Operation Eisenhart

iron hard

This was a U-boat wolfpack operation in the central part of the North Atlantic against the HX.264, SC.146 and HX.265 convoys (9/15 November 1943).

The undertaking was divided into 10 sub-operations using different groups of U-boats, and neither lost any of its own number nor sank any ship. 'Eisenhart I' of 9/15 November comprised U-391, U-538 and U-542. 'Eisenhart II' of 9/15 November 1943 comprised U-424, U-714 and U-843. 'Eisenhart III' of 9/15 November comprised U-280, U-764 and U-969. 'Eisenhart IV' of 9/15 November comprised U-212, U-575 and U-967. 'Eisenhart V' of 9/15 November comprised U-552, U-586 and U-963. 'Eisenhart VI' of 9/13 November comprised only U-709. 'Eisenhart VII' of 9/15 November comprised U-343, U-608 and U-648. 'Eisenhart VIII' of 9/11 November comprised U-373, U-413, U-592 and U-648. 'Eisenhart IX' of 9/11 November comprised U-267, U-281 and U-426. 'Eisenhart X' of 9/10 November comprised only U-648.

The boats of the ‘Eisenhart’ wolfpack were loosely stationed in groups of three in the area to the east of Newfoundland, waited in vain on 11 November for the HX.264 convoy covered by the Canadian Escort Group C2, and on 14 November for the SC.146 convoy covered by the British Escort Group B3. Only U-592 sighted a detached convoy group, but failed in its attack on this. On 15 November the boats of the wolfpack were ordered to withdraw to the east, and on the following day U-969 and U-542 sighted some of the escorts of the HX.265 convoy while Oberleutnant Walter Hungershausen’s U-280 was sunk by a Consolidated Liberator long-range patrol aeroplane of the RAF’s No. 86 Squadron providing air escort.

At this time operations by the U-boats against convoys in the western Atlantic were broken off, and the remaining ‘Eisenhart’ boats fell back to the east to attempt operations against convoys on the eastern side of the Atlantic in brief sorties by night and with support from air reconnaissance. This change of theatre was the result of the fact that the U-boats, faced with Allied air superiority, were no longer able to close up to a convoy over great distances on the surface, and had the chance of launching torpedoes only if they were overrun by the convoy.