U-Boat 562 – A Brief History
With a U-Boat at the centre of the Strathallan Story we have deviated somewhat to give a brief history on this most frightening of war machines and the part it played in the Second World War
The submarine war at sea caused the Prime Minister to publicly comment;
Anyone who went down to the sea on ships, especially in the early years of World War Two must have lived in dread. Silent……unseen…….the ultimate predator……..the U-Boat sent shivers down every mariners spine.
They never knew the moment when an explosion would rip through bulkheads causing untold damage to lives and steel………and their ship destined for a watery grave.
A bomb or shell ashore was bad enough. There was usually some warning……..as well as facing the torpedo, they had the cruel sea to contend with, many not perishing by the explosion itself but drowning in the aftermath.
At the beginning of the WW2 Germany had 57 U-Boats of which only 22 were fit for ocean duty. TypeVI11…….600-900 tons , surface speed 17 knots, submerged speed 8 knots was in the front line of of German aggression in the Atlantic/Indian Oceans and Mediterranean Sea. Adolf Hitler ordered a rushed building programme in the knowledge Great Britain was an Island Race, dependent on the sea for trade, industry and communication.
The submariners became the cream of the German Navy, feted by all and treated as heroes. During the first two months of the war 67 Allied ships were sunk …….nearly one every day like clockwork.
In the first 6 months of 1942 the U-Boat strength was 101 of which 20 were always at sea shadowing and attacking Allied shipping.
As the Allies developed into convoy systems each protecting another with destroyer and anti-submarine screens, the Germans organised themselves into “Wolf Packs” with up to a dozen U-Boats in a giant web waiting for the unwary to fall in to the trap. Just like their animal namesakes convoys were stalked as the U-Boats cunningly bade their time and struck. The result was devastating………..503 ships were sunk from January-June 1942,over 3,000.000 million tons of shipping were lost with their priceless cargo. Little wonder Churchill was nervous about the U-Boat threat.