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4. With a valuable cargo of rubber and fats, the REGENSBURG arrived in Bordeaux the latter part of June, 1941, where she is reported to have remained until early October. The ship was then taken to Nantes for docking and refitting, in the course of which she was given an armor-plated bridge and extra sleeping quarters.
5. Sometime in February, 1942 - loaded with turbines, dyes and general cargo - the REGENSBURG sailed from Bordeaux on her return trip to Japan. The survivors say that she took a course due West from Bordeaux until she was West of the Azores; then sailed on a Southerly course as far as latitude 39 South; thence East across the Indian Ocean to Yokohama via Sunda Strait. (NOTE: This is a routing followed fairly closely by other blockade runners. See Op-16-FT Serials 32-43, 26-43, 23-43, Op-l6-F-8 Serials 10-43, 9-43.) The entire trip, except for the danger areas, was made at a speed of less than 10 knots in order to conserve fuel and carry proportionately more cargo. (NOTE: This is an interesting statement in view of the fact that the ship's top speed was 16 knots.) It is uncertain whether on this trip, or on a subsequent sortie from Japan, the REGENSBURG acted as a supply ship for RAIDER #10 in the South Atlantic and in the Indian Ocean. (NOTE: This is RAIDER #10 reported sunk in Yokohama harbor November 30, 1942, by the great explosions and conflagration which also destroyed the UCKERMARK and NANKIN.)
ENCOUNTER WITH A U.S. SUBMARINE
6. After unloading at Yokohama, the REGENSBURG put to sea again for Kobe where she took aboard whale and coconut oil. Departing from Kobe September 17, the ship proceeded to Balik Papen for refuelling. Her next stop was Batavia where quinine bark was taken aboard - then Singapore where she loaded rubber and zinc.
7. On October 9, 1942, the REGENSBURG weighed anchor at Singapore, and three days later - while attempting to pass through Sunda Strait on her way to Europe - was torpedoed by a U. S. submarine. Five fish were fired, but only one found its mark. Down at the head, with her forward hold flooded, the REGENSBURG managed to limp back to Batavia with only a few feet of freeboard above water. There, divers made temporary repairs and the ship returned to Singapore where she went into drydock and transferred her valuable cargo to the RHAKOTIS (sunk January 1, 1943 approaching Biscay. See Op-l6-FT Serial 23-43.)
8. Her repairs completed, the REGENSBURG again loaded a cargo of strategics vitally needed in Germany - rubber, coconut oil, whale oil, tin, tungsten and tea. Then on January 30, 1943, with many former crew members of the UCKERMARK and DOGGERBANK, the runner sailed from Singapore to Batavia, where she picked up l5 tons of quinine bark. (NOTE: The DOGGERBANK was sunk South-West of the Azores on March 3, 1943 - probably by an Axis submarine; see Op-16-FT Serial 34-43.)
9. On February 6th, final departure was made from Batavia in company with the WESERLAND (ex-ERMLAND, 6,528 tons) which was soon left behind because of her slower speed. Survivors believed a special patrol was provided to assure the runners a safe passage through Sunda Strait.
10. The ship crossed the Indian Ocean and rounded the Cape of Good Hope. On February 28th, while in the South Atlantic, W/T orders were received, diverting the REGENSBURG to Stettin via Denmark Strait and the Norwegian coast. This decision was taken because of the recent sinkings of German ships in the Biscay approaches, notably the tanker HOHENFRIEDBURG (HERBORG, intercepted and sunk February 26, at 41-45 North 20-58 West by HMS SUSSEX).
AIR OBSERVATION ALARM
11. On March 3, 1943, the aircraft alarm was sounded and all stations manned when a plane was believed to have observed the ship. For a full hour course was changed to South-West at 15 knots in order to give a false impression of the vessel's destination. Four days later, when midway between Ascension Island and St. Pauls Rocks, two more aircraft were sighted but no action was taken as it was believed the ship herself was not sighted. (NOTE: To avoid being detected on its true course, a blockade runner is almost certain to change heading on sighting a plane. See Op-l6-F-8 Serial 36-42.)
12. Via Norddeich radio, on March 22, the ship was ordered to rendezvous with U-302 at approximately 56 North 40 West. The following day the submarine was sighted approaching on the surface from the port. Lowering a boat, the REGENSBURG took aboard charts of the Northern waters, detailed instructions how to proceed via the Norwegian coast to Stettin, and a German Search Receiver (U-boat model) with two ratings to operate it. (NOTE: See Op-16-FT Serial 26-43, BLOCKADE RUNNER "GERMANIA", Para. 16.)
13. Denmark Strait was reached March 28 and speed was increased to 15 knots. Prisoners stated that the Captain was aware from German broadcasts that a British force had been reported by U-boats as patrolling the Strait.
DOOM BEFORE DAWN
14. In the half-light of early morning, March 30, the REGENSBURG was plunging ahead at 15 knots on course 015° when a starshell suddenly appeared off the port bow. A moment later gunfire was seen in the distance and shells began to burst so close aboard that their splinters fell on the runner's decks. The Captain ordered the crew not to return the fire, as he judged such action would further endanger the safety of the ship. Instead, he signalled by Aldis that he was heaving to - whereupon the firing ceased.
15. The Captain then ordered the crew to abandon ship and directed the Chief Engineer to fire the scuttling charges in the engine room. Due to the heavy seas only one lifeboat was launched successfully. This, plus the intense cold of the water, was blamed for the fact that only 6 survivors were rescued out of 118 men who were on board.
16. After the ship was abandoned, it was sunk by torpedo and gunfire from HMS GLASGOW in position 66-41 North 25-31 West. The survivors believed that the radio operator did not report the ship's interception. They stated that just as he was about to send the message tracer bullets appeared from the enemy and he stopped transmitting.
17. At the time of her sinking, survivors said the REGENSBURG was masquerading as the four-masted British ship CAMBRIDGE. (NOTE: The CAMBRIDGE, 10,855 tons, was sunk off Australia, by an explosion November 7, l940.)
TH£ SHIP AND HER CARGO
18. The runner - originally launched in 1927 - was rebuilt, lengthened and given new engines in 1938, at which time her name was changed from TRAVE to REGENSBURG.
19. On her final trip, the REGENSBURG is reported to have been carrying the following cargo:
4,500 tons of rubber
THE SHIP'S COMPLEMENT
20. The normal complement of the REGENSBURG was about 50. However, at the time of the sinking, the ship was carrying 118. This was due to the addition of 15 naval gunnery personnel, a naval surgeon, two G.S.R. operators from the U-302, and some 50 or 60 crew members of the UCKERMARK and DOGGERBANK taken aboard at Singapore.
21. Blockade runners generally proceed on passage at much less than maximum speed. (The REGENSBURG, with 16 knots available, usually cruised at 9 knots.) This is done to save fuel and load proportionately more cargo. When in dangerous waters, however, the maximum speed is used.
22. The prisoners stated that, in view of the numerous sinkings in the Biscay approaches (O.N.I. NOTE: Five since December 1, 1942 - RHAKOTIS, GERMANIA, CORTELLAZO, HERBORG and SILVA PLANA), other home-bound blockade runners are now being diverted to Germany via Denmark Strait. (NOTE: The WESERLAND, which departed from Batavia at the same time as the REGENSBURG, is still unreported. It may have reached Stettin, or it may have put into Biscay unobserved.)
D.N.I. EVALUATION: Crossing the Allied convoy lanes is highly dangerous. Therefore, it is possible that the prisoners may have been coached in the above statement for the purpose of misleading their interrogators.
23. Officers of the REGENSBURG were convinced long before the ship's interception that the British were in possession of their codes, and that, consequently, their chances of getting through safely were very slim.
NOTE: The above report is based very largely upon a preliminary interrogation of the six REGENSBURG survivors. When all information has been checked and evaluated, a supplemental report may be published.
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Transcribed by RESEARCHER @ LARGE. Formatting & Comments Copyright R@L.
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