By Angus Konstam
The seventh U-Boat Flotilla - 'Wegener' - was once shaped in Kiel in June 1938 with six boats, just one of which survived operationally to the top of the battle. Early battle motion from Kiel replaced thoroughly after the autumn of France whilst the flotilla moved to St Nazaire, the place it'll stay until eventually the Allied advances led its final boats to maneuver to Norway.
Some 114 boats observed carrier with the flotilla and so much of them served within the North Atlantic the place their operations virtually introduced Britain to its knees. the tale of the flotilla begins with the tale of the convoy predators; throughout the grim realities of the convoy process whose escorts benefited from extremely decrypting of the Kriegsmarine's codes; the bloodbath of the U-boats trying to halt the invasion of Europe; to the ultimate coda as 14 boats escaped from St. Nazaire to Norway.
Ian Westwell spent 5 years within the Royal army ahead of turning into Curator of guns on the Royal Armouries. After a spell as a marine archaeologist he turned leader Curator on the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West. He moved again to England to put in writing complete time in 2001.
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Extra resources for 7th U-Boat Flotilla. Dönitz’s Atlantic Wolves
U-boats had begun to use this former French Navy port as a base in July 1940, so the 7th Flotilla staff had the experiences of their colleagues in the 2nd Flotilla to draw on when the time came for their own move. 29 • Close defence weapons (2Q-40mm) o Searchlight 200 I I 200 SPEARHEAD: 7TH U-BOAT FLOTILLA. Right: Germany's answer to the ever-increasing number of air raids was to build massive U-boat bunkers. This shows the landward side of the St Nazaire pens while construction work was still in progress.
The lack of damage to the buildings in the background indicates this picture was taken shortly after the German occupation of St Nazaire. Above right: St Nazaire was practically flattened by Allied bombers during the war, and has since been rebuilt. Apart from the V-boat pens themselves, few wartime landmarks survive. Exceptions are the lighthouses and outer moles protecting the New (South) Entrance to the Submarine Basin. Right: Looking from the larger of the two sea locks towards the V-boat bunker in the non-tidal part of the harbour at St Nazaire.
Although no longer commanded by the U-boat ace Gunther Heydemann, U-575 remained the most successful boat in the flotilla. Flotilla strength had now dropped to 18 U-boats. As no more than a third of these were likely to be on patrol at anyone time, it was hardly surprising that few successes were achieved. D6nitz was forced to bow to the inevitable. In March 1944 he abandoned Rudeltaktik for the second and last time. The Kriegsmarine was defeated because it lost its technological lead, and German shipyards proved unable to match the losses inflicted by the Allies, and to introduce new and improved boats in time to alter the course of the campaign.