During the pre-war years and the first two years of the
war, U-boats conducted two-week tactical training excercises in the Baltic
Sea. These exhausting exercises consisted of simulated attacks on convoys,
formed of eight or more ships protected by escorts and airplanes. I engaged
in these both as a commander of a U-boat, and later in the war as a
When attacking convoys early in the war, I always tried to pass the escorts
and, if possible, attack from between the lines of the merchant ships. I
had to keep in mind that I could not launch an attack from a distance less
than 300 meters. Otherwise, we risked blowing ourselves up with our own
Between the lines of the convoy I had some freedom to maneuver,
because the merchant ships were bound to a certain order that did not allow
them--even if they saw my U-boat--to change their course considerably, even
to ram me.
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The advances in Allied technology were evident when I attacked a convoy in
1942 on its way from Gibraltar to England. This convoy was under the
command of the famous convoy-leader John Walker. The Wolf Pack system
Of the several U-boats that tried to attack this convoy, only my
boat was able to attack during the night at a distance of 3,000 meters. The
other boats were prevented from approaching close enough or were sunk.
Huff-Duff, radar, and advanced tactics defeated our best efforts.
For more on Uboats see Type VII to VIIC. See also Naval Combat Previews.
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