Tuesday, 2 January 2018

The Hunters: U-69 - Fourth and Fifth Patrols May 1941 & July 1941

So it's here the actual play report for my fourth and fifth patrols of the Hunters: German U-Boats at War 1939-1943.  If you missed the first one you can find it here.  If you missed the second and third ones, you can find them here.

Fourth Patrol

U-69 sinking the Canadian Ship SS-Carbiou.
It was a pleasant May morning when U-69 departed from the U-Boat pens at Brest.  Kapitan-leutnant Josef Fechner the boat's commandant was eager to get back to sinking Allied shipping.  After the nearly disastrous patrol of February earlier that year.  Where the boat's flak gun crew was killed by an attack by an RAF anti-submarine plane.  An episode that was nearly repeated when a plane was spotted overhead!  Fechner gave the order to crash dive without hesitation, the trauma of the last patrol still fresh in his mind.  Other than that minor incident, U-69's return to its preferred hunting-ground of the British Isles was uneventful.  As was the majority of its patrol overall.  Fechner was worried that he would return home without a kill to the boat's name.   A fear that proved unfounded as they spotted a lone ship upon the horizon.  While he was still cautious about being ambushed (he didn't want a repeat of the Thirlby incident, read here if you need clarification) he didn't want let a single British ship escape on his watch.  The small freighter was identified a the SS Caribou weighing in at 2200 tons.   The Kapitan-leutnant order U-69's deck-gun to fire upon the ship.  A task that took more rounds of ammunition than it really should have.  Eventually the ship did sink and U-69 slipped away unharmed.  Returning to Brest with no other ships sunk than the puny Caribou, a fact that Kapitan-leutnant Fechner was not pleased about.  

(I remember being really weirded out when I did some research on the actual Historical SS Caribou.  For those of you that weren't aware, the Hunters includes tables of actual historical ships that were sunk by U-Boats.  Or at least served in the Battle of the Atlantic.  It turns out that ended up sinking a piece of Canadian history!  With the exact same U-Boat that sank it in real life about a year early and on the wrong damn side of the ocean!  For those of you that are interested in reading a little more about the Caribou, you can click this link).

Fifth Patrol 

After refitting in Brest U-69 was once again ready for another patrol in July of 1941.  Kapitan-leutnant had petitioned up the chain of command for U-69 to be assigned to a Wolfpack Patrol in the Atlantic.  (I almost made the roll to missing by rolling a 2 instead of the 1 that I needed).  The U-Boat command carefully considered the prolific Kommandant's request, but ultimately decided that he was still too green for such an assignment.  U-69 didn't end up being sent back to the British Isles like Fechner had thought however.  They'd still be going to the Atlantic just not with a Wolfpack like he had hoped.  The trip to the Atlantic was uneventful and at first it appeared that the entire patrol would be that way as well.  Until a Convoy was spotted on the horizon!

It was night-time so Fechner gave the order to dive, surfacing once they were within the convoy's midst.  Which gave U-69 its pick of four different targets.  The large freighter Thomas McKean (7200 tons), the tanker La Brea (6700) and the small freighters Stonepool (5000) & the Tweed (2700, as a side-note the Tweed is like a bad penny, I ran into it last patrol as well).  Fechner ordered torpedoes from the forward tubes fired on the Thomas McKean and the La Brea, two apiece.  While the aft torpedo was fired on the Stonepool.  Of all of these only found its target in the La Brea damaging her motive capabilities but not sinking her.  U-69 slipped away undetected by the convoy's escort of destroyers, only resurfacing after they'd abandoned the La Brea.  (This was the first time since I started playing the Hunters that an escort that ever abandoned a damaged ship.  I thought myself particularly lucky).  U-69 finished off the damaged La Brea with a torpedo fired from its aft, sending the damaged tanker to the depths.  Though honestly Fechner would rather it had been the fatter freighter the Thomas McKean, but he wouldn't look a gift-horse in the mouth.  

Weather Reporting Duty, U-69's assignment for the rest of
their fifth patrol.
Fechner was eager to find another target, when an order came over the U-Boat's radio.  U-69 was being reassigned to weather reporting duty for the rest of the patrol!  An assignment that left Fechner in a foul mood, they'd barely sunk a ship this patrol and the higher-ups were ordering him to report the weather!  Needless to say he was pissed when U-69 docked once more into Brest.  At which point he busied himself drinking and filing reports.  Which insulted the brass' lack of strategic thinking without outright insulting them.  (You know those kind of reports that have "With all due respect..." and the like?) U-69 wouldn't be ready for duty again until September of 1941.  The boat now had five patrols under its belt and 47,200 tons of Allied Shipping sunk to its name.  

Wall of the Fallen

In terms of ships sunk this was one of U-69's more unsuccessful patrols.  With only one ship sunk to a patrol, usually U-69 averages 2 or 3 ships sunk.  Putting them in a very special 3% minority among U-Boats in actual history were lucky to damage a single ship, let alone sink it.
SS-La Brea sunk by U-69 in July of
1941
SS-Caribou sunk by U-69 in May of
1941


Conclusions

Overall these were two of the more boring of U-69's patrols so far.  With only two ships sunk between the two, on the bright side both of them were counted as successes.  So that won't interfere with Kapitan-leutnant Fechner's chances of getting promoted.  If you liked this actual play report be sure to +1, comment and follow this blog.  As always have a good day and may the dice be ever in your favour.