U-593 under Gerd Kelbling Bermuda patrol May 1942

U-593          Kelbling        27-May-1942       7 days

Kapitänleutnant Gerd Kelbling took his command U-593 across the northern sector of Bermuda from west to east between the 27th of May and the 2nd of June, 1942. He sank no ships in the region, however was returning from moderate success off the US coast, where he had sunk the 8,426-ton Panamanian motor ship Persephone on the 25th of May, two days before arriving off Bermuda.

The boat had experienced a counter-attack from the navy ships escorting Persephone’s convoy, but was undamaged. This had followed a partially successful attack on the Greek steamer Stavros, 4,853 tons, on the 14th of May off Atlantic City (the ship was on charter to Swiss interests, and made it to New York where it was repaired).

U-593 sailed for the 7thU-boat Flotilla of Saint Nazaire on the 20th of April and initially participated in an attempted wolfpack action against a convoy off Cape Sable, Canada on the first of May. The convoy hugged the coast, contact was lost, and the pack dispersed. U-593 patrolled southwards. The patrol ended on the 18thof June in Saint Nazaire.

Gerd Kelbling had a very active naval career which he was fortunate to survive (he lived until 2005 and the age of 89). Born in 1915 he was a member of the Crew of 1934, following which he joined minesweepers. Early in 1941 he joined U-boats and sailed on U-557 as commander-in-training (sea training). He commissioned U-593 in March of 1942 in Kiel and sailed for Saint Nazaire, where front-line boats were based, that same month.

Overall Kelbling accrued 17 patrols and 338 days at sea. In that time he sank or damaged 16 ships of 57,721 tons, up to December 1943. On the 12th of that month, having been patrolling in the Mediteranean since October 1942, his boat was attacked by two Allied destroyers – USS Wainwright and HMS Calpe. All of the men on board, including Kelbling were captured and imprisoned when the boat was scuttled. Kelbling was sent to Canada (fortunate not to be torpedoed en route) until September 1947.


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