The next patrol into the greater Bahamas area was also conducted to and from Brest and was similar to Schnee’s in that it was a dip south from Hatteras, crossing an imaginary line between Bermuda and Savannah for a few days before exiting home bound. The commander of this type VIIC boat on its third of four patrols was Ludwig Forster, aged 26, in U-654. On the 24th of April, 1942 roughly a third of the distance between Savannah and Bermuda the boat entered the area heading straight south, which it did for one day.
The boat headed directly east towards Bermuda between the 25th and 28th of April, at which point another 90-degree turn saw her head northwards and skirt the west coast of Bermuda homeward bound on the 29th of April. No ships were sunk during this entry, however he had destroyed three ships of 17,755 tons between the 10th and 20th of April (they were the Empire Prairie, Steel Maker, and Agra). Wynn notes that Forster is said to have promised the survivors of the Steel Maker that he would radio their position in order to accelerate or assure their rescue and that he did not do so (Wynn, Vol. 2, p.111). Having left there on the 21st of March, U-654 returned to Brest on 19 May 1942.
At the time and for the balance of his career Ludwig Forster’s rank was Oberleutnant zur See. He achieved the Iron Cross Second Class on the first month of the war, and was killed on 22 August 1942 in the Caribbean Sea north of Colon, Panama. All 44 men were killed when a US B-18 Digby aircraft attacked the submarine. Aside from the successes on this patrol he sank a 900-ton Allied warship in a total of four patrols of 162 sea days.
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