U-boat bases

La Rochelle / La Pallice, France

From September 1940 was La Pallice the alternative base for the Italian Betasom submarines (the main base of operations being Bordeaux). The 3rd Flotilla took over the base on October 27, 1941.

In April 1941 the German Command decided to build also a bunker in La Pallice. The first two pens were finished in October 1941. The U-boat bunker was 195 m wide, 165 m long and 19m high. The first U-boat in the bunker was U-82 on November 19, 1941. Then followed U-332 (16th December) and U-432 (24th December).

U-82 on November 19, 1941 in the bunker La Pallice

The 7 ready pens of the bunker during the spring 1942

End of operations

In August 1944 5 boats from the now surrounded base at Brest reached La Pallice. They were U-309 (Aug 12), U-763 (Aug 14), U-953 (Aug 19), U-766 (Aug 21) and U-963 (Aug 21). All but U-766 then left for Norway in August. The last boat leaving the base during the fall of 1944 was U-382 on September 10, 1944. Shortly before end the war two boats reached the base. The Norwegian based U-485 (Lutz) was supported from April 22, 1945 for 5 days with fuel and food. She left La Pallice on April 29 and surrendered at Gibraltar on May 14.

On May 3 1945 U-255 (Heinrich) arrived from besieged St. Nazaire and spent 2 days in the base and brought fuel and food for the garrison before successfully returning back to St. Nazaire. She then left port on May 8 and surrendered at Loch Alsh, UK on May 19.

The German garrison at La Pallice held out until May 8, 1945 when it surrendered along with all other German forces. When the base was entered the allies found U-766 in one of the pens. The boat was commissioned into the French Navy as S-09 Laubie in 1947.

La Pallice today

La Pallice as of 2007 (© Pascal Blijkers). Notice the three additional pens, built in 1942.
See our La Pallice gallery

This same bunker is still in place and was the location for the ending scene of the famous movie Das Boot. Part of the facilities are in use today by the French Navy but the base is no longer a naval base.

The last German 'U-boat' in La Pallice.
The film boat being brought back to the bunker after the daily shooting of the movie Das Boot.

U-boat bases