U-Boats that Surrendered - Narvik
The Surrender of the Narvik U-Boats in May 1945
by Derek Waller
At 0001 on 9 May 1945 there were 12 U-Boats in port at Narvik. On that day two more returned from sea, as did a further one on 10 May.
A review of all available historical sources has revealed confusion as to exactly where and when these 15 U-Boats are deemed to have surrendered.
- Was it in Narvik on 9 and 10 May after receipt of the surrender order?
- Was it in Vestfiord on 16 May when they were first sighted on their way to Trondheim by the destroyers NS Stord and HMS Broadway?
- Was it in Vestfiord on 17 May when they were intercepted by the 9th (Canadian) Escort Group?
- Was it in Loch Eriboll, Scotland when they arrived on 19 May?
As a result of extensive research, including a debate with Dr Axel Niestlé, I have concluded that the “correct” story is:
- At the time of the German surrender in Norway on 9 May there were 12 U-Boats in Narvik and, during that day and the next, three more arrived from sea in accordance with the Allied surrender instructions.
- However, at that time there were no Allied forces in north Norway, and the surrender arrangements for all the German naval vessels were therefore implemented on 9 May by the Kriegsmarine authorities, acting under Allied orders.
- On 12 May the 15 U-boats at Narvik were all moved to the anchorage in Skjomenfjord (30 miles south of Narvik) on Allied orders to avoid conflicts with the Norwegians.
- In order to take advantage of the more suitable communications and accommodation at Trondheim, all U-Boats able to proceed were then directed to transfer to Trondheim and, late on 15 May, a German naval convoy comprising five surface vessels and the 15 U-Boats (U-278, U-294, U-295, U-312, U-313, U-318, U-363, U-427, U-481, U-668, U-716, U-968, U-992, U-997 and U-1165), under the overall command of Capt Suhren, FdU Norway, sailed as a group and on the surface in accordance with the agreed surrender arrangements, for Trondheim, where they expected to be laid up.
- Before doing so, again in accordance with the Allied surrender terms, all ammunition had been landed, the German vessels carried no mines, and all torpedoes had been rendered harmless.
- On 16 May the destroyers NS Stord and HMS Broadway, which had left Rosyth on 13 May to transport Rear Admiral E C Danielsen, RNN, the designated Sector Commander for Northern Norway, to Tromso, sighted the German convoy in Vestfjord en route from Narvik to Trondheim.
- At the same time, the last Arctic convoy, JW 67, which was on passage to Murmansk was in the area, and so the 9th (Canadian) Escort Group was detached from JW 67 on 16 May in order to intercept the U-Boats and stop them from proceeding to Trondheim.
- Instead, it was decided that they should be moved to Loch Eriboll in north west Scotland in accordance with the surrender arrangements being implemented under the auspices of “Operation Pledge”, which required that all U-Boats that surrendered in Norway should be transferred to the UK prior to their final disposal.
- The German convoy was intercepted by the 9th Escort Group off the Norwegian coast on 17 May, and the five surface vessels, together with Captain Suhren, were allowed to proceed to Trondheim. However, the 15 U-Boats were escorted to Loch Eriboll, where they arrived on 19 May for initial processing before onward movement, via Loch Alsh (where most of the German crews were taken into captivity), to Lisahally in Lough Foyle in N Ireland.
- As a result, the “surrender lists” should now read as follows:
|U-278||Arrived in Narvik on 9 May and surrendered|
|U-294||Surrendered in Narvik on 9 May|
|U-295||Surrendered in Narvik on 9 May|
|U-312||Surrendered in Narvik on 9 May|
|U-313||Surrendered in Narvik on 9 May|
|U-318||Arrived at Narvik on 10 May and surrendered|
|U-363||Surrendered in Narvik on 9 May|
|U-427||Surrendered in Narvik on 9 May|
|U-481||Surrendered in Narvik on 9 May|
|U-668||Surrendered in Narvik on 9 May|
|U-716||Surrendered in Narvik on 9 May|
|U-968||Surrendered in Narvik on 9 May|
|U-992||Arrived in Narvik on 9 May and surrendered|
|U-997||Surrendered in Narvik on 9 May|
|U-1165||Surrendered in Narvik on 9 May|
This article was published on 27 Aug 2010.