Korvettenkapitän Alfred Manhardt von Mannstein conned the Type VIIC U-753 into the region from just west of Bermuda on the 14th of May, the same day as Bigalk entered just west of him on U-751. Unlike Bigalk, von Mannstein opted to utilize the Straits of Florida and proceed into the US Gulf, which he did by rounding Grand Bahama southbound on the 17th of May 1942 and leaving Key West Florida astern on the 20th. Having left La Pallice on the 22nd of April the boat refueled from U-459 500 miles northeast of Bermuda in early May.
In the US Gulf U-753 sank two allied ships and damaged another two for a total of 20,677 GRT. Attacking every two days from 20th May it struck the George Calvert (sunk), damaged the British schooner E. P. Theriault of 326 tons with gunfire and charges (requiring the sub crew to board the ship), damaged the Haakon Hauan and sank the Hamlet on the 27th.
Von Mannstein returned to the Bahamas area by passing Havana to starboard eastbound on the 31st of May and steaming along the entire length of the north coast of Cuba until Cape Maysi and Inagua between the 1st of May and the 4th. An interesting incident occurred on 2nd June off Nuevitas, Cuba when the U-boat attacked a mid-size sugar carrier but was driven off by the merchant ship’s deck guns. The ship was the Domino, which returned the submarine’s anti-aircraft fire with a four-inch gun at least three times and claiming one hit at the base of the conning tower (not confirmed).
Reading the survivors’ report from the Domino, it would appear that because the merchant ship was drifting without her engines on, the U-boat could not detect the motionless and silent ship on its sonar sound-detection equipment and came upon her by surprise. Further didn’t see the darkened ship in the moonless night until only a few hundred yards away. It appears that the vessels were equally surprised at each other’s sudden presence.
Because the U-boat’s gun jammed in the middle of the attack (not surprising given that it was submerged in salt water much of the time), the boat was fortunate to dive and escape damage from the feisty old sugar carrier. The Domino was condemned as an artificial breakwater in the Pacific later in the war, reprieved, and scrapped on the US west coast in the late 1940s. The incident on the Domino is almost as little reported as the sinking of the Sande, because neither the ship nor the sub were seriously damaged, and no one was injured.
After the chastising Domino incident U-753 continued unmolested down the Old Bahama Channel as far as the southeast coast of Inagua near Matthew Town, at which point it turned north-northeast for home, utilizing the Caicos Channel to head northeast. Transiting between the 5th and 8th of June, it exited the patrol region on that day south of Bermuda, bound for La Pallice France, the first boat to head to and from that port for the Third Flotilla of which it was a member. U-753 was caught by a Whitley bomber in the Bay of Biscay which damaged the boat on the 23rd of June. It returned to La Pallice two days later (Wynn, Vol. 2, p.150).
A member of the crew of 1928 and aged 33 at the time, Von Mannstein was promoted to Fregattenkapitän in May of 1943 just prior to his death on the 13th of that month at the hands of the HMCS Drumheller and HMS Lagan and a Canadian Sunderland aircraft in the North Atlantic. The entire crew of 47 were killed during the “Black May” of 1943 – a period during which the Allies counter-attacked the U-boats so decisively as to turn the tide of the Battle of the Atlantic in their favor.
Von Mannstein had commissioned the U-753 in June of 1941. Over a career of seven patrols and 252 days he was responsible for sinking or damaging five ships for over 30,000 tons (three sunk for 23,117 and two others damaged for 6,908 tons). He was not decorated during his career or posthumously.
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