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Thread: U-561 claim, 15 July 1942, eastern Med.

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    Default U-561 claim, 15 July 1942, eastern Med.

    I figured my post the other day might be tough to answer -- regarding corroborating evidence into the time when Liberator AL566 was lost.

    One thing is certain -- U-561 did not shoot it down.

    Which raises the question of which aircraft did U-561 bring down, if any, late on 15 July 1942? Aboard the U-boat the aircraft was seen as a high-winged four-engined flying boat with a large fuselage -- probably a Sunderland.

    What are the candidates? Regarding Liberator AL566, Norman Franks and Eric Zimmerman wrote: "At least, there is certainly no other obvious candidate." As it couldn't possibly have been AL566, and another aircraft was not seen as a candidate by the authors, one wonders if the story of a U-boat-versus-flying boat encouter was exaggerated by the U-boat crew.

    Here is the incorrect info from “U Boat vs Aircraft” by Norman Franks and Eric Zimmerman:

    Fatal Detachment – 15/7/42

    ...Details of exactly what occurred from the RAF side are sparse, simply because the aircraft failed to return. Nor apparently did it report the discovery of the U-boat to its base, or if it did, that message did not get through, for as far as the RAF were concerned, Liberator AL566 did not return. This is surprising, because while the submarine crew reported two attacks, over an hour apart, there is every indication that there was only this one Liberator involved. The identification of the B24 was also complicated because the U-boat crew saw the high-winged four-engined aircraft with its large fuselage as a flying boat – noting that it was probably a Sunderland.

    The first attack came at 2207 hours in German Grid CP8259 – east-north-east of Port Said in the Eastern Mediterranean. The aircraft was spotted by its navigation lights and as it closed in it was met by 20 mm gunfire, the gunners claiming hits. As it went over the boat further flak was sent up and the aircraft banked away to port, the sub crash-dived. No bombs were dropped.

    However, the Liberator crew must have remained in the area for the next hour, and one explanation of why no sighting report was received, was that it had indeed been hit and its radio knocked out. In the event, U-561 surfaced just over an hour later in the same location, and at 2315 a ‘flying-boat’ was observed on a parallel course, at a height of 30-40 metres.

    With his patience rewarded, the Lib pilot brought his aircraft round and four flares were dropped as a head-on approach became obvious to the German gunners. They opened fire and immediately saw their shells strike home. Smoke began to stream from the aircraft which was seen to jettison its bombs, but the aircraft continued to come on, its gunners strafing the boat despite the flames and, as the U-boat crew described it, with the aircraft starting to break up. Two large objects detached themselves from the machine – possibly men baling out – that were seen to fall slowly to the sea. Moments later the aircraft itself plunged burning into the waves and broke apart.



    Here's hoping a candidate can be pulled out of the proverbial hat.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Matt,

    U-Boat Net gives the following:-

    15 Jul 1942
    Aircraft attack, aircraft shot down: British B-24 Liberator Mk.II AL566 (159 Sqdn RAF, pilot W/O W.S. Pottie)

    22.07 hrs, ENE of Port Said*, Egypt: After firing at the aircraft (misidentified as a Sunderland) with the 20mm flak guns as it approached, the Germans observed hits on the aircraft, which passed over the boat without dropping bombs. U-561 then dived, but was again attacked on surfacing at 23.15 hrs. Again scoring further hits with the flak guns, the Germans watched as the aircraft caught fire, jettisoned its bomb load and crashed into the sea. All seven aircrew died. (Sources: Franks/Zimmerman).


    * ENE of Port Said is between there, and Tel Aviv?

    HTH

    Peter Davies
    Last edited by Resmoroh; 26th March 2016 at 11:33. Reason: QSD + additional info
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    I appreciate your info, Peter, but the U-Boat Net material is based upon the incorrect Franks/Zimmerman book details I provided.

    See my thread (no replies yet) of four days ago entitled "Liberator AL566 loss, near Benghazi, 15 July 1942". It has the very strong evidence that AL566 came down several hours earlier, roughly 800 miles to the west (near Benghazi), and while in formation with other Liberators for an attack on Benghazi. Not a sub-hunting op, and there were fighters and AA fire involved in the AL566 loss.

    So the mystery remains as to which four-engined high-wing solitary aircraft with a large fuselage -- estimated to be a flying boat -- tussled with U-561 on 15 July 1942. Was it a Sunderland, as the U-boat crew though? Was there no aircraft shot down?

    Franks and Zimmerman found no other candidate, just AL566, but AL566 was in no way involved in action with U-561 on that date. Assuming that loss details have been pored over for years, but there is no second candidate to replace AL566, something looks very fishy here.

    Cheers,

    Matt
    Last edited by Matt Poole; 26th March 2016 at 16:13.

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    Matt,
    Tks yrs. I did a couple of tours (mid-50's, and early 60's) in Canal Zone and Cyrenaica so I'm always interested in a/c occurrences (and the weather) in that neck of the woods (or desert!!).
    Sorry I couldn't help more.
    Rgds
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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