U-654 under Ludwig Forster Bermuda patrol August 1942

U-654          Forster        4-Aug-1942 6 days

U-654 under Oberleutnant zur See Ludwig Forster led a patrol of six days into the Bermuda region between the 4tth of August and the 10th, following which the boat was lost off Panama. This is one of the few patrols where the boat came right up against Saint David’s Light, Bermuda – probably to obtain a navigational fix – on the eight of August 1942. Originally Forster entered southeast of the island, headed west, then southwest, then north. After a fly-by of southeast Bermuda the boat headed south-southwest for two days ad exited towards the Caribbean on the tenth of August.

The sub took the conventional route from Lorient to Panama via the Windward Passage. On the 10th of August U-654 rounded the southern end of the Turks & Caicos Islands and the following day passed the northwest coast of Haiti to port and entered the Windward Passage southbound. There were no Allied ships sunk on this patrol, which began on the 11th of July 1942 and was the 8th by U-654. While en route away from Europe the boat was vectored to convoy OS 34 along with other boats, but only U-564 succeeded in sinking ships before the subs were chased away by escorting aircraft.

U-654 was refueled west of the Azores by U-463 in late July. There would be no return voyage as the sub was sunk off Panama north of Colon on 22nd August by depth charges from a US B 18 bomber piloted by Lt. P. A. Koenig. All 44 hands were lost (Wynn, Vol. 1, p.111).

Oberleutnant zur See Ludwig Forster was a member of the Crew of 1936 who earned the Iron Cross Second Class in September 1939. Hit total tally was three ships sunk for 17,755 GRT and one warship sunk for 900 tons. He effected four war patrols in command of U-654 over 162 days in the First Flotilla out of Brest. He was 26 years of age when killed of Panama on 22 August 1942 in the Caribbean Sea north of Colon. All 44 men perished when a US B-18 Digby aircraft attacked the submarine.


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