U-507 Schacht 21-May-1942 4
KorvettenkapitänHarro Schacht utilized the area around Bermuda to head back to base for four days between the 21st and the 24th of May 1942. The patrol takes a straight line from northwest of Bermuda to northeast over four days and is uncomplicated. Prior to that Schacht experienced a busy patrol in the Bahamas area, detailed below.
U-507 then spent fourteen days transiting the Bahamas and was the first to utilize the Old Bahama Channel along the north coast of Cuba. His sinking of the Federal, an American ship of 2,881 tons off Gibara Cuba was to lead to the rescue of the majority of her crew by a Bahamian vessel – the schooner Ival– under peculiar circumstances (commandeered as it was by Cubans but flying the Union Jack of the colony).
Aside from the Federal, Schacht’s patrol on U-507 (note the higher number of this type IXC boat) stands out for the impressive array of Allied ships – mostly American – which he destroyed in the US Gulf off New Orleans: the Norlindo, Munger T. Ball, Joseph T. Cudahy, Alcoa Puritan, Ontario(Honduran), Torny(Norwegian), Virginia, Gulfprince andAmapala (damaged and salvaged after an Allied plane surprised the Germans preparing to scuttle the ship) for a total bag of nine ships sunk for 44,782 tons and one ship damaged (the Gulfprince) for 6,561 tons.
The Norlindowas actually sunk northwest of Key West Florida, outside the Bahamas area, whereas the other vessels met their fate deeper inside the Gulf (for details of US Gulf operations by U-boats, aside from dedicated websites the authoritative book is Torpedoes in the Gulf by Melanie Wiggins)
U-507 entered the area on a typical trajectory from midway between Bermuda and Anegada heading southwest in the direction of the Windward Passage. Rather than exit the area that way, though, her commander opted (or was ordered) to skirt the northwest coast of Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos islands, pass north of Inagua, and enter the Old Bahama Channel, where it sank the Federal on the 30th of April. After exiting the Old Bahama Channel via the San Nicholas Channel south of the Cay Sal Bank (controlled then, as now, by the Bahamas), U-507 left the region on the 4th of May, only to return via Key West two weeks later, on the 18th.
At that point Schacht initiated another first: the first German U-boat to transit the entire Straits of Florida from Key West to off Grand Bahama, which he did on the 18th, 19th, and 20th of May.
Thereafter the boat headed back to Lorient France, opting to exit the area on the 22nd of May not far from the west coast of Bermuda. It was a patrol of firsts, beginning on the 4th of April in Lorient and ending there on the 4th of June 1942.
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, Wiggins, Melanie, Torpedoes in the Gulf, 1995