Patrol 40, U-701 under Horst Degen, 4 days June 6-10 1942, boat was sunk off Hatteras.
Horst Degen, who transited New England waters for 4 days in June 1942 before being sunk with 7 survivors (Degen among them) off Cape Hatteras days later. Photo courtesy of http://uboat.net/boats/patrols/patrol_2111.html
Kapitänleutnant Horst Degen brought his command U-701 on a transitory incursion of New England waters between the 7th and 10th of June, 1942. Although he caused no damage to the Allies whilst in New England, the same cannot be said of his arrival off the eastern seaboard. Mines which his men laid off the Virginia Capes accounted for four ships damaged (USS Bainbridge (DD 246), HMS Kingston Ceylonite (FY 214), Robert C. Tuttle, and Esso Augusta all on 15 June and the Santore on 17 June).
Then on the 19thof June U-701 sank the Yard Patrol craft USS YP 389, followed a week later by damage to the Tamesis and the following day, 27 June to the British Freedom. Finally on the 28th of June he sank the William Rockefeller of 14,054 tons (UBoat.net).
Revenge was decisive. A US Army Bomber Squadron 396 aircraft – a Hudson – delivered a three depth-charge attack on the submarine which sank it off Cape Hatteras. All but seven German sailors made it to the surface in two groups of 18, however despite life vests and life rafts being dropped by the aircraft only seven survivors were found over two days later (Uboat.net). At the time they were attacked the submariners had not seen an Allied ship for 8 days but were waiting for one more kill before returning to France, having departed Lorient 20 May.
Horst Degen was born in July 1913 and amazingly survived not only his sinking but the war, to live until 1996 and age 82. He was captured by the Americans and sent to Prisoner of War camp, from which he was released in June of 1946. He sank nine ships in his career for over 27,000 tons and damaged five more for over 38,000 tons, for which he was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class.
A member of the Crew of 1933, Degen served as 2nd Watch Officers of Z-10 Hans Lody, following which he joined U-Boats in 1940. After a stint under Erich Topp in U-552 in 1941 Degen commissioned U-701 in July 1941. This was his third and final patrol (Uboat.net).
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
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