U-69 under Ulrich Gräf, Bermuda patrol September 1942

U-69  Gräf   21-Sep-1942        

Oberleutnant zur See (later Kapitänleutnant) Ulrich Gräf brought U-69 on its second incursion into Bermuda waters on the 21stof September, 1942. He was heading back to base and simply headed northeast for four days, exiting the area north of the island on the 24th. The patrol began in Saint Nazaire on the 15th of August as a mine-laying operation for the 7th U-boat Flotilla. U-69 successfully laid its mines off the Chesapeake Bay on the ninth and tenth of August then went to Hatteras on patrol.

Finding few pickings off Hatteras, Gräf opted to head for Canada, where it entered the Saint Lawrence River and sank the British steam ship Carolus of 2,375 tons. Constantly under threat of Canadian aircraft, the submarine retreated. Despite damage, U-69 was able to sink the railway ferry Caribou, despite depth charge counterattack by its escort, the Grandmere. Sadly in the disorder that ensued 136 passengers and crew – including many women and children, drowned or died of hypothermia.

U-69 managed to escape and even attacked the steamer Rose Castle, however the torpedo didn’t detonate. The submarine arrived in Lorient on the 1th of November, 1942 having been refueled by U-463 on the 28th of October presumably west of the Azores. 

Born on 15 December 1915 in Dresden, he served aboard the light cruiser Nurnberg in January 1940 and then was Second Watch Officer of the Iltis until October. He joined U-boats in November of 1941 and was First Watch Officer of U-74 before commanding U-23 and then U-69. Gräf, received no decorations over a career which was to see him sink six ships of 16,627 tons. He was killed in the North Atlantic on 17 February 1943 east of Newfoundland when caught by the destroyer HMS Fame, also reported to have been the HMS Viscount. He was 27 years of age.

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