German submarine U-108 (1940)

German submarine U-108 was a Type IXB U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine that operated during World War II. She was laid down at DeSchiMAG AG Weser in Bremen as yard number 971 on 27 December 1938, launched on 15 July 1940 and commissioned on 22 October under Korvettenkapitän Klaus Scholtz.

U-107 at Lorient in November 1941 which was a near identical vessel to U-108
Nazi Germany
Name: U-108
Ordered: 24 May 1938
Builder: DeSchiMAG AG Weser, Bremen
Yard number: 971
Laid down: 27 December 1938
Launched: 15 July 1940
Commissioned: 22 October 1940
Homeport: Lorient, France
Fate: Sunk, 11 April 1944[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: Type IXB U-boat
  • 1,051 t (1,034 long tons) surfaced
  • 1,178 t (1,159 long tons) submerged
  • 6.76 m (22 ft 2 in) o/a
  • 4.40 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draught: 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in)
Installed power:
  • 4,400 PS (3,200 kW; 4,300 bhp) (diesels)
  • 1,000 PS (740 kW; 990 shp) (electric)
  • 12,000 nmi (22,000 km; 14,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
  • 64 nmi (119 km; 74 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Complement: 48 to 56 officers and ratings
Service record
Part of:
Operations: 11 patrols
  • 25 ships sunk for a total of 118,722 GRT
  • one auxiliary warship sunk of 16,644 GRT

Her service career began with training as part of the 2nd U-boat Flotilla; she went on to operations, first with the 2nd flotilla, then with the 8th U-boat Flotilla.


German Type IXB submarines were slightly larger than the original German Type IX submarines, later designated IXA. U-108 had a displacement of 1,051 tonnes (1,034 long tons) when at the surface and 1,178 tonnes (1,159 long tons) while submerged.[2] The U-boat had a total length of 76.50 m (251 ft), a pressure hull length of 58.75 m (192 ft 9 in), a beam of 6.76 m (22 ft 2 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.70 m (15 ft 5 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 metric horsepower (740 kW; 990 shp) 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).[2]

The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 18.2 knots (33.7 km/h; 20.9 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.3 knots (13.5 km/h; 8.4 mph).[2] When submerged, the boat could operate for 64 nautical miles (119 km; 74 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km; 14,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-108 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) SK C/30 as well as a 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of forty-eight.[2]

Service history

U-108 carried out eleven war patrols, during which she sank 25 ships, a total of 118,722 gross register tons (GRT) and one auxiliary warship of 16,444 tons. She was a member of seven wolfpacks.

1st, 2nd and 3rd patrols

The boat's first patrol began with her departure from Wilhelmshaven on 15 February 1941. She crossed the North Sea and entered the Atlantic via the gap between Iceland and the Faroe Islands, sinking Texelstroom on 22 February. She also sank Effna on the 28th; both ships met their end south of Iceland. She then docked at Lorient in occupied France on 12 March. She would be based there for most of the rest of her career.

Her second foray involved the sinking of HMS Rajputana, an armed merchant cruiser, west of Reykjavík on 13 April 1941. The Convoy Commodore, four officer and 35 ratings were lost.

U-108 sank Michael E., a CAM ship or 'Catapult Armed Merchantman', on the submarine's third patrol on 2 June 1941 in mid-Atlantic. She went on to sink Baron Nairn west of Cape Race (eastern Newfoundland and Labrador) on the 8th; the Greek ship Dirphys 600 nautical miles (1,100 km; 690 mi) east of Newfoundland, also on 8 July; Christian Krohg on the 10th; Ellinco on the 25th; Nicholas Pateras on the same day and Toronto on 1 July. The latter was a weather ship situated about 500 nmi (930 km; 580 mi) north of the Azores.

4th, 5th and 6th patrols

Patrol number four saw the boat covering the 'gap' between South America and Africa. She departed Lorient on 19 August 1941 and returned on 21 October.

She sank Cassequel, a neutral vessel, on 14 December 1941, 160 nmi (300 km; 180 mi) southwest of Cape St. Vincent, Portugal and Ruckinge (convoy HG 76) on the 19th, west of Lisbon as part of her fifth sortie.

The boat's sixth patrol, as part of Operation Drumbeat (Paukenschlag),[3] took her to the east coast of North America where she was again successful, sinking Ocean Venture on 8 February 1942, Tolosa on the 9th and Blink on the 12th. The U-boat had chased Blink, which had been hit by a non-detonating torpedo, the two vessels almost collided; which was only avoided by U-108 diving underneath the merchant ship.

She also sank Ramapo northwest of Bermuda on 16 February and Somme on the 18th.

7th, 8th and 9th patrols

The boat's seventh patrol was almost as successful as her sixth, sinking Modesta on 25 April 1942, Mobiloil on the 29th (which required a total of six torpedoes and many rounds from the 20mm and 37mm guns), Afoundria on 5 May, and Abgara a day later. On the return leg she encountered Norland on the 25th.

More success pennants were flown after her eighth patrol, which took her almost to the northern South American coast. She sank Tricula on 3 August 1942, Breňas on the 7th and Louisiana on the 17th.

The boat's ninth patrol was carried out in opposition to Operation Torch, (the Allied landings in North Africa). The submarine had not been off Morocco long before being attacked by a destroyer. The damage incurred was serious enough that the boat was obliged to return to France where effective repairs might be carried out.

10th and 11th patrols

The U-boat was attacked by a Catalina flying boat of 202 Squadron RAF on 10 February 1943 west of Morocco. The damage to the forward torpedo tubes forced her to return to Lorient.

In her last operational patrol, she departed Lorient on 1 April 1943. She was attacked by a destroyer on the 22nd but continued to shadow Convoy ON (S) 4 southeast of Greenland. She arrived at Stettin in modern-day Poland on 16 May. Bombed and sunk there 11 April, raised and decommissioned 17 July 1944. Scuttled there 24 April 1945.[4]


U-108 took part in seven wolfpacks, namely.

  • West (2–20 June 1941)
  • Seeräuber (14–22 December 1941)
  • Schlagetot (9–17 November 1942)
  • Rochen (28 January - 11 February 1943)
  • Adler (7–13 April 1943)
  • Meise (13–27 April 1943)
  • Specht (27–28 April 1943)

Summary of raiding history

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage[Note 1] Fate[5]
22 February 1941 Texelstroom  Netherlands 1,617 Sunk
28 February 1941 Effna  United Kingdom 6,461 Sunk
13 April 1941 HMS Rajputana  Royal Navy 16,644 Sunk
2 June 1941 SS Michael E  United Kingdom 7,628 Sunk
8 June 1941 Baron Nairn  United Kingdom 3,164 Sunk
8 June 1941 Dirphys  Greece 4,240 Sunk
10 June 1941 Christian Krohg  Norway 1,992 Sunk
25 June 1941 Ellinco  Greece 3,059 Sunk
25 June 1941 Nicholas Pateras  Greece 4,362 Sunk
1 July 1941 Toronto City  United Kingdom 2,486 Sunk
14 December 1941 Cassequel  Portugal 2,751 Sunk
19 December 1941 Ruckinge  United Kingdom 2,869 Sunk
2 February 1942 Ocean Venture  United Kingdom 7,174 Sunk
9 February 1942 Tolosa  Norway 1,974 Sunk
12 February 1942 Blink  Norway 2,701 Sunk
16 February 1942 Ramapo  Panama 2,968 Sunk
18 February 1942 Somme  United Kingdom 5,265 Sunk
25 April 1941 Modesta  United Kingdom 3,849 Sunk
29 April 1942 Mobiloil  United States 9,925 Sunk
5 May 1942 Afoundria  United States 5,010 Sunk
6 May 1942 Abgara  Latvia 4,422 Sunk
20 May 1942 Norland  Norway 8,134 Sunk
3 August 1942 Tricula  United Kingdom 6,221 Sunk
7 August 1942 Breñas  Norway 2,687 Sunk
17 August 1942 Louisiana  United States 8,567 Sunk
19 April 1943 Robert Gray  United States 7,176 Sunk



  1. Merchant ship tonnages are in gross register tons. Military vessels are listed by tons displacement.


  1. Kemp 1997, p. 183.
  2. Gröner 1991, p. 68.
  3. Gannon, Michael - Operation Drumbeat - the dramatic true story of Germany's first U-boat attacks along the American coast in World War II, 1990, Harper and Row publishers, ISBN 0-06-016155-8, p. 202 .
  4. Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type IXB boat U-108". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  5. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-108". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 19 June 2014.


  • 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.
  • Kemp, Paul (1997). U-Boats Destroyed, German Submarine Losses in the World Wars. Arms and Armour. ISBN 1-85409-515-3.
  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type IXB boat U-108". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  • Hofmann, Markus. "U 108". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - (in German). Retrieved 2 February 2015.

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