December 1941 events of the Battle of the Atlantic  
 
  Overview  
   
  2 Allied warships were sunk by U-boats.  
  1 auxiliary Allied naval vessel was sunk in an accident.  
   
  5 U-boats were sunk by Allied warships.  
  1 U-boat was sunk by Allied warships and aircraft.  
  1 U-boat was sunk by Allied aircraft.  
   
  17 Allied or neutral merchant ships were sunk by U-boats totaling 81,266 tons.  
  1 American freighter was sunk in a collision with a U.S. battleship.  
  1 Allied merchant ship sank due to heavy weather totaling 2,368 tons.  
   
  Naval Action in the Atlantic Ocean  
  Friday, December 19, 1941  
  While escorting Convoy HG-76 the destroyer HMS Stanley (I 73) was torpedoed and sunk by the U-574, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Dietrich Gengelbach, approximately 330 miles west of Cape Sines, Portugal in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 136 died and 25 survivors were picked up by the sloop HMS Stork (L 81), and the corvette HMS Samphire (K 128). The U-574 was sunk shortly after the attack on the HMS Stanley.  
   
  Sunday, December 21, 1941  
  While escorting Convoy HG-76 the escort carrier HMS Audacity (D 10) was torpedoed and sunk by the U-751, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Gerhard Bigalk, approximately 500 miles west of Cape Finisterre, Spain in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.  
   
  U-Boat Losses  
Sunday, December 7, 1941
  The U-208, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Alfred Schlieper, was sunk in the eastern Atlantic west of Gibraltar by depth charges from the destroyers HMS Harvester (H 19) and HMS Hesperus (H 57). All of the ship’s complement of 45 died. During its career the U-208 sank 1 ship for a total of 3,872 tons.  
   
  Monday, December 15, 1941  
  The U-127, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Bruno Hansmann, was sunk west of Gibraltar in the eastern Atlantic Ocean by depth charges from the Australian destroyer HMAS Nestor (G 02). All of the ship’s complement of 51 died. During its career the U-127 sank or damaged no ships.  
   
  Wednesday, December 17, 1941  
  The U-131, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Arend Baumann, was sunk north-east of Madeira, Portugal by depth charges and gunfire from the escort destroyers HMS Exmoor (L 08) and HMS Blankney (L 30), the destroyer HMS Stanley (I 73), the corvette HMS Pentstemon (K 61)and the sloop HMS Stork (L 81) and by gunfire from a Martlet aircraft from the British escort carrier HMS Audacity (D 10). All 47 of the crew survived and were taken prisoner.  
   
  Thursday, December 18, 1941  
  The U-434, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Wolfgang Heyda, was sunk in the eastern Atlantic north of Madeira, Portuga by depth charges from the escort destroyer HMS Blankney (L 30) and the destroyer HMS Stanley (I 73). Of the ship’s complement, 2 died and 42 survived.  
   
  Friday, December 19, 1941  
  The U-574, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Dietrich Gengelbach, was sunk in the North Atlantic near Punta Delgada, Azores in the eastern Atlantic Ocean by ramming and depth charges from the sloop HMS Stork. The U-574 had just sunk the destroyer HMS Stanley (I 73). Of the ship’s complement, 28 died and 16 survived.. During its career the U-574 sank 1 warship.  
   
  Sunday, December 21, 1941  
  The U-567, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Engelbert Endrass, was sunk northeast of the Azores, in the eastern Atlantic Ocean by depth charges from the sloop HMS Deptford and the corvette HMS Samphire. All of the ship’s complement of 47 died. Kapitänleutnant Endrass was considered one of Germany’s top U-boat aces having sank 1 warship, 21 merchant ships, and damaging another 4 merchant ships. During its career the U-567 sank 2 ships for a total of 6,809 tons.  
   
  The U-451, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Eberhard Hoffmann, was sunk near Tangiers, Morocco in the eastern Atlantic Ocean by depth charges from a British Swordfish aircraft. Of the ship’s complement, 44 died and 1 survived. During its career the U-451 sank 1 auxiliary warship.  
   
  Friday, December 26, 1941  
  The submarine chaser PC 451 accidentally rammed and sank the U.S. tug Nancy Moran off the east coast of Florida in the western Atlantic Ocean.  
   
  Attacks on Allied and Neutral Merchant Ships  
  Tuesday, December 2, 1941  
  The unescorted and unarmed neutral American steam tanker Astral was torpedoed and sunk by the U-43, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Wolfgang Lüth, in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. All of the ship’s complement of 37 died. The 7,542 ton Astral was carrying gasoline and kerosene and was bound for Lisbon, Portugal.  
   
  The Norwegian steam merchant Fjord was torpedoed and sunk by the U-557, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Ottokar Arnold Paulssen, off Estepona Point, Spain in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 14 died and 22 survivors reached land by lifeboat. The 4,032 ton Fjord was carrying iron ore and was bound for Barrow, England.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Grelhead was torpedoed and sunk by the U-562, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Horst Hamm, two miles north of Punta Negri, Morocco in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 41 died and 2 survived. The 4,274 ton Grelhead was carrying iron ore and was bound for the United Kingdom.  
   
  Wednesday, December 3, 1941  
  The neutral and unarmed American steam merchant Sagadahoc was torpedoed and sunk by the U-124, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Johann Mohr, in the southern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and 34 survivors were picked up by Allied merchants. The 6,275 ton Sagadahoc was carrying general cargo and was bound for Mombasa, Kenya.  
   
  Saturday, December 6, 1941  
  A straggler from Convoy SC-56, the British steam merchant Scottish Trader was torpedoed and sunk by the U-131, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Arend Baumann, south of Iceland in the northern Atlantic Ocean. All of the ship’s complement of 43 died. The 4,016 ton Scottish Trader was carrying steel and foodstuffs and was bound for Liverpool, England.  
   
  Wednesday, December 10, 1941  
  Sailing with Convoy SC-57, the British steam merchant Kirnwood was torpedoed and sunk by the U-130, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Ernst Kals, west of Rockall in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 12 died and 33 survivors were picked up by the British rescue ship Dewsbury. The 3,829 ton Kirnwood was carrying grain and was bound for Ipswich, England.  
   
  Sailing with Convoy SC-57, the British steam merchant Kurdistan was torpedoed and sunk by the U-130, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Ernst Kals, west of Rockall in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 10 died and 56 survivors were picked up by the corvette HMS Kingcup (K 33). The 5,844 ton Kurdistan was carrying general cargo, including foodstuffs, base metals, and textiles and was bound for Manchester, England.  
   
  Sailing with Convoy SC-57, the Egyptian steam merchant Star of Luxor was torpedoed and sunk by the U-130, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Ernst Kals, west of Rockall in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 4 died and 52 survived. The 5,298 ton Star of Luxor was carrying general cargo and military stores, including base metals and was bound for Liverpool, England.  
   
  The battleship USS New Mexico (BB 40), en route to Hampton Roads, Virginia, accidentally rammed and sank the U.S. freighter Oregon, bound for Boston, Massachusetts, south of Nantucket Lightship.  
   
  Saturday, December 13, 1941  
  The Spanish motor tanker Badalona was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-453, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Egon Reiner von Schlippenbach, east of Gibraltar in the Mediterranean Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 3 died. The 4,202 ton Badalona was carrying ballast and was bound for Aruba.  
   
  Sunday, December 14, 1941  
  The neutral Portuguese steam merchant Cassequel was torpedoed and sunk by the U-108, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Klaus Scholtz, in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement and passengers, all 57 survived. The 4,751 ton Cassequel was carrying general cargo and passengers and was bound for Angola.  
   
  Monday, December 15, 1941  
  Sailing with a small escorted convoy, the British steam merchant Empire Barracuda was torpedoed and sunk by the U-77, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Schonder, approximately 35 miles from Cape Trafalgar, Spain in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 13 died and 39 survivors were picked up by the corvette HMS Coltsfoot (K 140). The 4,972 ton Empire Barracuda was carrying naval and military stores, including munitions and was bound for Suez, Egypt.  
   
  The 2,368 ton Norwegian steamer Nidardal lost steering and sprung a leak from three days of heavy weather west of Ireland.  
   
  Friday, December 19, 1941  
  Sailing with Convoy HG-76, the British steam merchant Ruckinge was torpedoed and sunk by the U-108, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Klaus Scholtz, west of Lisbon, Portugal in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 3 died and 39 survivors were picked up by the sloop HMS Stork (L 81) and the American steam merchant Finland. The 2,869 ton Ruckinge was carrying chemicals, wood, foodstuffs, and base metal and was bound for Oban, Scotland.  
   
  Sunday, December 21, 1941  
  Sailing with Convoy HG-76, the Norwegian steam merchant Annavore was torpedoed and sunk by the U-567, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Engelbert Endrass, in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 34 died and 4 survived. The 3,324 ton Annavore was carrying iron pyrite and was bound for Aberdeen, Scotland.  
   
  Tuesday, December 23, 1941  
  Sailing with Convoy TA-5, the British steam passenger ship Shuntien was torpedoed and sunk by the U-559, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Hans Heidtmann, northeast of Tobruk, Libya in the Mediterranean Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 700 died and the survivors were picked up by the sloop HMS Heythrop (L 85). The 3,059 ton Shuntien was carrying German and Italian prisoners of war and was bound for Alexandria, Egypt.  
   
  Wednesday, December 23, 1941  
  A straggler from Convoy HX-166, the British motor tanker Cardita was torpedoed and sunk by the U-87, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Joachim Berger, 110 miles from St. Kilda, Scotland in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 27 died and 33 survivors were picked up by the destroyers HMS Onslow (G 17) and the HMS Sabre (H 18). The 8,237 ton Cardita was carrying gasoline and was bound for Shellhaven, England.  
   
  Axis Merchant Shipping Losses  
  Tuesday, December 9, 1941  
  The German steam merchant Steinbek was mistakenly torpedoed and sunk by the U-134, commanded by Rudolf Schendel, near the Norwegian coast. Of the ship’s complement, 12 survived. The 2,185 ton Steinbek was carrying ballast and was bound for Tromsö, Norway. For more information on these vessels visit the Steinbek and the U-134 pages on www.uboat.net.  
   
  Other Battle of the Atlantic Events  
  Monday, December 1, 1941  
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.2, under command of Commander Fred D. Kirtland, accompanied by the salvage vessel USS Redwing (ARS 4) and the oiler USS Sapelo (Atlantic Ocean 11), while escorting Convoy HX-162, encountered heavy weather that scattered 35 merchantmen. The destroyers USS Charles F. Hughes (DD 428), USS Madison (DD 425), USS Lansdale (DD 426), USS Wilkes (DD 441) and USS Sturtevant (DD 240) all would suffer storm damage of varying degrees.  
   
  The destroyer USS Livermore (DD 429), escorting Convoy ONS-39, was dispatched to investigate a darkened merchantman steaming on opposite course. The USS Livermore trailed her and after determining her to be Panamanian freighter Ramapo, en route to join Convoy SC-56, allowed her to continue her voyage after being warned not to radio a report of contact with a convoy.  
   
  Tuesday, December 2, 1941  
  Weather encountered by Convoy ONS-39, being escorted by U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.4, under command of Captain Alan G. Kirk, worsened to the extent that the watch on board the destroyer USS Plunkett (DD 431) couldn’t be relieved because officers and men couldn’t safely traverse the weather decks.  
   
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.5, under command of Commander William K. Phillips, cleared Reykjavik, Iceland, to rendezvous with Convoy ON-41, which due to poor weather would be 48 hours late to the MidAtlantic Ocean Meeting Point. Over the ensuing period at sea, TU 4.1.5 battled "consistently severe" weather conditions that would cause varying degrees of damage to all of the ships in the task unit. Although the ships of the unit carried out attacks there would be no U-boat attacks on the merchantmen under their protection.  
   
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.6, under command of Commander Gilbert C. Hoover, escorting Convoy HX-161, encountered heavy weather. The destroyer USS Bernadou (DD 153) suffered storm damage. The destroyers USS Roe (DD 418) and USS Lea (DD 118) both lost a man overboard. Neither sailor was recovered.  
   
  The U.S. freighter Dunboyne received the first naval Armed Guard crew. By the end of the war, the U.S. Navy would arm 6,236 merchantmen. Approximately 144,970 officers and enlisted men would defend these merchant vessels in every theater of war.  
   
  Wednesday, December 3, 1941  
  The destroyer USS Mayo (DD 422), in U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.5 en route to the MidAtlantic Ocean Meeting Point and Convoy ON-41, encountered two British ships, the HMS Tenacity and the merchantman Meademere, burning navigation lights south of Iceland. When they failed to answer the USS Mayo’s challenge, the USS Mayo illuminated them with starshells, at which point they turned off their lights and answered the challenge promptly.  
   
  Thursday, December 4, 1941  
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.5, under command of Commander William K. Phillips, reached the MidAtlantic Ocean Meeting Point to escort Convoy ON-41 which had been delayed by bad weather.  
   
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.6, under command of Commander Gilbert C. Hoover, encountered "mountainous" seas as it continued to escort Convoy HX-161. The destroyer Roe (DD 418) suffered two sailors hurt when a torpedo broke loose atop her after deckhouse.  
   
  Friday, December 5, 1941  
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.3, under command of Commander George W. Johnson, assumed escort duty for Convoy HX-163 in the North Atlantic Ocean.  
   
  The destroyer USS Babbitt (DD 128), in U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.5 escorting Convoy ON-41, depth charged a suspected submarine contact without result.  
   
  Saturday, December 6, 1941  
  The destroyer USS Decatur (DD 341), in U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.4, under command of Captain Alan G. Kirk, escorting Convoy ONS-39, carried out a depth charge attack on a suspicious contact.  
   
  Sunday, December 7, 1941  
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.2, under command of Commander Fred D. Kirtland, accompanied by the salvage vessel USS Redwing (ARS 4) and oiler USS Sapelo (Atlantic Ocean 11), while escorting Convoy HX-162, reached the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Meeting Point. 21 of the 35 merchantmen scattered by the storm encountered on December 1 had rejoined the convoy by this time.  
   
  Monday, December 8, 1941  
  The destroyers USS Niblack (DD 424), USS Benson (DD 421), and USS Tarbell (DD 143), part of U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.3 escorting Convoy HX-163, depth-charged sound contacts that were later classified as non-submarine.  
   
Tuesday, December 9, 1941
  German Chancellor Adolf Hitler suspended his ban on U-boat operations and extended unlimited submarine warfare into U.S. territorial waters.  
   
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.5, under command of Commander William K. Phillips, continued its escort duty with Convoy ON-41. The destroyers USS Babbitt (DD 128) and USS Mayo (DD 422) depth-charge sound contacts. The destroyer USS Schenck (DD 159), operating independently from TU 4.1.5 while escorting the U.S. freighter Ozark, carried out a "well conducted" depth charge attack on a sound contact.  
   
  Wednesday, December 10, 1941  
  U.S. Navy PBY Catalinas supported by the seaplane tender USS Greene (AVD 13) and small seaplane tender USS Thrush (AVP 3), began antisubmarine patrols over the south Atlantic Ocean from Natal, Brazil. This inaugurated operations from Brazilian waters.  
   
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.1, under command of Captain Marion Y. Cohen, assumed escort duty for Convoy HX-164. The ships would not be attacked by enemy submarines. While escorting the oiler USS Mattole (AO-17) to join the main convoy, the destroyer USS Gleaves (DD 423) carried out a depth charge attack on sound contact that was later classified as "doubtful" submarine.  
  Thursday, December 11, 1941  
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.5, under command of Commander William K. Phillips, detached the destroyers USS Babbitt (DD 128) and USS Leary (DD 158), low on fuel because of the delayed arrival of Convoy ON-41 at the MidAtlantic Ocean Meeting Point, to proceed to Argentia, Newfoundland. En route to Argentia, the USS Babbitt depth charged a sound contact without result.  
   
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.6, under command of Commander John S. Roberts assumed escort duty at the MidAtlantic Ocean Meeting Point for Convoy ON-43, which had been badly scattered by heavy weather conditions. Convoy HX-163, being escorted by U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.3, under command of Commander George W. Johnson, encountered the same abominable weather.  
   
  Saturday, December 13, 1941  
  The destroyer USS Woolsey (DD 437), sweeping astern of Convoy ON-43, depth charged a sound contact in the northern Atlantic Ocean.  
   
  Monday, December 15, 1941  
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.2, under command of Commander Fred D. Kirtland, cleared Reykjavik, Iceland for the MidAtlantic Ocean Meeting Point, escorting Convoy ON-45. The destroyer USS Sturtevant (DD 240), escorting the cargo vessel USS Alchiba (AK 23), depth-charged a sound contact.  
   
  Convoy ON- 43, struggling through rough seas and high winds, being escorted by U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.6, under command of Commander John S. Roberts, was dispersed.  
   
  The destroyer USS Benson (DD-421), detached from U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.3 and Convoy HX-163 at the MidAtlantic Ocean Meeting Point, searched for survivors of the Norwegian merchantman Nidardal, reported sinking west of Ireland.  
   
  Tuesday, December 16, 1941  
  Early in the morning the destroyer USS Benson (DD-421) sighted a white distress rocket at 0241 and altered course in hopes of locating survivors of Norwegian merchantman Nidardal. The intense darkness in which the search was being conducted rendered it barely possible to see the surface of the ocean from the bridge, and the loudness of the wind made it unlikely that a hail could be heard no more than 50 to 100 feet from the ship. The USS Benson searched throughout the daylight hours but finds no trace of the missing ship or her crew. She abandons the search at nightfall and proceeded back to Reykjavik, Iceland.  
   
  Convoy ON-45, escorted by U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.2, under command of Commander Fred D. Kirtland, was dispersed because of bad weather.  
   
  Sunday, December 21, 1941  
  The light cruiser USS Omaha (CL-4) and the destroyer USS Somers (DD-381), operating out of Recife, Brazil, encountered a darkened ship that acted suspicious and evasive when challenged. The USS Omaha fired a starshell and illuminated the stranger. The USS Somers sent an armed boarding party that learned that the merchantman nearly fired upon wais the Soviet freighter Nevastroi.  
   
  The destroyer USS Edison (DD-439), in U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.3 en route to the MidAtlantic Ocean Meeting Point to pick up Convoy ON-47, depth-charged a sound contact without result.  
   
  Monday, December 22, 1941  
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.3, under command of Commander George W. Johnson, assumed escort duty at the MidAtlantic Ocean Meeting Point for Convoy ON-47. The convoy was dispersed the following day.  
   
  Tuesday, December 23, 1941  
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.4, under command of Commander Richard E. Webb, assumed escort duty for Convoy HX-166. The ships reached their destination without being attacked by U-boats.  
   
  Monday, December 29, 1941  
  U.S. Navy Task Unit 4.1.5, under command of Commander William K. Phillips, assumed guard for east-bound Convoy HX-167. The U.S. freighter Stonestreet was damaged by an evaporator explosion. One man was killed and three injured. The destroyer USS Simpson (DD 221) put a medical officer and corpsman on board promptly to treat the injured. The Stonestreet was directed to return to St. John's with a U.S. PBY Catalina providing cover. During the voyage to Iceland, Convoy HX-167 would not encounter any enemy submarines but poor navigation by the convoy would result in a critical fuel state for the "shortlegged" flush-deck destroyers.  
     
   
     
   
 

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