U-134 under Rudolf Schendel Bermuda patrol June 1942

U-134          Schendel      30-Jun-1942        

Commander Rudolf Schendel contributed four patrol days to the southern area of the box around Bermuda, between the 30th of June and the 3rd of July. During that time the boat’s progress was due west and Schendel exited the region for a long and fruitless patrol of the Bahamas.

U-134 spent an impressive 28 days out of an 83-day patrol in the area as he circled the Bahamas en route to other attacks in the US Gulf in July and August 1942. Schendel took U-134, a Type VIIC boat, westward from a point south of Bermuda on the 1st of July, steaming straight west for a point north of Grand Bahama. At that point, on the 9th of July the boat turned left and into the Straits of Florida, west of West End Grand Bahama, where it remained on patrol for the better part of a week, until the 16th. On that date it resumed its course southwards and motored against the Gulf Stream southwards and around Key West and out of the region on the 19th of July.

After an extensive but fruitless patrol into the US Gulf (no ships were attacked or sunk during this long effort), the submarine re-entered the region on the 26th of July, by heading east from north of Havana into the Saint Nicholas Channel. From there Schendel opted to take the Old Bahama Channel homewards – probably hoping to have better luck than that experienced off Grand Bahama earlier.

Having found no prey in the Old Bahama Channel, U-134 then crossed the opening of the Windward Passage to a point on the northwest coast of Haiti, where it arrived on the 2nd of August. Probably reckoning that nothing ventured is nothing gained, Schendel then penetrated the Windward Passage for several days (the 3rd and 4rth of August) before leaving Guantanamo and these usually rich hunting grounds astern.

On the 4th U-134 rounded the southwest coast of Inagua near Matthew Town and proceded through the Crooked Island and then Caicos passages around Providenciales on the 5th. After breaking out into the open Atlantic the boat headed northeast for four days until the 9th, closing the loop on a circumnavigation of the entire Bahamas chain. On the 10th the boat turned due east for La Pallice and the Third Flotilla and returned empty handed, all its torpedoes still in their tubes.

Like U-571, U-575, and U-84 before it, on the way to the patrol area U-134 took part in a patrol line, called Endrass, initially against convoy HG 84 along with five other boats. The boat was then refueled west of the Azores by U-459 late in June (Wynn, Vol. 1, p.63). The patrol began on 11 June in La Pallice and ended there on the 1st of September, 1942. On the return voyage U-134 was again refueled for its return trip across Biscay, this time by U-463 west of the Azores (Ibid.).

            Though he was promoted to Korvettenkapitänin late 1944, it is perhaps not surprising given the results of this patrol that Rudolf Schendel was not a decorated officer, though clearly from the track of his voyage this was not for lack of effort, but rather the lack of opportunity.  U-134 would be taken over by Hans-Günther Brosin, whose patrols in the region were only marginally more successful and included the downing of a US Navy airship.

          A member of the crew of 1932 Schendel and his boat survived their patrols and he lived until age 56 in 1970. His total tonnage sank over seven patrols and 271 days at sea was 12,147 GRT in Dutch, British and Panamanian registries. Unlike most U-boat skippers which are tracked on Uboat.net and whose feats are detailed in Busch and Röll, German U-boat Commanders of World War II(1998), and Franz Kurowski’s Knights Cross Holders of the U-boat Service, there is no photograph of Schendel on uboat.net.

SOURCES: Gudmundur Helgason, Rainer Kolbicz, www.uboat.net, 2013, Kenneth Wynn, U-boat Operations of the Second World War, Volume 1 and Volume 2, 1997, R. Busch, and H.-J. Röll, German U-boat Commanders of World War II, 1988, Franz Kurowski, Knights Cross Holders of the U-boat Service