I Was There! - We Scored a Direct Hit on a U-Boat

The War Illustrated, Volume 2, No. 30, Page 315, March 29, 1940.

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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