U-458 under Kurt Diggins Bermuda patrol July 1942

U-458          Diggins         13-Jul-1942 11 days

Kapitänleutnant Kurt Diggins brought his submarine U-458 patrolling north and northwest of Bermuda for 11 days in July of 1942. The incursion began to the northeast of the island on the 13thof July, with U-458 on a southwest course. Then Diggins turned west for three days and exited the area on the 17th of July to the now fruitless and well protected coast off Hatteras. On the 22nd of July U-458 returned northwest of Bermuda, this time heading east, until the 24th. By the 25th the sub was heading north, which it continued to due until it left the area north of Bermuda on the 27th of July.

This was the first of U-458’s seven war patrols. It began for the 3rd U-boat Flotilla on the 21stof June in Kiel, Germany and ended in Saint Nazaire France on the 27thof August, 1942. Just over a week into the patrol Diggins sank the Norwegian motor ship Mosfruit of 2,714 tons in the Central North Atlantic. U-460 refueled U-458 shortly thereafter. While Diggins was off Hatteras as one of the last seven U-boats to patrol that area, the submarine was ordered withdrawn from the region by headquarters. This order resulted in part from the recent losses of U-214 and U-576 in the area.

U-458 headed north to the waters off Nova Scotia. After chasing a convoy in conjunction with U-754, that submarine was sunk and U-458 was attacked and damaged by Canadian Hudsons on the 31stof July. Despite these countermeasures Diggins managed to sink the British tanker Arletta of 4,870 tons off Newfoundland. She set off back to France on in the middle of August and returned on the 27th of the month.

Kurt Diggins was born in 1913 and was a member of the Crew of 1934. Originally he served as an Aide-de-Camp aboard the Admiral Graf Spee, and was subsequently interned when the ship was scuttled in a famous naval action off Uruguay. He made it back to Germany by stowing away on a steamer and pretending to be Romanian, and enrolled with a minesweeping flotilla until joining U-boats in April 1941. He commissioned U-458 in December 1941 and led her on seven patrols of 170 days, many of them in the Mediterranean.

U-458 was sunk by MS Easton and the Greek escort destroyer Pindos on the 22nd of August, 1943 off Pantelleria Italy. Though eight men were killed, 39 survived and Diggins was amongst them. He was taken Prisoner of War between until September 1947. Over his career all of Diggins’ sinkings were achieved on this patrol – two ships of 7,584 tons. He was awarded the Iron Cross First Class as well as the Italian Bronze Medal for Valor. Kurt Diggins lived until March, 2007 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 Kuro wski, Knights Cross Holders of the U-boat Service