Operation Schlagetot (ii)

killing stroke

This was a U-boat wolfpack operation off the north-west coast of Africa (8/18 November 1942).

On learning of the ‘Torch’ landings by Allied forces in French North-West Africa, Admiral Karl Dönitz, commanding the U-boat arm, ordered all boats with sufficient fuel to move at their best speeds from their current positions in the North Atlantic to a pair of concentration areas. The ‘Schlagetot’ (ii) wolfpack comprised U-103, U-108, U-130, U-173, U-509, U-510, U-511, U-572 and U-752, and came into existence off Morocco; and the ‘Westwall’ wolfpack comprised U-86, U-91, U-92, U-98, U-155, U-185, U-218, U-263, U-411, U-413, U-515, U-519, U-564, U-566, U-613 and U-653, and came into existence off Gibraltar.

In the roads off Fédala, Oberleutnant Hans-Adolf Schweichel’s U-173 attacked the anchored UGF.1 convoy on 11/12 November, sinking the 9,359-ton US troop transport Joseph Hewes, and damaging the 10,600-ton US tanker Winooski and US destroyer Hambleton. During the following night Korvettenkapitän Ernst Kals’s U-130 sank three US troop transports, namely the 9,360-ton Edward Rutledge, 12,479-ton Hugh L. Scott and 12,568-ton Tasker H. Bliss. On 15 November U-173 torpedoed and damaged the 8,113-ton US transport Electra, which had to be run aground to prevent her from sinking. Schweichel’s U-173 was sunk on the next day by the US destroyers Woolsey, Swanson and Quick.

Attacks by U-572, U-108, U-510, U-511 and U-752 between 11 and 18 November all failed, and U-108 was bombed and damaged on 18 November.