U-566 under Hans Hornkohl Bermuda patrol July 1942

U-566          Hornkohl      23-Jul-1943 5 days

Kapitänleutnant Hans Hornkohl brought U-566 on its second patrol into the Bermuda region on the 23rd of July 1943 – the first patrol to the area had been skippered by Dietrich Borchert. This patrol was a mission to the US coast to lay mines and sink shipping. For that reason the track is a more or less straight line from northeast of Bermuda going west and southwest to a point north of Bermuda on the 25th. On the 27th Hornkohl left Bermuda for the US.

Two days later U-566 was believed to have deposited a dozen MTB mines off Norfolk, however they claimed no victims. On the second of August a US Mariner spotted the U-boat off Cape Henry, but it escaped. From then on the Allies were on U-566’s trail, and she was tracked by USS Plymouth. However U-566 was able to turn the tables and attacked and sank the US navy boat off Cape Hatteras on the fifth of August.

Two days later a USS Ventura attacked the boat off Cape Charles, but U-566 fought it off and it crashed after bombs it dropped failed to detonate – Liuetenant F. C. Cross and his crew were killed. Another Ventura attacked and was also shot down with the loss of its crew. A third aircraft, a Mariner, appeared and forced U-566 to the surface with bombs. Into the dusk the sub fought off this aircraft as well as two others and two blimps until it escaped in the dark. A Mariner found her in the moonlight but she again escaped, proving itself a charmed boat.

On the 8th of August a Catalina from Halifax found U-566 off Nantucket Shoals and vectored in three US Navy destroyer escorts which the submarine managed to evade with the assistance of an innovative radar decoy device named Aphrodite. U-566 had sailed for the 1stU-boat Flotilla  on the fifth of July and returned to Brest on the first of September 1943.

Hans Hornkohl was born in 1917 and appears to be still alive at the time of writing in end-2013. He served in the Crew of 1936. Between 1939 and August 1941 he was assigned to the Luftwaffe’s long-range naval reconnaissance unit. The he joined U-boat training and served aboard U-753. He took over command of U-566 in January until October 1943.

Hornkohl’s later commands included U-3509 which was bombed and mined during trials in Danzig, in the Baltic. He transferred to U-3512. In the waning days of the war he commanded U-2502 and U-3041 on no war patrols in April 1945 until the capitulation. He was imprisoned but freed in August 1945. The only Allied vessel he sank in his career was USS Plymouth of 2,265 tons on this patrol.

 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