Operation Greif (iii)

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This was a U-boat wolfpack operation in the Kara Sea (5 August/30 September 1944).

The wolfpack comprised U-278, U-362, U-365, U-711, U-739 and U-957, and for the loss of Oberleutnant Ludwig Franz’s U-362 sank five Soviet vessels (9,826 tons), including three fleet minesweepers, of the BD.5 and VD.1 convoys.

On 12 August U-365 attacked the BD.5 convoy, which had departed Arkhangyel’sk for Port Dikson on 8 August, and torpedoed and damaged the only merchantman, the 5,685-ton Marina Raskova. Because they believed that the ship had struck a mine, the Soviets halted the accompanying minesweepers, so U-365 was also able to sink two of these (T-118 and T-114) and finish off Marina Raskova. Only T-116 escaped.

On 13 August the minesweeper T-117 and submarine chasers BO-203, BO-210 and BO-212, on passage from Arkhangyel’sk to Port Dikson, arrived on the scene and rescued 100 men, reaching Port Dikson on 19 August.

On 26 August Korvettenkapitän Eberhard Bopst’s U-957 sank the survey ship Nord. After taking on fuel from U-711 and U-957, which were making a temporary return to base to refuel, the other three ‘Greif’ (iii) U-boats continued their operation. In an attempt to attack a group of transports escorted by destroyers, minesweepers and armed trawlers near Krakovka island on 5 and 6 September, U-739 missed a destroyer. U-278 did not come up, and U-362 was depth-charged and sunk by the minesweeper T-116.

From 21 to 24 September the boats of the ‘Greif’ (iii) wolfpack sought to attack the Soviet VD.1 convoy of four transports, one ‘Groza’ class patrol ship, two ‘Fugas’ class patrol ships, three ex-US minesweepers, a trawler/patrol ship and, from 23 September, the destroyers Dostoiny and Zhostky while on passage from the Vilkitsky Strait to Port Dikson. On 21 September six attacks by U-711 on the escort vessels were unsuccessful, largely as a result of torpedo problems. On 22 September U-739 and U-957 each failed in attacks on a transport. On 23 September U-957 sank the patrol ship SKR-29, and U-711 again reported defects when attacking three minesweepers and two transports. On 24 September U-739 sank the minesweeper T-120, and on the same day the three U-boats landed a party on the island of Sterligova to destroy the Soviet radio station located there. The U-boats had returned to base by 4 October.