U-66 under Richard Zapp, Bermuda patrol January 1942

U-66  Zapp  26-Jan-1942        

Korvettenkapitän (later Fregattenkapitän) Richard Zapp brought U-66 north of Bermuda from east to west for four days starting on the 27th of January. Entering northwest of the island Zapp headed due east, passing north of Bermuda on the 27th and east out of the area on the 29th. Along with U-123 and U-125, U-66 was the first wave of Operation Drumbeat U-boats to reach the US.

Before arriving off Bermuda Zapp dispatched the US ship Allan Jackson (6,635 tons) and the British / Canadian passenger ship Lady Hawkins of 7,988 tons on the 18th and 19th of January. Out of 300 people on board, only 96 survived. Then U-66 sank the Norvana, US-flagged and 2,677 tons, followed by the British Empire Gem of 8139 tons and Venore, US-flagged, of 8,017 tons on the 24th of January before heading eat and back to Lorient, which it reached on the 10th of February, 1942, having set out on Christmas Day 1941 for the 2nd U-boat Flotilla.

Richard Zapp was born in 1904 and a member of the Crew of 1926. He began the war in Naval anti-aircraft and joined U-boat training in April 1940, joining U-46 before commissioning U-166 in January 1941. After sea service he commanded the 3rd U-boat Flotilla and a naval regiment named after him in La Rochelle until the surrender. He was a POW until July 1947. Zapp was awarded the Knights Cross in April 1942 not long after this patrol and others to the Caribbean. Over five patrols of 264 days Zapp sank or damaged 17 ships of 118,702 tons. He lived until 1964 and the age of 60.

U-66 was a highly successful U-boat, with thirty-three ships sunk worth an astounding 200,021 GRT plus another two damaged for 22,674 and two warships damaged for sixty-four tons. She would be sunk west of the Cape Verde Island by depth-charges, ramming and gunfire from aircraft flying off the USS Block Islandand the US destroyer USS Buckleyon 6 May, 1944 – thirty-six of her crew survived.

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