Black May for the U-Boats
24th May 1943: In the face devastating losses as the result of Allied attacks, Donitz withdraws his U boats from the Atlantic
By the 24th May 1943 Karl Donitz, commander of the German U-boat fleet, would have known that hope was fading fast for U-954, which had last been heard of on the 19th May. She had been attacked and sunk with all hands by the Hedgehog weapons of HMS Jed and HMS Sennen on the 19th - but Donitz would not learn of these details until after the war.
U-954 was a new boat with an experienced commander, the best possible combination. It was bad sign that such boats could be lost on their first patrol, without ever sinking a merchantman. But Donitz had another interest, his son Peter Donitz had been a watch officer on board.
Wolf-pack operations against convoys in the North Atlantic, the main theatre of operations and at the same time the theatre in which air cover was strongest, were no longer possible.
Karl Donitz makes no mention of U-954 in his memoirs1. The 'Black May' of 1943 was a bad time for everyone in the U-boat arm:
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to World War II Today to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.