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In the April addition of World War II magazine, the table (pg 48) in the article, “Gloves Off,” –  if accurate – indicates that at the end of the war the Germans had over 400 serviceable U-boats.

Where did they go? Why didn’t they raise hell with Allied operations in France in 1944?

Dana L. Newcomb
Winchester, VA




Dear Mr. Newcomb,

By the summer of 1944 Unterseeboot operations were severely limited, not only by attrition to anti-submarine hunter-killer groups at sea and British aircraft sweeping the Bay of Biscay, but by shortages of fuel and trained crewmen. In succeeding months they would further be handicapped by the loss of French ports and the destruction of U-boat pens to Allied aircraft—especially Avro Lancasters dropping Tallboy and Grand Slam bombs. As far as Grossadmiral Karl Dönitz was concerned, the Battle of the Atlantic had been lost back in May 1943.

There were 375 U-boats operational on the morning of May 4, 1945, when Dönitz sent the order to “Stop all hostile action against Allied shipping,” but only 64 were at sea, of which 56 subsequently surrendered in Allied or neutral ports. Some that did not get the word continued to torpedo Allied shipping until May 7, by which time 12 of them had been sunk and 294 crewmen killed. Of those last U-boats a total of 156 surrendered and 129 were scuttled by their own crews.



Jon Guttman

Research Director

World History

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