Steel Boat, Iron Hearts
A U-boat Crewman’s Life Aboard U-505
Hans Goebeler, with John Vanzo
Release date October 2004
The extraordinary memoirs of a sailor who made every patrol aboard one of the most famous U-boats of World War II. Includes detailed information the boat’s capture by Captain Gallery. Includes letter from Captain Alex-Olaf Loewe; intro by Keith Gill, Curator, U-505 (Museum of Science and Industry).
This excerpt is copyrighted to the full extent of the law, and may not be duplicated or shared without the permission of the publisher.
We spent the following night reloading the forward torpedo tubes. This operation was always a difficult one due to the cramped space in the torpedo rooms. The massive 21-inch diameter weapons had to be hoisted up from their tie-down racks and slid forward into the launching tubes. The procedure is easier when the bow is pointed downwards, at least for the forward tubes, so we trimmed the boat to allow gravity to accommodate the process. None of the off-duty crew slept much that night because they had to constantly hold on to their bunks, lest they slide off and land on the floor. The guys who slept in the forward torpedo room couldn’t even lay down because their bunks had to be folded up out of the way to allow the torpedoes to be moved forward.
The next afternoon, our bridge watch spotted a smoke plume to the east. We immediately gave chase, but frequent air alarms greatly hindered our pursuit. The enemy must have known we were in the area because the furiously zig-zagging freighter was circled overhead by a continuous air patrol. Finally, after sundown, the buzzards were compelled to return to base. It was now or never. We fired a double salvo of torpedoes, but a fortuitous “zag” taken by the ship at the exact wrong moment caused both to miss. Our prey, speeding along at more than twelve knots, disappeared into the darkness.