Steel Boats, Iron Hearts: The Wartime Saga of Hans Goebeler and the U-505
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spotted the smoke again. Dead ahead, emerging from a heavy rain squall, was a large tanker running zigzags at 10 knots. Her general course was the same as the freighter from yesterday. She was not flying a flag, but a quick glance at the recognition book revealed her to be a British Confidence class tanker, approximately 8,000 tons. Best of all, she was lying low in the water, fully loaded with oil destined for the enemy’s forces in North Africa. We positioned ourselves for attack and submerged,
evidently been loaded with gasoline, had exploded like a bomb when the torpedoes hit. Inside the sub we could still hear low, rumbling explosions several minutes after the first detonation. The blast wave caused some minor damage to our diesel clutch. Repairs were accomplished quickly and Kapitänleutnant Löwe ordered “Battle stations, surface.” As soon as the conning tower cleared the surface, the skipper and the rest of the watch crew popped open the hatch and clambered out on to the bridge.
cut-off in mid-sentence by an angry, red-faced Zschech. “Kapitänleutnant Löwe is no longer in command of this boat!” He yelled. “This is my boat and I am the only one giving orders from now on. I want everybody to understand that!” Stolzenburg and the men were perplexed and embarrassed by the outburst. None of them ever dreamed of questioning Zschech’s authority. Why had he reacted in such a manner? From then on, Zschech made sure that everyone was absolutely certain, as we used to say, “which
later, four large depth charges exploded even closer, severely rattling our boat. We hoped the plane was out of depth charges, but just to be on the safe side, we released a Bold, a canister of chemicals designed to create a large mass of bubbles. We hoped our attackers would deduce we had been sunk. The ruse apparently worked because there were no further attacks. With an inoperative direction finder and GHG, not to mention an inability to dive deep, our boat was clearly in no condition to
boat’s interior. The big barge heaved to and the film crew came aboard, carrying with them a large array of photographic equipment. They were getting some fine footage of the sardine can conditions inside our boat when suddenly, a blinding lightning-like flash erupted from the electric motor room. A huge blue-white bolt of electricity was arcing out from the starboard motor. A great cloud of white smoke, then evil-smelling black smoke, billowed from the motor. Moments later, flames began licking