Recently people have been joining me on my Sunday Walks in Downtown Albany. Typically, I walk in Albany when I'm scheduled as a tour guide on the USS Slater. A slide show and a map are detailed at this blog entry. I plan on walking on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. You can contact me at:

More on the USS SLATER (

Monday, December 17, 2007

12/17/2008, Christmas on a U-Boat

I'm a bit surprised how many U-Boat video segments are available on You-Tube. This one details Christmas, on a U-boat in the Caribbean. After watching I had a few questions - What Year was it - 42, 43? What was the number of the U-Boat? And in the video they torpedoed a merchant ship - what was the name of the ship? Did the merchant mariners survive the ordeal?

A quick Google search for "German Newsreels" turned up this site that details German WWII Newsreels and their publication date: "....Volume 54 ca. 50 min. ....... Newsreel 658 (14 April 1943), ........U-boat in the Caribbean, off-duty activities, a torpedo barrel is fixed and a torpedo loaded, the cook makes a Christmas cake, a Christmas greeting from Admiral Doenitz is read, and gifts are exchanged, through the periscope, Curacao is visible, a steamer is sunk. ....."

If the newsreel was published in April of 1943, then it was Christmas, 1942. The Uboat Archive web site contains most of the war diaries (daily operating reports) of Admiral Donitz, the U-Boat Commander (F├╝hrer der Unterseeboote). In the news reel the depicted U-Boat reaches it's operational area near Curacao (island in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea off the north coast of Venezuela, and a Dutch Colony). By reviewing Admiral Donitz's war diary for early January 1943 I should be able to pinpoint the numbers of the U-Boat (or U-Boats) operating near Curacao. One problem - the War Diary doesn't reference geographic coordinates but it uses the German Naval (Kriegsmarine) Grid system. A U-boat operating near Curacao would be in operational grid EC (or on either side - EB and ED).

The specific diary - (F.d.U./B.d.U.'S War Log. 1 - 15 January 1943, PG30315) notes that there were two U-Boats operating in the area near Curacao (Grids EB, EC, ED): U-105 and U-214. The entry for January 8, 1943 notes: ".....U 105 and U 214 have been ordered to return to their former attack ares (U 214 Curacao, U 105 Trinidad) after they have met and transferred gyro-sphere. They are to operate off these harbors according to the moon. They have been informed of convoy traffic and favorable possibilities of night attacks because of inexperienced patrolling. ....." Based on this entry it appears like the U-Boat detailed in the newsreel was most likely U-214.

The war record for U-214 is summarized on the web site. On December 30 U-214 sunk the Polish merchant ship Paderewski. However, there are a few inconsistencies with the newsreel. 1st the Paderewski was sunk before the New Year not after. And 2nd, while it was torpedoed it was ultimately sunk by naval gunfire. It is possible that the newsreel was altered for security reasons. The 12 week patrol to the Caribbean ended on February 24, 1943. In July 1944, U-214 was sunk by a Destroyer Escort in British Service (Captain Class) HMS Cooke K-471. Ships of the Captain Class were very similar to the USS Slater, but the hull was shorter.

The war record for U-105 is also detailed on the web site. During this cruise U-105 sunk four merchant ships: on 14th Dec 1942, the British 6,578 ton Orfor; on 11th Jan 1943, the British 67 ton Sail Boat CS Flight; on 24th Jan 1943 the British 8,093 ton British Vigilance; and on 27th Jan 1943 he sank the American 5,106 ton Cape Decision. In June 1943, U-105 was sunk off the coast of Africa by a rather unique airplane, the French prototype flying boat Potez-CAMS 141.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

12/1/2007, Radio 1943 - "Battle Stations"

1943 was the turning point of the Battle of the Atlantic. And, it was also the zenith of Radio. Today it's referred to as "Old Time Radio", but during the war it was one of the main news channels, and a ajor source of entertainment.

Battle Stations was a Four-part NBC radio show which aired in August 1943. In each 1/2 hour episode, the US Navy discussed the progress of the Naval War. Each show was a dramatization. The 1st and 2nd shows dealt with the Battle of the Atlantic. Destroyer Escorts are specifically mentioned in Part 2. The last two shows focused on the carrier war in the pacific.

Listen to "The Battle of the Atlantic, Part 1:"

Listen to "The Battle of the Atlantic, Part 2:"