Operation Luchs (ii)


'Luchs' (ii) was a U-boat wolfpack operation in the Atlantic against the SC.101 and HX.209 convoys (27 September/6 October 1942).

The wolfpack comprised U-183, U-216, U-254, U-257, U-260, U-382, U-404, U-437, U-442, U-575, U-582, U-597, U-610, U-619, U-620, U-706, U-753 and U-755, and for the loss of Korvettenkapitän Werner Schulte’s U-582 and Oberleutnant Kurt Makowski’s U-619 sank two ships (13,491 tons).

The wolfpack’s first boats were U-253, U-610 and U-620, which had been stationed on a temporary basis in the Denmark Strait from 20 September, and it was here that Kapitänleutnant Adolf Friedrichs’s U-253 was lost on about 25 September after striking a mine off Iceland.

On 29 September Kapitänleutnant Walter Freiherr von Freyberg-Eisenberg-Allmendingen’s U-610 sank the 2,254-ton British Lifland, a straggler from the SC.101 convoy, which was supported by Lieutenant Commander A. H. Dobson’s Canadian Escort Group C4 (destroyers St Croix and Restigouche, and corvettes Amherst, Arvida and Celandine), on 29 September. En route to join the wolfpack, Korvettenkapitän Hans-Joachim Hesse’s U-442 sank the 1,774-ton British Empire Bell of the UR.42 convoy, and Kapitänleutnant Herbert Juli’s U-382 sank a 1,324-ton independent sailer. On 29 September the outbound U-tanker U-118 sighted an ON convoy, and as a result the 'Luchs' (ii) wolfpack (currently comprising U-183, U-216, U-254, U-257, U-260, U-382, U-404, U-437, U-442, U-575, U-582, U-597, U-602, U-610, U-619, U-620, U-706, U-753, U-755 and U-757) was moved farther to the north on 1 October.

As the wolfpack moved, the most northerly of the boats, U-260, sighted the HX.209 convoy of 31 ships supported by the British Escort Group B4. Storms, rain and hail squalls delay the approach of the other boats, but Kapitänleutnant Hans Gilardone’s U-254 found the 11,237-ton US tanker Esso Williamsburg abandoned and drifting, and sank her.

Atmospheric interference prevented the receipt of a contact signal on 4 October from U-437, which was tracking the substantially better situated ON convoy, so most of the boats continued their stern chase of the HX.209 convoy despite the air escort that it received on 4 October, and on 5/6 October U-582 and U-619 were lost to attacks by a Consolidated Catalina flying boat of the US Navy’s VP-73 squadron, and a Lockheed Hudson medium-range patrol bomber of the RAF’s No. 269 Squadron; U-257 was also damaged.

On 6 October the Germans ended the operation.