Re; U-767

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Re; U-767

Photo of a U-boat (U-534) at Liverpool. It is not a night photo, was taken in broad daylight with a filter and then fiddled with afterwards. Using it to illustrate this account of the sinking of a U-Boat by HMS Fame in 1944.

My Dad was on Fame at the time, as was Ted ‘Shiner’ Wright along with 143 other crew and officers.

On its first patrol U-767 sank the Royal Navy frigate HMS Mourne off the Cornish coast with the loss of 110 men of a complement of 140. The U-boat continued eastwards into the English Channel with the aim of attacking the Allied landings at Normandy.

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The U-boat never got there; on 18th June 1944, 3 days after sinking the British frigate, U-767 was located and sunk in the English Channel west south west of Jersey by Royal Navy destroyers of the 14th Escort Group.

Commander Currie on HMS Fame set a horseshoe shaped trap into which the U-boat sailed and was ambushed before its captain Oberleutnant Walter Dankleff could take evasive action.

HMS Fame attacked with hedgehog anti-submarine mortars like this.

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photo from wikipedia commons

Hedgehog bombs were fired in a pattern of 24 and exploded on contact; 3 struck the U-Boat near the bow and a large bubble of oil rose to the surface.

Soon after that a crew member – a stoker called Walter Schmietenknop – also made it to the surface in an air bubble which had escaped from the sinking U-boat. He was quickly picked up by HMS Fame. The other 49 sailors died in their vessel which sank to the seabed, 240 feet below.

The following quote is from this page which has photos of Walter Schmietenknop and describes an encounter with some sailors (possibly my father…!) on HMS Fame.

“…a couple of young sailors came in and started to tease me. They had a magazine with a picture of Hitler in it. They showed me the picture and then motioned that they would cut his throat. I shook my head and said “No, No.” bu they just laughed and did it again. They gave me the magazine and left. So I looked through the magazine and found a picture of Winston Churchill. When the two sailors came back in, I showed them the picture of Churchill and made motions to cut his throat. They burst out laughing and we had a good laugh together. We agreed that we should cut both throats.”

________________________________________________________________________

EDIT MARCH 2016

I have been provided with copies of pages from the Liverpool Daily Post of 22 August 1944 which details this attack. Bearing in mind censorship and the difficulties in separating journalism from propaganda, the reporter interviewed Cdr Currie. He described the group attacking the U-boat on a calm and fine day, “under the noses” of German shore batteries which only opened up after the survivor, “a lad of about 18” was picked up. The group, consisting HMS Fame, Inconstant, Icarus and Hotspur, laid a smoke screen once the guns opened up and chucked in a few more depth charges “for good measure” before moving off.

The group had been busy after D-day, picking up 140 survivors of a German destroyer sunk the day before by HMS Tartar, half a dozen RAF airmen from downed Lancasters, an American airman whose Mustang was shot down, and 40 German sailors from u-boats. Also the newspaper reported that for the first time since D-day, the group came under attack from the Luftwaffe with 6 Dorniers attacking, “…however, Mosquitoes appeared and Commander Currie saw Dorniers falling in flames into the sea all around his ship.” 8 German airmen were picked up.

In between commenting on low morale and how the Germans did not expect to be shot etc, there is a comment about German atrocities in Russia and a mention for local lad “Able Seaman Tynan of Liverpool.”

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With many thanks to Michael Thomas for forwarding the copies.

Google map showing approximate location of the wreck site of U-767

Page detailing the discovery of the wreck of U-767 by Leigh Bishop in 2002

French TV report showing a dive to the wreck site of U-767.

U-767 crew list

23 comments on “Re; U-767
  1. stiemer says:

    Fantastic photos and history, the old U boats are fascinating.

  2. Gizzardtreedude says:

    Brilliant piece of History telling. Your photographs, links and narrative makes for a presentation. Excellent work as always Ian 😀

  3. nondesigner59 says:

    Fabulous dramatic image..

  4. Burnham Girl says:

    Fascinating account Ian…. and nice trickery with the photo.

  5. gastephen says:

    nice one, Ian!

  6. Steve Graham (formerly 'grahamsj3) says:

    Stellar stuff…the links are interesting, too. Thanks for so much info to play with!

  7. Tech Owl says:

    That is a clever shot Ian – I remember the U-boat from my trip a while ago. I think you also mentioned your Dad at the time. Excellent stuff … would like to know how you made the top shot

  8. cgullz says:

    great imagery, dark upshot for imposing mood against a gorgeous rich persian blue sky – and stars too – magic! great account, love that quote from the lucky Stoker. and lucky he was. I don’t like deep water on the best of days, and can not for the life of me understand how folks live under fathoms of it, in a skinny metal tube. puts the shits up me.

  9. fleabo says:

    hard to get a good angle on this.. this process looks great

  10. Marty 1955 ... says:

    I just love your narrative skills Ian …. you depict it all so very well ….kudos to you mate…truly a charm to view your work…

  11. salfordlad1 says:

    I never had history lessons as good as these, and I went to Grammar school!

    Fantastic insight and your commentary skills are brilliant.

  12. mick cooke says:

    brilliant info Ian and the photo with the filter great work
    a pleasure to view and read your work
    take care

  13. Highy says:

    Great work bud, really like this image, especially in lightbox.
    The finished result is well worth all the effort put in, it looks a real treat. There’s a special atmosphere around big machines at night and you’ve captured it well here.

    Great notes too – that stoker was a lucky bloke.

  14. southseadave says:

    It’s great to see your history lessons. You put a lot of work into them.
    Nice work done on the picture too.

  15. stopherjones says:

    This is one of the best photos I’ve seen in ages, I really like that imposing composition, the dark greys and blues, and the work you have done to it is both inventive and inspiring. Spot on

  16. IANLAYZELLUK says:

    Love the sky.

    Posted Via Flickr Photo Explorer Free iOS App

  17. bazylek100 says:

    Good photo of her ‘Wintergarten’! I like the post-processing.
    It’s unbelievable how such absurd and suicidal order (to attack the Allied landings at Normandy) could have ever been given to the U-boats. Herbert Werner in his "Iron Coffins" writes that they were even ordered to ram enemy ships after firing all torpedeos (which of course never happened).
    Interesting reportage, Ian!

  18. cgullz says:

    Thankyou for sharing

    with the War Stories Group

  19. caroline zuther steward says:

    Hi I am the grandaughter of the late gerhard otto willi zuther who was one of the crew who lost his life in the U767 in 1944 im fasinated by the finding of the vessel I’d love to visit the place of rest in memory of my grandad and dad franz werner zuther as he wanted to lay flowers so I’d like to it for them please any information would be appreciated thankyou caroline

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Caroline, I hope you are able to visit the spot and leave some flowers.

      The co-ordinates are on the google map, they are; 49°01’48.0″N 3°07’48.0″W but I would check them out before hiring a boat and a skipper.

      I have updated the dead link to Leigh Bishop’s page which has more photos.

      Kind regards,

      Ian

      • caroline zuther steward says:

        Hi Ian , Thank you so much for replying
        so quickly , sorry I’ve not replied, I looked on Google maps and found where the resting place is for the U767 do you know who does the boat hiring for this kind of request I would be greatful for any help to achieve my late father’s wish
        Caroline

        • Ian D B says:

          Hi Caroline, I wouldn’t know anything about chartering a sea-going boat and a skipper, I’m afraid, not something I have ever done*. I would suggest contacting the St Malo or St Brieuc tourist boards and asking them. See here for example;

          http://www.saint-malo-tourisme.co.uk/stay/what-do/sea-sailing

          Or you might find something in Jersey?

          If you make it there and are able to leave some flowers for your granddad and the crew of U-767 (a beautiful thing to do) I would love to be able to add a photo of the event to this page, if ok with you.

          Best wishes with it Caroline, hope you make the trip.

          Ian

          * PS. I am a boater myself, but my vessel is a narrowboat – it wouldn’t last long in the English channel!

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