by USS Clemson and then later transferred to USS Bogue. The survivors recall having deafness and contusions which took two weeks to recover from. The survivors were taken to Casablanca and put in the prison there for full interrogation. They were later transported to the USA. The crew had a considerably high regard and respect for their captain, Captain Uhlig, aged 27 years finding him a man of great integrity and fairness. The crew recall that, quite the opposite to the film, 'Das Boot', that they only ever spoke in orderly, quiet voices during service on the seas and that they were neither allowed to shout nor would have done so. On U-527 being hit by the depth charges from the Avenger Aircraft there was only time for the twelve men on watch to escape and one other who was not on watch but around the conning tower. By an act of extreme bravery, Captain Herbert Uhlig, on finding the hatch exit from the conning tower to be damaged and unable to be opened normally, "put his shoulder to the hatch and exerted his utmost force" and the hatch came open. Family of Captain Uhlig remember his having a shoulder injury and weakness for the rest of his life to that shoulder. This act saved the lives of those few of the crew who had time and proximity to escape as U-527 sank almost immediately. Others closer to the blast and damage would have died instantly, the survivors recalled.
The crew were kept together when they arrived in the USA and were put to work in Arizona picking cotton, grapefruit, pineapples and working at the Biltmore Hotel golf course as green keepers. One member of the crew gave away more information than they had been briefed to allow, at Kriegsmarine Schule in their training in Kiel, and he was summarily executed by other German POW's in their POW camp. This caused great sadness, depression and fear amongst those not involved.
In 1945 at the cessation of hostilities the crew along with other naval POW's were transported by ship on the assumption that they were being re-patriated to Germany. After they had passed through the Panama Canal and entered the Atlantic, as mariners they realised quite early that they were not on a course to 'home' but to Britain. They were taken to Liverpool to contribute towards reparation and put to work on farms as laborers to make up for the casualties who failed to return to farm work in Britain because of the war years. They were held as POWs for up to four more years in the UK, before being given new suits and shoes and travel permits to return to their homes. One survivor decided to return to Britain to marry a Yorkshire farmer's daughter. The crew stayed in touch with each other and often, in later years, made a point of returning to the Kriegsmarine Memorial in Kiel, with their families, each year on 23 July. Many of the remaining crew survived until old age, the last passing away in 2012.
On 10 March 2002, Arthur Luchan, one of the men who had served on the USS Bogue received an email from former U-527 crew member Willi Kibbat in England after Willi had seen Arthur's USS Bogue website on the internet. They exchanged emails to talk about common history and experiences. As a result, a great friendship sprang up between many of the Bogue veterans and Willi.
The wife of USS Bogue veteran crew member Omer Olson, penned the following poem "in memory of your forty lost submariners in U527 and shipmates Lt Robert L Stearns (1944) and Arthur Luchan (09.08.02)"
'The spirit of man' is a wondrous thing.
It can harbor ill feelings or happiness bring.
After sixty long years, since the Second World War -
Something occurred which shoved hate out the door!
A man, Willi Kibbat, a German War Vet.
Contacted Art Luchan, his reasons well met.
He wished to make contact with men from the Bogue
for personal reasons - he wasn't a rogue!
His sub. Five Twenty-Seven, was sunk long ago
By our pilot named Stearns - what havoc below!
There were thirteen survivors who were plucked from the sea,
Among them was Willi, and grateful was he!
They were treated humanely as Prisoners Of War,
so about these Bogue seamen Willi wished to know more.
Art furnished addresses and names of his mates.
So began correspondence of those men and their fates.
Where once there was blood shed and hatred full blown,
There now is compassion and friendships have grown.
While grasping life's meaning wherever they can -
A lesson's been learned - on the spirit of man!'
Korra M Olsen, 23 July 2003 / Spokane USA
U-527 took part in four wolfpacks, namely.
- Burggraf (24 February - 5 March 1943)
- Westmark (6–11 March 1943)
- Stürmer (11–20 March 1943)
- Seewolf (21–30 March 1943)
Summary of raiding history
|8 March 1943||Fort Lamy||United Kingdom||5,242||Sunk|
|8 March 1943||HMS LCT-2480||Royal Navy||291||Sunk|
|19 March 1943||Mathew Luckenbach||United States||5,848||Damaged|
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- Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [German U-boat losses from September 1939 to May 1945]. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German). IV. Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler. ISBN 3-8132-0514-2.
- Edwards, Bernard (1996). Dönitz and the Wolf Packs - The U-boats at War. Cassell Military Classics. p. 169. ISBN 0-304-35203-9.
- Gröner, Erich; Jung, Dieter; Maass, Martin (1991). U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels. German Warships 1815–1945. 2. Translated by Thomas, Keith; Magowan, Rachel. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-593-4.