15 Nazi subs
By 5 Canadian Frigates
- headline in the Globe and Mail
15 Subs 'Bite Sour Apple'
Yield to Canadian Frigates
- headline in the Toronto Star, and printed in others, May 23 1945 (from Canadian Press)
By LT. FRANK HEALY, RCNVR.
Loch Eriboll, Scotland, May 22
(CP)--Fifteen German submarines escorted by the five Canadian frigates which `captured' them off the coast of Norway shortly after Germany surrendered May 7, have arrived at this picturesque port on the north coast of Scotland after a 500-mile journey, it was disclosed today.
Also taken into custody was the commander of the U-boat flotilla, a Capt. Suhren, who wore the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and said he was senior submarine officer on the Arctic Ocean and Barents Sea.
The U-boats were intercepted in the company of a German submarine depot ship and four merchant vessels. The enemy surface craft ware ordered to steam for a Norwegian port, while the Canadian ships- -Matane, Loch Alvin* (sic), Monnow, Nine* (sic) and St. Pierre--took up escort positions around the U-boats.
With Murmansk Convoy
The frigates, operating with a unit of the Home Fleet were escorting a convoy to Murmansk when ordered to intercept a group of U-boats reported travelling south along the Norwegian coast.
" Our information was vague, but we opened up speed and covered about 270 miles before intercepting them," said Lieut. F. J. Jones of Montreal, commanding officer of the Matane.
" We could hardly contain ourselves when we sighted them about a mile off. We were at action stations and ready to blast then out of the water. We signalled the depot ship and ordered all vessels to shut down their engines."
The Matane's executive officer, Lieut J. J. Coates of Halifax, Petty Officer Edwin Massey of Verdun, Que., and Sgmn. William Parish of Port Arthur, Ont., boarded the German depot ship to accept the surrender. There they met Suhren, who said under order of the German High Command he was withdrawing his command from Narvik and proceeding to Trondheim.
Suhren added he would comply with Allied surrender terms, said all ammunition had been landed, that the German vessels carried no mines and that torpedoes had been rendered harmless.
" We warned them it they attempted to scuttle or submerge they would be destroyed and no mercy would be shown." Coates said.
Suhren ordered the U-278 to assume command of the submarine flotilla under the senior officer of the Canadian ships. He was permitted to send a signal to the U-boat crews which read: '"Farewell, U-boats. We have worked welt together. Don't be downhearted. Good-bye. Yours, Suhren."
Before starting the long trip to Scotland an officer from the Loch Alvin* (sic), Lieut. Jacques Mallet of Montreal, and two ratings, LS Ben Sweezey of Winnipeg and Sgmn. Alfred O'Brien of Saint John, N.B.,
went aboard the U-278 as liaison men.
" Between Lieut. Mallet's French and our sign language we made the Jerries understand our orders," said Sweezey. "The crew was friendly and at first seemed very scared. The three of us stayed on the bridge most of the time. The trip took 2½ days and it was so rough at times that we had to strap ourselves in the coning tower. We were soaking wet nearly all the time.'
As they neared the end of the trip, the Nine* (sic) intercepted a signal that the U-278 attempted to pass secretly to the other submariners. It read. "Comrades nearing England. We have to carry out a mission and obey the law of these people. We have to obey the orders of our Fuehrer and take a bite out of the sour apple. The weapons of our U-boats are out of commission. We only have to carry out this last mission of turning over our U-boats."
* Corrected spelling are Loch Alvie, and Nene. Also, witnesses to the event claim that the U-boats were fully armed with torpedoes and mines at the time of surrender.