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Lieutenant Commander Reinhart Reche

Discussion in 'Merchant Navy During WWII' started by Jim, Aug 23, 2010.

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  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Lieutenant Commander Reinhart Reche was the Commander of U-255, which sank 25,544 tons of shipping from PQ17. He holds a Knight's Cross for his service in the Atlantic.

    Commander Reche: 'We were bitterly disappointed that England and the USA were helping our communist enemy in such a way' ​


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    “We were to join the U-boat group Eisteufel (Ice Devils) and the 5th Air Fleet in Norway to stop the massive supply operation. The sea was smooth as silk. Brown banks of fog were blocking our view. At around midday, two escort ships emerged briefly out of the fog, which we reported immediately with a short signal. We pressed on into the fog to get nearer to them. The Admiral for the Arctic ordered the group to make a patrol line half way towards Bear Island the next day. Visibility was down below 500 metres. We dived and picked up a narrow band of sound on our hydrophone, however, sound carries far in these waters. We pushed forward above water in a northerly angle to take a sound bearing and then took another sound bearing under water. This gave us an approximate location of the convoy, which we then reported over the U-boat frequency. Behind us! In the constant brightness of the Arctic summer, we had to mount an underwater attack from the front. Suddenly we came out of the fog, and there was the whole of Convoy PQ17 on a plate before us. Behind us an escort ship came out of the wall of fog, pumping black smoke. We had to radio a message before diving. We worked forward in a wide arc. An attack by torpedo aircraft was announced for the evening. We fired off a twin torpedo blast on the outer escort screen. But it was spotted, no surprise in such smooth seas. Then came our 'baptism of fire' 40 depth charges. After this unsuccessful attack by the aircraft, we surfaced and set off in pursuit. We took another sound bearing in the north, where several explosions could be heard, and set off towards the noise. We met U-Siemon and then saw a sinking ship on the horizon. But as we drew closer, we were fired on and we submerged. At 19.00 hours, Ju-88 bombers roared overhead. We heard their bombs exploding and watched as one of the aircraft was hit and burned up in the sky. Then, from behind a swarm of He-111 torpedo bombers appeared flying close to the surface of the water, and roared past to the north. We reported the weather conditions around the convoy for the aircraft. It seemed that the large ships were no longer attached to the convoy. Uncle Joe Stalin must have been in serious trouble if he was ordering convoys to sail at this time of year. For the Allied seamen, the winter storms would have probably been preferable.”

    Without an inch of room to spare, crewmen of U-371 sit down to a meal.​


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