By Angus Konstam
The seventh U-Boat Flotilla - 'Wegener' - was once shaped in Kiel in June 1938 with six boats, just one of which survived operationally to the tip of the conflict. Early conflict motion from Kiel replaced thoroughly after the autumn of France while the flotilla moved to St Nazaire, the place it will stay till the Allied advances led its closing boats to maneuver to Norway.
Some 114 boats observed carrier with the flotilla and so much of them served within the North Atlantic the place their operations virtually introduced Britain to its knees. the tale of the flotilla starts off with the tale of the convoy predators; during the grim realities of the convoy procedure whose escorts benefited from extremely decrypting of the Kriegsmarine's codes; the bloodbath of the U-boats trying to halt the invasion of Europe; to the ultimate coda as 14 boats escaped from St. Nazaire to Norway.
Ian Westwell spent 5 years within the Royal military prior to changing into Curator of guns on the Royal Armouries. After a spell as a marine archaeologist he turned leader Curator on the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West. He moved again to England to put in writing complete time in 2001.
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Extra info for 7th U-Boat Flotilla: Doenitz's Atlantic Wolves (Spearhead)
29 • Close defence weapons (2Q-40mm) o Searchlight 200 I I 200 SPEARHEAD: 7TH U-BOAT FLOTILLA. Right: Germany's answer to the ever-increasing number of air raids was to build massive U-boat bunkers. This shows the landward side of the St Nazaire pens while construction work was still in progress. While the Kriegsmarine went to great lengths to fortify its ports, little was done to protect the boats at sea, even in the confined and shallow approaches to the bases in Brittany. Below: The U-boat pens at St Nazaire included workshop facilities; one is shown to the left of Pen 12 , a windowless concrete structure behind the six rectangular ventilation ports shown in the photograph.
The common configuration was two 20mm twins on the upper platform and a 20mm quadruple or single 37mm on the lower one. The bulge at the top of the conning tower housed a radar detector and some armoured shelter to protect lookouts when they came under aircraft attack. Left: A variety of different radar sets were tried out in -boats. This shows a rigid aerial where the entire boat had to turn in a circle if all-round radar vision was required. This gear did not last far beyond the experimental stages and special, rotating aerials were later fitted.
Soon these support boats were attached to operational wolfpacks, making these groups virtually self-sufficient in midAtlantic. Despite its successes, the flotilla's losses continued to mount. During the first half of 1942, V-93 and V-577 were sunk in the Mediterranean, while other boats were transferred to other flotillas, or withdrawn from operational service. This was matched by a steady stream of reinforcements, all Type VIIC boats, so that by the end of June 1942, the flotilla strength had risen to 23 operational U-boats.