German submarine U-124 (1940)

German submarine U-124 (nickname "Edelweisseboot"[1]) was a Type IXB U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. She operated in the Atlantic as part of the 2nd U-boat flotilla, both west of Scotland and east of the eastern US coast. She was also present off northern South America.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1981-010-31, Einlaufen eines U-Bootes.jpg
U-124 after a patrol
Nazi Germany
Name: U-124
Ordered: 15 December 1937
Builder: DeSchiMAG AG Weser, Bremen
Yard number: 956
Laid down: 11 August 1939
Launched: 9 March 1940
Commissioned: 11 June 1940
Fate: Sunk by British warships west of Portugal, 3 April 1943 west of Oporto at 41°02′N 15°39′W / 41.033°N 15.650°W / 41.033; -15.650Coordinates: 41°02′N 15°39′W / 41.033°N 15.650°W / 41.033; -15.650
General characteristics
Class and type: German Type IXB submarine
  • 1,051 tonnes (1,034 long tons) surfaced
  • 1,178 tonnes (1,159 long tons) submerged
  • 6.76 m (22 ft 2 in) o/a
  • 4.40 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Draught: 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in)
Installed power:
  • 4,400 PS (3,200 kW; 4,300 bhp) (diesels)
  • 1,000 PS (740 kW; 990 shp) (electric)
  • 12,000 nmi (22,000 km; 14,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
  • 64 nmi (119 km; 74 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Complement: 4 officers, 44 enlisted
Service record
Part of:
  • 11 patrols
  • 1st patrol:
  • 19 August – 16 September 1940
  • 2nd patrol:
  • 5 October – 13 November 1940
  • 3rd patrol:
  • 16 December 1940 – 22 January 1941
  • 4th patrol:
  • 23 February – 1 May 1941
  • 5th patrol:
  • 10 July – 25 August 1941
  • 6th patrol:
  • 16 September – 1 October 1941
  • 7th patrol:
  • 30 October – 29 December 1941
  • 8th patrol:
  • 21 February – 10 April 1942
  • 9th patrol:
  • 4 May – 26 June 1942
  • 10th patrol:
  • 25 November 1942 – 13 February 1943
  • 11th patrol:
  • 27 March – 2 April 1943
  • 46 ships sunk for a total of 219,862 GRT
  • two warships sunk of 5,775 tons
  • four ships damaged for a total of 30,067 GRT

She was sunk with all hands west of Portugal in 1943.

Service historyEdit

U-124 was laid down on 11 August 1939 at the DeSchiMAG AG Weser yard in Bremen as yard number 956. She was launched on 9 March 1940 and commissioned on 11 June, with Kapitänleutnant Georg-Wilhelm Schulz in command. The core of the crew came from Schulz’s previous command, U-64, which had been sunk during the Norwegian campaign, the survivors had been rescued by Wehrmacht mountain troops and their badge, the Edelweiss, was painted on U-124’s conning tower in appreciation. He was relieved on 8 September 1941 by Korvettenkapitän Johann Mohr. He remained in command until the boat's loss in 1943.


German Type IXB submarines were slightly larger than the original German Type IX submarines, later designated IXA. U-124 had a displacement of 1,051 tonnes (1,034 long tons) when at the surface and 1,178 tonnes (1,159 long tons) while submerged.[2] The U-boat had a total length of 76.50 m (251 ft), a pressure hull length of 58.75 m (192 ft 9 in), a beam of 6.76 m (22 ft 2 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in). The submarine was powered by two MAN M 9 V 40/46 supercharged four-stroke, nine-cylinder diesel engines producing a total of 4,400 metric horsepower (3,240 kW; 4,340 shp) for use while surfaced, two Siemens-Schuckert 2 GU 345/34 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 1,000 metric horsepower (740 kW; 990 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.92 m (6 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres (750 ft).[2]

The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 18.2 knots (33.7 km/h; 20.9 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.3 knots (13.5 km/h; 8.4 mph).[2] When submerged, the boat could operate for 64 nautical miles (119 km; 74 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km; 14,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-124 was fitted with six 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at the bow and two at the stern), 22 torpedoes, one 10.5 cm (4.13 in) SK C/32 naval gun, 180 rounds, and a 3.7 cm (1.5 in) SK C/30 as well as a 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of forty-eight.[2]

Service historyEdit

U-124 conducted eleven war patrols, sinking 46 ships, totalling 219,862 gross register tons (GRT) and sinking two warships, totaling 5,775 long tons (5,868 t). She also damaged four ships, totalling 30,067 GRT. She was a member of two wolfpacks.

1st patrolEdit

U-124's first patrol began with her departure from Wilhelmshaven on 19 August 1940. Her route took her across the North Sea and through the gap between the Faroe and Shetland Islands. She attacked three ships northwest of Scotland; Stakesby, Harpalyce and Firecrest, all on the 25th. To avoid retaliation from HMS Godetia, the boat dived to 90 m (300 ft). The Royal Navy Flower-class corvette dropped 12 depth charges. Striking rocks on the sea-bed, the boat lay there for an hour, the corvette lost contact, but the collision had damaged three of her torpedo tubes. As a result, she spent the rest of the patrol reporting on the weather.

The submarine docked at Lorient on the French Atlantic coast, on 16 September.

2nd patrolEdit

U-124's second foray was conducted further northwest of the Scottish mainland. Her first victim was Trevisa; sunk on 16 October 1940 218 nmi (404 km; 251 mi) west of Rockall. The next day, 17 October, the Royal Navy River-class submarine HMS Clyde fired three torpedoes at her. All missed, and U-124 remained unaware of the attack.

U-124 went on to sink another four ships; Cubano, Sulaco (there was only one survivor) both on 20 October, Rutland on the 31st and the Empire Bison on 1 November. The latter ship's four survivors, on a raft when the U-boat came to investigate, played dead as they did not wish to be taken prisoner.

3rd patrolEdit

On her third sortie U-124 sank Empire Thunder north-northeast of Rockall on 6 January 1941.

4th patrolEdit

On her fourth patrol the boat sank 11 ships, four on the same day north of the Cape Verde Islands on 8 March 1941; Nardana, Hindpool, Tielbank and Lahore . She then destroyed another seven vessels southwest of Freetown, in Sierra Leone: Umona on 30 March, Marlene on 4 April, Portadoc on 7 April, Tweed a day later, Aegeon on the 11th, St. Helena on the 12th and the Corinthic on the 13th. 102 people died as a result of her sinking Umona. One account claims that after sinking her, U-124 surfaced and captured the liner's fourth officer from a lifeboat, and that he was never seen again.[3]

Corinthic was first struck by a dud torpedo, but another functioned correctly and sank the ship.

5th patrolEdit

U-124 drew a blank on her fifth sortie, failing to destroy a single target. She scoured the central Atlantic southwest of Gibraltar, but found nothing.

6th patrolEdit

Her sixth patrol was successful. Mohr, (her new commander), rather ambitiously claimed two ships totaling 15,000 tons sunk and a third vessel of 8,000 tons damaged. The reality was rather different. Baltallin (1,303 tons) on 20 September 1941 and Empire Moat (2,922 tons) also on the 20th, were both lost from Convoy OG-74; they went down north northeast of the Azores.

In addition, Empire Stream was sunk on 25 September. Among the dead were two stowaways. A final effort on 26 September accounted for three more ships, also near the Azores: Petrel, Cortes, and Siremalm (there were no survivors from the latter vessel).

U-124 returned to Lorient on 1 October.

7th patrolEdit

After almost a month in her base, U-124 started her seventh patrol on 30 October 1941. On 24 November, she was engaged by the Royal Navy Danae-class cruiser HMS Dunedin which, with two consorts, had been searching for the Armed Merchant Raider Atlantis and her supply ship Python. Dunedin was hit by two torpedoes, despite being outside the theoretical range of the U-boat's projectiles and sank 17 minutes later. 419 men died; there were 67 survivors.

The submarine remained in the South Atlantic and sank the American Sagadahoc on 3 December.[4] She was the fourth and last of the so-called neutral ships to meet her end. Her demise followed a six-hour chase and her lights not being set correctly.

U-124 was shelled by the coastal battery at Fort Thornton, Georgetown on Ascension Island on 9 December; no damage was sustained.

8th patrolEdit

A change of operational area saw the boat deploy to the Eastern United States seaboard following the success of Operation Drumbeat (Paukenschlag); leaving Lorient on 21 February 1942. Like the original 'drumbeaters', Mohr found the US defences easy to penetrate.[5]

The boat scored her first victory before reaching her destination; sinking British Resource about 230 nautical miles (430 km; 260 mi) north of Bermuda on 14 March.

She then sank seven ships and damaged two more – all in March. One of them, E. M. Clark, was hit in such a way that her whistle sounded continuously until the ship went down. Another, Esso Nashville, was hit by a torpedo which failed to detonate, but a subsequent torpedo broke the tanker's back. She was held together only by deck plates and piping. The bow and stern sections soon separated, and the bow soon sank. The stern was towed to Baltimore where it was fitted with a new fore-part and the ship returned to service in March 1943.

Two more ships were hit before U-124 returned to Lorient. It was her most successful patrol; 68,215 tons of shipping was lost or incapacitated.

9th patrolEdit

It was back to the mid-Atlantic for the boat's ninth patrol, as part of Wolfpack Hecht, beginning on 4 May 1942. Four ships from Convoy ONS 92 were sunk on the 12th. U-124's next victim was the Free French corvette Mimosa which was sunk with heavy loss of life on 9 June. Many of the casualties came from St. Pierre et Miquelon. The impact of the sinking had a lasting effect in the community.

Two more ships were sunk before the boat returned to Lorient on 26 June.

10th patrolEdit

Another change of operational zone, this time to the northern coastal area of South America. The submarine left Lorient on 25 November 1942. She sank Trewloras about 50 nautical miles (93 km; 58 mi) east of Port of Spain, Trinidad on 28 December.

The boat was attacked by a US Catalina flying boat on 1 January 1943 east of Port of Spain. No damage was caused.

She sank four more ships; Broad Arrow, Birmingham City, Collingsworth and Minotaur, all on the 9th. Collingsworth's helmsman swung the ship to port so hard that one torpedo missed by about 10 feet (3 m). Unfortunately this torpedo then hit Minotaur despite strenuous evasive action by her helmsman.

11th patrol and lossEdit

U-124 left Lorient for the last time on 27 March 1943. Heading southwest, she had hardly left the Bay of Biscay when she was attacked and sunk by two British warships, the Flower-class corvette HMS Stonecrop and Black Swan-class sloop HMS Black Swan west of Oporto in Portugal 2 April 1943.

All 53 crew members died.

U-37, a U-boat similar to U-124 at Lorient in 1940. Note the twin rudders.


U-124 took part in two wolfpacks, namely

  • Süd (22 July - 5 August 1941)
  • Hecht (8 May - 18 June 1942)

Summary of raiding historyEdit

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage[Note 1] Fate[6]
25 August 1940 Firecrest   United Kingdom 5,394 Sunk
25 August 1940 Harpalyce   United Kingdom 5,619 Sunk
25 August 1940 Stakesby   United Kingdom 3,900 Damaged
16 October 1940 Trevisa   Canada 1,813 Sunk
20 October 1940 Cubano   Norway 5,810 Sunk
20 October 1940 Sulaco   United Kingdom 5,389 Sunk
31 October 1940 Rutland   United Kingdom 1,437 Sunk
1 November 1940 Empire Bison   United Kingdom 5,612 Sunk
6 January 1941 Empire Thunder   United Kingdom 5,965 Sunk
8 March 1941 Hindpool   United Kingdom 4,897 Sunk
8 March 1941 Lahore   United Kingdom 5,304 Sunk
8 March 1941 Nardana   United Kingdom 7,974 Sunk
8 March 1941 Tielbank   United Kingdom 5,984 Sunk
30 March 1941 Umona   United Kingdom 3,767 Sunk
4 April 1941 Marlene   United Kingdom 6,507 Sunk
7 April 1941 Portadoc   Canada 1,746 Sunk
8 April 1941 Tweed   United Kingdom 2,697 Sunk
11 April 1941 Aegeon   Greece 5,285 Sunk
12 April 1941 St. Helena   United Kingdom 4,313 Sunk
13 April 1941 Corinthic   United Kingdom 4,823 Sunk
4 July 1941 Auditor   United Kingdom 5,444 Sunk
20 September 1941 Baltallin   United Kingdom 1,303 Damaged
20 September 1941 Empire Moat   United Kingdom 2,922 Sunk
25 September 1941 Empire Stream   United Kingdom 2,922 Sunk
26 September 1941 Cortes   United Kingdom 1,374 Sunk
26 September 1941 Petrel   United Kingdom 1,354 Sunk
26 September 1941 Siremalm   Norway 2,468 Sunk
26 November 1941 HMS Dunedin   Royal Navy 4,850 Sunk
3 December 1941 Sagadahoc   United States 6,725 Sunk
14 March 1942 British Resource   United Kingdom 7,209 Sunk
17 March 1942 Acme   United States 6,878 Damaged
17 March 1942 Ceiba   Honduras 1,698 Sunk
18 March 1942 E. M. Clark   United States 9,647 Sunk
18 March 1942 Kassandra Louloudis   Greece 5,106 Sunk
19 March 1942 SS Papoose   United States 5,939 Sunk
19 March 1942 W. E. Hutton   United States 7,076 Sunk
21 March 1942 Atlantic Sun   United States 11,355 Damaged
21 March 1942 Esso Nashville   United States 7,934 Damaged
23 March 1942 Naeco   United States 5,373 Sunk
12 May 1942 Cristales   United Kingdom 5,389 Sunk
12 May 1942 Empire Dell   United Kingdom 2,609 Sunk
12 May 1942 Llandover   United Kingdom 4,959 Sunk
12 May 1942 Mount Parnes   United Kingdom 4,371 Sunk
9 June 1942 FFL Mimosa   Free French Naval Forces 925 Sunk
12 June 1942 Dartford   United Kingdom 4,093 Sunk
18 June 1942 Seattle Spirit   United States 5,627 Sunk
28 December 1942 Treworlas   United Kingdom 4,692 Sunk
9 January 1943 Birmingham City   United States 6,194 Sunk
9 January 1943 Broad Arrow   United States 7,178 Sunk
9 January 1943 Collingsworth   United States 5,101 Sunk
9 January 1943 Minotaur   United States 4,554 Sunk
2 April 1943 Gogra   United Kingdom 5,190 Sunk
2 April 1943 Katha   United Kingdom 4,357 Sunk



  1. ^ Merchant ship tonnages are in gross register tons. Military vessels are listed by tons displacement.


  1. ^ Michael Gannon, Operation Drumbeat: The Dramatic True Story of Germany's First U-boat Attacks Along the American Coast In World War II, New York: Harper Perennial, 1991, p. 23
  2. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, p. 68.
  3. ^ "Edwin Clarke – His Story". Merchant Navy Unsung Heroes. Keystage Arts and Heritage Company. Archived from the original on 26 December 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Gannon, Michael (1990). Operation Drumbeat – the dramatic true story of Germany's first U-boat attacks along the American coast in World War II. New York: Harper and Row. p. 308. ISBN 0060161558.
  6. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-124". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 2 January 2013.


  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II : a biographical dictionary. Translated by Brooks, Geoffrey. London, Annapolis, Md: Greenhill Books, Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-186-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Gröner, Erich; Jung, Dieter; Maass, Martin (1991). U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels. German Warships 1815–1945. 2. Translated by Thomas, Keith; Magowan, Rachel. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-593-4.

External linksEdit