OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS
REPORT ON THE INTERROGATION OF SURVIVORS FROM U-616 SUNK 17 MAY 1944
U-616, a 500-ton U-boat built by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg, was sunk at 0808, 17 May 1944, in position 37.47 N. - 00.16 E. The U-boat was the victim of a relentless 76-hour hunt conducted by escorts of convoy UGS-39, destroyers of COMCORTDIV 45, COMDESRON 10 and COMDESDIV 10. Various Coastal Command aircraft and planes of French Squadron 2-S played important parts by frequently detecting U-616 on the surface, forcing her to dive and thus preventing adequate charging of her batteries. Oberleutnant zur See Siegfried Koitschka was U-616's commander. He was considered one of Germany's U-boat aces in the Mediterranean by claiming the sinking of about 45,000 tons of merchant shipping, nine destroyers, two submarines and two landing ships. The Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross had been awarded him after completion of U-616's seventh patrol in February 1944. (O.N.I. Note: It has been impossible to identify and substantiate any of the claims of Oberleutnant Koitschka with the possible exception of the sinking of two Allied destroyers and the torpedoing of three merchant ships.) The entire crew of six officers and forty-seven men was rescued and brought to Oran. The preliminary interrogation conducted in North Africa was completed by 24 May 1944. Most prisoners reached the United States interrogation center about one month later, several others arrived in July, but the last three had not been interrogated by late August 1944. Prisoners were security conscious and were strengthened in this attitude by their belief of the exaggerated claims of sinkings as well as by the long interval between the sinking of their boat and the final interrogation.
FIELD POST NUMBER: M-45101
INSIGNIA: Red Devil with Pistol in hand.
FLOTILLA: 29th at Toulon. While at St. Nazaire late March to mid April 1943, U-616 was attached to the 6th Flotilla.
From 18 May to 18 August, she was part of the 29th Flotilla based on La Spezia.
COVER NAME: RACKOGEL (only while at St. Nazaire late March to mid April 1943).
- References for WarThunder in the sinking of the BUCK class Destroyer, taken from the actual war logs and the captured crew of this submarine. -
CHAPTER IX. FIFTH PATROL OF U-616
DEPARTURE: U-616 sailed from Toulon 3 October 1943, apparently again headed for the Gulf of Salerno. A diary records an aircraft attack at 0730, 4 October 1943. (O.N.I. Note: This attack could not be identified.) SINKINGS CLAIMED Prisoners stated that a convoy was attacked and that one American destroyer of the "BUCK" class, as well as two freighters, were sunk in position 39.57 N. - 14.28 E. (O.N.I. Note: U.S.S. BUCK was sunk 9 October 1943.) ENCOUNTER WITH BRITISH SUBMARINE Shortly before returning to Toulon, A British submarine fired torpedoes at U-616, but it appears that they detonated before reaching the U-boat. (O.N.I. Note: At 0703, 15 October 1943 H.M. Submarine UNTIRING fired three torpedoes at a German U-boat off Toulon, but missed.) RETURN TO BASE U-616 returned to Toulon the same date. She remained in port longer than usual due mainly to changed in her bridge structure.
The capture and sinking of U-616
- After numerous attempts, to recharge there dangerously low batteries, and over a 4 day period, these actions took place:
ATTACKS ON 17 MAY 1944
Shortly after midnight, U-616 surfaced again, determined to find an opportune time and position to replenish her batteries which were very low. She was soon discovered by destroyers and was then caught in a search light beam; she was able to dive before fire from the destroyers took effect. Prisoners state that, at this time, a T-5 torpedo was fired but that no detonation was heard. There was a brief burst from the quadruple machine guns fired just before she dived. There after the U-boat was under continuous depth-charge attack, but all survivors were positive in their statements that no damage was caused. One prisoner stated that he had been able to sleep through the many depth-charge attacks, but that the noise of the "singing saw" was nerve shattering. He likened it to the psychological effect of sirens on Stukka bombers. (O.N.I. Note: This apparently refers to FXR gear.) The violent evasive tactics requiring bursts of high speed soon exhausted the already weak batteries, and at about 0800 17 May 1944, U-616 was forced to surface and was immediately abandoned by her crew. No message of the sinking was sent to Control. All vents were opened, but no scuttling charges were set. By this time the surfaced U-boat had been detected by the searching destroyers and before U-616 sank, she received two direct hits.
Following the torpedoing of FORT FIDDLER and WALDEN four destroyers were detached from the convoy escort group. They were able to locate the U-boat shortly after noon 14 May 1944, but contact was lost after two attacks. Thereafter, the escorts returned to the convoy and were relieved by seven other destroyers which formed a box search. At 2148 a fully surfaced U-boat was detected 30 miles to the westward by a Coastal Command airplane. The U-boat dived after she had been attacked with depth bombs. About one hour later U.S.S. ELLYSON and three other destroyers carried out attack on a sonar contact after which the contact was lost. Next morning an oil slick of considerable length was sighted. At about 2330, 15 May the U-boat was again detected on the surface by a Coastal Command airplane. She was attacked with depth bombs and forced to dive. About two and a half hours later, at 0200, 16 May, another airplane sighted the U-boat which dived before an attack could be carried out. Twenty hours passed before contact could be regained. At 2200, 16 May, a Coastal Command plane found the U-boat on the surface and forced it to dive. She surfaced again soon afterwards and was illuminated by searchlight of U.S.S. MACOMB when the destroyers had reached the area. The U-boat dived after a short exchange of fire. Contact was now held successfully and six of the seven destroyers attacked the U-boat. At 0808, 17 May the U-boat surfaced and was immediately taken under the combined fire of all the destroyers.
Reference: From transcriptions of prisoners (declassified) and archived historical records of British, Canadian, and US Coastal activities. http://www.uboatarchive.net/U-616INT.htm