U-404 under Otto von Bülow Bermuda patrol May 1942

U-404          von Bülow 22-May-1942 13

Kapitänleutnant (later Korvettenkapitän) Otto von Bülow brought U-404 for two incursions into the Bermuda area in May and June 1942 as part of a highly successful patrol in which he sank seven ships of 31,061 tons. Initially U-404 just dipped into the northeast corner of the Bermuda area between the 22nd and 25thof May. Then the sub returned, this time from the north northwest, on the 30thduring which it sank the US ship Alcoa Shipper of 5,491 tons.

U-404 then motored southwest until the 1st of June, when it intercepted and sank the US steam ship West Notus of 5,492 tons west northwest of Bermuda. For nearly a week U-404 zig-zagged northwest of Bermuda, sinking the Swedish steam ship Anna of 1,345 tons on the 3rd of June. von Bülow then took is command east till the 7th, south till the 8th, and west towards Hatteras on the 9thof June.

Off the US coast from Hatteras to the Delaware Capes U-404 sank the 3,289-ton Yugoslavian steamship Ljubica Matkovic off Cape Lookout on the 24th of June, then the steamship Manuala, US flagged and 4,772 tons, and the Nordal, Panamanian of 3,485 tons.  On the 27th U-404 dispatched the Moldanger, 6,827 tons of Norway, but was counter-attacked by aircraft. The obliged von Bülow to head back to France, where it reached Saint Nazaire on the 14th of July 1942.

U-404 sailed for the 6thU-boat Flotilla of Saint Nazaire on the 6th of May as part of the Padfinder group, which was active with seven submarines on the 23rdto 27th of May before they split off to hunt independently. On the way out to the US coast U-404 also participated in the Hecht group from the 8thto the 11th of May.

Otto von Bülow was born in 1911 and a member of the Crew of 1930. Early in his naval career he served on the Duetschland and Schleswig-Holstein and with naval flak units. He joined U-boats in April 1940 and commanded U-3, a training boat. He commissioned U-404 in August 1941 and went on to accrue 280 patrol days in six missions. His total tally of ships sunk and damaged was 17 vessels of 89,259 tons, though he had to retract a claim of sinking the USS Ranger as it was a misunderstanding (he had hit HMS Biter instead).

In 1945 von Bülow commanded U-2545 and then a Naval Assault Battalion. Joining the Bundesmarine in 1956 he took over a former US Navy destroyer and re-commissioned it Z-6 in Charleston, South Carolina in 1960. His later responsibilities were as base commander in the Hamburg area (Uboat.net).

Among his many accolades he received the Knights Cross in October 1942 following this patrol, supplemented by the Oak Leaves in April 1943. To this the U-Boat War Badge with Diamonds was added a month later and the War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Sword in April 1944. von Bülow lived until January 2006 and the age of 94.

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