February 1940 Events of the Battle of the Atlantic  
 
  Overview  
  1 Allied war vessel was sunk by a U-boat.  
  1 Allied war vessel was damaged by the Luftwaffe.  
   
  5 U-boats were sunk by Allied warships or mines.  
   
  50 Allied and neutral merchant ships were sunk by U-boats or mines totaling 184,030 tons.  
  2 Allied merchant ships were damaged by mines totaling 16,118 tons.  
   
  1 Axis merchant ship totaling 3,771 tons was scuttled by her crew to prevent capture.  
   
  Naval Action in the Atlantic Ocean  
  Saturday, February 3, 1940  
  The minesweeper HMS Sphinx (J 69), commanded by Commander John R. N. Taylor, was sweeping an area about 15 nautical miles north of Kinnairds Head, near Fraserburgh, Scotland when it was attacked by enemy aircraft. A bomb pierced the fo'c'sle deck and exploded destroying the fore part of the ship. She remained afloat and was taken in tow by the minesweeper HMS Halcyon but steadily flooded and capsized and sank. The commanding officer and forty of the men were killed in the explosion. The wreck was later washed ashore north of Lybster and was sold for scrap.  
   
  U-Boat Losses  
  Monday, February 5, 1940  
  The U-41, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Gustav-Adolf Mugler, was sunk south of Ireland by depth charges from the destroyer HMS Antelope (H 36) which was was escorting Convoy OA-84. All of the ship’s complement of 49 died. The U-41 was lost in a counterattack after the U-41 attacked Convoy OA-84. During its career under Kapitänleutnant Mugler the U-41 sank 5 merchant ships for a total of 22,815 tons, captured 2 merchant ships for a total of 2,073 tons, and damaged 1 merchant ship for a total of 8,096 tons.  
   
  Monday, February 12, 1940  
  The U-33, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Hans-Wilhelm von Dresky, was sunk in the Firth of Clyde by depth charges from the minesweeper HMS Gleaner (J 83). Of the ship’s complement, 25 died and 17 survived. During its career under Kapitänleutnant von Dresky the U-33 sank 10 merchant ships for a total of 19,261 tons and damaged 1 merchant ship for a total of 3,670 tons.  
   
  Tuesday, February 20, 1940  
  The U-54, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Günter Kutschmann, was reported missing since February 20, 1940 in the North Sea probably lost to a mine. All of the ship’s complement of 41 died. During its career under Korvettenkapitän Kutschmann the U-54 sank reported no successes.  
   
  Friday, February 23, 1940  
  The U-53, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Harald Grosse, was sunk in the North Sea in the mid Orkneys by depth charges from the destroyer HMS Gurkha (F 20). All of the ship’s complement of 42 died. During its career under two commanders the U-53 sank 7 merchant ships for a total of 27,316 tons and damaged 1 ship for a total of 8,022 tons.  
   
  Sunday, February 25, 1940  
  The U-63, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Günther Lorentz, was sunk in the North Sea south of the Shetland Islands by depth charges and torpedoes from the destroyers HMS Escort (H 66), HMS Inglefield (D 02), HMS Imogen (D 44) and the submarine HMS Narwhal (N 45). Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and 24 survived. During its career under Oberleutnant zur See Lorentz the U-63 sank 1 merchant ship for a total of 3,840 tons.  
   
  Attacks on Allied and Neutral Merchant Ships  
  Thursday, February 1, 1940  
  The Swedish steam merchant Fram, lying at anchor, was torpedoed and sunk by the U-13, commanded by Max-Martin Schulte, off Rosehearty Buoy in Aberdour Bay, Scotland. Of the ship’s complement, 9 died and 14 survivors were picked up by the destroyer HMS Khartoum (F 45) and the British armed trawler HMS Viking Deeps. The 2,491 ton Fram was carrying ballast.  
   
  The unescorted British motor merchant Ellen M. was torpedoed and sunk by the U-59, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Harald Jürst, northeast of Lowestoft, eastern England. All of the ship’s complement of 9 died. The 498 ton Ellen M. was carrying coal and was bound for London, England.  
   
  Friday, February 2, 1940  
  The unescorted British steam tanker Creofield was torpedoed and sunk by the U-59, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Harald Jürst, east of Lowestoft off the eastern coast of England. All of the ship’s complement of 16 died. The 838 ton Creofield was carrying creosote and was bound for Middlesbrough, England.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Portelet was torpedoed and sunk by the U-59 less than one mile southwest by west of Smith´s Knoll Lightship off the eastern coast of England. Of the ship’s complement, 2 died and 9 survivors were picked up by the Finnish steam merchant Oscar Midling. The 1,064 ton Portelet was carrying ballast and was bound for Sunderland, England.  
   
  Saturday, February 3, 1940  
  Sailing with Convoy OG-16, the British steam merchant Armanistan was torpedoed and sunk by the U-25, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Viktor Schütze, west of the River Tagus, Portugal. All of the ship’s complement survived and were picked up by the Spanish merchant Monte Abril. The 6,805 ton Armanistan was carrying general cargo, including sugar, zinc, chemical products and iron rails and was bound for Basrah, Iraq.  
   
  The Estonian steam merchant Reet was torpedoed and sunk by the U-58, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Herbert Kuppisch, in the North Sea. All of the ship’s complement of 18 died. The 815 ton Reet was bound for Gothenburg, Sweden.  
   
  Sunday, February 4, 1940  
  The Norwegian steam merchant Hop was torpedoed and sunk by the U-37, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Werner Hartmann, near the Shetland Islands in the North Sea. All of the ship’s complement of 17 died. The 1,365 ton Hop was carrying ballast and was bound for Middlesbrough, England.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Leo Dawson was torpedoed and sunk by the U-37 approximately 15 miles east of Bressay, near the Shetland Islands. All of the ship’s complement of 35 died. The 4,330 ton Leo Dawson was carrying iron ore and was bound for Immingham, England.  
   
  Monday, February 5, 1940  
  The unescorted and unarmed Dutch Motor tanker Ceronia was hit by a torpedo south of Ireland, but made it to Rotterdam, Netherlands under her own power. The attacker is believed to have been the U-41, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Gustav-Adolf Mugler, which was lost when it later attacked Convoy OA-84 the same day.  
   
  Tuesday, February 6, 1940  
  The Estonian steam merchant Anu struck a mine, laid on December 12, 1939, by the U-13 in the entrance to River Tay and sank. Of the ship’s complement, 7 died. The 1,421 ton Anu was carrying general cargo and was bound for Dundee, Scotland.  
   
  Wednesday, February 7, 1940  
  The British motor passenger ship Munster struck a mine laid on January 6, 1940 by the U-30 in the Queens Channel and sank near Mersey Light in the Irish Sea. Of the ship’s complement and passengers, all 235 survived and were picked up by the British coaster Ringwall. In addition to its passengers, the 4,305 ton Munster was carrying general cargo, including eggs, animal gut, poultry, thread and textiles and was bound for Liverpool, England.  
   
  Sunday, February 11, 1940  
  The unescorted British motor tanker Imperial Transport was torpedoed and damaged by the U-53, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Harald Grosse, approximately 200 miles west-northwest of Butt of Lewis in the North Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 51 survived and were rescued by the HMS Forester (H 74). The 8,022 ton Imperial Transport was carrying ballast and was bound for Curaçao, Lesser Antilles.  
   
  Thursday, February 15, 1940  
  The Danish steam merchant Maryland was torpedoed and sunk by the U-50, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Max-Hermann Bauer, in the North Atlantic. All of the ship’s complement of 34 died. The 4,895 ton Maryland was carrying oil cake and was bound for Copenhagen, Denmark.  
   
  The Danish steam merchant Aase was torpedoed and sunk by the U-37, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Werner Hartmann, southwest of England. Of the ship’s complement, 15 died and 1 survivor was picked up by the destroyer HMS Verity. The 1,206 ton Aase was carrying fresh fruit and was bound for Bristol, England.  
   
  The unescorted and neutral Norwegian steam merchant Steinstad was torpedoed and sunk by the U-26, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinz Scheringer, about 75 miles west of Aran Island, Ireland. Of the ship’s complement, 13 died and 11 survivors made landfall at Arranmore Island on February, 20. The 2,477 ton Steinstad was carrying ore and was bound for Aalvik, Norway.  
   
  The Dutch motor tanker Den Haag was torpedoed and sunk by the U-48, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Herbert Schultze, about 150 miles west of Ouessant, France. Of the ship’s complement, 26 died and 13 survivors were picked up by the British steam merchant Glen Orchy. The 8,971 ton Den Haag was carrying oil and was bound for Rotterdam, Netherlands.  
   
  Friday, February 16, 1940  
  The Danish steam merchant Rhone was torpedoed and sunk by the U-14, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Herbert Wohlfarth, northeast of Scotland in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 9 died and 11 survivors were picked up by the Swedish trawler Standard and the destroyer HMS Kipling (F 91). The 1,064 ton Rhone was carrying coal and was bound for Esbjerg, Denmark.  
   
  The Danish Steam merchant Sleipner was torpedoed and sunk by the U-14 northeast of Scotland. Of the ship’s complement, 13 died and 28 survivors were picked up by the Swedish trawler Standard and the destroyer HMS Kipling (F 91). The 1,066 ton Sleipner was carrying coal and was bound for Esbjerg, Denmark.  
   
  The Swedish steam merchant Osmed was torpedoed and sunk by the U-14 northeast of Scotland. Of the ship’s complement, 13 died and 7 survivors were picked up by the British trawler Loch Hope. The 1,526 ton Osmed was carrying coal and was bound for Halmstad, Sweden.  
   
  The Swedish steam merchant Liana was torpedoed and sunk by the U-14 northeast of Scotland. Ten of the ship’s complement died. Two survivors were picked up by the British trawler Loch Hope. Eight survivors were picked up by the Swedish steam merchant Santos, which was herself sunk by the U-63 on February 24 with the loss of six men from the Liana. The 1,646 ton Liana was carrying coal and was bound for Halmstad, Sweden.  
   
  Saturday, February 17, 1940  
  The unescorted Norwegian steam merchant Kvernaas was torpedoed and sunk by the U-10, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Joachim Preuss, four miles northwest of Schouwen Bank, Netherlands. All of the ship’s complement of 20 died. The 1,819 ton Kvernaas was carrying coke and was bound for Oslo, Norway.  
   
  Traveling with Convoy OG-18, the British steam merchant Pyrrhus was torpedoed and sunk by the U-37, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Werner Hartmann, northwest of Cape Finisterre, Spain. Of the ship’s complement, 8 died and 77 survivors were picked up by the British merchants Uskside and Sinnington Court. The 7,418 ton Pyrrhus was carrying general cargo, including whisky, golf clubs and embroidery and was bound for Gibraltar and Manila.  
   
  The Finnish steam merchant Wilja was torpedoed and sunk by the U-48, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Herbert Schultze, south of Bishop Rock, southwest England. Of the ship’s complement, all 35 survived and were picked up by the Dutch steam merchant Maasdam. The 3,396 ton Wilja was carrying general cargo, including tobacco, gum rosin, wheat and turpentine and was bound for Rotterdam, Netherlands.  
   
  Monday, February 19, 1940  
  The unescorted British steam merchant Tiberton was torpedoed and sunk by the U-23, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Kretschmer, east of the Orkney Islands, north of Scotland in the North Sea. All of the ship’s complement of 33 died. The 5,225 ton Tiberton was carrying iron ore and was bound for Immingham, England.  
   
  Wednesday, February 21, 1940  
  The Dutch steam merchant Tara was torpedoed and sunk by the U-50, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Max-Hermann Bauer, west of Cape Finisterre, Spain. The 4,760 ton Tara was carrying grain and was bound for Rotterdam, Netherlands.  
   
  A straggler from Convoy HX-19, the British steam merchant Loch Maddy was torpedoed and sunk by the U-23, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Kretschmer, south-southwest of Rockall in the North Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 4 died and 35 survivors were picked up by the British destroyer HMS Diana (H 49). The 4,996 ton Loch Maddy was carrying wheat, timber, and aircraft and was bound for Leith, Scotland.  
   
  Axis Merchant Shipping Losses  
  Monday, February 12, 1940  
  The heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (40) stopped the 3,771 ton German freighter Wakama approximately 12 miles off Cabo Frio, Brazil. The Wakama’s crew scuttled her so that their ship would not fall into British hands.  
   
  Other Battle of the Atlantic Events  
  Thursday, February 1, 1940  
  U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote First Lord of the Admiralty Winston S. Churchill, concerning the detention of U.S. merchantmen, and frankly informed him of adverse American reaction to the British policy. "The general feeling is," Roosevelt informed Churchill, "that the net benefit to your people and the French is hardly worth the definite annoyance caused to us.“  
   
  The U.S. freighter Exminster was detained by British authorities at Gibraltar. The U.S. freighters Exochorda (detained since January 30) and Jomar (detained since January 31) were released.  
   
  Friday, February 2, 1940  
  The light cruiser Helena (CL 50), at Montevideo, Uruguay, on her shakedown cruise, sent a party to inspect the wreck of The German pocket battleship SMS Admiral Graf Spee.  
   
  The U.S. passenger liner Manhattan was stopped by the French auxiliary patrol vessel FS Vaillant approximately 25 miles southeast of Cape St. Vincent, Portugal, and ordered to proceed to Gibraltar for examination.  
   
  Saturday, February 3, 1940  
  The U.S. passenger liner Manhattan was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Sunday, February 4, 1940  
  The U.S. passenger liner Manhattan, detained at Gibraltar the previous day, was released, but not before British authorities seized 390 sacks of German mail. American diplomatic mail pouches, however, were not disturbed.  
   
  Monday, February 5, 1940  
  The U.S. Maritime Commission announced that Britain and France would buy 113,000 tons of old American cargo ships.  
   
  The U.S. freighter Exford was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Tuesday, February 6, 1940  
  The German freighter Konsul Horn, which had departed Aruba on January 7, reached Norwegian waters having eluded or deceived the U.S. Neutrality Patrol as well as British and French warships.  
   
  Thursday, February 8, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Scottsburg was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Friday, February 9, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Scottsburg, detained at Gibraltar by British authorities the previous day, was released.  
   
  Saturday, February 10, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter West Chatala was detained for several hours at Gibraltar by British authorities but was released to continue her voyage.  
   
  Tuesday, February 13, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Exford, which had been detained at Gibraltar since February 5, was released.  
   
  Wednesday, February 14, 1940  
  The U.S. passenger liner Manhattan was detained at Gibraltar for several hours by British authorities but allowed to proceed.  
   
  Thursday, February 15, 1940  
  U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt embarked in the heavy cruiser USS Tuscaloosa (CA 37) at Pensacola, Florida, for a cruise to Panama and the west coast of Central America to discuss Pan-American defense and to inspect the Panama Canal.  
   
  Friday, February 16, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Excalibur was detained for several hours by British authorities at Gibraltar but was released. The freighter Exermont, detained since February 14, was allowed to proceed.  
   
  Saturday, February 17, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Exhibitor was detained by British authorities at Gibraltar.  
   
  Wednesday, February 21, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Sahale was detained by British authorities at Gibraltar. The U.S. freighter Exhibitor, detained since February 17, was allowed to proceed.  
   
  Thursday, February 22, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Sahale, detained by British authorities at Gibraltar the previous day, was released.  
   
  Friday, February 23, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Lehigh was detained for several hours at Gibraltar by British authorities, but was allowed to proceed the same day.  
   
  Sunday, February 25, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter West Camargo was stopped by an unidentified French cruiser off the north coast of Venezuela. The French made no attempt to board the West Camargo but only requested information "where from, where bound, and what cargo" before allowing the merchantman to proceed after a 20 minute delay.  
   
  The U.S. freighter Exochorda was detained for several hours at Gibraltar by British authorities, but was allowed to proceed.  
   
  Monday, February 26, 1940  
  The U.S. passenger liner Washington was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Tuesday, February 27, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Sundance was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Thursday, February 29, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Cold Harbor was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
     
   
     
   
 

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