U-201 under Adalbert ‘Adi’ Schnee Bermuda patrol April 1942

U-201          Schnee        17-Apr-1942         18

Adalbert ‘Adi’ Schnee led the next patrol into the region on 17 April 1942, remaining between Hatteras and Bermuda for most of 18 days. The day after arriving northeast of Bermuda U-201 torpedoed the neutral Argentinian ship Victoria, a tanker of 7,417 tons. The ship didn’t sink and her crew reboarded her and took it to New York, where the US authorities eventually requisitioned it.

On the 21st of April Schnee sank the Norwegian ship Bris of 2,027 tons east of Bermuda and two days later the British-flagged Derryheenof 7,217 tons as well as the US-flagged San Jacinto of 6,069 tons following day. For the next four days the sub headed north then west towards Hatteras, leaving the region on the 27thof April.

The San Jacinto was noteworthy in that it was a steam passenger ship carrying 183 persons (104 of them passengers), of whom fourteen were killed. The 169 survivors included 32 women and children huddled together on rafts and boats and sent an SOS via portable radio the following day. They were picked up on 23 April and landed on the next day in Norfolk, Virginia. 
The Derryheensinking was remarkable inasmuch as the gun crew of the merchant ship managed to fire back at the submarine, though it might be a stretch to call it a duel. Both sinkings occurred well to the northeast of Abaco’s Elbow Cay Light, about two thirds of the way to Bermuda.

U-201, a Type IXC boat sailing in the First Flotilla out of Brest France, was on its sixth of nine war patrols. On the 23rd of April Schnee left the region with a patrol total of three ships sunk for 5,313 and one of 7,417 damaged in this patrol. However the Victoria was towed into port by destroyers which rescued the crew.

The patrol began in Brest on the 24th of March 1942 and ended there on the 21st of May. On the way home U-201 again transitted north of Bermuda, this time without sinking any ships. On the third of May Schnee came east from Hatteras and then northeast, all to the northwest of Bermuda. Heading north until the fifth he then turned east until the seventh of May, when it left the area to the northeast of the island.
Schnee was a member of Crew 34 – 28 years of age at the time, he survived the war, dying in Hamburg in 1982 at age 68. At the time of the attack he was Kapitänleutnant(recently promoted) and at the end of 1944 he achieved Korvettenkapitän rank. Following this patrol he was awarded Knights Cross with Oak Leaves, a rare distinction. His total tally was twenty-one ships for 90,189 GRT, two auxiliary war ships for 5,700 tons and three ships damaged for nearly 29,000 tons. He had begun his U-boat career in May 1937 and served under “Silent Otto” Kretschmer on (one of the war’s greatest aces) aboard U-23.

Moving ashore after his seventh patrol he led operations against convoys. The symbol for his boat was a snow man with a Knights Cross around its neck which was painted on the conning tower – this is because “Schnee” means “snow” in German. Following retirement from a commercial job in Germany, he directed a sailing school on the Mediterranean island of Elba, where Napoleon had been incarcerated in a previous war.

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