Final Moments of U185
Artist: S BURBRIDGE
Subject: the dramatic sinking of U185 
Original picture is acrylic on paper measuring 24"x 18"
High quality Limited Edition prints available measuring approx 17" x 13" (inclusive border)

The story behind the painting...


This dramatic painting shows the German U-boat
U185 in her final moments on 24 August 1943. Strafed by two Wildcat planes from escort carrier USS Core, then attacked with depth charges from their Avenger team mates, U185 quickly succumbed and slipped stern first beneath the waves for the last time.

This Type IXC-40 U-boat was only commissioned 14 months earlier. 

Her proud commander KL August Maus left Kiel in October 1942 to take U185 on her first war patrol.  They headed for the central Atlantic region but in November were urgently redirected to form part of the “Westwall” U-boat pack west of Gibraltar, hoping to intercept shipping as the Allies made their landings in North Africa.  The pickings were not as rich as they had hoped for but U185 did manage to sink one ship before she returned on New Year’s Day to the French port of Lorient – her new home as part of the 10th U-boat flotilla.

Her second patrol lasted nearly three months and took her to the Caribbean where, despite suffering some damage from a Mariner flying boat attack, she successfully added three more ships to her tonnage score.  At the beginning of May 1943 she returned safely to Bordeaux.

KL Maus took her on her third and final patrol on 9 June 1943, leaving port with four other boats: U159, U415, U564 and U634.  Just five days into the Atlantic crossing a Sunderland of 228 Squadron came in to attack U564.  In the exchange of fire the Sunderland was shot from the sky and lost, complete with Flying Officer L B Lee and the rest of his men.  U564, escorted by U185, headed back towards the French coast for repairs.  However the next day the two boats were spotted again – this time by a Whitley from 10 OTU. Both U564 and the Whitley ended up as casualties and had to be abandoned.  Fortunately a French fishing vessel picked up the crewmen from the aircraft whilst U185 picked up 18 of U564’s crew, later passing them safely to German destroyers Z24 and Z25.  Finding herself alone U185 then continued on her original route westwards to Brazil. 

Over the next couple of months she sank five ships and damaged one more off the Brazilian coast.  She was then instructed along with U172 to meet and render assistance to the badly damaged U604 commanded by KL Höltring.  The three boats eventually met up on the 11 August and preparations were made to transfer U604’s supplies and crew to the other two boats before scuttling the unseaworthy vessel.  Their plans were interrupted, though, when a USN Liberator of VP-107 arrived dropping bombs.  U172 dived whilst U185 and U604 opened fire.  The Liberator was shot down by U185 and the crew lost.  Before further interruptions could take place U185 hurriedly took onboard all of U604’s remaining crew and scuttled the damaged boat. 

 



U-boats are not renowned for their spaciousness in the best of times, but now U185 was seriously overcrowded carrying two crews below decks.  It was with great relief that U185 and U172 managed to meet again some three days later and 23 of Höltring’s men were transferred to U172. 

U185 headed home across the Atlantic.  On the 14 August a Wildcat from USS Core spotted the surfaced U-boat and what ended up being U185’s final battle took place.  Before the battle-scarred U-boat sank, the interior filled with chlorine gas leaking from the flooded batteries.  Two badly injured men from U604’s crew were unable to move and they begged their commander to end their lives quickly for them.  Höltring mercifully shot them before turning the gun on himself.  Tragically about 40 men went down with the boat although 36 were rescued by destroyer USS Barker.  

 

Type IXC/40 U-boat - Technical Details
Displacement: 1120 tons surfaced, 1232 submerged
Range: 13850 miles @ 10knots while surfaced but just 63 miles @ 4 knots submerged
 Speed: 19 knots surfaced, 7.3 submerged
Armament: 6 x 21" torpedo tubes (4 bow, 2 stern), 22 torpedoes carried, 1 x 105mm gun, 1 x 37mm gun, 1 x 20mm gun

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