Belledune, New Brunswick, Canada
271000 MAR 42
Destroyer Escort Division Nelson, sets sail with twelve Victory Class Freighters hauling war supplies destined for Royal Portbury Docks at Bristol, England. The Freighters are carrying spare parts for US and Canadian Bombers and fighter aircraft operating in Southern England, Replacement light wheel vehicles, M4 Sherman Tanks and Towed Artillery pieces including Ammunition required for a wide variety of weapon systems used by both the US and Canada in Europe. The combined weight of supplies carried by the twelve Victory Class ships is roughly 150,000 tons. The crews are a mix of American and Canadian Merchant Marines.
The Royal Navy provides the escort consisting of HMS Nelson, a Buckley Class Destroyer Escort armed with three 3 inch guns, Seven Oerlikon 20 mm guns, a twin Bofors 40 mm gun, Hedgehog Anti Submarine Warfare mortars and 160 depth charges carried on double rails at the stern of the ship; HMS Collingwood and Hawke, both a pair of Evarts Class Destroyer Escorts armed with three 3 inch guns, eight Oerlikon 20 mm guns, Hedgehog Anti Submarine Warfare mortars and 160 depth charges carried on double rails at the stern of the ships.
The fifteen ships headed along a course of 106° for 846 Km at 10 knots to a point south of New Foundland. At approximately 0740 hours on the 29 March, the twelve freighters and three Royal Navy Destroyer Escorts turned to 85° for the long extended trek, over four thousand kilometers to Bristol, England. Due to the weight of their cargo, amount of fuel in their bunkers, the freighters would be restricted to a speed of 10 knots throughout the journey.
At 030800 APR 42, the ships would reach a location of approximately 48 degrees North Latitude and 25 West Longitude at a bearing of 85 degrees unknowingly 500 kilometers west of a German Wolfpack bearing on their location.
Destroyer Division Nelson
SP time: 27 March, 1000 hours
Belledune, New Brunswick, Canada [47.91174, -65.837059]
Leg 1 (Belledune to S. Newfoundland) [46.255847, -54.913331]
Leg 2 (Newfoundland to Patrol area) [48.136767, -25.144044]
Leg 1 Distance: 846 Km (Bearing 106°)
Leg 2 Distance: 2245 Km (Bearing 85°)
Distance to Patrol location: 3091 km
Adjusted bearing: 85°
Speed: 10 Knts (18.52 Km/hr)
Elapsed Time: 6 days, 22 hours, 54 minutes
ETA: 3 April 1942 0800 hours
Destination: Royal Portbury Docks at Bristol, England
010500 APR 42
Wolfpack Wilhelm gets underway at zero five hundred hours, one April nineteen hundred and forty-two. The Pack consists of U-96, U-271, U-142, U-121 and U-178 Commanded by Fregattenkapitän Heinrich Wilhelm, Korvettenkapitän Anton Kaufmann, Kapitänleutnant Felix Austerlitz, Korvettenkapitän Wilhelm Stauffenberg and Korvettenkapitän Josef Ehrlichmann, respectively.
Captain Wilhelm sat on his bunk reviewing officer jackets on Captains Kaufmann, Austerlitz, Stauffenberg and Ehrlichmann. He was a tad concerned with Kaufmann's tendency to go off on his own. For that reason, U-271 would have the northern posting, closest to the United Kingdom and the extent of the Allied Shipping lanes. Captain Austerlitz, was young and impetuous. Heinrich Wilhelm wanted to keep U-142 close and posted his boat to his immediate north between his own U-96 and Kaufmann's 271. Stauffenberg and Ehrlichmann are posted to the south of U-96. Captain Wilhelm was confident in the seamanship, abilities and loyalties of the two southern boats, that they would react efficiently when contact with the enemy was at hand. All five boats would travel due West, bearing 270 until they entered the engagement area or contact with enemy shipping is made. Then all boats will submerge and engage enemy supply ships without mercy. If enemy Anti-Submarine Warfare ships arrive, take evasive action and meet up at a pre-established rally point designated enroute.
The first rally point is the current location as of 1100 hours, 3 April 1942 is roughly 47 degrees north lattitude and 18 degrees west longitude. Captain Wilhelm calls over the radio to the other five boats, "Gentlemen, you are about to make the fatherland proud. Increase your distance between boats to three kilometers. Try to keep this distance less than five kilometers until contact is made. We will approach the engagement area at 10 knots on a bearing of three hundred twenty five degrees. Remain on the surface until contact is made. Stay off the radio and if things go sour, head back to the last known rally point. I will designate rally points enroute. This is our first rally point, over." Captain Wilhelm waited for the other U-boat commanders to respond before signing off. He intended to set rally points enroute every twelve hours.
SP time: 1 April 1942 0500 hours
Brest, France [48.377347, -4.492235]
Patrol location [47.249407, -18.021241]
Distance to Patrol location: 1017 km
Initial bearing: 267°
Final bearing: 257°
Adjusted bearing: 270°
Speed: 10 Knts (18.52Km/hr)
Elapsed Time: 2 days 6 hours 55 minutes
ETA: 3 April 1942 1100 hours