|Ordered||20 Jan 1941|
|Laid down||1 Apr 1942||Nordseewerke, Emden (werk 215)|
|Launched||21 Dec 1942|
|Commissioned||18 Feb 1943||Ltnt. Wolfgang Rahn|
|Successes||No ships sunk or damaged|
Attacks on this boat
7 Jan 1944
Aircraft attack, aircraft shot down: British Wellington HF245 (36 Sqdn RAF/Y, pilot F/O R.D. Bamford, RNZAF)
U-343 was attacked at 20.30 hrs 2 days into the Mediterranean from passing the Straits of Gibraltar. The aircraft made a low level attack, dropping five depth charges which fell astern and missed, but was itself hit by AA fire in the port wing and caught fire. It was forced to ditch shortly afterwards, and the pilot and navigator were killed. The remaining four crewmen were picked up from their dinghy by ORP Slazak the next morning.
The sighting report from this aircraft led another Wellington HF221 (36 Sqdn RAF/M, pilot F/O J.T. Hutton) to the scene, which immediately attacked U-343, but its depth charges fell wide because the port engine was hit by AA fire and the aircraft became difficult to handle; it nonetheless managed to reach Bone and landed safely.(Sources: Franks/Zimmerman)
8 Jan 1944
Aircraft attack, aircraft shot down: British Wellington (179 Sqdn RAF/R, pilot F/O W.F.M. Davidson)
Following two aircraft attacks on the boat the day before, the Allies started a Swamp operation and at 21.40 hours Wellington flight letter "B for Baker" of 36 Sqdn RAF located U-343 southwest of Cartagena. She was then attacked by a Wellington from 179 Sqdn piloted by W/C J.H. Greswell DFC, followed by a second aircraft of 179 Sqdn. Wellington R - Robert dropped six depth charges, but several AA hits set the port wing on fire and the aircraft crashed into the sea, killing five crewmen. Only the pilot was thrown clear. U-343 passed close to his dinghy twice, but the Germans did not take him prisoner because they had "more important things to do". He was picked up by HMS Active the next morning and later received the DFC.
The boat had already sustained damage in these attacks, but there was more to come, as a Catalina (202 Sqdn RAF, pilot F/L J. Finch) then continued the attack. The aircraft broke off the attack at 23.00 hrs, and only then because the boats AA fire had damaged the port wing, fuselage and both fuel tanks, and wounded the flight engineer. U-343, badly damaged and unable to dive, managed to escape in the darkness, with only one crewman wounded by strafing, and after repairs reached her new base at Toulon safely.(Sources: Franks/Zimmerman)
2 recorded attacks on this boat.
Men lost from U-boats
Unlike many other U-boats, which during their service lost men due to accidents and various other causes, U-343 did not suffer any casualties (we know of) until the time of her loss.