March 1940 Events of the Battle of the Atlantic  
  Overview  
  1 Allied war vessel was sunk by an accident.  
  1 Allied war vessel was damaged by the Luftwaffe.  
   
  3 U-boats were sunk by Allied war vessels or mines.  
   
  28 Allied and neutral merchant ships were sunk by U-boats or mines totaling 73,071 tons.  
  1 Allied was sunk by Luftwaffe aircraft totaling 8,441 tons.  
  1 Allied sank in an accident totaling 2,679 tons.  
   
  5 Axis merchant ships totaling 25,115 tons was scuttled by their crews to prevent their capture.  
  1 Axis merchant ship totaling 5,600 tons was captured.  
   
  Naval Action in the Atlantic Ocean  
  Saturday, March 16, 1940  
  At 8 p.m., 32 Junkers Ju 88s dive bombers of KG30 attacked the Royal Navy Home Fleet in Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. The heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (78) was hit with one bomb that passes through the upper, main & lower decks and exploded causing 6 casualties. A German aircraft fleeing the battle released 19 bombs on the village of “Bridge of Waithe” on the shore of Scapa Flow wounding seven civilians and killing James Isbister, aged 27. Isbister became the first British civilian death on land. Despite the damage, the HMS Norfolk left leave Scapa Flow under her own steam on March 19, 1940 for repairs in the Clyde and rejoined the fleet on June 24, 1940.  
   
  Sunday, March 24, 1940  
  A torpedo accidentally exploded as the French destroyer FR La Railleuse was leaving port in Casablanca. The FR La Railleuse was destroyed and 28 crewmen were killed with 24 wounded.  
   
  Sunday, March 31, 1940  
  The German armed merchant cruisers Atlantis, Orion and Widder departed from Kiel, with the WWI battleship SMS Hessen acting as an icebreaker, for operations against Allied shipping.  
   
  U-Boat Losses  
  Monday, March 11, 1940  
  On sea trials in Jadebusen (Jade Bay) near the Wilhelmshaven submarine base, the U-31, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Johannes Habekost, was sighted by a British Bristol Blenheim of 82 squadron, RAF Bomber Command, on patrol off Borkum on the surface in the Schillig Roads. The RAF bomber dropped 4 antisubmarine bombs, scoring 2 hits that sank the U-boat. Of the 58 man crew, all hands were lost as well as 10 dock workers. The attack was pressed home at such a low altitude that the Blenheim was damaged by the explosions and the pilot of the Blenheim, Squadron Leader Miles Villiers 'Paddy' Delap, was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions. This was the first U-Boat of the war to be sunk by a Royal Air Force aircraft without the assistance of surface vessels. The U-31 would be refloated later in March, repaired and returned to service. She was sunk again by depth charges from HMS Antelope on November 2, 1940, becoming the only German submarine to be sunk twice in WW2. During its career under Kapitänleutnant Habekostthe U-31 sank 2 auxiliary warships, damaged 1 warship, and sank 8 merchant ships for a total of 17,962 tons.  
   
  Wednesday, March 13, 1940  
  The U-44, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Ludwig Mathes, was sunk in minefield Field No 7 in the North Sea. All of the ship’s complement of 47 died. During its career under Korvettenkapitän Mathes the U-44 sank 8 merchant ships for a total of 30,885 tons.  
   
  Wednesday, March 27, 1940  
  The U-22, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Karl-Heinrich Jenisch, went missing in the North Sea possibly lost when it struck a mine. Of the 27 man crew, all hands were lost. During its career the under Kapitänleutnant Jenisch the U-22 sank 1 warship and 2 auxiliary warships and sank 6 merchant ships for a total of 7,344 tons.  
   
  Attacks on Allied and Neutral Merchant Ships  
  Friday, March 1, 1940  
  The Norwegian steamer Vestfoss was bombed and sunk by Heinkel 111s of the German X Air Corps about 10 miles east of Copinsay, Orkney Islands in the northern Atlantic Ocean. After an unsuccessful attempt to tow the Vestfoss, the British steamer Star of Liberty took off the 19 crew. The 1388 ton Vestfoss was carrying coal.  
   
  Sailing with Convoy FS-109, the 1583 ton Norwegian steamer Brott was machine gunned and bombed by German aircraft off Whitby in the North Sea and the crew abandoned ship. The destroyer HMS Juno, escort vessel HMS Vega and sloop HMS Stork were escorting the convoy and one of the escorts picked up a lifeboat from the Brott.  
   
  The Italian steam merchant Mirella was torpedoed and sunk by the U-20, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Harro von Klot-Heydenfeldt, in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and 29 survived. The 5,340 ton Mirella was carrying coal and was bound for Leghorn, Italy.  
   
  Saturday, March 2, 1940  
  A Heinkel 111H bombed the 8,441 ton British liner Domala and machine-gunned survivors who were trying to escaped by lifeboat. 108 died and 183 survived in the incident. The Dutch ship Jong Willem rescued 48 of the survivors and was also attacked.  
   
  Sunday, March 3, 1940  
  The British steam merchant Cato struck a mine laid by U-29 on March 2, 1940 in the Bristol Channel. Of the ship’s complement, 13 died and 2 survivors were picked up by the minesweeping trawler HMS Akita. The 710 ton Cato was carrying general cargo and was bound for Bristol, England.  
   
  Monday, March 4, 1940  
  Shortly after midnight the French steam merchant S.N.A. 1 collided with the British steam merchant Thurston about 60 miles south of Milford Haven in the Irish Sea and sank. 31 crew members were rescued by the Thurston. The 2,679 ton S.N.A. 1 was heading Rouen, France. At 5.23 a.m. the same day the Thurston was torpedoed and sunk by the U-29, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Schuhart. Of the ship’s complement, 64 died and 4 survivors were picked up by the British steam merchant Moyle. Only 2 of the French sailors survived the second sinking. The 3,072 ton Thursto was carrying manganese ore and was bound for Cumberland, England.  
   
Dispersed from Convoy HX-19, the British motor merchant Pacific Reliance was torpedoed and sunk by the U-29, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Schuhart, off Land’s End near the English Channel. Of the ship’s complement, all 53 survived and were picked up by the British merchant Macville. The 6,717 ton Pacific Reliance was carrying general cargo and aircraft parts and was bound for London, England.
   
  Tuesday, March 5, 1940  
  The Dutch steam merchant Grutto was torpedoed and sunk by the U-17, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Udo Behrens, off the coast of the Netherlands. All of the ship’s complement of 18 died. The 920 ton Grutto was carrying general cargo and was bound for London, England.  
   
  Friday, March 8, 1940  
  The British steam merchant Counsellor struck a mine laid by U-30 on January 6, 1940 off Liverpool in the Irish Sea. Of the ship’s complement, all 78 survived and were picked up by the destroyer HMS Walpole. The 5,068 ton Counsellor was carrying general cargo, including cotton and was bound for Liverpool, England.  
   
  Saturday, March 9, 1940  
  The unescorted British steam merchant Borthwick was torpedoed and sunk by the U-14, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Herbert Wohlfarth, north of Zeebrugge off the Belgian coast. Of the ship’s complement, all 21 survived and were picked up by the Flushing pilot boat Loodsboot No.9. The 1,097 ton Borthwick was carrying general cargo and was bound for Leith, Scotland.  
   
  The British steam merchant Akeld was torpedoed and sunk by the U-14 north of Zeebrugge. All of the ship’s complement of 12 died. The 643 ton Akeld was carrying general cargo and was bound for Newcastle, England.  
   
  The British steam merchant Abbotsford was torpedoed and sunk by the U-14 north of Zeebrugge. All of the ship’s complement of 19 died. The 1,585 ton Abbotsford was carrying steel and flax and was bound for Grangemouth, Scotland.  
   
  The neutral Irish steam trawler Leukos was torpedoed and sunk by the U-38, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe, in the fishing grounds in Donegal Bay near Dublin, Ireland.  
   
  The Greek steam merchant P. Margaronis was torpedoed and sunk by the U-28, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Günter Kuhnke, southwest of Lands End, near the English Channel. All of the ship’s complement of 30 died. The 4,979 ton P. Margaronis was carrying ballast and was bound for Canada.  
   
  Monday, March 11, 1940  
  The Dutch motor tanker Eulota was torpedoed and sunk by the U-28, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Günter Kuhnke, about 120 miles west of Quessant in the English Channel. Of the ship’s complement, all 42 survived and were picked up by the destroyers HMS Broke (D 83) and HMS Wild Swan (D 62). The 6,236 ton Eulota was carrying ballast and was bound for Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles.  
   
  Saturday, March 16, 1940  
  The Yugoslavian steam merchant Slava struck a mine laid by U-29 on March 2, 1940 in the Bristol Channel. Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and 33 survived. The 4,512 ton Slava was carrying coal and coke and was bound for Buenos Aires, Argentina.  
   
  Sunday, March 17, 1940  
  The neutral Danish motor merchant Argentina was torpedoed and sunk by the U-38, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe, east of Unst, Shetlands in the North Sea. All of the ship’s complement of 33 died. The 5,375 ton Argentina was carrying general cargo and was bound for South America.  
   
  Tuesday, March 19, 1940  
  The Danish steam merchant Minsk was torpedoed and sunk by the U-19, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Joachim Schepke, in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 11 died and 9 survivors were picked up by the destroyer HMS Esk. The 1,229 ton Minsk was carrying ballast and was bound for Esbjerg, Denmark.  
   
  The Danish steam merchant Charkow was torpedoed and sunk by the U-19 in the North Sea. All of the ship’s complement of 20 died. The 1,026 ton Charkow was carrying ballast and was bound for Esbjerg, Denmark.  
   
  Wednesday, March 20, 1940  
  The Danish steam merchant Viking was torpedoed and sunk by the U-19, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Joachim Schepke, northeast of the Moray Firth in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 15 died and 2 survived. The 1,153 ton Viking was carrying ballast and was bound for Blyth, England.  
   
  The Danish steam merchant Bothal was torpedoed and sunk by the U-19 northeast of the Moray Firth. Of the ship’s complement, 15 died and 5 survived. The 2,109 ton Bothal was carrying ballast and was bound for Blyth, England.  
   
  Thursday, March 21, 1940  
  The Danish motor merchant Algier was torpedoed and sunk by the U-38, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe, approximately 15 miles northwest of Foula, Shetlands in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 5 died and 18 survivors were picked up by the British trawler Manx King. The 1,654 ton Algier was carrying general cargo, including copper, tin, mercury, and 11 Studebaker motor cars and was bound for Copenhagen, Denmark.  
   
  The Danish motor merchant Christiansborg was torpedoed and sunk by the U-38 in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and 24 survivors were picked up by the armed boarding vessel HMS Discovery II. The 3,270 ton Christiansborg was carrying maize and was bound for Copenhagen, Denmark.  
   
  Monday, March 25, 1940  
  The British steam tanker Daghestan was torpedoed and sunk by the U-57, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Claus Korth, location. Of the ship’s complement, 3 died and 29 survivors were picked up by the trawlers HMS Northern Wave (FY 153) and HMS Brontes (FY 118). The 5,742 ton Daghestan was carrying crude oil and was bound for Sullom Voe, Shetlands.  
   
  Tuesday, March 26, 1940  
  The neutral and illuminated Norwegian motor merchant Cometa was stopped by the U-38, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe, about 65 miles northwest of Noup Head, Orkneys in the North Sea. The Norwegians explained that the ship had been she had been stopped by the trawler HMS Kingston Peridot (4.69) and ordered by the British authorities to go to Kirkwall for examination accompanied by one officer and four ratings that were placed aboard. The Germans ordered the crew to abandon ship within one hour and then fired one torpedo and sank the ship. Of the ship’s complement and passengers, all 42 survived and were picked up by the trawler HMS Northern Sky (4.41). The 3,794 ton Cometa was carrying general cargo and paper and was bound for Buenos Aires, Argentina.  
   
  Axis Merchant Shipping Losses  
  Saturday, March 2, 1940  
  The heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (65), commanded by Captain Irving M. Palmer, intercepted the German merchant Wolfsburg north of Iceland. Before the 6,201 ton Wolfsburg could be captured she was scuttled by her own crew. The HMS Berwick picked up 54 of the Wolfsburg‘s crew.  
   
  The light cruiser HMS Dunedin (D 93), commanded by Captain C E. Lambe, intercepted the German merchant Heidelberg  west of the Windward Passage in the Caribbean Sea. Before the 6,530 ton Heidelberg could be captured she was scuttled by her own crew. The HMS Dunedin picked up 25 of the Heidelberg’s crew who would be detained in a British internment camp in Jamaica.  
   
  Sunday, March 3, 1940  
  The heavy cruiser HMS York (90), commanded by Captain Reginald H. Portal, intercepted the 3,359 ton German passenger ship Arucas of the southeast off the coast of Iceland in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Before the German ship could be captured she was scuttled by her own crew.  
   
  Wednesday, March 6, 1940  
  The heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (65), commanded by Captain Irving M. Palmer, intercepted the 3,425 ton German merchant Uruguay northeast of Iceland. Before the Uruguay could be captured she was scuttled by her own crew.  
   
  Friday, March 8, 1940  
  The Canadian destroyer HMCS Assiniboine (I 18) stopped the 5,600 ton German freighter Hannover in Mona Passage, off the coast of the Dominican Republic, at which point the merchantman's crew set fire to the ship and abandoned her. A boarding party from the light cruiser HMS Dunedin (D 93), however, saved the Hannover from destruction. Conflicting representations by British and German diplomats as to the Hannover's exact position prompted the Dominican government to drop the question of violation of territorial waters. The effort expended to capture Hannover, however, allowed German freighters Mimi Horn and Seattle to escape the Caribbean and make a break for Germany. The Hanover would be converted into the escort aircraft carrier HMS Audacity (D 10).  
   
  Thursday, March 28, 1940  
  The armed merchant cruiser HMS Transylvania (F 56), commanded by Captain Francis N. Miles, intercepted the 4,007 ton German merchant Mimi Horn in the Denmark Strait. Before the German ship could be captured she was scuttled by her own crew.  
   
  Other Battle of the Atlantic Events  
  Thursday, March 1, 1940  
  The British Government informed the Cunard Line they would be requisitioning the Queen Mary ocean liner for war duty.  
   
  The U.S. freighter Exeter was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Saturday, March 2, 1940  
  The ocean liner Queen Elizabeth left the Clyde, United Kingdom escorted by the destroyers HMS Mohawk, HMS Punjabi, HMS Fortune, and HMS Foxhound. It was reported that the Queen Elizabeth was going to Southampton, England but in reality she was bound for New York City, New York.  
   
  The U.S. passenger liner Manhattan was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities, but was released the same day. Some 80 of 200 items of cargo, however, were detained subject to guarantees as to their destinations.  
   
  Monday, March 4, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Exeter, detained at Gibraltar by British authorities since March 1, was released, but not before 155 sacks of mail for Germany were removed, as were 95 sacks for Italy and 59 for Switzerland. Some 140 sacks previously removed from other neutral ships, however, were brought on board and the ship was permitted to sail.  
   
  Saturday, March 9, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Exmoor was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Sunday, March 10, 1940  
  The U.S. freighters Explorer, Exchester, and West Cohas were detained at Gibraltar by British authorities; all were released, however, after only several hours.  
   
  Monday, March 11, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Exmoor, detained at Gibraltar by British authorities since March 9, was released.  
   
  Saturday, March 16, 1940  
  The President of Panama, Augusto S. Boyd, transmitted a protest to the King of England over the British violation of Pan-American Neutrality Zone in the Wakama Incident that took place off the coast of Brazil on February 12.  
   
  Wednesday, March 20, 1940  
  U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Jefferson Caffery reported to U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull that the Brazilian government's protest of the heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire's stopping of the German freighter Wakama on February 12 had not pleased the British. Caffery reported that the British maintained that they were protecting Brazilian commerce. "Indeed you are not," the Brazilian Minister for Foreign Affairs Oswaldo Aranha retorted, "you are definitely not protecting our commerce by maintaining your warships off our coast. It is apparent to me that your blockade of Germany is plainly ineffective. If it were effective, you could stop the German boats [sic] on the other side before they entered German ports."  
     
   
     
   
 

The objective of WW2Timelines.com is to provide a day by day account of the events that lead up to and were part of the greatest conflict known to mankind. There are accounts for the activities of each particular day and timelines for subjects and personalities. It is the of this website intent to provide an unbiased account of the war. Analysis, effects caused by an event, or prior or subsequent pertinent events are presented separately and indicated as text that is italicized.

 
   
  Copyright 2011
WW2timelines.com
Contact us using our email page