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The following has been sent by Leon Van Der Westhuizen as a response to request for information about Uboats around South Africa

Uboat sightings around Cape Agulhas
4 May 2010
Leon Van Der Westhuizen wrote:

I am also researching the uboat views around Cape Agulhas.

Maybe the attached article can help.

Leon Van Der Westhuizen

German submarine U-509

German submarine U-509 was a Type IXC U-boat of the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine was laid down on 1 November 1940 at the Deutsche Werft yard at Hamburg, launched on 19 August 1941, and commissioned on 4 November 1941 under the command of Korvettenkapitän Karl-Heinz Wolff.

The U-boat served with 4. Unterseebootsflottille for training, before being attached to 10. Unterseebootsflottille from 1 July 1942, based at Lorient, for front-line service.

Service history

1st patrol
U-509 sailed from Kiel on 25 June 1942, and sailed across the Atlantic, into the Caribbean Sea, and along the coast of South America, without any successes. She arrived at her home port of Lorient on 12 September after 80 days at sea.[3]

2nd patrol
U-509 departed from Lorient on 15 October 1942, now under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Werner Witte. Operating in the waters west of the Canary Islands as part of wolf pack Streitaxt (English : "Battle axe") she attacked Convoy SL 125, sinking four ships and damaging three more.[4] Convoy SL 125
At 17:40 on 26 October the U-boat attacked the 7,705 ton British tanker Anglo Mærsk, a straggler, with a single torpedo with no apparent effect. However the damaged ship was sunk at 21:06 the next day by U-604. The entire crew: master, 32 crewmen, and two gunners, landed at Hierro Island, Canary Islands, on 27 October.[5]
At 22.33 and 22.38 hours on 27 October, U-509 fired torpedoes at the convoy and sank two British merchant ships. The 7,951 ton Pacific Star did not sink immediately, but the crew abandoned ship, and she was last seen on 30 October, very low in the water, and probably sank shortly afterwards.[6] The 6,148 ton Stentor was the ship of the Vice-Commodore of the convoy Captain Richard Hart Garstin, CBE, RNR, and was carrying 125 passengers, including 26 army personnel, 11 nursing sisters and six naval staff members. The master, Vice-Commodore, 20 crewmen, three army personnel, four nurses and 15 passengers were lost. 93 crew members, seven gunners and 107 passengers were picked up by HMS Woodruff.[7]
Between 22.00 and 22.09 hours on 28 October, U-509 fired five torpedoes at the convoy and hit two more British merchant ships. The 5,283 ton Nagpore was carrying 7,000 tons of general cargo, including 1,501 tons of copper, as well as being the flagship of the convoy's commodore Rear Admiral Sir C.N. Reyne, KBE, RN. As she sank, the master, 18 crewmen, and one naval staff member were lost. The commodore, five naval staff members, 23 crewmen and five gunners were picked up by HMS Crocus, while on 10 November, the fourth engineer and 18 men landed at La Orotava, Tenerife, Canary Islands, after being adrift for 14 days.[8] The 5,178 ton Hopecastle was badly damaged. Three crewmen and two gunners were lost, and her crew abandoned ship. The master and 20 survivors were picked up by the British merchant ship Mano, and another 19 survivors later landed at Funchal, Madeira. Around 05:00 on 29 October, the abandoned Hopecastle was hit by torpedoes from U-203, but the ship stayed afloat and was finally sunk at 10:10 by gunfire.[9]
At 22:16 on 29 October 1942, the U-boat hit the 7,131 ton British merchant ship Corinaldo with a single torpedo. The ship, loaded with 5,141 tons of frozen meat from Buenos Aires, dropped out of the convoy and was abandoned. Seven crew members and one gunner were lost. The master, 41 crewmen and eight gunners were picked up by HMS Cowslip. At 02:07 the next day, U-659 struck the ship with two torpedoes, but she remained afloat. At 04:16 on the 30th the wreck was finally sunk by a torpedo and gunfire from U-203.[10]
Finally, at midnight on 30 October the U-boat torpedoed and sank the 4,772 ton British merchant ship Brittany near Madeira. Twelve crewmen, one gunner, and one passenger were lost. The master, 32 crewmen, seven gunners, and three passengers were picked up by the British auxiliary patrol vessel HMS Kelantan.[11]
U-509 then sailed for the waters off Morocco to operate against the Allied ships taking part in the Operation Torch landings. The U-boat operated for three days in waters less than 200 feet (61 m) deep and was constantly bombed and depth charged by Allied surface vessels and aircraft. U-509 received some damage, forcing her to abort the patrol and return to Lorient on 26 November after 43 days at sea.[4]

3rd patrol
U-509's next patrol took her far south, to the waters off South Africa.[12] Leaving Lorient on 23 December 1942, she made her first kill at 02:19 on 10 February, sinking the 4,937 ton British merchant ship Queen Anne eight miles south-south-west of Cape Agulhas. The U-boat was attacked by the ASW trawler HMS St. Zeno with gunfire and seven depth charges, but was not damaged and made her escape. The master, two crewmen and two gunners from Queen Anne were lost. Eighteen survivors were picked up by St. Zeno, while 22 survivors later made landfall at Bredasdorp.[13]
The U-boat struck again at 22:00 on 2 April, torpedoing the 7,129 ton British passenger ship City of Baroda of Convoy NC-9 north-west of Cape Town. The badly damaged vessel was towed to Lüderitz Bay, South West Africa and beached. Later she broke in two, and was declared a total loss. One crewman and seven passengers were lost. The master, 124 crewmen, four gunners, and 196 passengers were picked up by HMS Cape Warwick.[14]
U-509 returned to Lorient on 11 May after a voyage lasting 140 days.

4th patrol
The U-boat's final patrol began on 3 July 1943, under the command of the newly-promoted Korvettenkapitän Werner Witte, and sailing south-west to the waters south of the Azores.[15] There on 15 July, north-west of Madeira, in position 34°02'N 26°01'W? / ?34.033°N 26.017°W? / 34.033; -26.017Coordinates: 34°02'N 26°01'W? / ?34.033°N 26.017°W? / 34.033; -26.017, she was sunk with all hands by aerial FIDO torpedoes from an Avenger aircraft of Navy squadron VC-29 flying from the escort carrier USS Santee.[1]


  1. a b "The Type IXC boat U-509 - German U-boats of WWII -".
  2. "War Patrols by German U-boat U-509 - Boats -".
  3. "Patrol of U-boat U-509 from 25 Jun 1942 to 12 Sep 1942 - U-boat patrols -".
  4. a b "Patrol of U-boat U-509 from 15 Oct 1942 to 26 Nov 1942 - U-boat patrols -".
  5. "Anglo Mærsk (Motor tanker) - Ships hit by U-boats -".
  6. "Pacific Star (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats -".
  7. "Stentor (Motor merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats -".
  8. "Nagpore (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats -".
  9. "Hopecastle (Motor merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats -".
  10. "Corinaldo (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats -".
  11. "Brittany (Motor merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats -".
  12. "Patrol of U-boat U-509 from 23 Dec 1942 to 11 May 1943 - U-boat patrols -".
  13. "Queen Anne (Motor merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats -".
  14. "City of Baroda (Steam passenger ship) - Ships hit by U-boats -".
  15. "Patrol of U-boat U-509 from 3 Jul 1943 to 15 Jul 1943 - U-boat patrols -".

U-509 at
U-509 at

German Type IXC submarine

U-66 · U-67 · U-68 · U-125 · U-126 · U-127 · U-128 · U-129 · U-130 · U-131 · U-153 · U-154 · U-155 · U-156 · U-157 · U-158 · U-159 · U-160 · U-161 · U-162 · U-163 · U-164 · U-165 · U-166 · U-171 · U-172 · U-173 · U-174 · U-175 · U-176 · U-501 · U-502 · U-503 · U-504 · U-505 · U-506 · U-507 · U-508 · U-509 · U-510 · U-511 · U-512 · U-513 · U-514 · U-515 · U-516 · U-517 · U-518 · U-519 · U-520 · U-521 · U-522 · U-523 · U-524 · U-533

Type IXC
20 Oct 1939
Laid down
1 Nov 1940
Deutsche Werft AG, Hamburg (werk 305)
19 Aug 1941
4 Nov 1941
Korvkpt. Karl-Heinz Wolff
4 Nov 1941 - Sep, 1942 Karl-Heinz Wolff
Sep, 1942 - 15 Jul 1943 KrvKpt. Werner Witte
4 patrols
4 Nov 1941 - 30 Jun 1942 4. Flottille (training)
1 Jul 1942 - 15 Jul 1943 10. Flottille (front boat)
5 ships sunk for a total of 29,091 GRT
3 ships damaged for a total of 20,014 GRT
1 ship a total loss for a total of 7,129 GRT
Sunk 15 July, 1943 in the mid-Atlantic north-west of Madeira, Portugal, in position 34.02N, 26.01W, by aerial (Fido) torpedoes from "Avenger" aircraft (VC-29) of the US escort carrier USS Santee. 54 dead (all hands lost).
See the 9 ships hit by U-509 - View the 4 war patrols
Wolfpack operations
U-509 operated with the following Wolfpacks during its career:
Streitaxt (20 Oct 1942 - 2 Nov 1942)
Schlagetot (9 Nov 1942 - 15 Nov 1942)
Attacks on this boat
11 Nov 1942 While operating against the Allied Torch landings off Morocco the boat operated for 3 days in waters less than 200 feet deep and Witte reported being constantly bombed and depth charged by Allied surface vessels and aircraft. The boat developed some damages forcing her to abort to deeper water and then to France. (Sources: Blair, vol 2, page 108)
10 Feb 1943 After sinking the British vessel Queen Anne, the boat was attacked by the ASW trawler St. Zeno with gunfire and seven depth charges but was not damaged and slipped away. (Sources: Blair, vol 2, page 229)
2 recorded attacks on this boat.
Men lost from U-boats
Unlike many other U-boats, which during their service lost men due to accidents and various other causes, U-509 did not suffer any casualties (we know of) until the time of her loss.

German U-Boat Losses During World War II. Niestle, Axel, 1998.
Hitler's U-boat War. Blair, Clay, 1996.
Hitler's U-boat War, Vol II. Blair, Clay, 1998.
U-Boat Operations of the Second World War - Vol 1. Wynn, Kenneth, 1998.
U-Boat Operations of the Second World War - Vol 2. Wynn, Kenneth, 1998.
... see more Naval books

Queen Anne
Queen Anne
Motor merchant
4,937 tons
1937 - Barclay, Curle & Co, Whiteinch, Glasgow
T. Dunlop & Sons, Glasgow
Date of attack
10 Feb 1943
Sunk by U-509 (Werner Witte)
34.53S, 19.51E - Grid GR 6844
45 (5 dead and 40 survivors).
Manchester - Capetown - Aden - Alexandria - Beirut
6126 tons of government stores and 698 tons of general cargo, including explosives
Notes on loss
At 02.19 hours on 10 Feb, 1943, the Queen Anne (Master Charles Hicking Radford) in convoy CA-11 was torpedoed and sunk by U-509 eight miles south-southwest of Cape Agulhas, South Africa. The master, two crew members and two gunners were lost. 18 survivors were picked up by HMS St. Zeno (FY 280) (Lt J.K. Craig) and landed at Capetown. 22 survivors made landfall at Bredasdorp near Cape Agulhas.
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