Patrol 46, U-214 under Fritz Hoeckner, 2 days July 2-3, 1942.
KorvettenkapitänFritz Hoeckner brought his command U-215 into New England waters for a very brief incursion of one day. During that time, the 3rd of July, the U-boat managed to find a convoy (Convoy BX 27/Uboat.net, said by Wynn to be BA 2) and sink a Liberty Ship, however the boat was counter-attacked by escorting corvettes and destroyed with the loss of the submarine’s crew of 48 men.
It was said that U-215 was on its way to mine Boston Harbor like a U-boat before it, however this is unconfirmed (Kornblum). The ship sunk was the Alexander Macomb. It was her maiden voyage and U-215’s maiden patrol. The Macomb was carrying 9,000 tons of military stores and explosives from New York to Halifax via Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Her ultimate destination was Archangel in the Soviet Union.
The first torpedo ignited the explosives and 56 survivors out of 66 total scrambled to escape the burning but still moving ship. Some made it to three lifeboats and a raft, but a lifeboat was swamped, and others just leapt overboard and grabbed debris.
The attack was about 175 miles east of Cape Cod and 170 miles southwest of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, roughly at the middle of the entrance to the Gulf of Maine. The British anti-submarine trawler HMS Le Tigre (FY 243) quickly counter attacked with depth charges and sank U-215. It also picked up 31 of the survivors and took them back to Woods Hole MA. HMCS Regina (K 234) rescued 25 other men and took them to Halifax.
Fritz Hoeckner was born in December 1912 in Berlin and perished at age 29. He was a member of the Crew of 1933 and was promoted to Korvettenkapitän with seniority posthumously. He served initially in the 5th Minesweeping Flotilla, joining U-Boats in March 1941 (Busch and Röll p.105). His only ship sunk was the Alexander Macomb. He received no decorations. The final patrol originated in Kiel Germany as a re-positioning effort, on the 9th of June 1942. The emblem of the U-boat was a rodent, similar to a rat.
The location of U-215 was discovered by a team of researchers called “Sea Hunters” in July of 2004 in 270 feet of water just within Canadian waters.
Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim, “German U-Boat Commanders of World War II, A Biographical Dictionary,” Greenhill Books, London and Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1999
Helgasson, Guðmundur and Kolbicz, Rainer, www.uboat.net, 2015
Högel, Georg, “U-Boat Emblems of World War II 1939 – 1945,” Schiffer Military History, Atglen, PA, US, 1999
Kornblum, Janet, “Sea Hunters find deadly U-215”, USA Today, July 21, 2004
Kurowski, Franz, Knights of the Wehrmacht, Knight’s Cross Holders of the U-Boat Service,” Schiffer Military/Aviation History, Atglen, PA, US, 1995
Mason, Jerry, www.uboatarchive.net – for the KTB or war diary of this patrol, 2015
Niestlé,Axel, “German U-Boat Losses During World War II – Details of Destruction,” Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1998