Hermann Rasch of U-106 spent 25 days around Bahamas May – July 1942, sank Mexican tanker

Kapitänleutnant Hermann Rasch of U-106, Photo source:  http://www.uboat.net/men/rasch.htm

U-106 under Hermann Rasch entered the area a week after Winter in U-103, just off the coast of Georgia southbound from Hatteras on the 13th of May 1942. He proceeded determinedly into the ground covered by Teddy Suhren just days before: the Straits of Florida from Jacksonville down to Key West, which he rounded on the 20th of May westbound into the US Gulf. On the way to the patrol area, having left Lorient on the 15th of April, U-106 was attacked by a US destroyer, named by Wynn as the USS Broome on the 2nd of May (Wynn, Vol. 1, p.87).

Rasch would return exactly a month later, on the 21st of June and ride the Gulf Stream up the same Straits as far as Grand Bahama, after which he rounded Memory Rock north of that island and headed east-northeast for the full distance to just south of Bermuda, where he left the area on the 9th of July. U-106’s patrols north of Grand Bahama look like the letter L, with the corner lying in the vicinity of West End.

Rasch’s next victim was as controversial as Suhren’s sinking of the Potrero del Lano at the same rough time: he kicked a hornets’ nest and brought Mexico into the war against Germany by sinking the 6,067-ton Mexican tanker Faja de Oro between Key West and Havana on the 21st of May, killing ten of  her crew of 37. His other victims on this patrol were the Carrabulle, the Atenas (of 4,639 GRT, damaged and managed to escape off New Orleans after a valiant counter attack by her Naval Armed Guard), the Mentor and Hampton Roads (on 1st June), for a total tonnage sunk and damaged of 33,793 on one patrol. Three weeks later he rounded Key West eastbound.

Rasch was 27 at the time, his boat was the IXB type sailing from and to Lorient for the Second Flotilla. He would spend a total of sixteen days in the area on the sixth of ten war patrols for this battle-hardened submarine. Rasch had left Lorient on the same day as Winter in U-103 but arrived in the area by a less direct route and subsequently returned a week or so later. Like his colleague, Rasch has a remarkable sinking northeast of Bermuda, sinking the 7,985-ton “Lady Boat” the Canadian passenger ship Lady Drake with a complement of 141  passengers and 115 crew, all of whom survived and were taken to Bermuda by the USS Owl (AM 2).

The return voyage home was eventful – U-106 was refueled by U-459 west of the Azores on a date indeterminate. On the 24th of June, less than a week from home base, the U-boat stopped to pick up a survivor from sunken steamer Etrib which had been sunk by U-552 on the 15th of June east-northeast of the Azores (Wynn, Vol. 1, p.87). The boat returned to Lorient, with its grateful prisoner, on the 29th of June 1942.

Kapitänleutnant Hermann Rasch was a member of the crew of 1934 and joined U-boats in 1940. His staff positions after leaving U-106 in April 1943 concluded with command of midget U-boats, which lasted up to his captivity until 1946. He practiced journalism in Germany until his death in 1974 at age 59. Rasch’s total bag over six patrols of 308 sea days was twelve ships for 78,553 confirmed sunk, one ship damaged (Atenas), and an auxiliary warship of 8,246 tons damaged. In June 1939 he had been awarded the Spanish Cross in Bronze with Swords. He received the coveted Knights Cross a few months after returning from the captioned patrol, in the final days of 1942.

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