I Was There! - We Scored a Direct Hit on a U-Boat
On March 13 the Air Ministry announced that during a reconnaissance flight over Heligoland an R.A.F. bomber had successfully attacked a German submarine at the entrance to the Schillig Roads. A brief account of their exploit is here told by members of the crew of the aircraft in question.
The scene of the attack – the mouth of the Schillig Roads – was not far from the spot where another U-boat had been bombed and destroyed by the R.A.F. a week earlier.
The German submarine was proceeding slowly along the surface when it was sighted by the aircraft, which had just emerged from a low layer of cloud.
The 'plane immediately attacked, dropping four 250-lb. bombs, one of which was seen to hit the vessel quite close to the conning-tower. Another hit is also believed to have been registered on the boat.
Another British 'plane engaged on reconnaissance a few hours later saw a number of patrol vessels in the area where the attack had been made.
The sergeant-pilot responsible described the attack. He said:
"The submarine was only a few miles from the shore. We had to act quickly or she might have crash-dived and got away.
"We attacked the U-boat from directly astern. The first three bombs seemed to miss by a narrow margin, but our air gunner, who was looking back out of his turret, saw the fourth bomb register a direct hit, striking the submarine between the stern and the conning-tower. The submarine must have been split in two.
"As soon as we had launched our attack we turned to the right to have a look at the result. It was a sight worth seeing. None of us had any doubts that our last bomb had done the trick."
The air gunner said: "I saw two parts of the vessel sticking above the water. All I could see in between was a patch of disturbed water."
Historical context, by the webmaster
The U-boat concerned is most probably the U-31, see was bombed on March 11, 1940, by a Bristol Blenheim bomber of R.A.F. Bomber Command. There where no survivors. The U-boat was later recovered and sunk again on November 2, 1940.
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