German submarine U-852

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Nazi Germany
Name: U-852
Ordered: 20 January 1941
Builder: DeSchiMAG AG Weser, Bremen
Yard number: 1058
Laid down: 15 April 1942
Launched: 28 January 1943
Commissioned: 15 June 1943
Fate: Scuttled, 3 May 1944
General characteristics
Class and type: Type IXD2 submarine
  • 1,610 t (1,580 long tons) surfaced
  • 1,799 t (1,771 long tons) submerged
  • 7.50 m (24 ft 7 in) o/a
  • 4.40 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 10.20 m (33 ft 6 in)
Draught: 5.40 m (17 ft 9 in)
Installed power:
  • 9,000 PS (6,620 kW; 8,880 bhp) (diesels)
  • 1,000 PS (740 kW; 990 shp) (electric)
  • 20.8 knots (38.5 km/h; 23.9 mph) surfaced
  • 6.9 knots (12.8 km/h; 7.9 mph) submerged
  • 12,750 nmi (23,610 km; 14,670 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
  • 57 nmi (106 km; 66 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Complement: 55 to 63
Service record[1][2]
Part of:
Operations: 1st patrol: 18 January – 3 May 1944
Victories: 2 commercial ships sunk (9,972 GRT)

German submarine U-852 was a Type IXD2 U-boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. It was laid down in Bremen and completed in June 1943, and was a long-range Type IX, with four bow and two stern torpedo tubes and a Focke-Achgelis Fa 330 Bachstelze cable-towed lookout gyroglider.

She was commanded throughout her brief service life by Kapitänleutnant Heinz-Wilhelm Eck, who led her through her sea trials and onto her first war patrol on 18 January 1944.

U-852's officers were the only Kriegsmarine submariners to be accused, prosecuted, and convicted of war crimes during the Nuremberg Trials for their actions against the survivors of a Greek steamer that it had sunk.


German Type IXD2 submarines were considerably larger than the original Type IXs. U-852 had a displacement of 1,610 tonnes (1,580 long tons) when at the surface and 1,799 tonnes (1,771 long tons) while submerged.[3] The U-boat had a total length of 87.58 m (287 ft 4 in), a pressure hull length of 68.50 m (224 ft 9 in), a beam of 7.50 m (24 ft 7 in), a height of 10.20 m (33 ft 6 in), and a draught of 5.35 m (17 ft 7 in). The submarine was powered by two MAN M 9 V 40/46 supercharged four-stroke, nine-cylinder diesel engines plus two MWM RS34.5S six-cylinder four-stroke diesel engines for cruising, producing a total of 9,000 metric horsepower (6,620 kW; 8,880 shp) for use while surfaced, and 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 1.85 m (6 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 200 metres (660 ft).[3]

The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 20.8 knots (38.5 km/h; 23.9 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 6.9 knots (12.8 km/h; 7.9 mph).[3] When submerged, the boat could operate for 121 nautical miles (224 km; 139 mi) at 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 12,750 nautical miles (23,610 km; 14,670 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-852 was fitted with six 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at the bow and two at the stern), 24 torpedoes, one 10.5 cm (4.13 in) SK C/32 naval gun, 150 rounds, and a 3.7 cm (1.5 in) SK C/30 with 2575 rounds as well as two 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft guns with 8100 rounds. The boat had a complement of fifty-five.[3]

SS Peleus[edit]

U-852's mission was to disrupt Allied communications in the Indian Ocean by attacking sea lanes there; this involved a high level of secrecy and so she had to avoid conflict on her passage. This plan was jeopardized on 13 March on the latitude of Freetown when she spotted the lone Greek steamer SS Peleus. Despite his mission, Eck decided to attack her. After stalking her until nightfall, they sank her with two torpedoes. What followed has been the subject of much dispute.

The sinking Peleus left a large debris field, amongst which were an unknown number of survivors clinging to rafts and wreckage. This field would have betrayed the presence of U-852 to aircraft and shipping patrolling the area, so Eck decided to destroy the wreckage with hand grenades and automatic weapons.

Eck ordered his junior officers to fire into the wreckage. These junior officers were:

Eck was present during the incident, while the remaining crew were below decks. Eck was also executed 30 November 1945.[4] As a result of this action, all but three perished out of Peleus's 35-man crew.

SS Dahomian[edit]

The submarine was able to evade pursuit, and two weeks later encountered and sank the British cargo ship SS Dahomian, off Cape Town on 1 April. This time U-852 hastily left the scene, rather than pausing.


U-852 was in the Indian Ocean on 30 April 1944[5] when she was spotted and attacked by a Vickers Wellington bomber flying from Aden. She was damaged by aerial depth charges and unable to dive, so she made for the Somali coast. The boat came under attack there by six bombers of RAF 621 Squadron, and Captain Eck was forced to beach his ship on a coral reef (9°32′N 50°59′E / 9.533°N 50.983°E / 9.533; 50.983Coordinates: 9°32′N 50°59′E / 9.533°N 50.983°E / 9.533; 50.983). Seven men were lost in the engagement; the remainder fled ashore. Fifty-eight were captured by Somaliland Camel Corps and local militia.

A British boarding party examined the wrecked U-boat and retrieved Eck's Kriegstagebuch ("War Diary"), which proved crucial in constructing the Allied case against him and his men.[6] Also of great interest was the Fa 330 Bachstelze rotor kite, a towed one-man aerial observation platform.[1]

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate
13 March 1944 Peleus  Greece 4,695 Sunk
1 April 1944 Dahomian  United Kingdom 5,277 Sunk

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type IXD2 boat U-852". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 March 2010. 
  2. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "War Patrols by German U-boat U-852". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 March 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 74-75.
  4. ^ a b c d Sharpe (1998), p.148
  5. ^ Klemen, L (1999–2000). "The U-Boat War in the Indian Ocean". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942. Archived from the original on 21 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Dwight R. Messimer. "Heinz-Wilhelm Eck: Siegerjustiz and the Peleus Affair". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 9 March 2010. 


  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II : a biographical dictionary. Translated by Brooks, Geoffrey. London, Annapolis, Md: Greenhill Books, Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-186-6. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Sharpe, Peter (1998). U-Boat Fact File. Great Britain: Midland Publishing. ISBN 1-85780-072-9. 

External links[edit]