U-578 under Ernst-August Rehwinkel Bermuda patrol May 1942

U-578 Rehwinkel   25-May-1942    14 days

Korvettenkapitän (later Fregattenkapitän) Ernst-August Rehwinkel entered the region around Bermuda on the 25th of May 1942 and would spend an aggregate of 14 days there. Two days after his entry Rehwinkel dispatched the Dutch motor vessel Polyphemus of 6,269 tons north of Bermuda on the 27th. (The Polyphemus survivors would have a series of eventful voyages in lifeboats after two of the ships that rescued them were attacked by u-boats, as detailed elsewhere in this research).

The following day he exited the area northbound towards New York. Off Nantucket he was able to sink the Norwegian motor ship Berganger of 6,826 tons, after U-213 failed to sink her the same day. U-578 returned to the Bermuda region on the 10th of June for an intense patrol north of the island which lasted from the 11th of June for a week until the 18th, when it peeled away for the northeast, leaving the area on the 19th of June, 1942. During the second incursion no ships were attacked or sunk.

The sub sailed for the 7thU-boat Flotilla of Saint Nazaire, and left that port on the seventh of May, returning to it on the third of July. Originally it was part of the seven-boat Padfinder group some 400 miles east of New York. After trying the northeast the u-boat dipped down towards Hatteras before retracing its route north of Bermuda and then east.

This was U-578’s second patrol to the northeast US coast, however on the previous patrol, in which he sank the tanker R. P. Resor and the USS Jacob Jones off Atlantic City, the sub did not come within 400 miles of Bermuda.

Ernst-August Rehwinkel was born in 1901, making him one of the oldest commanders to patrol the Bermuda area in WWII. He was a member of the Crew of 1923. From 1937 to when he joined U-boats in the fall of 1940 he was an instructor in the Naval Gunnery School. He commissioned U-584 in July of 1941 and lead her on five patrols for 133 patrol days. Overall he managed to sink five ships of 24,725 tons. Promoted to Fregattenkapitän on 1 August, 1942, his submarine lost in the Bay of Biscay to unknown causes four days later. Rehwinkel, aged 40 at the time, and his entire crew perished.


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