Operation Coronel

(World War I naval battle off Chile)

This was a U-boat wolfpack operation in the North Atlantic against the ONS.24, HX.268 and ON.214 convoys (4/8 December 1943).

The wolfpack comprised U-92, U-107, U-269, U-311, U-415, U-421, U-541, U-543, U-544, U-618, U-625, U-629, U-653, U-667, U-672, U-734, U-761, U-801 and U-962, and neither lost any of its own number nor sank any ship.

The attempt of the ‘Coronel’ wolfpack to intercept the ONS.24 convoy in the eastern Atlantic in a short night operation failed because air reconnaissance by two Junkers Ju 290 aircraft on 4 December and one Ju 290, one Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor and one Blohm und Voss Bv 222 aircraft on 5 December failed to find the convoy, which in fact passed to the north of the wolfpack.

While transiting toward the HX.268 convoy, which was expected on 8 December according to German naval intelligence, U-269 spotted a southbound convoy, against which the boats of the ‘Weddigen’ wolfpack were also deployed and with which U-421 established brief contact. On 8 December the HX.268 convoy also passed to the north of the ‘Coronel’ wolfpack’s patrol line, again without being spotted by German air reconnaissance.

On 11, 12 and 13 December the boats of the ‘Coronel’ wolfpack, which are divided into three groups, once more searched for the ON.214 convoy, and again air reconnaissance over three days using Ju 290, Fw 200 and Bv 222 aircraft did not find any ships. This resulted from the fact that the German undertaking had been revealed to the British by radio intercepts and subsequent codebreaking, and the convoy was therefore rerouted to avoid the wolfpack by passing to the south of the wolfpack.