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thecrazydude

U-Boats & D-Day

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So a friend and I were having a discussion on WWII, and an interesting topic came up about D-Day. We began thinking about U-Boats and how they sank thousands of ships in waters during WWI and WWII. Did the Germans (during WWII) have an idea of the large, mass of ships and troops heading towards northern France, or were they completely unaware? I assume radar technology back than was poor as compared to modern day, but I'm sure they would have been able to see? If they did, why didn't they sink Allied ships? Now, note that I am in no way supported Nazis and my knowledge of world war history may be far less than yours.

I could be completely wrong, and there could have been U-Boats sinking our ships, but if this were true, it turns out the past 4 years of history lessons and my teachers have kindly missed this detail.

Thanks :)

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So a friend and I were having a discussion on WWII, and an interesting topic came up about D-Day. We began thinking about U-Boats and how they sank thousands of ships in waters during WWI and WWII. Did the Germans (during WWII) have an idea of the large, mass of ships and troops heading towards northern France, or were they completely unaware? I assume radar technology back than was poor as compared to modern day, but I'm sure they would have been able to see? If they did, why didn't they sink Allied ships? Now, note that I am in no way supported Nazis and my knowledge of world war history may be far less than yours.

I could be completely wrong, and there could have been U-Boats sinking our ships, but if this were true, it turns out the past 4 years of history lessons and my teachers have kindly missed this detail.

Thanks :)

This may help:

From June 6 to the end of August 1944 15 U-boats were lost in the Channel when trying to attack the Allied landings at Normandy against overwhelming odds (over 1,200 Allied warships).

http://uboat.net/maps/channel.htm

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Posted (edited)

You have to remember that by the time D-Day rolled around, German U-Boats were nowhere near as potent a threat as they were earlier in the war. The ability of the Allies to protect their ships was dramatically improved compared to the early years of the war. Many boats had been lost and, more importantly, the vast majority of the experienced U-Boat crews were dead - similar to what happened to the Luftwaffe by that point in the war.

You also have to remember that submarines of WWII still relied on visual sighting to fire their torpedoes and had to spend a good deal of time on the surface each day. None of which is a good thing in a fairly tight area such as the English Channel with complete Allied domination of the air.

Edited by Rafterman
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you also have to remember that the germans were taken by complete surprise. they knew an attack was coming, just not were it came. they knew that the allies needed a port to off load they troops and supplies. what they didnt know is that we had made our own docks.

we americans when we put ours together did so in a hurry and only used half the bolts we were supposed to. that allowed it to be put together in a couple of days, but couldnt take the storm that hit a couple of weeks later. the brits put theirs together correctly and it with stood the storm.

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This may help:

From June 6 to the end of August 1944 15 U-boats were lost in the Channel when trying to attack the Allied landings at Normandy against overwhelming odds (over 1,200 Allied warships).

http://uboat.net/maps/channel.htm

That helps me a lot. Thanks :)

You have to remember that by the time D-Day rolled around, German U-Boats were nowhere near as potent a threat as they were earlier in the war. The ability of the Allies to protect their ships was dramatically improved compared to the early years of the war. Many boats had been lost and, more importantly, the vast majority of the experienced U-Boat crews were dead - similar to what happened to the Luftwaffe by that point in the war.

You also have to remember that submarines of WWII still relied on visual sighting to fire their torpedoes and had to spend a good deal of time on the surface each day. None of which is a good thing in a fairly tight area such as the English Channel with complete Allied domination of the air.

What would have happened had U-Boats still posed a threat against allied warships? Obviously ignoring the large difference in numbers. Also, those 15 U-Boats which were destroyed, was their call for help ignored?

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That helps me a lot. Thanks :)

What would have happened had U-Boats still posed a threat against allied warships? Obviously ignoring the large difference in numbers. Also, those 15 U-Boats which were destroyed, was their call for help ignored?

hitler didnt mind losing his u-boats. he did however have a problem with losing his surface ships. when the bismark went down, he put all of his ships into port and left them there.

subs cannot shot back at aircraft. so the u-boats may have gotten one or two of the ships before they were sunk by aircraft.

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Basically, so many U-boats had been sunk in the Atlantic by that time that there weren't many of the old experts left, and the Allied anti-submarine technology had been developed to such a level, that there was just no chance of U-boats being able to do much to interfere. With control of the air, particularly over narrow seas like the Channel, there was just no chance of a U-boat being able to get anywhere near without being intercepted. If there'd been enough of the new advanced submarines like the type XXI in service, they might have had more of a chance, but the old type VII was pretty well outclassed by then.

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I think a huge factor that's being left out is Hitler didn't even know the invasion was coming from France, he actually expected it coming from Greece.

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Posted (edited)

I made an account just to throw some facts at you. U-boats did KILL over 1,000 american souls BEFORE d-day. Practice for the invasion was going on, and on a calm night a few ships were hit with torpodoes, over 1,000 casualities. It was demanded to be kept a secret, nurses assisting men were to keep their mouth shut, and same with anyone involved who saw or heard anything.

one of the men even wrote a book about it. I cannot remember the title, but an article online is titled

'REHEARSAL FOR D-DAY: THE FORGOTTEN DISASTER OF WORLD WAR TWO'

they lost more men on that practice than we've lost in iraq. Radar this, radar that, haha. We're talking 1940's people. Radar stations were favorite targets, most put out of commision. Coastal watches were prime, the UK used them, germans used them, americans used them, japanese used them. EVERYONE used watches in replacement to coastal radar stations that had been targetted with CAS/ medium bombers/tacs/strats etcetc.

they sure did expect the landings not to shortly after spotting them. A single man, they call 'The beast of omaha' killed over 1,000 men by himself with just his mg42 and kar98. A single man. Don't tell me he was caught unaware.

anyways, those that had exucses didnt know what they were talking about, u-boats were used, and did infact claim over a thousand lives on invasion forces that were to be used d-day. cold hard truth.

Edited by letalis

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I have found this thread while looking for evidence to confirm something that my father in law mentioned in passing yesterday.

He served on HMS Nith during D-Day (the Nith is an interesting story on it's own, search on google and look at the Carmarthan RNA website); and as we prepare to return to Arromanches for the 70th anniversary, he said that there was a minesweeper behind the Nith that had a captured German mini sub tied up at the rear! He said it was visible for a few days and that he could even see a dead mariner inside a see through dome, the dome having a hole in it caused by a bullet/ shell !

He says that he has never found any official recognition that the sub was there, but he saw it himself!

Does anyone have access to information that could back his sighting up!

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I have found this thread while looking for evidence to confirm something that my father in law mentioned in passing yesterday.

He served on HMS Nith during D-Day (the Nith is an interesting story on it's own, search on google and look at the Carmarthan RNA website); and as we prepare to return to Arromanches for the 70th anniversary, he said that there was a minesweeper behind the Nith that had a captured German mini sub tied up at the rear! He said it was visible for a few days and that he could even see a dead mariner inside a see through dome, the dome having a hole in it caused by a bullet/ shell !

He says that he has never found any official recognition that the sub was there, but he saw it himself!

Does anyone have access to information that could back his sighting up!

It seems possible, and even likely, that this is true. Although not at the time of the actual D-Day landings but a month later. You might like to clarify the timing with your FIL.

The warship in question was the "Neger", and according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neger about 24 were launched against the invasion ports. Its appearance certainly matches your FIL's description.

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You also have to take into account that the English channel was one of the most heavily mined stretches of water in the world.

First it was mined by the Germans to harass British shipping. Then it was mined by the British to prevent a German invasion, and to prevent German U-boats and surface ships from slipping through the English channel into the Atlantic. Finally it was mined by the Germans again, to prevent an Allied invasion.

The Allied sweept the mines along the Normandy coast for the invasion, while the Germans still had to go through mined waters to reach the invasion fleet.

In addition, the Allied had near total supremacy in the air and on the sea. The submarines of the time could not spend a very long time underwate, so the instant a U-boat surfaced they would be under attack by allied destroyers and fighterbombers .

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It seems possible, and even likely, that this is true. Although not at the time of the actual D-Day landings but a month later. You might like to clarify the timing with your FIL.

The warship in question was the "Neger", and according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neger about 24 were launched against the invasion ports. Its appearance certainly matches your FIL's description.

The "Neger" was another of those nazi superweapons that looked good on paper, but was nearly worthless in the real world.

On the night of june 6th 1944, twentyfour Negers was used against the allied invasion fleet, only nine returned.

The sum total of their efforts: 2 small British minesweepers !

In total about 200 were built, sinking a grand total of:

5 ships

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I think a huge factor that's being left out is Hitler didn't even know the invasion was coming from France, he actually expected it coming from Greece.

he knew there was an invasion, didn't know where though

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Posted (edited)

he knew there was an invasion, didn't know where though

Hitler and the general staff all agreed that the invasion would come near Pas-de-Calais, not in Normandy. Even after the invasion the general consensus in the german military was that Normandy was just a diversion, before the main attack came at Pas-de-Calais.

Thats why the Germans held back most of the reserves, instead of sending them to Normandy.

(The story that the reserves were not comitted because Hitler was asleep and could not be woken up, is a myth)

The reason why the Germans were convinced of this, is actually a very interesting story in it self.

The Allied had made up an entire fictional army group (FUSAG) under Pattons command, with a large number of tanks and artillery, that the germans could take pictures of when their reconnaisance planes occasionally got through the air defences.

What the Germans didn't know was that all the weapons were decoys.

Another reason this worked so well was because the British intelligence had secretly rounded up all the German agent in Britain, and used them to pass false information back to Germany.

Meanwhile the Allies assembles the largest naval invasion force in history in southern England, without the Germans ever knowing.

It is in my humble opinion one of the finest pieces of misdirection in military history. (operation Bodyguard)

Edited by Noteverythingisaconspiracy
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Thank you all for your response.

HMS Nith was damaged in an attacked on June 23rd 1944, and returned to Cowes for repairs, therefore the sighting would have been made before that date - Fred Lee (Father in Law) confirms the sighting before the ship being hit. That is what puzzles me as I have seen the listings elsewhere of German midget subs and their activities (I was surprised by the size of the German midget sub fleet in its various designs!), but the dates don't quite overlap?

In addition I would have though that a captured midget sub would have been a prized asset, and would have been returned to the UK. And yet there appears to be no record of this? Perhaps this was not top of the list with the Normandy landings being pressed home!

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Thank you all for your response.

HMS Nith was damaged in an attacked on June 23rd 1944, and returned to Cowes for repairs, therefore the sighting would have been made before that date - Fred Lee (Father in Law) confirms the sighting before the ship being hit. That is what puzzles me as I have seen the listings elsewhere of German midget subs and their activities (I was surprised by the size of the German midget sub fleet in its various designs!), but the dates don't quite overlap?

In addition I would have though that a captured midget sub would have been a prized asset, and would have been returned to the UK. And yet there appears to be no record of this? Perhaps this was not top of the list with the Normandy landings being pressed home!

It's possible that the sub sank en-route while being towed to the UK... IIRC the seas were fairly rough, and apparently the sub had at least 1 hole in it...

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I think a huge factor that's being left out is Hitler didn't even know the invasion was coming from France, he actually expected it coming from Greece.

Although Allied beachheads were established in Italy before D-Day (from North Africa to Sicily to the 'boot'), I'm not aware of any Axis presumption of another front opening through Greece.

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Thank you all for your response.

HMS Nith was damaged in an attacked on June 23rd 1944, and returned to Cowes for repairs, therefore the sighting would have been made before that date - Fred Lee (Father in Law) confirms the sighting before the ship being hit. That is what puzzles me as I have seen the listings elsewhere of German midget subs and their activities (I was surprised by the size of the German midget sub fleet in its various designs!), but the dates don't quite overlap?

In addition I would have though that a captured midget sub would have been a prized asset, and would have been returned to the UK. And yet there appears to be no record of this? Perhaps this was not top of the list with the Normandy landings being pressed home!

Yes, there's a discrepancy and it looks like it would be tricky to resolve.

1. How long was HMS Nith out of action? I understand the ship suffered an attack by a remote-control aircraft, and as Nith was only a frigate that sounds like it could have been serious. But is it possible your FIL saw what he saw after Nith returned to duty (if it did so at Normandy)?

2. You say the ship which had captured the German device was a minesweeper. There were presumably quite a few such ships at Normandy. Perhaps it might be possible to draw up a list and work through official histories and ships' logs. Maybe somewhere you could find a reference to some ship or other sweeping up something unusual.

3. How much did the Allies know about the German mini-subs at the time? If not a lot, it seems unlikely that the minesweeper would have been allowed to keep this object as a trophy for long - Naval Intelligence people would likely drop by in very short order to check it out. It might be worth having a word to people at somewhere like the Imperial War Museum to see what they have in their archives.

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Thank you all for your response.

HMS Nith was damaged in an attacked on June 23rd 1944, and returned to Cowes for repairs, therefore the sighting would have been made before that date - Fred Lee (Father in Law) confirms the sighting before the ship being hit. That is what puzzles me as I have seen the listings elsewhere of German midget subs and their activities (I was surprised by the size of the German midget sub fleet in its various designs!), but the dates don't quite overlap?

In addition I would have though that a captured midget sub would have been a prized asset, and would have been returned to the UK. And yet there appears to be no record of this? Perhaps this was not top of the list with the Normandy landings being pressed home!

i suppose at the time it would have been of great interest to the Intelligence people, and so it would probably have been secret, and by the end of the war they couldn't move for the things they found by the hundred all over the place, so it had probably been forgotten about by then.

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When speaking to Fred about the midget sub again over this weekend, he freely admitted that his memory is a bit hazy about the sub, but worked out for himself that the sighting must have been before the attack by the Mistel (Fred's memory is not as bad as that previous sentence suggests - he is probably the most agile of the veterans that I see him with). In fact when he described the attack by the Mistel, he detailed how it came in over the same minesweeper before hitting HMS Nith.

I'm not sure how a minesweeper would set about its work (nets like a trawler?), but I guess that a midget sub would be caught in the same way as a mine.

The earlier suggestion of a "Neger" looks good, but I'm still not sure if the dates overlap. I wonder if the IWM takes questions on such subjects (however they said for 40 years that the Mistel didn't exist until a German pilot wrote a book in recent years about it!

Thank you all for your help, I'll post any updates on here that I have.

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When speaking to Fred about the midget sub again over this weekend, he freely admitted that his memory is a bit hazy about the sub, but worked out for himself that the sighting must have been before the attack by the Mistel (Fred's memory is not as bad as that previous sentence suggests - he is probably the most agile of the veterans that I see him with). In fact when he described the attack by the Mistel, he detailed how it came in over the same minesweeper before hitting HMS Nith.

I'm not sure how a minesweeper would set about its work (nets like a trawler?), but I guess that a midget sub would be caught in the same way as a mine.

The earlier suggestion of a "Neger" looks good, but I'm still not sure if the dates overlap. I wonder if the IWM takes questions on such subjects (however they said for 40 years that the Mistel didn't exist until a German pilot wrote a book in recent years about it!

Thank you all for your help, I'll post any updates on here that I have.

A World war 2 minesweeper did indeed have a sort of net trailing after it, so a midget sub could conceivable be intangled in it.Even nuclear submarines have had their propellors stuck in fishing trawls.

The Neger became operational in 1943, so there is no reason to doubt good old Fred :yes:

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Posted (edited)

Although Allied beachheads were established in Italy before D-Day (from North Africa to Sicily to the 'boot'), I'm not aware of any Axis presumption of another front opening through Greece.

I may be wrong, but I believe false information about an invasion of the Balkans was planted through the famous "Man Who Never Was" operation, and succeeded in distracting the Germans from the planned 1943 invasion of Sicily.

Edited by PersonFromPorlock

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Posted (edited)

I may be wrong, but I believe false information about an invasion of the Balkans was planted through the famous "Man Who Never Was" operation, and succeeded in distracting the Germans from the planned 1943 invasion of Sicily.

You are not wrong.

It was after Sicily though.

http://en.wikipedia....eppelin_(Allies)

Edited by Noteverythingisaconspiracy

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