U-858 under Thilo Bode, surrendered off Canada, then Lewes Delaware, then sunk off Cape Cod November 1947

Patrol 69, U-858 under Thilo Bode, 6 days 7 to 12 May 1945,
en route to surrender in Lewes DE.
Thilo Bode, who brought U-858 through New England in May
1945 en route to surrendering in Lewes Delaware on the 14th. Photo
courtesy of http://uboat.net/men/commanders/94.html
Kapitänleutnant Thilo
Bode patrolled New England for 4-5 days in May 1945, it is just not certain
exactly which days or how deeply he probed the area. He lived until last year.
In 65 days of patrol, Bode only provided his positions for two of them – the 3rd
and 4th of April, when the boat was south of Iceland. We know he
surrendered in Lewes Delaware on 14 April, so by reverse engineering can
suppose that he transited New England waters ending on the 12th of
May and beginning on the 7th. This is the trajectory which the
majority of U-boats took which were approaching the US east coast from Europe.
According to the author’s
analysis/logic, U-858 would have passed south of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia on
about the 7th of May, heading west. After five days of motoring southwest,
the boat would have emerged from the region south of Montauk New York by about
200 miles on the 12th of May, in time to make it to Lewes Delaware,
at the mouth of the Delaware River, on the 14th.

According to Wynn (Vol. 2,
p.175), the patrol began in Horten Norway on the 11th of March 1945
(Uboat.net as well). On the 14th of April U-858 was joined by U-518,
U-546, U-805, U-880 and U-1235 to form a wolf pack group (Seewolf according to
Wynn). The boats however were blocked by USS Block Island and USS Croatan,
aircraft carriers determined to prevent an attack by U-boat-towed V-2 rockets
on American soil. Of the five boats, only two – U-858 and U-805 – survived the
dragnet. According to Wynn they made the US coast by the 24th of
April (it is not clear where on the US coast or whether they could have visited
the Canadian coast only).

After Admiral Donitz’s
surrender orders of 4 May went out Bode and U-858 were met at sea 300 miles
south of Cape Race, Newfoundland, by USS Carter and USS Muir. The boat was then
ordered by the Allies to proceed to Cape May New Jersey, opposite which (in
Lewes, at Fort Miles), they surrendered on the 14th. This would
corroborate the submarine motoring through New England waters between the 7th
and 12th of May, though it is possible the boat was there before and
for longer.

U-858, having surrendered in
May 1945, waiting to be boarded by US Naval forces. Photo from http://sharkhunters.com/Vet304.htm

Thilo Bode was born in
February 1918 in Bochum and survived the war, living until 3 January, 2014 and
the age of 95. Though he sank no ships, he was awarded the U-Boat War Badge of
1939, the Spanish Cross in Bronze without Swords, and the Iron Cross 1st
Class. He was a member of the “Olympia Crew” of 1936, serving in the Spanish
Civil War aboard the Z-6 destroyer Theodor Riedel. Then he served in a Naval
Flak Detachment until June 1940. In September 1942 he served as 1st Watch Officer
of U-505 until March 1943 under Peter Zschesch
, who later committed
suicide during a patrol.  

Several of the POWs were
kept at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. U-858 was sunk by a US Navy submarine off Cape
Cod, Massachusetts on the 20th of November 1947. (This author would
like to obtain the exact positions of 7 U-boats sunk off Cape Cod from February
1946 (U-805 and U-1228) and November 1946 (U-977) and November 1947 (U-530,
U-234, U-889 and U-858) in order to ascertain their present locations.

A rare photo of Thilo Bode
aboard a US Navy ship following his surrender. Photo from http://sharkhunters.com/Vet304.htm

After training in the 24th
Flotilla and a further stint as 1WO on U-505 to August 1943 he took command of
U-858 in September 1943 until the capitulation. After surrendering in Lewes the
men were taken first to Philadelphia and then to Portsmouth NH where they were
interrogated, particularly with regards to rocket technology and possibly adaption
to submarines.


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