The Type IXC submarine U-502 under Kapitänleutnant Jürgen von Rosenstiel only entered the region long enough to transit the southeast corner of the box. Between the 13thand 14th of May 1942 in motored inbound into the Caribbean, having sunk the British steamer Cape of Good Hope of 4,963 tons just east of the border of the area. Once in the Caribbean, which it entered via the Anegada passage, the submarine crew experienced a veritable shooting spree on a patrol of 76 days which would be shortly avenged.
On the 24thof May U-502 sank the Brazilian steamer Goncalves Dias of 4,996 tons south of Puerto Rico, followed four days later by the American Alcoa Pilgrim of 6,759 tons. On the 3rd of June the M. F. Elliott, US-flagged of 6,940 was sent to the bottom, followed six days later by the Belgian Bruxelles (5,085 tons) and American Franklin K. Lane (6,589 tons) the same day.
Like the U-106 before it, U-502 picked up a survivor from the M. F. Elliott, however the man was placed in a dinghy to be retrieved by Allied aircraft. On the 15th of June von Rosenstiel sank the Scottsburg of 8,001 tons and American flag, the Cold Harbor of Panama, 5,010 tons and the West Hardaway of 5,702 tons. His total for this patrol alone was nine ships of 54,045 tons. On the way home the boat was refueled by U-459 west of the Azores. This would prove futile.
U-502 had the dubious distinction of being the first U-boat to fall victim to two Allied anti-submarine warfare weapons the Wellington bomber (this one commanded by Pilot Officer Howell) and the Leigh Light, which was switched on as the plane barreled in at night, blinding the gun crews on the submarine. The attack took place near La Rochelle on the 6th of July 1942 and all 52 crew were killed (Wynn, Vol. 1, p.321).
A member of the Crew of 1933, von Rosenstiel was born on 23 November 1912 and was 29 at the time of these attacks. Though he probably would have received higher decorations had he survived this extraordinarily successful patrol, he perished with the U-boat War Badge of 1939. Initially serving on the training ship Schlesien, von Rosenstiel joined U-boats in 1940. His total of 179 sea days on four patrols and fourteen ships of 78,843 tons were all achieved aboard U-502. This was enough to earn him a listing as one of the “Top U-boat Aces” at Uboat.net.
SOURCES: Gudmundur Helgason, Rainer Kolbicz, www.uboat.net, 2011, Kenneth Wynn, U-boat Operations of the Second World War, Volume 1 and Volume 2, 1997