Operation Ulan (i)


This was a U-boat wolfpack operation in the Norwegian Sea against the PQ.7, PQ.7B and PQ.8 convoys (25 December 1941/19 January 1942).

The first such grouping assembled for an attack on an Arctic convoy, the wolfpack comprised U-134, U-454 and U-584, and for the loss of none of its own number sank four ships (7,768 tons) including the British destroyer Matabele and Soviet submarine M-175, and damaged one 5,395-ton ship.

Thos small wolfpack was initially deployed in the Bjørnøya Passage, and after failing to make contact with the PQ.7 convoy and more than limited contact with the PQ.7B convoy, which lost the 5,135-ton British Waziristan to Kapitänleutnant Rudolf Schendel’s U-134, had its first real chance against the PQ.8 convoy. This had departed the Hvalfjörður in south-western Iceland on 8 January with eight laden ships, escorted first by the minesweepers Harrier and Speedwell, and then from 11 January additionally by the light cruiser Trinidad and destroyers Matabele and Somali, supplemented from 16 January by vessels of the Eastern Local Escort Force in the form of the minesweepers Hazard and Sharpshooter.

On 10 January Kapitänleutnant Joachim Deecke’s U-584 sank the Soviet submarine M-175.

This was the first time that a wolfpack had encountered an Arctic convoy as a result of intelligence supplied by the B-Dienst signals intercept and analysis service. Early on 17 January Kapitänleutnant Burckhard Hackländer’s U-454 torpedoed and sank the independently operating 557-ton Soviet trawler Yenisei, and then in the afternoon located and attacked the convoy. The boat torpedoed and damaged the 5,395-ton British freighter Harmatris, which was nonetheless taken in tow and reached the Kola inlet, and then torpedoed the destroyer Matabele, which blew up with the loss of all but two of her 200-man crew. The convoy was finally escorted into the Kola inlet by the Soviet destroyers Sokrushitelnyi and Gremyashchiy as well as 12 submarine chasers.