In this Third Edition cover, the destroyer USS Edison DD-439 is shown passing under the Brooklyn Bridge in 1942

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U-73 speaks from the depths of the Mediterranean. U-boat histories in WW II U-boat skipper Horst Deckert's own words.

Copyright Franklyn E. Dailey Jr. 2012

Contact author.

The Fourth Edition (2009) of the book (see cover picture upper left), Joining the War at Sea 1939-1945, ISBN 0966625153, features a brilliant new 44-page Index compiled by Dutch scholar, Pieter Graf .

A shorter but useful ship's Index, listing all ships (over 300 ships) encountered in the book has been been compiled by Mark Henshaw, and can be found at North Atlantic and Mediterranea in WW II: Convoys, Amphibious Landings at Casablanca, Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, Southern France

The list of links down the left column of this page take the reader to draft pages for the published book, and finally to original World War II experiences offered to me after book publication by those who have read the book.

What follows here are U-73 submarine commander Horst Deckert's correspondence with author Franklyn E. Dailey Jr. in letters received in the years 2001-2004. (The story of the sinking of Deckert's U-73 Type VIIB submarine has been covered in pages beginning on pages 16, 244, and 361 of the book pictured at the upper left.).

First, how the author came to know Kaptn Horst Deckert. (Skip this next para if you want to get to the letters.)

In the 1980s, after retiring from the U.S. Navy, and then from a division of the Scott Paper Co., I was running a cadmium sulfide coating plant in Bedford, Massachusetts.The object was to coat rolls of stainless steel, in a continuous vacuum chamber coating operation. The object was to create material that could be used on drums or belts in office copiers, much like Xerox (formerly Haloid Co.) had accomplished for its 914 office copier. using selenium-coated drums as the famous Haloid-Xerox 914 office copier's light sensitive capture element. The President of this cadmium sulphide coating company was a German expatriate. Although I had left this Bedford Massachusetts company after a couple of years of commuting from western Massachusetts, this President remembered me when he learned that another expatriate German whom he knew, Horst Deckert, had relocated to southern Vermont. This President also knew from reading my seawar book that I was a Gunnery Officer on one of the U.S. destroyers that had sunk Deckert's submarine off Oran, Algeria in December 1943. Deckert was now working as an engineer in high tech Vermont Research Company. My home address must have been sent to Deckert (who had adopted "Harry Decker" as his U.S. persona) and in due course I received a series of letters from him in the years 2001-2004, and even had lunch with him a few times in a Friendly Restaurant on the circle off I-91 at Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Here is some background on Horst Deckert.

According to Dutch scholar Pieter Graf, Deckert ,when serving in U-boats in the Kriegsmarine, was known as an ardent Nazi. U.S. author Barbara Tomblin, in her book covering Allied Naval Operations in the Mediterranean 1942-1945, has Deckert commanding U-205 when the German submarine force in the Mediterranean was hastily organizing its 19 available U-boats to resist the Allied entry-in force landings at Casablanca, Oran and Algiers. Those landings began November 8, 1942.. Deckert then became skipper of U-73 from later in November 1942 until she was sunk December 16, 1943. Admiral Harry Sanders, USN, a Navy Captain and DesRon 13 Squadron Commander, at that time aboard USS Woolsey, DD-437, directed operations of three U.S. destroyers, Woolsey, Edison and Trippe in the night operation off Oran, Algeria, in which Woolsey's depth charges forced U-73 to the surface and destroyer 5"-38 cal. gunfire then sank her. In his 1969 Naval Institute Proceedings article covering this event, Sanders included the 1943 debriefing statement of Horst Deckert . This entire statement can be found on pages 249-250 of the 4th edition of the book pictured at the beginning of this page. Now, from letters Deckert wrote the author beginning Oct.15, 2001, and meetings the author had with him in Greenfield MA 2001-2003, we learn what was on this U-boat skipper's mind 58 years after his submarine was sunk in an operation in which my destroyer, the USS Edison, DD-439, participated.

Deckert's first note to me was short: "I just read the book by KAPTN Franklyn E. Dailey Jr., 'Joining the War at Sea,' signed by him.Would like to get in touch with the author. Please call me. /s/ Harry Decker former skipper of U-73." He included a phone number.

Deckert's letters often contained a mid-Mediterranean chart to which he frequently referred: He took it from a chart in use by German sub skippers in 1943.. Subsequently, since he no longer had that original by sending it to me, he used a sketch of it from his very alert memory. His reproduction of the original chart, annotated, is pictured below. Deckert was an engineer by education and by now was now working for Vermont Research Corporation (VRC) in North Springfield VT. In one letter Horst Deckert included a dissertation on ball bearings "Ball Rolling Speed," focusing on the degradation that occurs in use when one bearing has a tiny flaw on its periphery. World War II history readers of the war in Europe may recall that Allied bombers focused on ball bearing plants in Naxi Germany.

Vermont Research Corporation made the early drum memories for computers. Drum memories played a very important part in the early digital computer revolution, but were superseded by a parade of storage and memory technologies. The mindset of a mechanical engineer is contained in Deckert's dissertation. I will focus here on his submarine reflections, and war views, and not on his employment at VRC. Next, his map of the central Mediterranean.

Captain Horst Deckert, U-73, adapts a central Mediterranean Mercator projection chart and makes annotations

Captain Horst Deckert, U-73, adapts a central Mediterranean Mercator projection chart and makes annotations.

To get perspective on the chart above, La Spezia, one of the U-boat bases in the Mediterranean, is at top center, and Tunis, in the news from North Africa today (2011), is bottom left. The islands of Corsica above, and Sardinia just below, are on the left, Sicily is at bottom right, and Naples (Neapel) shows on the west coast of Italy, with Rome (Rom) just above.

Deckert's next correspondence, a three-sheet typescript, is postdated Dec. 17, 2001. I will just summarize the first page in which the central figure is Gordon Gill, a radio operator on the Tuscan Star, torpedoed by U-boat (U-109) early in the war. Gill was rescued from the sea by a sailor from the U-boat,. Gill became a POW in Germany. I believe that Deckert included this story in his letter to me to show that German sub skippers were humane. Availability of Gill's story stemmed from an ad placed by Ray Lovell of Edinburgh, Scotland, in England's Manchester Evening News, seeking Gordon Gill (presumed to be now living in Manchester, Egnland). Lovell had earlier been in touch with the wireless operator aboard the submarine (U-109) at the time of the rescue, and his effort was made to reunite the rescued prisoner and the radio operator of the submarine. Ray Lovell had taken up the cause because he, Lovell, had also been a radio operator aboard a merchant ship in WW II. It developed that Gill had migrated to Manchester MA USA! The ad worked and Wolfgang Hirschfield, the U-109 radio operator, and Gill were reunited in 1993, at least in correspondence. Deckert recorded this in his much longer typescript, with a date of May 4, 1994. He followed it with a reproduction of a photo of the Tuscan Star, and one of U-109. Deckert's annotation records that U-109 was later lost with all hands. All of the foregoing was on a typed page, labeled in his handprint, as "PROLOG For you Frank as a historien of interest."

The next page begins with a one-line annotation in Deckert's hand, "PS.The Kmdt of U-109 who sunk the Tuscan Star." The rest of the page is typewritten. That handwritten PS shows he intended it to be a postscript to the first page. From this point in Horst Deckert's typescript, I will put in parentheses as an (FDnote:) my own comments which bring back the relevance of those times. Now, using quote marks, Deckert's typescript....

"Heinrich Bleichrodt, Kaptl. born Oct. 21, 1909 in Berga Germany.

"1931 entered Bleichrodt the Navy. He was Kommandant of U-48 and of U-109. U-48 was one of the most top notch aggressive Boot during the war and the only one which survived all the drama unitl his last Kommdt scuttled the boat in May 1945 in the Neustadter Bay. (better known in the U.S. as the 'Baltic Sea' where the U-boat submarine school used to be.) During its lifetime the boat had five Kommandants. Kaptltn. Herbert Shultze was the first. He sunk already on Septb. 5.1939 the brit.ship Royal Sceptre of 4 853 BRT"

(FD note: I italicized the last line in the paragraph above because I will make the following point several times in this series of early WW II events. Germany invaded Poland Sept. 1, 1939. Then Britain, which had long temporized about Hitler's overt actions (Prime Minister's Chamberlains' "Peace in our time!") declared war on Germany Sept. 3, 1939. All editions of my book, and Appendix B in the Fourth Edition, contain, in tabular form, critical pre-war actions and their dates. The Captain of any ship at sea, would know from his history knowledge of World War I that any British flagged ships at sea would not have any time after a declaration of war to react to their immeditate vulnerability to U-boat attack! Even a merchant ship in a later well guarded convoy was vulnerable. An Allied merchant ship, proceeding independently in wartime at the height of the war, was at least being informed of woflpack locations. Any British merchant ship at sea on September 5, 1939 was a sitting duck! Kaptltn. Schultze and the U-boats at sea were poised to strike, and strike they did.)

"All in all he sunk 16 ships in his first 5 war missions. After Prien (a famous U-boat captain) he was the second to receive the Knight's Cross for his early great success.....Korv.Kapt.Han Rudolph Roesing took the boat out for the 6th. and 7th. mission from June to August, 1940. He sunk 15 merchants of which were 8 British, 3 French, 2 Dutch, 1 Finn and 1 Swed. On Aug. 28 1940 Donitz handed him the Knights Cross also."

"Kaptln. Heinrich Bleichrodt became Kommandant for the 8 th. and 9 th. hunting trip of U-48. Under his command the boat send also 16 merchants to the bottom. At this time Bleichrodt had no experience at all as a U-Boat Kapt. He was an absolute greenhorn in the business of U-boat tactics. He was lucky than (he meant 'that') the first, second, and the Eng. officier were old hands in the trade and saved him many times from disaster. The Ob. Ltn. Teddy Teddy Suhren was than (he meant 'then') his Torpedo Officier and made him to what he later became. Bleichrodt learnd fast and was in general a man of good character. As he was informed to receive the Knight's Cross he told Donitz he would not wear it until Suhren gets his too. So, Suhren got his as 20 U-boat officier and Bleichrodt as the 18th, on October 24,40. Suhren by then did not only serve Bleichrodt, he served the former two Kommandants also he had earned it. Under the command of Bleichrodt U-48 sank the following ships: 15. Sept. 1940 00:24 hr. Alexandros 4343 BRT., 15. Sept.1940 00:25 hr. Dundee SC-3 1060 BRT., 15. Sept. 1940 01:23 hr.Empire Volunteer SC-3 5319 BRT., 15. Sept. 1940 03:00 hr. Kenordoc SC-3s 1780 BRT., 18 Sept. 1940 00:01 hr.City of Benares 11081 BRT."

"Note: The City of Benares sailed from Liverpool on Friday Sept. 13.1940 (No ship should go out on Friday 13th.) with 406 women and children being evacuated from Britain to Canada. Only 15 people survived the torpedo attack. Position of attack 56,43 N/ 21,15 W. Bleichrodt did not know what the cargo was. That is what war is all about.We decorate the heroes, in actuality we glorify murder in grand style." (FDnote: After Deckert's 'Note,' he then continues the tally of Bleichrodt's sinkings)

"18.Sept.1940 00:07 hr. Marina 5088 BRT., 18 Sept. 1940 18:49 hr.Magdalenea 3118 BRT., 21 Sept. 1940 06:14 hr. Blairangus HX-72 4409 BRT., 21 Sept. 1940 23:38 hr. Broompark HX-72 5136 BRT.Alexandros was a Greek ship, all others were British." (FDNote: The 'SC' and 'HX' were Allied convoy designations.)

(FDnote:This ends the 3rd page of Deckert's 3-sheet typescript, both sides of sheets containing typed pages. About all I can add here is that the 406 women and children ( less the15 saved, from City of Benares) would have died quickly in very cold water My book-see top of page- contains the story of U.S. Red Cross nurses from the U.S., crossing the Atlantic to help in the British hospitals early in the war.Their ship was torpedoed. The nurses got into life boats in those waters but only one of the life boats was ever found. From a surviving nurse on that one lifeboat I got the story. Open lifeboats in frigid climates evoke pain. The British do have a major memorial for their lost merchant ships and the men and women and children lost with them.

From the early lines of Horst Deckert's letters, the reader learns that the Royal Sceptre was sunk on September 5, 1939. The master of that vessel and its passengers and crew likely did not even have time to examine the rigging and falls needed to launch lifeboats. The TV news in the afternoon of May 26, 2011 (yesterday as I write), brought us back to the cruel executions ordered and carried out by Serbian General Mladic, who eluded authorities for 15 years. Men and boys with hands tied behind their backs, faced down on a hillside in rows, and shot. Then mass burials. I reflect about these events often, especially as Memorial Day gatherings are organized. There are no gathering places, let alone sea memorials, where ships at sea go down.)

Resuming now, the fourth page of the typescript Deckert sent to me in envelope dtd Dec. 17, 2001:

"On his second cruse, which was the 9th war mission for U-48, Bleichrodt, with the help of the I. and II.WO, U-48 sunk 8 more merchant ships.

11.Oct.1940 21:50 hr. Brandanger HX-77 4624 BRT., 11.Oct. 1940 22:09 hr. Port Gisborne HX-77 10144 BRT., 12.Oct.1940 00:14 hr. Davanger HX-77 7102 BRT., 17.Oct.1940 05:53 hr. Languedoc SC-7 9512 BRT. 17.Oct.1940 05:53 hr.Scoresby SC-7 3843 BRT., 17.Oct.1940 05:53 hr.Haspenden SC-7 4678 BRT., 18.Oct. 1940 10:25 hr. Sandsen OB-22? 3612 BRT., 20.Oct.1940 00:24 hr. Shirak HX-79 6023 BRT. The last "Shirak," as the first "Brandanger," were Brit. motor tankers.This ws the timeof the great Convoy activity. Out of Convoy SC-7 the Wolfpack sank 33 ships in 3 days. It was like duck hunting in these days. May be over 2000 merchant men went down with their ships. Where is the Glory?" (FDnote: 'motor tankers' meant powered with Diesel motors. U.S. and British nomenclature used "MV" to mean Motor Vessel in contrast with "SS" from Steam Ship.)

"January 1941 Kapt..Herbert Schultze took over U-48 again. He made three trips and sunk 13 more ships. June 12, 1941. Donitz handed him the Oak Leaves to his Knight Cross. The Engineer Ob.Ltn.Erich Zurn who took care of U-48 on its 12 Feindfahrten received his Knights Cross April 23, 1941 due to Schultzes recommendation to Donitz. The boat had two more skippers, Kaptln.Atzinger and Ob.Ltn.Todenhagen after a long overhaul in Kiel and operated only as training boat."

"Bleichrodt and U-109

"The boat went in service Dec.. 5. 1940. It was built by the A.G. Weser,Deschimag, in Bremen. The first Komdt.Kaptl. Hans Georg Fischer took the boat out on one mission and sank one merchant. Admiral Donitz expected more from the Kommandant. Fisher sunk the Brit.D.Marconi out of the convoy HX-126 on May2.1941. Donits lamented: "Only 7000 ton? Gentlemen you have to improve a lot" as he spoke to the crew, but meant the Komdt. "O.K." he said, "at least you brought the boat home save." (he meant safe) The next morning Kaptl. Bleichrodt took over U-109 for good. Donitz had well known that Bleichrodt was by now well trained in sinking ships and thats all that counts in war. So Bleichrodt and his crew done its best to please the Admiral. Here is the list of U-109 its victories in the year 1942. The time of the duck hunt was already over."

"19.Jan.1942 06:24 hr. Empire Kingfisher, Mt. 6082 BRT. 23.Jan.1942 08:12 hr. Thirlby 4887 BRT. 1.Feb.1942 03:30 hr. Montrolite, Canada MT. 11309 BRT. 6.Feb.1942 02:41 hr. Halcyon, Pan. 3531 BRT. 20.Apr.1942 05:24 hr. Harpagon, 5719 BRT. 1.May.1942 11:36 hr. La Paz MT. 6548 BRT. Same day a.time second torpedo hit M.Worden 555 BRT. 3.May.1942 10:54 hr. Laertes 5825 BRT. 7.Aug.1942 21:47 hr. Arthur Sewall, Nor. MT. 6030 BRT. 11.Aug.1942 19:13 hr. Vimeira Steam Tank. 5728 BRT. 3.Sept.1942 00:50 hr. Ocean Might 7173BRT. 6.Sept.1942 23:50 hr. Tuscan Star, Motor S. 11449BRT. 17.Sept.1942 13:14 hr. Peterton 5221BRT."

Horst Deckert departed here from his history of U-109 for personal comment on the war and the fortunes of the U-boat fleet.

"As we can see, the success watered down a lot. During almost a year, the boat went out 6 times. Bleichrodt received his OAK LEAVES to his KNIGHTS CROSSS Sept.23.1942. He was the 15 th. naval officer and the 125 th. in the whole armed forces to obtain such decoration. Since the battles getting tougher hitler invented one after an other for the challenge of more and more destrruction.The irony is that one can buy such things today on the flea market. 1942 was the TURNING POINT in the war.In May the "BISMARK" is lost and Hitler starts war with Russia. The submarine force lost the supply ships "ATLANTIS" and "PYTHON" in the Atlantic. Both ships blow themself up. From now it was more difficult for the boats to operate in the Atlantic."

"We in the submarine service always asked: "Does the Fuehrer know all about this? Sure, Germany put up a great fight here and there but winning the war was a mad man's dream and absolutely impossible."

We learn that Tuscan Star was the second from last ship sunk in the Sept. 1942 log of U-109 and we know from Deckert's introduction, earlier in this transcript, about the rescue of Tuscan Star's radioman, Gordon Gill. What follows next is rescued radioman Gordon Gill's story of what he was able to learn about U-109 's activities, even though he was a prisoner aboard her. As related to me by Horst Deckert in his Dec. 17, 2001 typescript:

"The U-boat (U-109)just cruised around the N. Atlantic until Sept. 28th. when she set course for Lorient. (N.W. France) Two more ships were spotted, one was a transport ship which was chased for six hours, just as the torpedoes were about to be fired from under water, the big transport ship began to zig zag and she shot away stern on it (he meant 'at') full speed. I thought is was great and began to laugh. But the Germans didn't , they were damned annoyed about the whole affair. The other ship the U-boat went after was a tanker in the Bay of Biscay, owing to the sea being rough, setting course away from us, she managed to get away. It took eight days to get across the Bay. Most of the time was spent submerged owing to aircraft patrols and destoyer patrols."(FDnote: Lorient was a captured French port which the Germans had adapted as a submarine base and protected their subamarines in heaviy concrete pens. The Allies had little success bombing the pens but knew the U-boats had to leave and enter through the Bay of Biscay so concentrated heavy patrol activity, inclsuding aircraft, there. It paid off. Donitz put more surface armament on the U-boats and some even elected to 'fight it out' on the surface against Allied aircraft. This is generally a losing proposition for a sub but some Allied aircraft were shot down. The first Patrol Plane Commander I flew with (as copilot for) had flown out of Dunkeswell, England, on these ASW patrols in the Bay of Biscay.) ..... Gill's story now continues. " While passing Cape Finisterre we submerged a little too deep and too quick, the progress of the U-boat was brought to an abrupt stop as she hit the bottom. Everyone on board got an awful shock including myself the lights went out and the Sub bounced up and down for two or three minutes before she finally set on an even keel. Two days after this episode we were attacked with depth charges from the patrolling destroyers.. Life was pretty grim crossing the Bay! I never saw daylight for seven days."

"The last grim episode on board the U-109 happened the day before we were to meet the naval escort which was to take us into Lorient. (Oct. 5) The U-boat began to dive but without blowing off the valves forward. She carried on for about 10 seconds before the officer of the watch realized what was happening. Then followed a great deal of shouting from inside the conning tower, the Sub began to come up to the surface at steep angle and the bow flopped up on top of the water. "

"Next afternoon we were met by the escort and we began to speed up the channel to Lorient full ahead. The U-boat tied up alongside the "Parent Ship Ysere" at 16:30hr. on Oct. 6th. 1941. I was on board for 30 days, 30 days too long for me, and too much excitement at the wrong end for a Britisher." The end of Gill's story.

Deckert now describes "The Sub U-109".

"She was 250' long (or 76.5 meters) and of 1050 tons when surfaced. She was of the IX-B Type ,11 boats of this type were build. December 5th.1940 she got into service. She could carry 165 tons of fuel and had a range of 8700 miles at a speed of 12 knots when surfaced. Top speed when surfaced was 18.2 knots. The submerged range was only 64 miles at 4 knots before the batteries had to be charged again. Top speed when submerged was 7.3 knots only. It had a 2 x 2 200 Hp. Diesel and 2 x 500 Hp.Electr. Motors. 4 bow torpedo tubes and 2 at stern. One 10.5 cm. Kanon in front and one 3.ycm. plus one 2cm. anti-aircraft gun. She could load 22 torpedos and had a crew of 48 men and officers."

"On May 4. 1943 a brit.Liberator sunk U-109 with all hands at 47 22'North/22 40'West.--(ObLtn.Joachim Schramm.Comdt.)"

(FDNote: So ends the second letter received from Horst Deckert. As I transcribe Horst Deckerts letters to me, we are entering Memorial Day weekend, Monday 30 May 2011, which was Decoration Day, in my most memorable days of youth of walking alongside our town parade in Brockport, New York. Details in the book, "My Times with the Sisters and Other Events." Sister Florentia, my teacher for the fifth though eighth grades, would want a complete report. We often recited Walt Whitman's "Oh Captain! My Captain" just before Decoration Day. It always brings tears. )

Horst Deckert's third letter will be discussed after this 'timeout' for Decoration Day 2011 and the showing of the Flag.

Sunrise at Alpharetta Georgia, honored by our Stars and Stripes

Sunrise at Alpharetta, Georgia

Horst Deckert's correspondence to the author now continues with a letter postmarked Dec. 2002: There are four inserts. One is a sheet of jokes that appealed to him that we will omit here. One is a Christmas card and its front cover is the hymn "Silent Night." Inside, on the front of the backfold, signed, "Harry G Deckert," a merging of his U.S. and German identities, he wishes 'Peggy and Frank' a "Blessed Christmas "and a "Healthy New Year." On the inside o the front flap, Horst hand writes a commentary on "Silent Night.' In caps he writes the original German words for the song, beginning Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht....."

Then, "My point is here. Even the song is transcribed in english, it is not the same.The sentiment and feeling is not there. So, there is a great difference between me and you. I served my country well and don't get one penny.less medical support because I served less than 12 years in the Navy. Was several times wounded in my face. You see we lost the war! Most kick I get when one in U.S. said, Germany is now a democracy. Germany was a Occupied Land until 1994 when the British and most U.S. moved out of their bases. America supported Germany militarily to protect their rear end so to speak only! I wish you could read German. You could read my book "A View Back." (FDnote: I infer is: he did not get a pension but maybe a little medical support. From other writings, I know he did keep a relationship with his mother country, some I inferred, because there was some medical support there for a former sub skipper.)

In a note dated Dec. 18, 2002, he included as a "P.S." that began, "Feb.23, 1970 I answered Admiral Sanders because of his [ ] in PROCEEDINGS." (FDNote: I can't decipher Deckert's word in {}.Admiral Sanders, who had been ComDesRon 13 aboard USS Woolsey, DD-437, when she sank Deckert's U-73, wrote the episode up in an article that appeared in a 1969 edition of Naval Institute Proceedings ,and Deckert is remembering what he wrote to Sanders in 1970. I resume Deckert's note here.)

"I wrote in German at the time and wonder if he ever gets the message. He did not reply. See Frank, it always depends on which side you are on and learn: The Victor is always right!

"One time we had 3 shippers on board for 30 days. We treated them fair and square. Gill and I became good friends until he died here in Bennington, Vt . I visited him many times in his last days. I will be 87 next year. (that would be 2003) I feel very bad that we are in war hysteria without any basic proof." (FDnote: First, 'shippers.' Likely Deckert's term for maritime survivors of a U-boat sinking. Then, where he feels 'bad,' recall that he was writing in December 2002, just 15 months after the 9/11 attacks on New York's two World Trade Center towers, a third on the Pentagon in Virginia, and the sucidal abandonment of the fourth attack plane resulting in the loss of attackers, innocent passengers and crew on a farm in Pennsylvania. The U.S. had countered with a foray into Afghanistan (a U.S. aircraft carrier's strike involving F-14s is chronicled in my flying book, "The Triumph of Instrument Flight: A Retrospective in the Century of U.S. Aviation ISBN 0966625, and was considering an attack in Iraq, 'without any proof' in the words of Horst Deckert.)

Horst Deckert's next letter was postmarked from Manchester, NH, dated 6 Jan . 2003. This letter contains (1) a photo of the crew of U-869 aboard their U-boot 28 Feb. 1945, including Horst's margin note in English ,"Nobody know when and where it was lost. 3 U.S. divers died to find out. It took them seven years." His added pencil note is pretty much a translation of what the photo contains in a top and bottom margin. "U-869 EIN IXC/40 BOOT VAR AM.28.FEB1945 MIT MANN UND MAUS GESUNKEN . ABER WO? DIE MARINE GABAN ES WAR BEI RABAT IN MITTELMEER. ES WAR ABER AN DER OST = KUSTE VON AMERICA. TAUCHER BEWIESEN EST. FUR SIEBEN JAHRE TAUCHTEN USA. SPORT TAUCHE MIT VERLUST VN DREILEBEN NACH DEM BOOT.DIE FRAGE WAR, WECLHES BOOT WAR ES?

When I am finsished transcribing the text portions of this final letter from Horst Deckert I will attempt a reproduction of the photo and captions and insert it here. It is on paper non-glossy, but the faces may reproduce.

Here, the last text portions of Deckert's letter of 6 Jan. 2003. These are all on a card the size of a postcard with big letters URGENT at the top of one side. He may have meant that "urgent" in the information recorded in his handwriting, or it may have been a card intended for another purpose and then used for this purpose. And this purpose is strange indeed . I never thought to question him in our two or maybe three meetings, or this may have come after the last meeting we had. He records names and commands of U-boot commanders in the Mediterranean. Remember that the Germans were caught by surprise by the Allied effort in the Mediterranean in November 1942 and in the beginning had only U-boots to attempt to interdict. Later, the Luftwaffe got into counterattack mode in this theatre. The Axis surface Navy, mainly the Italian fleet and surface E-boats (like our torpedo boats), never were an operatioal factor. In choosing to record U-boots and their commanders, I realize that there is a healthy archive on the web of the U-boots along with their war records, so this can be a crosscheck, and may provide an insight in Deckert and be usefully redundant. Now, to transcribing his notes.

"Gerd Kelbling U-593 ,(age) 34; Siegfied Koitschka U-616 37; Hubertus Korndorferd (um laut over the second 'o') U-407 39; Albrecht Brandi U-617 35; Ernst.Ulrich Brulleru U-407 36; Fritz Henning U-565 36; Oskar Curio U-952 37; Johan Otto Krieg U-81 37; Victor Wilhelm Nonn U-596 37:Egonreiner von Schippenbach U-453 34.

"Sep. & Oct. 1943 the following boots were in action in Med. Sea (continuing transcription of Horst Deckert's Jan. 2003 letter)

"September Four (4 Uboots) U-617 Brandt; U-593 Keibling; U-565 Franken; U-410 Fenski.

"October Seven (7 U-boots) U-223 Wachter; U-596 Nonn; U-616 Koitschka; U-371 Mehl; U-73 Deckert; U-431 Sosoneboom ; U-431 Henning

"Aug. 1943 Last Ital. boat Diaspro Bonato was in action. He sunk 3 deseruyer (or hit?) 38-55 N, 16:00-16:20 E

(That much was on one side of the card. Now for the other side of the postcard-size card that Deckert sent dtd 6 Jan. '43. As on the first side, it begins with names of U-boot commanders, their boot, and their age.)

"Paul Siegmann U-230 35; Max Dobbert U-469 Ob.Ltn.Res.; Horst Arno Fenski U-410 37R; Wilhelm Franken U-55 35R.; Dietrich Schonebook U-431 37; Karl Jurgen Wachter U-223 36; Waldemar Mehl U-371 33 K.L.R.;Dirck Luhrs U-453 38; Horst Deckert U-73

What follows is another listing by Horst Deckert of U-boots in the Mediterranean Sea by month, with skippers in (paren).

"Jan. 44 (2) U-223 (Gerlach) U-230 (Siegmann) Feb. 44 (7) U-453 (Luhrs) U-410 (Fenski) U-230 (Siegmann) U-969 (Dobbert) U-952 (Curio) U-596 (Nonn) U-407 (Korndorfer) Dec. 43 (6) U-616 (Koitschka) U-596 (Nonn) U-223 (Wachter U-593 (Kelbling) U-380 (Brandi) U-73 (Deckert) Nov. 43 (6) U-453 (von Schippenbach) U-565 (Henning) U-81 (Krieg) U-407 (Bruller)"

This is the end of the notations by Horst Deckert on the postcard-sized note enclosed in the 6 Jan. 2003 letter. There is quite a bit of redundancy. He may have begun the tabulations and then forgotten what he had already done. The redundancy helped me transcribe because Horst's handwritten notations are in German and I took two years of "Scientific German" under a Nazi Professor named Erich Buchderkirchen 1935-37.

So, on June 27, 2011, thank you Harry Decker or Horst Decker for making an effort to communicate. I know, because you told me, that you did not fully agree with Admiral Sander's description of the sinking of your U-73, or with my quite different ,but not conflicting, account from the Admiral's in my book, "Joining the War at Sea 1939-1945." Your main argument with me was that your crewmen could not possibly have had drawings of your U-boat and the torpedoes it carried. But, they had been to school aboard your submarine just as my own destroyer gunnery department had been at school regularly on my destroyer. And just as my sailors had been told NOT to put drawings in their pants pockets, so I believe you had properly instructed your men. But, Horst, I was the officer designated to empty the pockets of your crewmen. And sure enough, they had those drawings and instructions in German in their pants pockets. They were good and conscientious sailors just as were our men, and they learned well. But they forgot what was in their pockets. Those drawings of your new acoustic homing torpedo were helpful.

Also, I am left puzzled by the glowing account of the SS General whose bio you included in one of the letters. You wrote beneath, "they don't come any better." Yet you felt that Allied justice at Nurenberg was flawed because the SS captives were not given the harsh sentences of some of your very top military leaders. You capped it all, though, in your note by noting that "the Victors are always right." You have an accurate assessment there. I just hope the U.S. does not again get called to Europe because most of Europe pretends to be asleep as to what the Germans are up to. As early as 1933, our Charles Lindbergh told his country not to go to war with Germany because they are too powerful.

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