WW2 History Buffs

SailorGirl

Well-Known Member
I don't where to stick this question. I'm reading a book called Torpedo Junction which is essentially about U-boats attacks offshore the east coast most notably so far Long Island, Cape Hatteras, Ocean City Maryland, and the Chesapeake Bay. I've heard the before but it still astonished me that they got the close without detection.

A couple of questions immediately came to mind when I was reading this morning and I know there are people on the forum that have studied this stuff.

According to interviews with the U-boat commanders after the war was over - once the merchant ships were torpedoed, the german subs watched topside until the lifeboats were launched and the crew safely off the ship before they finished the merchant ship off and sunk it. I don't understand what would be the point behind that and that's my question.

Secondly the subs got close enough to our shores to actually see lights, people, cars etc. Why didn't the directly attack us there? If they had lined up correctly - I would imagine a large chunk of the eastern seaboard population could have easily been wiped out.

Third thing and this is more for @Gilligan - I know you read the book but apparently once the depth charges your grandfather laid had gone off the breakers to the ship would flip and power would be lost and the sonar guy would have to go below to reset. Your grandfather suggested to the sonar guy that perhaps little wedges of wood could be placed on/near/around the breakers to hold them in place, rather than consistently replacing. Genius yes?
 

Gilligan

#*! boat!
PREMO Member
Secondly the subs got close enough to our shores to actually see lights, people, cars etc. Why didn't the directly attack us there? If they had lined up correctly - I would imagine a large chunk of the eastern seaboard population could have easily been wiped out
Subs of that era were not equipped for attacking coastal facilities and seldom did. They had one smallish deck gun, manually breech loaded, whose primary purpose was limited surface attack ...mainly to finish off merchant vessels to conserve torpedoes. A sub's number one job is to remain undetected.

It was not until the advent of sub-launched cruise missiles in the last quarter century or so that subs took on any land attack roles.
 

SailorGirl

Well-Known Member
Subs of that era were not equipped for attacking coastal facilities and seldom did. They had one smallish deck gun, manually breech loaded, whose primary purpose was limited surface attack ...mainly to finish off merchant vessels to conserve torpedoes. A sub's number one job is to remain undetected.

It was not until the advent of sub-launched cruise missiles in the last quarter century or so that subs took on any land attack roles.
I just got done reading that too - on one of merchant ships that was eventually sunk, the sub had surfaced and sailed right past the merchant ship. The crew members of the merchant ship were topside waiting for the lifeboats to be launched and described the fear that they felt to actually be able to see the gunner behind the gun pointed right at them.

Crazy stuff to know that this Country for all it's might had U-boats so close to its shores. Thanks for the answer Gilligan.
 

Gilligan

#*! boat!
PREMO Member
Crazy stuff to know that this Country for all it's might had U-boats so close to its shores.
There was a major internal conflict amongst the service chiefs and various Navy to brass over where to deploy our limited naval assets in the beginning of the war, and the decision was made to focus on protecting the West coast and Pacific assets and deal with the East coast later. But the initial impact and success of the first u-boat campaign in early '42 was downplayed, ignored, papered over...and is part of why coastal blackouts were not imposed. The government was basically trying to pretend things weren't really that bad.

My mother - 9 years old at the time - remembers being at her Uncles waterfront hotel in Maine and hearing the explosion of a merchant vessel not far offshore one night, hit by a u-boat torpedo.
 
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Gilligan

#*! boat!
PREMO Member
If you want to read a superb book that documents the Atlantic sub war from the German perspective, I highly recommend Buchheim's "U-Boat War"

"Wolfpack", by Kaplan and Currie (Naval Institute Press) is another great book on the subject and contains a wealth of pictures.
 

GregV814

Well-Known Member
my aunts told stories about their teenage years in Norfolk. Ocean View Va. had a seaside amusement parks with roller coasters, ferris wheels etc...they witnessed battles on the horizon and remembered when US Forces sank a Uboat right in front of them. My Father was at sea in the navy and they sent him letters patting him on the back for a job well done, even though he was in the South Pacific.

There is another story about a guy who was near DC when captured that was a German infiltrator. How he tripped up was mispronouncing BLADENSBURG as bladdensburg. Thats some cool stuff.

146644
 
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SailorGirl

Well-Known Member
There was a major internal conflict amongst the service chiefs and various Navy to brass over where to deploy our limited naval assets in the beginning of the warm, and the decision was made to focus on protecting the West coast and Pacific assets and deal with the East coast later. But the initial impact and success of the first u-boat campaign in early '42 was downplayed, ignored, papered over...and is part of why coastal blackouts were not imposed. The government was basically trying to pretend things weren't really that bad.

My mother - 9 years old at the time - remembers being at her Uncles waterfront hotel in Maine and hearing the explosion of a merchant vessel not far offshore one night, hit by a u-boat torpedo.
Incredible. I think it's great that you have tidbits like that from someone who actually witnessed that part of our country's history. No matter how much I probed, I couldn't get my dad to talk about it and despite asking my mother about war efforts and the depression innumerable times she glossed over it.
 

SailorGirl

Well-Known Member
If you want to read a superb book that documents the Atlantic sub war from the German perspective, I highly recommend Buchheim's "U-Boat War"

"Wolfpack", by Kaplan and Currie (Naval Institute Press) is another great book on the subject and contains a wealth of pictures.
I'll check that out - thank you.
 

SailorGirl

Well-Known Member
my aunts told stories about their teenage years in Norfolk. Ocean View Va. had a seaside amusement parks with roller coasters, ferris wheels etc...they witnessed battles on the horizon and remembered when US Forces sank a Uboat right in front of them. My Father was at sea in the navy and they sent him letters patting him on the back for a job well done, even though he was in the South Pacific.

There is another story about a guy who was near DC when captured that was a German infiltrator. How he tripped up was mispronouncing BLADENSBURG as bladdensburg. Thats some cool stuff.

View attachment 146644
I remember that park very well. My dad was stationed in Norfolk and we lived at 9401 Capeview Avenue about ten blocks from the beach and a mile from Oceanview Amusement Park. That's a great story Greg - thank you.
 

Tech

Well-Known Member
my aunts told stories about their teenage years in Norfolk. Ocean View Va. had a seaside amusement parks with roller coasters, ferris wheels etc...they witnessed battles on the horizon and remembered when US Forces sank a Uboat right in front of them. My Father was at sea in the navy and they sent him letters patting him on the back for a job well done, even though he was in the South Pacific.

There is another story about a guy who was near DC when captured that was a German infiltrator. How he tripped up was mispronouncing BLADENSBURG as bladdensburg. Thats some cool stuff.

View attachment 146644
I would have been strung up on the pronunciation of Bowie and Dumfries.
But than again I can say Passyunk, Moyamensing, Manayunk. Susquehanna, and Monongahela correctly. 😁
 

black dog

Free America
I remember that park very well. My dad was stationed in Norfolk and we lived at 9401 Capeview Avenue about ten blocks from the beach and a mile from Oceanview Amusement Park. That's a great story Greg - thank you.
My father was stationed at Little Creek when I was a kid. When my sister and I were there we went swimming at east beach... We were not there very often.
 

glhs837

Power with Control
Right. I saw a recorded POW conference years back, they had POWs from all theaters and wars from WWII through the Gulf War. One thing everybody acknowledged was that the one group treated far better than anyone else were the non-jewish or even Jewish looking POWS held by the Germans. The German leadership very much followed the old school "gentlemens" rules of war that said once your opponent was unable to fight, he was to be taken care of in a pretty similar manner in which we treated POWs. It wanst Hogans Heroes, but it wasnt Unbroken either. This behavior follows that pattern. They were tasked with stopping that war material from being sent to England. Once that ship was unable to do so, no need to slaughter merchant seamen.

Jewsih or even Jewsih looking POWs, that ws a different story, they git it pretty bad. Worked to death, literally.
 

SailorGirl

Well-Known Member
My father was stationed at Little Creek when I was a kid. When my sister and I were there we went swimming at east beach... We were not there very often.
I don't remember very well - where was Little Creek in relation to Norfolk? I think every sailor's been through Norfolk at one point or another. We swam at Luters Beach practically every day in the summer.
 

SailorGirl

Well-Known Member
Right. I saw a recorded POW conference years back, they had POWs from all theaters and wars from WWII through the Gulf War. One thing everybody acknowledged was that the one group treated far better than anyone else were the non-jewish or even Jewish looking POWS held by the Germans. The German leadership very much followed the old school "gentlemens" rules of war that said once your opponent was unable to fight, he was to be taken care of in a pretty similar manner in which we treated POWs. It wanst Hogans Heroes, but it wasnt Unbroken either. This behavior follows that pattern. They were tasked with stopping that war material from being sent to England. Once that ship was unable to do so, no need to slaughter merchant seamen.

Jewsih or even Jewsih looking POWs, that ws a different story, they git it pretty bad. Worked to death, literally.
That was a good answer - thank you.
 
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