U-Boats that Surrendered - UK
The U-Boats that Surrendered from Sea in UK (Loch Eriboll, Portland and Dundee) - May 1945
by Derek Waller
The Surrender Process
On 4 May 1945, Donitz broadcast a message saying: “All U-Boats to cease hostilities and return to base”.
On 8 May, the Admiralty instructed all U-Boats at sea to surface, report their positions, and proceed to designated ports, of which the prime one in the UK was Loch Eriboll.
Operation Pledge set out the Royal Navy’s detailed arrangements for the reception of U-Boats surrendering from sea, as well as those which had surrendered in Norwegian and German ports, all of which were to be moved to the UK pending decisions about their final disposal.
In order to implement Operation Pledge it was necessary to organise suitable reception arrangements in the naval anchorage at Loch Eriboll located on the north west corner of Scotland, but which had no permanent RN port facilities. Thus, on 6 May, the 21st Escort Group was ordered to proceed to Loch Eriboll to secure the anchorage and prepare for the surrender of a then unknown number of U-Boats. The 21st Escort Group and other naval units which comprised the Loch Eriboll Force arrived on 9 May, and were placed under the command of Captain M J Evans.
The 8 May Admiralty Surrender Order directed all U-Boats in the eastern Atlantic, the Western Approaches, the Barents Sea and North Sea to proceed to Loch Eriboll. The first U-Boat to do so was U-1009 which arrived on 10 May and, by 18 May, seventeen more U-Boats had arrived in the Loch, one of which (U-2326) had previously surrendered in Dundee.
Meanwhile, arrangements were being made to send across to Britain all the U-Boats which had surrendered in Norway and could be made fit for sea. The first group of these, comprising 15 U-boats which had left Narvik on 15 May en route for Trondheim, were intercepted in Vestfjord by the 9th (Canadian) Escort Group on 17 May, and then escorted to Loch Eriboll where they arrived on 19 May.
Ever since the end of the War there has been uncertainty as to where these 15 U-Boats actually surrendered: in Narvik, in Loch Eriboll, or somewhere in between. The answer is "in Narvik" as, at the time of their interception, they were sailing in convoy, on the surface and disarmed, all of which was in accordance with the terms of surrender, but they are included in this review to avoid any further confusion.
Thus, and as recorded in Captain Evans' post-Operation Pledge Report 3054/T.40 dated 9 June 1945, 33 U-boats arrived at and were processed in Loch Eriboll between 10 and 21 May 1945.
The Loch Eriboll U-Boats
|U-244||Surrendered from sea on 14 May at Loch Eriboll.|
|U-255||Surrendered from sea on 17 May at Loch Eriboll.|
|U-278||Surrendered from sea at Narvik on 9 May. Left Narvik on 15 May for Trondheim. Re-directed to Loch Eriboll on 17 May, arriving on 19 May.|
|U-293||Surrendered from sea on 11 May at Loch Eriboll.|
|U-294||Surrendered at Narvik on 9 May. Left Narvik on 15 May for Trondheim. Re-directed to Loch Eriboll on 17 May, arriving on 19 May.|
|U-295||Surrendered at Narvik on 9 May. Left Narvik on 15 May for Trondheim. Re-directed to Loch Eriboll on 17 May, arriving on 19 May.|
|U-312||Surrendered at Narvik on 9 May. Left Narvik on 15 May for Trondheim. Re-directed to Loch Eriboll on 17 May, arriving on 19 May.|
|U-318||Surrendered from sea at Narvik on 10 May. Left Narvik on 15 May for Trondheim. Re-directed to Loch Eriboll on 17 May, arriving on 19 May.|
|U-516||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 14 May.|
|U-532||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 13 May.|
|U-764||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 14 May.|
|U-802||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 11 May.|
|U-825||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 13 May.|
|U-826||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 11 May.|
|U-956||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 13 May.|
|U-992||Surrendered from sea at Narvik on 9 May. Left Narvik on 15 May for Trondheim. Re-directed to Loch Eriboll on 17 May, arriving on 19 May.|
|U-1009||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 10 May.|
|U-1010||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 14 May.|
|U-1058||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 10 May.|
|U-1105||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 10 May.|
|U-1109||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 12 May.|
|U-1231||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 13 May.|
|U-1305||Surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 10 May.|
|U-2326||Surrendered from sea at Dundee on 14 May. Transferred to Loch Eriboll, arriving on 18 May.|
After their formal processing in Loch Eriboll, RN boarding parties were put on board each U-Boat and, within 24 hours, they were escorted to Loch Alsh, near Skye in north west Scotland, for final disarmament and for the majority of the crews to be taken off and sent to POW camps. Thereafter, with a small residual German crew and armed RN guards on board, the U-Boats were escorted to Lisahally, near Londonderry in Lough Foyle in N. Ireland to await final disposal.
There was one exception to this process. U-532 which had surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 13 May, and which was then taken to Loch Alsh, was moved to Liverpool for its cargo to be unloaded rather than being moved directly to Lisahally. However, this did not prove possible, and so U-532 was sailed to Barrow-in-Furness for unloading prior to transfer to Lisahally. Whilst in Liverpool, the U-Boat was inspected by Admiral Sir Max Horton amid considerable publicity - thus giving rise to the oft-repeated, but erroneous, story that she had surrendered there.
Additionally, Admiral Sir Max Horton arranged a public surrender ceremony at Lisahally on 14 May, where he accepted the formal surrender of the eight U-Boats which had been the first to surrender from sea in Loch Eriboll, and which had since been moved to Lisahally via Loch Alsh (U-293, U-802, U-826, U-1009, U-1058, U-1105, U-1109 and U-1305), the last of which (U-1109) had sailed from Loch Eriboll at 2300 hours on 12 May en route to Loch Alsh and Lisahally. The U-Boats were manned by skeleton German crews under the supervision of RN personnel and, as they sailed into Lough Foyle, they were escorted by warships from the Royal Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy and the US Navy in honour of their joint contribution to the Battle of the Atlantic.
When the U-Boats arrived at Lisahally, their senior officers then made their formal surrender to Admiral Horton on behalf of the German U-Boat fleet. As well as Admiral Horton, the official party at Lisahally included representatives of the Canadian and US Navies, personnel from the Royal Navy, the Army and the RAF, and even a representative from the Republic of Ireland. This ceremony, which was given extensive press coverage, has been responsible for the long-held, but incorrect, belief that some of the U-Boats actually surrendered directly in Lough Foyle. Similarly, there are ill-founded rumours that U-Boats surrendered directly in Loch Alsh.
By midnight on 21 May, all the U-Boats in Loch Eriboll had sailed for Loch Alsh for onward movement to Lisahally, where they were to be stored pending their final disposal. This process was completed by 23 May, with the last 4 U-Boats (U-312, U-716, U-992 and U-1165) arriving at Lisahally at 1630 hours.
It was then assessed that no more U-Boats were likely to surrender from sea at Loch Eriboll. The Operation Pledge reception organisation was therefore moved from Loch Eriboll to Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands on 28 May in order to process the remaining U-Boats that had surrendered in Norwegian and German ports and thus needed to be moved to either Lisahally or Loch Ryan in south-west Scotland.
The Portland U-Boats
The U-Boats which surrendered from sea at Portland, which was a well established Royal Naval base in Weymouth Bay in the south of England, were:
|U-249||Surrendered from sea at Portland on 10 May.|
|U-776||Surrendered from sea at Portland on 16 May.|
|U-1023||Surrendered from sea at Portland on 10 May.|
Of these three U-Boats, U-249 was subsequently moved directly to Loch Ryan, U-776 was moved to Loch Ryan after an extensive tour of British east coast ports, including London, Hull, Newcastle and Edinburgh, and U-1023 was moved, initially to Loch Ryan, and then to Lisahally, after an equally extensive tour of British west coast ports, including Plymouth, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow.
In summary, 21 U-Boats directly surrendered from sea in the UK between 10 and 18 May (17 at Loch Eriboll, one at Dundee, and three at Portland). After initial processing at Loch Eriboll, the U-Boats that had surrendered there and in Dundee were all then moved to Loch Alsh, where most of the German crews were taken into captivity, and they were then transferred to Lisahally to await decisions about their disposal. In the case of the three U-Boats which had surrendered at Portland, they were moved to Loch Ryan pending final disposal, but not before two of them had visited a large number of UK coastal ports on public exhibition tours.
Additionally, the 15 U-Boats which had surrendered at Narvik, Norway, and which had been intercepted on 17 May in Vestfiord whilst in transit from Narvik to Trondheim, were processed at Loch Eriboll before being moved to Lisahally, via Loch Alsh.
An excellent description of the activities at Loch Eriboll between 9 and 28 May 1945 is contained in David Hird’s 'The Grey Wolves of Eriboll' (2010). See our review of this title.
Also, many of the details in this article come from the post-Operation Report 3054/T.40 dated 9 June 1945 written by Captain M J Evans, RN who commanded the Royal Navy’s Operation Pledge reception forces in Loch Eriboll and at Scapa Flow. A copy of his Report is held in the Roskill Archive in Churchill College, Cambridge.
This article was published on 4 Sep 2010.