U-164 under Otto Fechner August 1942 Bahamas patrol


            U-164 under Otto Fechner took a customary course from south of Bermuda to the Mona Passage in just four days, starting on the 12th of August and exiting on the 15th. Shortly after exiting the Bahamas area for the Caribbean two ships were encountered: the John A. Holloway, Canadian of 1,745 tons, and Stad Amsterdam, Dutch of 3,780 tons. The third victim, the Swedish Brageland of 2,608 tons, he sank later on New Year’s Day 1943, which was to be the week of his and the boat’s demise.

The patrol began in Kiel on the 18th of July, 1942. On the way out U-164 stumbled upon convoy ON 115 off Greenland. Along with U-210, U-217, U-511 and U-553, U-164 took part in the Pirat patrol line. Then she broke off to be refueled by U-463 west of the Azores. On the 19thof August U-164 made contact with convoy TAW (S) north of Trinidad but to no effect. Ten days later it was attacked by a Hudson and escaped with minor bruising. A depth-charge attack by a USAF bomber on the 13th of September resulted in ruptured fuel tanks. As a result the boat was refueled again by U-461 northwest of the Azores, and arrived in its new base of Lorient on the 7th of October, 1942 (Wynn, Vol. 1, p.126).

A member of the Crew of 1924, Fechner completed two patrols of 121 days before being sunk. The boat was assigned the Tenth Flotilla of Lorient, where this patrol ended, however it originated in Kiel, Germany so can be viewed as an extended positioning patrol from the Baltic to the Atlantic. Otto Fechner was Korvettenkapitän at the time of this patrol and almost as old as Nietzel inasmuch as he was 37 year of age. His decorations culminated with the U-boat War Badge of 1939. His total sinkings were three ships of 8,133 tons.

Thirty-nine days into his next and final patrol, U-164 was surprised by a US Catalina airplane off the coast of South America and sunk on the 6th of January 1943. Only two out of a crew of 54 survived, and Fechner was not one of them.

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