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U-boats that entered the Bristol Channel

The links below are a complete list of all the U-boats that were catalogued as entering the Bristol Channel or believed to have operated in the vicinity of the Channel during the war. The information is based in large part on the official operations diagrams prepared for the Royal Navy by Fregattenkapitan Günter Hessler shortly after the war ended. Further information was gained from a number of other sources including a number of German World Wide Web sites. The interest in the Kriegsmarine’s U-boat arm increases every year particularly in Germany and the United States, and there is still much to be written.

The clandestine nature of U-boat operations have inevitably coloured many accounts of events during the war. Many strange lights or inexplicable occurrences have often been ascribed to U-boats; more often than not in complete error. In an effort to clarify matters I have tried to give as complete an account as possible of each boat to illustrate the nature of the U-boat war. It can be seen that Bristol Channel operations only made up a small part of the careers of the various boats. I know of many   stories where strange lights or unusual occurrences were assigned to U-boats operating off the coast. Such stories are rarely if ever true. The German U-boats were considered as vital assets to the German trade war against the Allies. Any boat coming into water less than 100 feet deep off the coast of Britain would represent an unacceptable risk to security and safety. The boat would present a completely vulnerable target to both air and naval power. A boat wrecked in such circumstances would present the enemy with a first class opportunity of salvage of technical and cryptographic information. Throughout the war, Admiral Dönitz fought constantly against the use of U-boats to land spies or saboteurs ashore on hostile territories. He was almost always successful. The few occasions when U-boats were used like this are well known and are well documented. They do not occur in the Bristol Channel or the Irish Sea.

Operational and strategic necessities brought the U-boats to the Bristol Channel for two campaigns; first there was the early period of coastal and mine warfare in the months before the Battle of the Atlantic began. Secondly there was the inshore campaign of 1944 and 1945 when the boats made a far deadlier foe for coastal traffic. In addition, U-boat Command nominated the Bristol Channel and particularly the waters off Milford Haven as an important secondary target area. This secondary status became operational in autumn 1944 when Allied air and naval power made it too dangerous for U-boats to operate in the waters off Cherbourg and within the established shipping lanes for supply traffic to the French beaches. So for example, U 322, U 400 and U 772 were all given patrol areas off Cherbourg in November 1944, but were to divert to Milford Haven if conditions at Cherbourg were unfavourable, however, none of those boats were recorded as appearing off the Welsh coast during those particular patrols.

U-boat

Patrol in the Bristol Channel

Date

U 28

Patrol 1

Patrol 2

August 1939

November 1939

U 29

Patrol 2

November 1939

U 30

Patrol 3

December 1939

U 32

Patrol 2

Patrol 4

September 1939

February 1940

U 33

Patrol 2

October 1939

U 34

Patrol 1

August 1939

U 242

Patrol 14

March 1945

U 247

Patrol 4

August 1944

U 262

Patrol 11

August 1944

U 281

Patrol 7

September 1944

U 325

Patrol 3

March 1945

U 413

Patrol 8

January 1944

U 667

Patrol 5

July 1944

U 714

Patrol 7

August 1944

U 740

Patrol 3

June 1944

U 758

Patrol 8

August 1944

U 775

Patrol 4

February 1945

U825

Patrol 3

Patrol 4

December 1944

April 1945

U 963

Patrol 11

Patrol 12

August 1944

U 1019

Patrol 2

February 1945

U 1021

Patrol 4

February 1945

U 1023

Patrol 3

March 1945

U 1024

Patrol 3

March 1945

U 1051

Patrol 2

December 1944

U 1055

Patrol 3

December 1944

U 1058

Patrol 3

Patrol 4

January 1945

April 1945

U 1064

Patrol 4

February 1945

U 1169

Patrol 3

February 1945

U 1172

Patrol 2

December 1944

U 1195

Patrol 4

February 1945

U 1202

Patrol 3

October 1944

U 1276

Patrol 6

January 1945

U 1302

Patrol 2

February 1945
 

 

The View for Sunday October 15 2000

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