Helmut Grimm, Patrol 5
The patrol grid objective was successfully concluded after having reached it around 23:00 on 12/31/39 and maneuvering around for the required 24 hours. I wanted to save my fish for actual cargo ships and did not pay too much mind to coastal merchants at first.
On Day 4 of the patrol at 23:17 I ordered up a course for my preferred hunting grounds of AF-78, at ahead one-third (7 knots surface speed) which is what I primarily use to conserve fuel in the Type IIA "Ducks" that are in reality ill-suited to have been sent off sailing around the coast of England in search of some bounty to plunder from the enemy.
On Day 7 I became frustrated with the lack of quality opportunities and went after a small merchant vessel in grid AF-78 and scored a kill at 18:57 for 2,521 tons with a torpedo set at 3m depth running an impact pistol. This paltry prize would end up being the only tonnage I would record in this dreadful outing that I would rather soon forget once I got back to the docks.
Having been thoroughly disgusted with the lack of contacts in what had once been my hallowed ground, I plotted a return course to Wilhelmshaven that took the boat to the west and down around the Shetland Mainland and above Scapa Flow in the hope of finding something I could call a prize and overstate my tonnage to the suits at BDU like everyone else did.
On Day 10 of the patrol my Chief Engineer reported that we were down to 50% diesel fuel. Knowing that I ran out on the last patrol and had to limp in on electric, I maintained the ahead one-third speed but remained on the surface as the torrential weather meant that there would be no airplane coverage to speak of (I ran on top the entire way home).
Later on that evening of 7th of January 1940, we received a map contact update of a slow mover coming due northwest parallel to our southeasterly route home. I plotted an intercept course, and within 5km went to periscope depth to observe a fat juicy C2 cargo vessel that if bagged, might salvage something out of this miserable rain storm we had been enduring for days.
Given the range and darkness I did not want to rely on my slide shot profile off centerline which almost always racks up a one-fish kill on these beasts, I decided (out of desperation) to set up a three-fish school of torpedoes running at 7.2 depth with magnetic pistols and a spread of 0.30. In hindsight I was so frustrated with the mission’s progress that I didn't realize my error until writing this review.
C2 Cargo ships have a draft of 7.8m. Add to that the pitching seas and relentless rain, and you would normally want to compensate using mag pistols and go from an 8.3 to possibly and 8.5 or 8.75 draft setting. There was no way in hell that mag pistols running at a depth of - gasp - 7.2 - were going to do anything to the cargo ship.
True to fashion, out of the three fish one exploded en route as magnetic pistols were notoriously unreliable during the early war period. The other two were stable enough and ran true to the target - bouncing off the haul and falling to the depths below to my utter dismay. My one shot at the only decent target of the entire effort came down to my not being able to add.
On the way home, the fuel drained as steady as the morale of the crew, dropping to 25% reserves at 02:39 on the 12th and 10% at 05:58 on the 13th. We pulled into base later that morning and I received one U-Boat war badge to pass out to some new crewman the game loader assigned me, as well as tagging a warrant officer with the Repair Qualification.
For my efforts in this debacle otherwise known in the virtual history books as Patrol 5, I received 575.58 renown and the Knight's Cross making me one of the most decorated Duck skippers in U-Flotilla Weddigen. I would go to the night club and regale with the other liars spinning their own resumes with tales of all the tankers (trawlers) they sent to the bottom.