Enigma Machine and Its U-boat Codes - THE U-BOATS

THE U-BOATS (Illustration) Famous Historical Events Famous People STEM World War II

This image depicts a flotilla of U-Boats in Bergen, Norway, at the close of WWII. In the center is U-2511, skippered by Captain Adalbert Schnee, which returned from patrols in the Atlantic after Germany surrendered in early May of 1945. The ship returned to Bergen on the 6th of May where it was released to the Allies.  It was later scuttled by the British.


One of Hitler's best weapons to hinder successful Allied convoy trips was the U-Boat.

The Unterseebooten (under sea boats) were German submarines which attacked, almost at will, because the commanders knew (through the Enigma codes) the specific coordinates of Allied ships as they passed through convoy routes.

At the same time, the German navy had high hopes for its new battleship, the mighty Bismarck.  With her massive size, she could severely impede sea travel to and from Britain - as she did when she sank HMS Hood, pride of the Royal Navy.  However ... Bismarck's power - and Germany's plans for her - abruptly ended when Britain sank the Bismarck on May 26, 1941.

Hitler and his forces would thus have to depend on their U-boats.  Like Allied submarines, the German vessels were different from today's nuclear subs which can remain underwater for months. WWII subs were more like regular boats with diving capability. They had to return to the surface periodically.

When submerged, WWII subs would creak and groan. Men had to live in cramped spaces. Showers were usually permitted only once a week. Sometimes the stale air in the sub was freezing cold. Sometimes it was blazing hot with nearly 100% humidity. The possibility of losing one's life on a submarine was an ever-present reality.

German U-boats were usually identified by numbers. U-110, on patrol in the North Atlantic on May 9, 1941, was having a good trip. After sinking two Allied ships, in a convoy passing to the southeast of Greenland's Cape Farewell, 110's commander - Fritz-Julius Lemp - left his periscope up longer than usual. Perhaps he was gloating a bit over his successful kills.

It would be the last time he looked through the periscope of U-110.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Aug 03, 2017

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"THE U-BOATS" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 01, 2001. Jan 25, 2020.
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