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Sinking of a U-boat

by duxford04

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Geoff Aspinwall
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
27 September 2004

I was living in Croydon, and travelled to London to work for GEC. My dad wasn’t happy with m doing this journey during the bombing, and so I got a job locally with Marconi Radio. It was here that I joined the Local Defence Volunteers, as it had been decided that any factory on war work had to have their own defence system.

I was eventually called up to the R.A.F. and went to train in Canada. I qualified as a pilot, and went for extra navigational training prior to transfer to Coastal Command. This was held at Prince Edward Island. Everyone just wanted to get home and join in the fight.

After being away for a year, I was drafted back home. Unfortunately this was changed at the last minute to the Bahamas. I didn’t want to go, but was told not to “be such a fool”. Down in the Bahamas we learnt to fly American B42 Liberators. Before being allowed to command your own plane, you have to fly as co-pilot to an experienced Captain. The Pilot I was assigned to had already sunk a U-boat, when I joined the crew in Iceland. Iceland was a good location for patrolling the North Atlantic and Arctic convoy routes.

For D-Day we were moved to the North of Scotland, where we were to close the gap from Norway. We were out on patrol when we got a message from the captain of a Catalina. He had spotted a U-boat, and had tried to attack, but his depth charges had failed to release. He was therefore shadowing the u-boat while staying just outside the range of its guns. He transmitted the location, and I was able to get a fix with our radio compass. We got there and saw the wake, and the Catalina just outside range of the U-boat. The U-boat was still on the surface and seemed determined to fight it out.

We moved into the attack. I could see tracer bullets coming towards us from the deck guns. You see the tracer and think “it’s too slow to ever reach us” but one shell did hit our inboard engine. We continued anyway. I remember the U-boat trying to dive, with the gunners still on deck. We got them with a perfect group. We dropped six charges, and straddled them with three on each side. I remember seeing about fifty or sixty bodies in the water. I found reference to it in a book sometime later and it was recoded as “sunk with no survivors”. We didn’t think about it at the time though. We were trained to sink U-boats and we did it. It was a war.

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