SL-125Sierra Leone (Freetown) - UK (North Atlantic, Central Atlantic)
27 Oct 1942 - 31 Oct 1942
|The Convoy||37 ships|
|First sighting||On 27 Oct 1942 by U-409|
The British corvettes Petunia (Lt-Cdr Rayner), Cowslip, Crocus and Woodruff.
The wolfpack Streitaxt of 8 boats U-134 (Kptlt. Schendel), U-203 (Kptlt. Kottmann) *, U-409 (Oblt. Massmann) *, U-509 (Kptlt. Witte) *, U-510 (Fregkpt. Neitzel) *, U-572 (Kptlt. Hirsacker), U-604 (Kptlt. Höltring) *, U-659 (Kptlt. Stock) *
* U-boats that fired torpedo or used the deck gun
On the end of October, the Germans become aware of an Allied build-up of forces around Gibraltar. As a reaction, the BdU forms a patrol line in the region. Several ships, merchants and escorts are detected on the 25th and 26th. On the 27th U-604 sinks an escorted tanker and U-409 sights the convoy.
U-409 brings up U-203, U-509 and U-659 and they attack at night. Only U-509 has success, sinking 2 ships. U-203 keeps contact with the convoy on the 28th and brings up U-409, U-509, U-510, U-604 and U-659. U-103 and U-440 arrive as reinforcement.U-509 is after a successful night still in touch with the convoy. In the morning she has a miss, and in the evening she sinks and damages one ship. The damaged ship explodes but remains afloat until it is finished off by U-203 the next day. During night, none of the boats in contact manages to make an attack.
U-134 is the contact keeper on the 29th and leads U-103, U-509, U-510 and U-604 to the convoy. The boats attack at night. U-409 damages one ship but again U-509 is very successful and sinks and damages 1 ship. Both damaged ships are later again torpedoed by U-659. One sinks and the other one is finally sunk with torpedo and gunfire by U-203.
During next day, most of the boats are brought up by U-509 and U-604 and in the night U-604 sinks 2 ships, U-409 sinks one and U-659 and U-510 damage one each. U-659 is damaged by depth charges in an counterattack from the escorts. U-103 finishes off one damaged ship.
On the 31th the air escort arrives and manages to drive off all U-boats. Two destroyers arrive from Gibraltar but are too late to see any action.
The battle had lasted for 5 days and was very successful for the Germans. However this success had a bitter aftertaste as at the same time many more important convoys on their way for Operation Torch, the landings in North-Africa, were routed around the U-boat concentration and reached their destination unmolested. In this perspective the words of the SL-125 convoy commodore must be understood when he told after the war that 'This is the only time I have been congratulated for losing ships...'
Article compiled by Tom Linclau
Ships hit from convoy SL-125
|Date||U-boat||Commander||Name of ship||Tons||Nat.|
|26 Oct 1942||U-509||Werner Witte||Anglo Mærsk (d.)||7,705||br|
|27 Oct 1942||U-604||Horst Höltring||Anglo Mærsk||7,705||br|
|27 Oct 1942||U-509||Werner Witte||Pacific Star||7,951||br|
|27 Oct 1942||U-509||Werner Witte||Stentor||6,148||br|
|28 Oct 1942||U-509||Werner Witte||Nagpore||5,283||br|
|28 Oct 1942||U-509||Werner Witte||Hopecastle (d.)||5,178||br|
|29 Oct 1942||U-203||Hermann Kottmann||Hopecastle||5,178||br|
|29 Oct 1942||U-509||Werner Witte||Corinaldo (d.)||7,131||br|
|30 Oct 1942||U-509||Werner Witte||Brittany||4,772||br|
|30 Oct 1942||U-409||Hanns-Ferdinand Massmann||Bullmouth (d.)||7,519||br|
|30 Oct 1942||U-659||Hans Stock||Bullmouth||7,519||br|
|30 Oct 1942||U-659||Hans Stock||Corinaldo (d.)||7,131||br|
|30 Oct 1942||U-203||Hermann Kottmann||Corinaldo||7,131||br|
|30 Oct 1942||U-604||Horst Höltring||Président Doumer||11,898||br|
|30 Oct 1942||U-659||Hans Stock||Tasmania (d.)||6,405||br|
|30 Oct 1942||U-604||Horst Höltring||Baron Vernon||3,642||br|
|30 Oct 1942||U-409||Hanns-Ferdinand Massmann||Silverwillow||6,373||br|
|31 Oct 1942||U-510||Karl Neitzel||Alaska (d.)||5,681||nw|
|31 Oct 1942||U-103||Gustav-Adolf Janssen||Tasmania||6,405||br|
12 ships sunk (80,005 tons) and 7 ships damaged (46,750 tons).