U-732 under Claus-Peter Carlsen, one of the commanders covered herein who is still alive, began its twenty-four-day patrol into the area on the 5th of July 1943 midway between Bermuda and Anegada. To get there it had crossed Biscay with U-84 and U-306. Following that the boat was refueled by U-488 west of the Azores. On entering the greater Bahamas area U-732 steamed southwest towards Cape Mole Haiti, utilizing the north coast of Hispaniola rather than attempting either the Caicos or Crooked Island passages.
Carlsen had good reason to avoid fortified Allied channels – he would be attacked twice in or near the Windward Passage. Rounding the northwest tip of Haiti on the 11th of July, the following day two US OS2U Kingfisher scout aircraft surprised the Type VIIC boat on the surface, damaging it slightly but not injuring any of the crew (Blair Vol. 2, p.364).
Having exited the area, Carlsen took the boat on a short box-grid search southeast of Jamaica before returning to the Windward Passage on the 27th of July. Then, while between Inagua and Cape Maysi Cuba the following day Carlsen initiated an attack on a convoy of repair ships and destroyers, only to be depth-charged into retreat after being forced beneath the surface. The convoy was ON 376 southbound, only 30 miles west of Great Inagua Island, Bahamas. The corvette USS Brisk depth-charged the sub. Carlsen made the unsubstantiated claim that he had hit two of the ships in this convoy and sank one of them (Wynn, Vol. 1, p.140).
The patrol began on the 10th of June and ended in Brest on the 31st of August 1943. It would prove a far cry from the days of Holtorf’s brazen attack on the Standella, Empire Corporal, and Michael Jebsen in the same area some months before. Despite a transit of the Crooked Island Passage between Long Island and Bird Rock, Landrail Point Crooked Island, no ships were sunk or even damaged during this 83-day patrol. According to the KTB or war diary (Krieg Tag’s Buch / War Day Book), U-732 spent a week between the 28th of July and 6th of August lingering and patrolling off the west coast of Inagua in the entrance to the Crooked Island Passage.
Whether the intent was defensive or offensive (the boat was in main shipping channels but had been attacked twice in the area) is not known, but no further attacks are recorded despite the presence of convoys to and from Guantanamo and Key West and Aruba and Halifax on a nearly twice-weekly basis. On the 7th of August the boat bent a course for home, transiting out of the region south of Bermuda and bound for the First Flotilla in BreSaint It departed the region on the 11th of August, five weeks after its arrival on this fruitless patrol.
Oberleutnant zur See Claus-Peter Carlsen, a member of the B Crew of 1937, was 23 at the time of this patrol and achieved no allied sinkings during his three patrols of 136 days (the next patrol was to be the boat’s final one). In 1942 he was awarded the Iron Cross First Class. Over his U-boat career he served 136 patrol days over three patrols. U-732 was sunk off Tangier, Africa on the 31st of October, 1943 by HMS Imperialistand the British destroyers HMS Douglas. Though 31 crew were killed, 18 survived, including Claus-Peter Carlsen.
SOURCES: Gudmundur Helgason, Rainer Kolbicz, www.uboat.net, 2011, Kenneth Wynn, U-boat Operations of the Second World War, Volume 1 and Volume 2, 1997, Clay Blair, Hitler’s U-boat War, The Hunters, 1939-1942, and Hitler’s U-boat War, The Hunted, 1942-1945, 2000