U-658 under Hans Senkel Bermuda patrol July 1942

U-658  Senkel         28-Jul-1942 10 days

KapitänleutnantHans Senkel of U-658 spent ten days south-southeast of Bermuda basically waiting to refuel from U-463 between the 28th of July and the 7thof August. Its refueling complete, U-658 headed for a successful patrol off the Windward Passage, exiting the Bermuda area.

The next boat into the area would linger in the Bahamas for a total of 30 days, mostly in and around the Crooked Island Passage. Like those subs which immediately preceded it, the VIIC boat U-658 was on its first patrol (of two) and sailed to the Bahamas directly from Kiel Germany. Her commander was Hans Senkel and based on the two sinkings of 18,612 tons on this 68-day patrol for the Sixth Flotilla he would be allowed to keep the boat at least until its next, fatal patrol. Retracing U-658’s patrol in the area is rather complex due to sudden turns and an intense crisscrossing patrols of the Crooked Island Passage.
On the 29th of July the sub entered the region on a customary track to the southwest and the Windward Passage. Between the 1st of August and the 4th the skipper painted a rough rectangle north of Puerto Rico and south of Bermuda in which he was obviously making a “box”-type patrol in the open sea. Resuming its course the sub then went northwest towards Hatterass until the 6th, at which point Senkel turned south for Haiti, where it arrived on the 10th, having passed to the east of the Turks & Caicos.

On the 15th the sub touched the entrance to the Old Bahama Channel before doubling back for the Windward Passage, where it sank one ship on the 13th (the Medea, near Cape Maysi Cuba and not far from Inagua) and attacked three others on the 17th. All of the ships sunk on this patrol – Medea, Laguna (damaged), Fort la Riene, and Samir– were sunk in the Windward Passage between Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti and were thus outside the immediate area covered. The return trip of U-658 to Saint Nazaire via the Bahamas is no less complex, but is much more interesting since Senkel seems to have made a very determined effort to flush prey out of the islands and their channels.

On the 18th of August U-658 rounded Inagua to the west of Matthew Town and headed northeast out of the Crooked Island Passage. The following day he turned 90 degrees east to a point off Acklins, where on the 20th the boat turned southeast to a point off Little Inagua on the 21st. Then the sub turned southwest again for a day to a point south of Castle Island Light. On the evening of the same day Senkel headed northeast and out of the channel, to the northwest of Mayaguana. From here a sharp turn to the southeast brought the sub to a point off Anegada on the 26th of August.

Not to rest on his laurels, Senkel then doubled back to the northwest to a point off the Mona Passage where finally on the 27th of August he turned northeast for home. He exited the area on the 28th of August roughly midway Bermuda and Anegada, bound for St. Nazaire.

This patrol was also the first for U-558, though it was more successful than those of U-508 and U-509. Having left Kiel on the 7th of July, the boat was refueled by U-463 west of the Azores late the same month. On the return leg U-658 refueled, supposedly by U-462, west of the Azores. She arrived in her new base at Saint Nazaire on the 12th of September 1942 (Wynn, Vol. 1, p.112).

A member of the Crew of 33, Kapitänleutnant Hans Senkel’s only successes against the enemy were during this patrol. He received no decorations and a promotion to Korvettenkapitänwas posthumous, as he and the entire crew were killed by a Canadian Hudson aircraft east of Newfoundland on 30 October 1942 – the month after they returned from the Bahama 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