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33LIMA

'Central Atlantic worse than Biscay'

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U-105 off Freetown, Sierra Leone, September 1941

One of my favourite U-boat books is Robert C Stern's Battle Beneath the Waves (Cassell, 2002) which tells the stories of selected boats in both World Wars. He recounts that shortly before she was lost off West Africa after an unusual surface slugging match with USS Buckley in May 1944, Type IX boat U-66, harassed from the air, signalled to Befehlshaber der U-boote 'Central Atlantic Worse than Biscay'. The latter bay being traditionally where air power made life most difficult for U-boats by about 1942.

Well, that's how I felt, not long after my role-played Flotille Chef at the online Doenitz Elite Flotilla assigned us to return to the seas off Freetown for all of two weeks, for our second full patrol.

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The full story of the first patrol, written in the form of illustrated extracts from U-105's Kreigstagebuch or war diary, you can find here: http://www.donitzeliteflotilla.com/forum/index.php?topic=3368.0 (this was recorded as two patrols as it involved a refuelling stop at a covert supply ship in the Canary Islands - all very hush-hush, or sehr Gekados if you like).

Second patrol, things started happily enough at Lorient. Crew on deck, we slipped out of our berth, to the accompaniment of the quayside band playing and the nurses throwing flowers.

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Clear of port and with the open seas ahead, we bade farewell to our minesweeper escort.

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There was nothing much to tell for the next ten days or so, as we ploughed our way southwards at economical cruising speed, increasing revolutions to transit the Bay of Biscay and the seas west of the big enemy naval and air base at Gibraltar. Sometimes the weather was good; other times, not so good.

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Other times again, it was a bit of a mixture.

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Our first encounter came en route and in darkness, when our alert bridge watch spotted a steamer showing no lights and sailing independently. She was unarmed, so we sank her with our 10.5cm deck gun.

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A few days later, also in darkness, the tables were turned. We were surprised on the surface by two escorts, obviously radar-equipped, who drove us down and depth-charged us mercilessly. But fortunately without serious effect.

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All we could do was track them on the hydrophones, while creeping away.

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We escaped eventually, and ran into a second freighter a few days later. It didn't go well for her...

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...and she slipped below the waves soon after desperately firing off some futile distress flares.

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About the time we arrived in our patrol area SSW of Freetown, the weather finally improved again.

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So, why 'worse than Biscay', then? Well, that'll come next!

...to be continued!

Edited by 33LIMA
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It seems you have some good mods out there, is SH3?

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Our first encounter with aircraft isn't long in coming. We're forced to dive by two approaching Whitleys, but get down into the cellar before being spotted.

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Next thing you know, it's a pair of Catalinas...

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...and this time, we get strafed and bombed, for our troubles.

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But there's a consolation prize - when the flying boats are gone, we're able to run down a large freighter and sink her in a gun action.

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Soon afterwards, the Whitleys are back on our case.

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To make matters worse, I've picked this time to bring externally-stowed torpedo reloads into the boat, and can't instantly crash dive. The flak gunners have been standing by and do their best...

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...but we are machine-gunned and bombed heavily.

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By some miracle, we're finally able to get away below, without been blown out of the water.

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The very next day, no sooner have we repaired the damage, a Catalina is after us; happily we get into the cellar before he can bomb us.

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Later that day, a pair of Hudsons shows up, and this time they let us have it.

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So there you have it - 'Central Atlantic worse than Biscay'! The only good thing - apart from the fact we haven't been sunk or had crew casualties - is that we've been allocated a wider patrol area by our human role-playing HQ. The further away from land-based aircraft I can get on this patrol, the happier I will be!

Edited by 33LIMA
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As a postscript to this, even before I had reported the frequent air attacks, my role-playing human flotilla commander at DEF had, as mentioned, radioed me new orders considerably expanding my original small patrol area, which should enable me to operate further offshore and hopefully, see fewer aircraft!

[Linked Image]

Korvettenkapitaen Viktor Schuetze was the real-life commander of 2.U-Flotille at Lorient during this period and that's his actual photo! This radio contact happens outside of the sim on a DEF member's thread that's allocated to every active Kommandant, to receive orders and make realistic simulated reports, both during and after the patrol. I'm finding it adds a considerable extra level of immersion, and I'm invested in my boat, my crew and my mission more than ever. Interested? How to sign up is explained here: http://www.donitzeliteflotilla.com/forum/index.php?topic=74.0

Edited by 33LIMA

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Ah, Freetown, Sierra Leone... been there in the 90's on a, 'ahem' private venture!

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