German submarine U-754

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Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-754
Ordered: 9 October 1939
Builder: Kriegsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven
Laid down: 8 January 1940
Launched: 5 July 1941
Commissioned: 28 August 1941
Fate: Sunk, 31 July 1942
General characteristics [1]
Class and 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
Height: 9.6 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draft: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: 2 × supercharged Germaniawerft 6-cylinder 4-stroke F46 diesel engines, totalling 2,800–3,200 PS (2,800–3,200 bhp; 2,100–2,400 kW). Max rpm: 470-490
2 × GL RP 137/c electric motors, totalling 750 PS (740 shp; 550 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 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
80 nmi (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 & ratings
Armament:
Service record
Part of: Kriegsmarine:
1st U-boat Flotilla
Commanders: Kptlt. Johannes Ostermann (August 1941 – July 1942)
Operations:

3 patrols;

  • 30 December 1941 – 9 February 1942
  • 7 March – 25 April 1942
  • 19 June – 31 July 1942
Victories: 13 ships sunk for a total of 55,659 gross register tons (GRT)

German submarine U-754 was a Type VIIC U-boat deployed by Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during the Second World War against allied shipping in the Atlantic Ocean. She was a successful if short-lived boat, sinking 13 ships during her career. She was most notorious for her final attack, in which she shelled and sank the small fishing vessel MV Ebb, and killed a number of its crew with machine-gun fire as they attempted to launch a life raft. She was sunk with all hands by a Royal Canadian Air Force bomber three days later on 31 July 1942.

The U-754 was built in the Kriegsmarinewerft at the main fleet base of Wilhelmshaven in Northern Germany on the North Sea. She was completed on 28 August 1941, and given to the experienced Kapitänleutnant Johannes Ostermann to command. Following her work-up period in which the boat was tested and the crew trained, she was despatched on her first patrol.

War patrols[edit]

1st patrol[edit]

U-754 departed Kiel on her first patrol on 30 December 1941, and her operating area was primarily in the mouth of the St Lawrence River, operating against convoys entering or leaving the waterway, or destined for the many ports at the river's mouth, such as Halifax, Nova Scotia or St. John's, Newfoundland. During this patrol, she sank four freighters. The submarine narrowly escaped a bombing attack by a Royal Canadian Air Force Bolingbroke bomber on 23 March which inflicted minor damage.[2] The submarine returned to Brest in France on 2 February to resupply and rearm.

2nd patrol[edit]

The second patrol left from Brest on 9 March 1942, and after a brief sweep in her previous area of operations, she swung south to take advantage of the Second happy time then occurring off the United States's Eastern Seaboard. During this patrol she sank seven more ships; three of them in one attack on a small coastal convoy, in which she hit several small barges and coastal cargo ships. She sank the tanker MV British Prudence by torpedo on 23 March. U-754 returned to Brest on 25 April 1942.

3rd patrol[edit]

Her final patrol was her least successful, in terms of ships sunk, although the tonnage was higher, as she sunk the 12,435-ton SS Waiwera in the mid-Atlantic on 29 June, ten days after leaving Brest.

Attack on F/V Ebb[edit]

It was nearly a month later, on 28 July, that U-754 scored her final victim, when she controversially shelled the fishing vessel Ebb near Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia.

The Ebb was a motor fishing trawler operating out of Boston for the General Sea Foods Company. The crew of the small 260-ton vessel felt it was unlikely that they would be troubled by the war, as she was far too small for an effective torpedo shot, and too insignificant to justify the risk of a surface attack by gunfire. On 28 July 1942, however, while fishing off Cape Sable her crew were shocked to see U-754 emerge from the water.

The submarine immediately opened fire without warning on Ebb with her anti-aircraft guns. The ship stopped and made signals that they had surrendered, but the gunfire continued, one gun sweeping through the crowd of crew members attempting to launch the ship's life raft. Five of the seventeen crew were killed and seven more seriously wounded, before the Ebb sank after taking over fifty hits. The survivors were discovered and rescued by the W class destroyer HMS Witherington fourteen hours later.[3]

Had U-754's crew survived the war, it is possible that they would have been charged with war crimes as were the officers of U-852 who also fired on sailors who had abandoned their ship. Similar incidents of gun attacks aimed at crews occurred on the U-247 and U-552.[4]

RCAF attack and sinking[edit]

Radio transmissions from U-754 betrayed a pattern to Royal Canadian Navy intelligence, information which was used by Norville Everett Small the commander of RCAF 113 Squadron to deploy patrols from RCAF Station Yarmouth targeting the suspected position of U-754.[5]

On 31 July, a Hudson bomber piloted by Squadron Leader Small himself caught U-754 on the surface south of Yarmouth not far from the scene of the Ebb sinking. The submarine was precisely straddled by a cluster of depth charges as it began to dive. The conning tower of the wounded submarine briefly surfaced to be strafed by the Hudson's machine guns before submerging for the last time.

A trail of large air bubbles was followed by a massive underwater explosion as U-754 went to the bottom with all 43 hands. It marked the first submarine kill of the RCAF's Eastern Air Command.[6]

Wolfpacks[edit]

U-754 took part in one wolfpack, namely.

Summary of Raiding Career[7][edit]

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate
21 January 1942 Belize  Norway 2,135 Sunk
21 January 1942 William Hansen  Norway 1,344 Sunk
25 January 1942 Mount Kitheron  Greece 3,876 Sunk
26 January 1942 Icarion  Greece 4,013 Sunk
23 March 1942 British Prudence  United Kingdom 8,620 Sunk
31 March 1942 Menominee  United States 441 Sunk
31 March 1942 Ontario  United States 490 Damaged
31 March 1942 Barnegat  United States 914 Sunk
31 March 1942 Alleghany  United States 914 Sunk
1 April 1942 Tiger  United States 5,992 Sunk
3 April 1942 Otho  United States 4,389 Sunk
6 April 1942 Kollskeg  Norway 9,858 Sunk
29 June 1942 Waiwera  United Kingdom 12,435 Sunk
28 July 1942 Ebb  United States 260 Sunk

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gröner 1985, pp. 72-74.
  2. ^ The Creation of a National Air Force W.A.B. Douglas, (University of Toronto Press, 1986) p. 480.
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ebb". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Bridgland
  5. ^ http://www.cda.forces.gc.ca/cfli/engraph/research/pdf/36.pdf.
  6. ^ The Creation of a National Air Force W.A.B. Douglas, (University of Toronto Press, 1986) p. 520 and http://www.rcaf.com/squadrons/1-100series/113squadron.php
  7. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-754". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German) IV (Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler). ISBN 3-8132-0514-2. 
  • 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. 
  • Sharpe, Peter (1998). U-Boat Fact File. Great Britain: Midland Publishing. ISBN 1-85780-072-9. 

External links[edit]