U-43

CountryGermany
Ship ClassType IX-class Submarine
Builder NameDeutsche Schiff- und Maschinenbau AG
Yard Number948
Ordered21 Nov 1936
Laid Down15 Aug 1938
Launched23 May 1939
Commissioned26 Aug 1939

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Submarine U-43 Interactive Map

U-43 Operational Timeline

21 Jun 1940 At 1636 hours the 8,627-ton British merchant steamer Yarraville in Allied convoy 65-X was hit by a single torpedo from German submarine U-43, caught fire and sank southwest of Figueira da Foz, Portugal. Five crew members were lost. The master and 44 crew members (seven of them wounded) were picked up by the French trawler Marie Gilberte and landed at Gibraltar.
17 Jun 1941 The 2,727-ton British motor merchant Cathrine carrying 3,920 tons of iron ore had become a straggler from Convoy SL-76 on her way from Freetown, Sierra Leone to Barrow, England, United Kingdom. When approximately 600 miles west of Cape Clear, Ireland she was seen and attacked by German submarine U-43, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Wolfgang Lüth. Two torpedoes were launched and both hit the Cathrine, breaking her in half immediately. Her crew had no time to launch lifeboats and had to cling to wreckage and an overturned lifeboat. The submarine passed the men in the water and were asked if they were all right, none answered as they felt that the question was ridiculous. Four of the fourteen men clinging to the lifeboat died during the day before the boat was righted and baled out. Ultimately, only three of the remaining ten would survive until they were finally spotted and rescued a month later.
1 Dec 1941 German submarine U-43 (Kapitänleutnant Wolfgang Lüth) spotted the unescorted and unarmed 7,542-ton steam tanker Astral at 1700 hours. Astral was carrying 78,200 barrels of gasoline and kerosene. Lüth did not realize that fellow submarine captain Günther Heydemann of U-575 had also been tracking the same tanker. While Heydemann broke off the chase after realizing the tanker was American, Lüth made no such discovery and continued to stalk his target, awaiting for a moment to strike.
2 Dec 1941 German submarine U-43 (Kapitänleutnant Wolfgang Lüth) had been stalking the unescorted and unarmed 7,542-ton steam tanker Astral since the previous day, not realizing that the tanker was American. At about 0000 hours, U-43 fired a torpedo. The torpedo must have been seen by someone on Astral, because she immediately began steaming a zigzag course at full speed to escape. The submarine followed throughout the night, aided by a full moon. At 0924 hours, the tanker was hit by two torpedoes off the Azores islands, one in the stern and one amidships, exploded into flames and sank within minutes. The flaming cargo in the water burned for an hour longer. The entire copmlement of eight officers and 29 men were killed. This was the third of the four American merchant ships sank by German submarines prior to the American entry to the war; the others were Robin Moor, Lehigh, and Sagadahoc.




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