Operation Raufbold

roughneck

'Raufbold' was a U-boat wolfpack operation in the Atlantic against the ON.153 convoy (11/22 December 1942).

The wolfpack comprised U-135, U-203, U-211, U-356, U-409, U-410, U-439, U-600, U-609, U-610, U-621, U-623 and U-644, and for the loss of none of its own number sank four ships (17,808 tons including the British destroyer Firedrake) and damaged one 9,551-ton ship in attacks on the ONS.152 and ON.153 convoys.

The 'Raufbold' wolfpack was established in an area to the west of Ireland on 15 December from newly arrived boats and also a number of boats recently involved in the attack on the HX.217 convoy. On the day of the wolfpack’s creation, U-609 spotted and reported the ON.153 convoy of 43 ships supported by Commander E. H. Tilden’s British Escort Group B7 (destroyers Firedrake and Ripley, and corvettes Alisma, Loosestrife, Pink and Sunflower), maintained contact until the evening of 16 December and brought up U-664, U-610, U-356 and U-621. Oberleutnant Adolf Graef’s U-664 sank the 5,859-ton Belgian Emile Francqui, and Kapitšnleutnant Walter Freiherr von Freyberg-Eisenberg-Allmendingen’s U-610 sank the 6,125-ton Norwegian Bello and damaged the 9,551-ton British tanker Regent Lion. The latter was taken in tow but finally ran aground and was declared a total loss. During the night Kapitšnleutnant Karl Hause’s U-211 torpedoed the destroyer Firedrake, which was so badly damaged that she had later to be sunk by the corvette Sunflower.

On 17 December U-609 maintained contact for some time in heavy seas, but an attack failed in the heaving swell. On 18/19 December U-621 and U-609 maintained contact in turns, but none of the six boats still in the vicinity was able to come up.

On 18 December Oberleutnant Max Kruschka’s U-621 sank the 4,474-ton Norwegian Oropos of the ON.152 convoy, and two days later the 6,217-ton British Otina of the ON.153 convoy. On 22 December the 'Raufbold' wolfpack was dispersed.