U-653 Feiler 16-May-1942 20 days
Kapitänleutnant (later Korvettenkapitän) Gerhard Feiler initiated an intense patrol of nearly three weeks in the Bermuda area on the 16th of May, 1942 and didn’t exit the area eastbound until the 17th of June, including a foray off Cape Hatteras. During that time of crisscrossing the region to the northwest of Bermuda U-653 sank the merchant ship Peisander on the 17th of May (the day after arriving) and then the US Navy converted yacht USS Gannett on the 6th of June. The submarine left the Bermuda region westwards between the 19th of May and the 6th of June.
U-653 was one of seven U-boats in the Padfinder group operating 3-400 miles off the US coast looking for offshore prey. The Peisander which Feiler sank was a British motor ship of 6,225 tons, and was sunk between Bermuda and Nantucket. The USS Gannett was a converted aircraft tender engaged in escorting a British warship, which subsequently abandoned its escort and fled for the safety of Bermuda.
Feiler’s efforts off the US coast returned no results, and so he moved the sub further east towards Bermuda, where he encountered the Gannett. Moving northeast he was able to refuel from U-459 about 500 miles northeast of Bermuda before returning to Brest, where it was based with the 1st U-boat Flotilla. The patrol had begun on the 25th of April and ended on the sixth of July, 1942.
Feiler was 32 at the time, having been born in Breslau in 1909. A member of the Crew of 1934, he served on the destroyer Karl Galster between 1938 and 1940 before joining U-boats in July of that year. He commanded U-653 between 1941 and 1943.
Over seven patrols in the same sub for 412 patrol days he managed to attack five ships worth 9,382 tons – less than stellar results when compared with his colleagues in the same timeframe (December 1941 – September 1943). He was awarded the German Cross in Gold in 1944. Gerhard Feiler lived until 1990.
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