Sunday, May 8, 2011

Day 617 May 9, 1941

At midday between Greenland and Iceland, U-110 and U-201 attack convoy OB-318 sinking 3 British freighters and damaging another. Both are counterattacked by convoy escorts. U-201 suffers 99 depth charges over 5 hours and returns to base badly damaged. U-110 is forced to surface by 10 depth charges from British corvette HMS Aubretia, then shelled by destroyers HMS Bulldog & HMS Broadway. HMS Bulldog attempts to ram U-110 and Kapitänleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp orders the crew to abandon ship. However, HMS Bulldog pulls up and U-110 does not sink but Lemp dies swimming back to prevent her capture (total 15 dead, 32 survivors). A boarding party from HMS Bulldog, lead by Sub-Lieutenant David Balme, captures the Enigma machine and code books. HMS Bulldog tries to tow U-110 which sinks next day (possibly deliberately to maintain secrecy around the capture of the Enigma codes which will help solve Reservehandverfahren, a backup hand-cipher used in conjunction with Enigma).

At 11.09 PM 700 miles West of Sierra Leone, U-103 sinks British SS City of Winchester (6 killed master, 92 crew picked up by Norwegian MV Herma). In the same area, Italian submarine Tazzoli sinks Norwegian tanker Alfred Olsen (entire crew rescued).

British transport ship Empire Song (carrying tanks to Middle East Command through the Mediterranean in the Tiger convoy) hits 2 mines and sinks in the Narrows off Malta (57 tanks lost, 18 killed, survivors picked up by destroyer HMS Foresight).

Overnight, Australian destroyer HMAS Vendetta makes the trip from Alexandria, Egypt, to evacuate wounded from Tobruk, Libya. 500 Luftwaffe aircraft mount a heavy raid on London.

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