|German submarine U-125 (1940)|
|Career (Nazi Germany)|
|Ordered:||7 August 1939|
|Builder:||AG Weser, Bremen|
|Laid down:||10 May 1940|
|Launched:||10 December 1940|
|Commissioned:||3 March 1941|
|Fate:||Sunk, 6 May 1943|
|Type:||Type IXC submarine|
1,120 t (1,100 long tons) surfaced|
1,232 t (1,213 long tons) submerged
76.8 m (252 ft 0 in) overall|
58.7 m (192 ft 7 in) pressure hull
6.8 m (22 ft 4 in) overall|
4.4 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hull
|Height:||9.4 m (30 ft 10 in)|
|Draft:||4.7 m (15 ft 5 in)|
2 × MAN M9V40/46 supercharged 9-cylinder diesel engines, 4,000 hp (2,983 kW)|
2 × SSW GU345/34 double-acting electric motors, 1,000 hp (746 kW)
18.2 knots (33.7 km/h) surfaced|
7.3 knots (13.5 km/h) submerged
24,880 nmi (46,080 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced|
117 nmi (217 km) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h) submerged
|Test depth:||230 m (750 ft)|
|Complement:||48 to 56|
6 × torpedo tubes (four bow, two stern)|
22 × 55 cm (22 in) torpedoes
1 × 10.5 cm SK C/32 naval gun (110 rounds)
2nd U-boat Flotilla|
(3 March 1941–6 May 1943)
Kptlt. Günter Kuhnke|
(3 March–15 December 1941)
Kptlt. Ulrich Folkers
(15 December 1941–6 May 1943)
15–28 July 1941
12 August–5 November 1941
18 December 1941–23 February 1942
4 April–13 June 1942
27 July–6 November 1942
9 December 1942–19 February 1943
13 April–6 May 1943
|Victories:||17 commercial ships sunk - 82,873 GRT|
German submarine U-125 was a Type IXC U-boat of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine during World War II. She was laid down at the AG Weser as 'werk' 988 on 10 May 1940, launched on 10 December and commissioned on 3 March 1941. In seven patrols, she sank 17 ships for a total of 82,873 gross register tons (GRT). The boat was a member of three wolfpacks. She was sunk on 6 May 1943. All 54 men on board died.
1st and 2nd patrols
U-125 departed Kiel on 15 July 1941 on her first patrol, under the command of Kapitänleutnant Günter Kuhnke, arriving in the recently captured French Atlantic port of Lorient fourteen days later. Her route took her along the Norwegian coast, through the 'gap' separating the Faroe and Shetland Islands and into the Atlantic Ocean.
Her second patrol took her down the coast of West Africa, then through the Atlantic and back to her homeport without making any attacks. She ranged far and wide, heading for Brazil and back to Africa, toward Sierra Leone and Liberia.
U-125 had her first success on her third patrol, under her new commander Kptlt. Ulrich Folkers, sinking the American merchant ship West Ivis off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on 26 January 1942. The ship broke in two and went down after 14 minutes. The crew of 36 and the nine Armed Guards (the ship was armed with a 4-inch (100mm) gun, four .50 cal. and four .30 cal. machine guns) were lost.
U-125 sailed on her fourth and most successful patrol from Lorient on 4 April 1942. She made her first attack on the 23rd, sinking the American merchant ship Lammot Du Pont, about 500 mi (800 km) southeast of Bermuda. Between 3–18 May, she sank a further eight merchant ships, in the Caribbean, south of Cuba, returning to her home port on 13 June. One victim, the Calgarolite, was hit by two torpedos but despite settling, did not sink. The boat's AA guns were used to shoot holes in the hull. Following the demise of the Camayagua, a US Navy aircraft unsuccessfully searched for the U-boat; then flew to Georgetown where it dropped a note in the Commissioner's garden with information on the survivors.
5th and 6th patrols
U-125's next patrol, the fifth, beginning on 27 July 1942, took her to the coast of West Africa, where she sank six merchant ships between 1 September and 8 October, returning to Lorient on 6 November 1942. Following the sinking of the Baron Ogilvy on 29 September, the survivors sighted a small convoy on 1 October and succeeded in attracting their attention with flares. Unfortunately, one of them ignited in the Chief Officer's hand, causing severe burns.
The Glendene went to the bottom 90 seconds after being hit. Despite this rapidity, 38 of the 43-man crew survived the sinking.
U-125 sailed on her sixth patrol on 9 December 1942, out into the central Atlantic, southwest of the Azores, but she made no attacks before returning to Lorient on 19 February 1943.
7th patrol and loss
U-125 left Lorient for the last time on her seventh patrol on 13 April 1943. She joined the "wolfpack" "Fink" (English: Finch) of 28 U-boats which were attacking the convoy ONS-5 between 26 April and 6 May 1943. This was during a period when the British code-breakers were unable to read German U-boat signals while they could read British convoy signals, and ONS-5 was intercepted by a strong U-boat force during an Atlantic storm. Nevertheless, the boat only sank one ship, on 4 May south of Cape Farewell (Greenland), she was perhaps ironically called the Lorient, a straggler from ONS-5; there were no survivors.
ONS-5 was a 43-ship convoy, nine miles wide by two long, with one destroyer, one frigate, three corvettes and two rescue tugs to defend it. It was attacked by around thirty U-boats, and lost thirteen ships in total, while seven U-boats were sunk by the escorts and supporting aircraft. It was a particularly bloody battle which marked the turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic, showing that while determined mass attack by U-boats could break through convoy defences, this would prove too expensive a tactic to make U-boat warfare a winning strategy for Germany. Admiral Karl Dönitz lost his son in this battle.
At 0300 on 6 May 1943 U-125 was located by radar in thick fog, rammed by HMS Oribi and disabled, she was unable to dive. At 0354 the U-boat was sighted by the Flower-class corvettes Snowflake and Sunflower, and as Snowflake manoeveured to attack, closing to 100 yards, the crew of U-125, realising their indefensible position, scuttled the boat. The captain of Snowflake signalled the Senior Officer Escort, Lieutenant Commander Robert Sherwood, proposing to pick them up, and received the response: "Not approved to pick up survivors." Snowflake and Sunflower thereupon resumed their positions around the convoy, while the crew of U-125 died in the Atlantic over the next few hours.
Summary of raiding history
|26 January 1942||West Ivis||USA||5,666||Sunk|
|23 April 1942||Lammot Du Pont||USA||5,102||Sunk|
|3 May 1942||San Rafael||Dominica||1,973||Sunk|
|4 May 1942||Tuscaloosa City||USA||5,687||Sunk|
|6 May 1942||Empire Buffalo||UK||6,404||Sunk|
|9 May 1942||Calgarolite||Canada||11,941||Sunk|
|14 May 1942||Comayagua||Honduras||2,493||Sunk|
|18 May 1942||Mercury Sun||USA||8,893||Sunk|
|William J. Salman||USA||2,616||Sunk|
|1 September 1942||Ilorin||UK||815||Sunk|
|23 September 1942||Bruyère||UK||5,335||Sunk|
|29 September 1942||Baron Ogilvy||UK||3,391||Sunk|
|30 September 1942||Empire Avocet||UK||6,015||Sunk|
|8 October 1942||Glendene||UK||4,412||Sunk|
|4 May 1943||Lorient||UK||4,737||Sunk|
- Campbell, John Naval Weapons of World War Two ISBN 0-87021-459-4 pp.248&249
- "Patrol of U-boat U-125 from 15 Jul 1941 to 28 Jul 1941 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". uboat.net. http://uboat.net/boats/patrols/patrol_3822.html. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
- "Patrol of U-boat U-125 from 12 Aug 1941 to 5 Nov 1941 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". uboat.net. http://uboat.net/boats/patrols/patrol_3823.html. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
- "West Ivis (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". uboat.net. http://uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/1296.html. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
- "Lammot Du Pont (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". uboat.net. http://uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/1565.html. Retrieved 2009-11-30.
- "Patrol of U-boat U-125 from 4 Apr 1942 to 13 Jun 1942 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". uboat.net. http://uboat.net/boats/patrols/patrol_3825.html. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- "Patrol of U-boat U-125 from 27 Jul 1942 to 6 Nov 1942 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". uboat.net. http://uboat.net/boats/patrols/patrol_3826.html. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- "Patrol of U-boat U-125 from 9 Dec 1942 to 19 Feb 1943 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". uboat.net. http://uboat.net/boats/patrols/patrol_3827.html. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- "Patrol of U-boat U-125 from 13 Apr 1943 to 6 May 1943 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". uboat.net. http://uboat.net/boats/patrols/patrol_3828.html. Retrieved 2009-11-30.
- "Convoy ONS-5 - Convoy Battles - U-boat Operations - uboat.net". uboat.net. http://uboat.net/ops/convoys/convoys.php?convoy=ONS-5. Retrieved 2009-11-30.
- "Lorient (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". uboat.net. http://uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/2898.html. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- "The Type IXC boat U-125 - German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. http://www.uboat.net/boats/u125.htm. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
- "Ships hit by U-125 - U-boat Successes - German U-boats - uboat.net". uboat.net. http://uboat.net/boats/successes/u125.html. Retrieved 2009-11-30.
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