U-488 under Erwin Bartke Bermuda patrol November 1943

U-488          Bartke         11-Nov-1943        5 days

Oberleutnant zur See Erwin Bartke brought his milk cow tanker submarine to a region to the far southeast of the Bermuda zone for five days in November 1943, with the primary task of providing fuel to U-530 and other subs including U-129, U-193, and U-214. U-488 arrived in the area on the 11th of November 1943, lingered in the same spot to the far southeast of Bermuda on the 12th and 13th, and then tracked off eastwards and out of the zone on the 14th.

U-488 sailed for the 12thU-boat Flotilla in Bordeaux on the 7th of September, 1943. Between the 28th of September and the fourth of October she supplied U-68, U-103 and U-155, all of them outbound west of the Azores Islands. On or near the 11th she met with U-402, U-584, and U-731 in the same region. The group was under surveillance by a hunter-killer group lead by USS Card the following day.

This was a defensive patrol – and the group had to find a new area to replenish fuel. Under the protection of flak boats U-256 and U-271 U-488 was able to refuel U-402 north of the Azores, however that boat was sunk the following day and U-488 possibly damaged. Wynn says that the replenishment of U-378, U-641, U-731 and U-758 took place between the 15th and 17th of October.

U-488 then moved further southwest and into the region southeast of Bermuda. There it managed to supply U-129, U-193, and U-530 to continue their patrols plus U-214 for the homeward voyage in end October and early November. Then the boat returned to base, arriving in Bordeaux on the 12 of December 1943. On this patrol Lange lost two of his crew, one from sickness, another from cardiac arrest.

Erwin Bartke was born in 1909 and only joined the U-boat arm and possibly the navy at the age of 33 or so, presumably from another branch of the service, as there is no record of which Crew he graduated with. In 1931 he was Second Watch Officer of U-403 and he commissioned U-488 in January 1943. After leaving U-488 he took command of U-1106 and was lost when that boat was destroyed less than a year later, on 29 March 1945 in the North Atlantic. Overall Lange accrued 160 days aboard both subs in three patrols. He was awarded the U-boat Front Clasp in October 1944.


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