German submarine U-124 (1940)
German submarine U-124 (nickname "Edelweisseboot") was a Type IXB U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. She operated in the Atlantic as part of the 2nd U-boat flotilla, both west of Scotland and east of the eastern US coast. She was also present off northern South America.
U-124 after a patrol
|Ordered:||15 December 1937|
|Builder:||DeSchiMAG AG Weser, Bremen|
|Laid down:||11 August 1939|
|Launched:||9 March 1940|
|Commissioned:||11 June 1940|
|Fate:||Sunk by British warships west of Portugal, 3 April 1943 west of Oporto at 41°02′N 15°39′W|
|Class and type:||German Type IXB submarine|
|Draught:||4.70 m (15 ft 5 in)|
|Test depth:||230 m (750 ft)|
|Complement:||4 officers, 44 enlisted|
She was sunk with all hands west of Portugal in 1943.
U-124 was laid down on 11 August 1939 at the DeSchiMAG AG Weser yard in Bremen as yard number 956. She was launched on 9 March 1940 and commissioned on 11 June, with Kapitänleutnant Georg-Wilhelm Schulz in command. The core of the crew came from Schulz’s previous command, U-64, which had been sunk during the Norwegian campaign, the survivors had been rescued by Wehrmacht mountain troops and their badge, the Edelweiss, was painted on U-124’s conning tower in appreciation. He was relieved on 8 September 1941 by Korvettenkapitän Johann Mohr. He remained in command until the boat's loss in 1943.
German Type IXB submarines were slightly larger than the original German Type IX submarines, later designated IXA. U-124 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. 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).
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). 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-124 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.
U-124 conducted eleven war patrols, sinking 46 ships, totalling 219,862 gross register tons (GRT) and sinking two warships, totaling 5,775 long tons (5,868 t). She also damaged four ships, totalling 30,067 GRT. She was a member of two wolfpacks.
U-124's first patrol began with her departure from Wilhelmshaven on 19 August 1940. Her route took her across the North Sea and through the gap between the Faroe and Shetland Islands. She attacked three ships northwest of Scotland; Stakesby, Harpalyce and Firecrest, all on the 25th. To avoid retaliation from HMS Godetia, the boat dived to 90 m (300 ft). The Royal Navy Flower-class corvette dropped 12 depth charges. Striking rocks on the sea-bed, the boat lay there for an hour, the corvette lost contact, but the collision had damaged three of her torpedo tubes. As a result, she spent the rest of the patrol reporting on the weather.
The submarine docked at Lorient on the French Atlantic coast, on 16 September.
U-124's second foray was conducted further northwest of the Scottish mainland. Her first victim was Trevisa; sunk on 16 October 1940 218 nmi (404 km; 251 mi) west of Rockall. The next day, 17 October, the Royal Navy River-class submarine HMS Clyde fired three torpedoes at her. All missed, and U-124 remained unaware of the attack.
U-124 went on to sink another four ships; Cubano, Sulaco (there was only one survivor) both on 20 October, Rutland on the 31st and the Empire Bison on 1 November. The latter ship's four survivors, on a raft when the U-boat came to investigate, played dead as they did not wish to be taken prisoner.
On her third sortie U-124 sank Empire Thunder north-northeast of Rockall on 6 January 1941.
On her fourth patrol the boat sank 11 ships, four on the same day north of the Cape Verde Islands on 8 March 1941; Nardana, Hindpool, Tielbank and Lahore . She then destroyed another seven vessels southwest of Freetown, in Sierra Leone: Umona on 30 March, Marlene on 4 April, Portadoc on 7 April, Tweed a day later, Aegeon on the 11th, St. Helena on the 12th and the Corinthic on the 13th. 102 people died as a result of her sinking Umona. One account claims that after sinking her, U-124 surfaced and captured the liner's fourth officer from a lifeboat, and that he was never seen again.
Corinthic was first struck by a dud torpedo, but another functioned correctly and sank the ship.
U-124 drew a blank on her fifth sortie, failing to destroy a single target. She scoured the central Atlantic southwest of Gibraltar, but found nothing.
Her sixth patrol was successful. Mohr, (her new commander), rather ambitiously claimed two ships totalling 15,000 tons sunk and a third vessel of 8,000 tons damaged. The reality was rather different. Baltallin (1,303 tons) on 20 September 1941 and Empire Moat (2,922 tons) also on the 20th, were both lost from Convoy OG-74; they went down north northeast of the Azores.
In addition, Empire Stream was sunk on 25 September. Among the dead were two stowaways. A final effort on 26 September accounted for three more ships, also near the Azores: Petrel, Cortes and Siremalm (there were no survivors from the latter vessel).
U-124 returned to Lorient on 1 October.
After almost a month in her base, U-124 started her seventh patrol on 30 October 1941. On 24 November, she was engaged by the Royal Navy Danae-class cruiser HMS Dunedin which, with two consorts, had been searching for the Armed Merchant Raider Atlantis and her supply ship Python. Dunedin was hit by two torpedoes, despite being outside the theoretical range of the U-boat's projectiles and sank 17 minutes later. 419 men died; there were 67 survivors.
The submarine remained in the South Atlantic and sank the American Sagadahoc on 3 December. She was the fourth and last of the so-called neutral ships to meet her end. Her demise followed a six-hour chase and her lights not being set correctly.
A change of operational area saw the boat deploy to the Eastern United States seaboard following the success of Operation Drumbeat (Paukenschlag); leaving Lorient on 21 February 1942. Like the original 'drumbeaters', Mohr found the US defences easy to penetrate.
The boat scored her first victory before reaching her destination; sinking British Resource about 230 nautical miles (430 km; 260 mi) north of Bermuda on 14 March.
She then sank seven ships and damaged two more – all in March. One of them, E. M. Clark, was hit in such a way that her whistle sounded continuously until the ship went down. Another, Esso Nashville, was hit by a torpedo which failed to detonate, but a subsequent torpedo broke the tanker's back. She was held together only by deck plates and piping. The bow and stern sections soon separated, and the bow soon sank. The stern was towed to Baltimore where it was fitted with a new fore-part and the ship returned to service in March 1943.
Two more ships were hit before U-124 returned to Lorient. It was her most successful patrol; 68,215 tons of shipping was lost or incapacitated.
It was back to the mid-Atlantic for the boat's ninth patrol, as part of Wolfpack Hecht, beginning on 4 May 1942. Four ships from Convoy ONS 92 were sunk end on the 12th. U-124's next victim was the Free French corvette Mimosa which was sunk with heavy loss of life on 9 June. Many of the casualties came from St. Pierre et Miquelon. The impact of the sinking had a lasting effect in the community.
Two more ships were sunk before the boat returned to Lorient on 26 June.
Another change of operational zone, this time to the northern coastal area of South America. The submarine left Lorient on 25 November 1942. She sank Trewloras about 50 nautical miles (93 km; 58 mi) east of Port of Spain, Trinidad on 28 December.
The boat was attacked by a US Catalina flying boat on 1 January 1943 east of Port of Spain. No damage was caused.
She sank four more ships; Broad Arrow, Birmingham City, Collingsworth and Minotaur, all on the 9th. Collingsworth's helmsman swung the ship to port so hard that one torpedo missed by about 10 feet (3 m). Unfortunately this torpedo then hit Minotaur despite strenuous evasive action by her helmsman.
11th patrol and loss
U-124 left Lorient for the last time on 27 March 1943. Heading southwest, she had hardly left the Bay of Biscay when she was attacked and sunk by two British warships, the Flower-class corvette HMS Stonecrop and Black Swan-class sloop HMS Black Swan west of Oporto in Portugal 2 April 1943.
All 53 crew members died.
Summary of raiding history
|25 August 1940||Firecrest||5,394||Sunk|
|25 August 1940||Harpalyce||5,619||Sunk|
|25 August 1940||Stakesby||3,900||Damaged|
|16 October 1940||Trevisa||1,813||Sunk|
|20 October 1940||Cubano||5,810||Sunk|
|20 October 1940||Sulaco||5,389||Sunk|
|31 October 1940||Rutland||1,437||Sunk|
|1 November 1940||Empire Bison||5,612||Sunk|
|6 January 1941||Empire Thunder||5,965||Sunk|
|8 March 1941||Hindpool||4,897||Sunk|
|8 March 1941||Lahore||5,304||Sunk|
|8 March 1941||Nardana||7,974||Sunk|
|8 March 1941||Tielbank||5,984||Sunk|
|30 March 1941||Umona||3,767||Sunk|
|4 April 1941||Marlene||6,507||Sunk|
|7 April 1941||Portadoc||1,746||Sunk|
|8 April 1941||Tweed||2,697||Sunk|
|11 April 1941||Aegeon||5,285||Sunk|
|12 April 1941||St. Helena||4,313||Sunk|
|13 April 1941||Corinthic||4,823||Sunk|
|4 July 1941||Auditor||5,444||Sunk|
|20 September 1941||Baltallin||1,303||Damaged|
|20 September 1941||Empire Moat||2,922||Sunk|
|25 September 1941||Empire Stream||2,922||Sunk|
|26 September 1941||Cortes||1,374||Sunk|
|26 September 1941||Petrel||1,354||Sunk|
|26 September 1941||Siremalm||2,468||Sunk|
|26 November 1941||HMS Dunedin||4,850||Sunk|
|3 December 1941||Sagadahoc||6,725||Sunk|
|14 March 1942||British Resource||7,209||Sunk|
|17 March 1942||Acme||6,878||Damaged|
|17 March 1942||Ceiba||1,698||Sunk|
|18 March 1942||E. M. Clark||9,647||Sunk|
|18 March 1942||Kassandra Louloudis||5,106||Sunk|
|19 March 1942||SS Papoose||5,939||Sunk|
|19 March 1942||W. E. Hutton||7,076||Sunk|
|21 March 1942||Atlantic Sun||11,355||Damaged|
|21 March 1942||Esso Nashville||7,934||Damaged|
|23 March 1942||Naeco||5,373||Sunk|
|12 May 1942||Cristales||5,389||Sunk|
|12 May 1942||Empire Dell||2,609||Sunk|
|12 May 1942||Llandover||4,959||Sunk|
|12 May 1942||Mount Parnes||4,371||Sunk|
|9 June 1942||FFL Mimosa||925||Sunk|
|12 June 1942||Dartford||4,093||Sunk|
|18 June 1942||Seattle Spirit||5,627||Sunk|
|28 December 1942||Treworlas||4,692||Sunk|
|9 January 1943||Birmingham City||6,194||Sunk|
|9 January 1943||Broad Arrow||7,178||Sunk|
|9 January 1943||Collingsworth||5,101||Sunk|
|9 January 1943||Minotaur||4,554||Sunk|
|2 April 1943||Gogra||5,190||Sunk|
|2 April 1943||Katha||4,357||Sunk|
- Michael Gannon, Operation Drumbeat: The Dramatic True Story of Germany's First U-boat Attacks Along the American Coast In World War II, New York: Harper Perennial, 1991, p. 23
- Gröner 1991, p. 68.
- "Edwin Clarke – His Story". Merchant Navy Unsung Heroes. Keystage Arts and Heritage Company. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- Gannon, Michael (1990). Operation Drumbeat – the dramatic true story of Germany's first U-boat attacks along the American coast in World War II. New York: Harper and Row. p. 308. ISBN 0060161558.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-124". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- 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.
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to German submarine U-124 (1940).|