Operation Schlagetot (i)

killing stroke

This was a U-boat wolfpack operation in the Atlantic against the SL.89 convoy (18 October/2 November 1941).

The wolfpack comprised U-38, U-82, U-84, U-85, U-93, U-123, U-202, U-203 and U-569, and for the loss of none of its own number sank two ships (9,380 tons) and damaged the 13,984-ton armed merchant cruiser Aurania.

On 22 October, as the U-boat operation against the SC.48 convoy ended, most of the remaining boats were reorganised as the ‘Reissewolf’ wolfpack in the central part of the North Atlantic. Newly arrived boats from bases in German-occupied France established the ‘Schlagetot’ (i) wolfpack on 18 October in the area to the north-west of the ‘Reissewolf’ wolfpack’s operational area. On 20 October, and while on passage to join the new wolfpack, U-84 sighted and reported parts of the SL.89 convoy, and on 21 October made an unsuccessful attack. Kapitänleutnant Karl-Heinz Moehle’s U-123 then arrived and torpedoed and damaged Aurania. During the evening, U-123 directed Oberleutnant Siegfried Rollmann’s U-82 and U-203, the former then sinking the 4,099-ton British Serbino and 5,281-ton British Treverbyn.

On 22 October the SL.89 convoy, escorted by the destroyer Beverley, sloops Wellington and Stork, and corvettes Asphodel and Clematis, was located by German air reconnaissance, but U-85, U-202 and U-203 were driven off on 23 October, and the wolfpack was then sent to its new line once again, although U-123 was ordered to the Belle Isle Strait.

On 1 November support of the HX.157 convoy of 44 ships was taken over by the US Task Unit 4.1.1 (destroyers Dallas, Ericsson, Eberle, Ellis and Upshur) at the Western Ocean Meeting Point, and that of the SC.52 convoy, after evading a U-boat wolfpack believed to be waiting off Newfoundland (originally ‘Mordbrenner’ intended to intercept the ON.28 convoy) by the Canadian Escort Group 4.1.12 (British destroyers Broadway and Bunnell, and corvettes Cobalt, Gait, Buctouche, Windflower, Free French Aconit and British Nasturtium). Both of these convoys were directed farther to the north toward the entrance of the Davis Strait and Cape Farewell in order to skirt the ‘Schlagetot’ (i) and the forming ‘Stosstrupp’ wolfpacks, both of which had been identified by ‘Ultra’ intelligence.

On the same day, near the Western Ocean Meeting Point, U-374 sighted and reported the SC.52 convoy. After sinking a 5,720-ton straggler off the Belle Isle Strait, U-123 and the ‘Schlagetot’ (i) wolfpack (now comprising U-38, U-82, U-84, U-85, U-93, U-202, U-203 and U-569), together with U-74 and U-106 from the attack on the ON.28 convoy, were deployed as the ‘Raubritter' wolfpack to attack the SC.52 convoy.