Convoy battles


Homeward from Halifax (North Atlantic)

10 Mar 1943 - 12 Mar 1943

The Convoy60 ships
First sightingOn 10 Mar 1943 by U-336
EscortsThe British escort group A3 consisting of the British destroyers Harvester (Cdr Tait) and Escapade, the Polish destroyers Garland and Burza, the British corvettes Narcissus and Orchis and the Free French corvettes Aconit, Renoncule and Roselys.

Also the 6th American Support Group (Capt. Short) consisting of the escort carrier Bogue and the destroyers Belknap and Osmond.


The wolfpack Neuland of 13 boats U-86 (Kptlt. Schug) *, U-221 (Kptlt. Trojer) *, U-336 (Kptlt. Hunger) *, U-373 (Kptlt. Loeser), U-406 (Kptlt. Dieterichs) *, U-440 (Oblt. Geissler) *, U-441 (Kptlt. Hartmann), U-444 (Oblt. Langfeld) *, U-448 (Oblt. Dauter), U-590 (Kptlt. Müller-Edzards) *, U-608 (Kptlt. Struckmeier), U-659 (Kptlt. Stock), U-757 (Oblt. Deetz) *

Also the following boats: U-228 (Oblt. Christopherson) *, U-333 (Oblt. Schwaff), U-359 (Oblt. Förster ) *, U-405 (Korvkpt. Hopmann), U-432 (Kptlt. Eckhardt) * ++, U-566 (Kptlt. Hornkohl)

* U-boats that fired torpedo or used the deck gun

The battle

The patrol line Neuland is formed on the 6th as a Aufklärungsstreifen in search of convoys. On the 8th the boats on the Northern edge leave the line to assist in the battle against SC-121 . The other boats are guided by information of the B-Dienst (German radion intelligence service) towards HX-228. Since around this time the U-boats are switching to the Triton code system, the British can no longer decode the messages sent to the U-boats. As a result, the convoy is not re-routed and runs straight into the waiting patrol line.

After giving the contact signal, U-336 is driven off, but U-444 takes over immediately and the boat manages to bring up many boats of the group and also some independent boats. Aeroplanes of the Bogue try to interfere with the build-up of the U-boats. They make several attacks but can not avoid that many boats come into position to attack at night.

The first attack comes before midnight from U-221, sinking 2 ships and damaging one. U-86 and U-336 have misses but U-406 and U-444 damage each one ship. The ship damaged by U-444 is later sunk by U-757. U-757 sinks also another ship but is damaged when it explodes.

The escorts strike back: The Harvester compels with depth-charges the U-444 to the surface and rams it. A strange situation develops when the destroyer is locked into the submarine with a propeller shaft. Both ships are unable to manoeuvre for a while. U-444 in the end is able to creep away but is shortly afterwards sighted by the Aconit. Unable to dive, U-444 is rammed for the second time and sunk.

The Harvester manages to get one engine running and tries to catch up with the convoy. On mid-day of the 11th her machinery breaks down again and in this helpless situation she is sunk by the U-432. But the Aconit returns to the scene and with depth-charges, gunfire and ramming sinks the U-432.

During the day of the 11th, U-228, U-359, U-405, U-406 and U-590 try to close in but are repulsed by the escort. In the night U-440 and U-590 try to attack, also without success and the next day contact is finally lost.

Due to the bad weather and limited freedom to manoeuvre in the middle of the convoy, the escort carrier USS Bogue has had insufficient occasion to prove herself. The deployment of support groups with escort carriers was however to prove decisive later, when they were left to operate independently outside the convoy.

Article compiled by Tom Linclau

Ships hit from convoy HX-228

Date U-boat Commander Name of ship Tons Nat.Map
10 Mar 1943U-221Hans-Hartwig Trojer Tucurinca5,412brA
10 Mar 1943U-221Hans-Hartwig Trojer Andrea F. Luckenbach6,565amB
10 Mar 1943U-221Hans-Hartwig Trojer Lawton B. Evans (d.)7,197amC
11 Mar 1943U-590Heinrich Müller-Edzards Jamaica Producer (d.)5,464brD
11 Mar 1943U-757Friedrich Deetz William C. Gorgas7,197amE
11 Mar 1943U-757Friedrich Deetz HMS LCT-2398 [Trans.]291brF
11 Mar 1943U-86Walter Schug Brant County5,001nwG
11 Mar 1943U-432Hermann Eckhardt HMS Harvester (H 19)1,340brH

6 ships sunk (25,806 tons) and 2 ships damaged (12,661 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.
(d.) means the ship was damaged.
[Trans.] indicates the vessel was lost while being transported on another vessel.

77 convoys on route HX were hit by U-boats in the war. Read more about them.

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