U-boat patrols

Patrol info for U-74

DepartureArrival / FateDuration
23 Apr 1942La Spezia2 May 1942Lost10 days


Officers *

Oblt. Karl Friederich

Patrol description

The boat was ordered to operate against enemy aircraft carriers that entered the Western Mediterranean from Gibraltar to launch fighter aircraft for Malta.

In the afternoon on 1 May, U-573 was badly damaged during an air attack and called for help. U-74 left its operational area to assist and was en route unsuccessfully attacked by HMS Unbroken at 22.22 hours. No contact was made with the U-boat in distress during the night, which reached the port of Cartagena in neutral Spain under own power the next morning. However, a Catalina flying boat still searching for the crippled U-boat located U-375 during the afternoon on 2 May and its sighting report brought two British destroyers to the scene, which searched the area and located and sank the nearby U-74 while U-375 escaped.

Daily positions, sinkings and allied attacks during the patrol of U-74

We have daily positions for all 10 days on this patrol.

Ships hit by U-74 during this patrol

General Events during this patrol

We have no events listed for this patrol.

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Attacks on U-74 during this patrol

1 May 1942
14.05 hrs, approx. 30 miles (48km) ESE of Almeria, Spain: Hudson T9387 (233 Sqn RAF/B, pilot PO Vivian E. Camacho, RCAF) on patrol from Gibraltar dropped four 250lb depth charges on U-74. Two were seen to explode ahead of the swirl about 13 seconds after U-74 dived. No damage. (Sources: ADM 199/1782)

1 May 1942
22.22 hrs, approx. 30 miles (48km) SE of Almeria, Spain: HMS Unbroken launched three torpedoes at a U-boat, without success. HMS Georgetown, HMS Vidette and HMS Westcott on A/S patrol east of Gibraltar were subsequently sent to this position but found nothing. This must have been U-74, which was en route to assist the crippled U-573. (Sources: ADM 199/662)

2 May 1942

The sinking of U-74:
At 07.40 hrs on 2 May, U-74 was seen the for last time by the Italian submarine Mocenigo (C.C. Paolo Monechi) which exchanged recognition signals with her in position 37°03N/00°15E. The U-boat sent a last radio message at 10.52 hrs and was not heard of again. At this time, U-74 and U-375 were searching for U-573 which had been seriously damaged in an air attack the day before, but managed to reach the Spanish port of Cartagena under own power around noon. At 14.12 hrs U-375 was bombed by Catalina AJ162 (RAF Sqn 202/C, pilot Flt Lt R.Y. Powell) about 55 miles (89km) E of Cartagena, and its sighting report brought HMS Wishart (D 67) (Cdr H.G. Scott, RN) and HMS Wrestler (D 35) (Lt R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN) to the scene. At 16.52 hrs HMS Wishart obtained a firm sonar contact in position 37°16N/00°01E and both destroyers carried out eight attacks until losing contact at 18.49 hrs. HMS Wishart dropped 39 depth charges in four attacks, while HMS Wrestler used her Hedgehog mortar twice and carried out two attacks with a full pattern of 14 depth charges each. Explosions were heard after both Hedgehog attacks and air bubbles were seen for about two minutes after the sixth attack. The destroyers continued to search the area until HMS Wishart had carried out two depth charge attacks at 22.30 hrs on a firm contact located about seven miles from the original attacks. Shortly afterwards a large patch of thin oil was spotted to windward of the attacks. The target of the last two attacks was U-375, which escaped undamaged, but the destroyer's heavy depth charge attacks during the afternoon must have fatally damaged U-74, which sank with all hands about 50 miles (80km) ESE of Cartagena, Spain.

(Sources: ADM 199/1782, ADM 199/1783)

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* These are officers that later became commanders themselves.

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