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Hitler's Secret Attack on America Facts

Hitler's Secret Attack on America

Hitler's Secret Attack on America (View larger version)

  • In 1942, when the Battle of the Atlantic was underway on the east coast of the United States, Allied ships were silhouetted by the city lights along the coast at night and were easily spotted by German U-boat crews. Even after many ships had been attacked and many lives lost, U.S. officials still didn’t require blackouts on the east coast because they didn’t want to cause people to panic.

  • Because the U.S. sent most of its war ships to the Pacific and to Europe to assist in the war effort, the east coast was left unprotected. In fact, there was only one antisubmarine ship to combat the German U-boats off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina: the United States Coast Guard Cutter Dione. The U.S. was so unprepared when the U-boats arrived off its east coast in early 1942, their only solution was to convert old fishing trawlers and private yachts by outfitting them with deck guns.

  • The radiomen in the patrol boats operating off America’s east coast would often receive the distress signal “SSSS” which meant a submarine had been sighted. Immediately following, they would very likely receive the distress call “SOS” which meant they had been attacked.

  • The oil tanker, Dixie Arrow, was one of the U-boats many victims during the first six months of 1942. After she was hit by U-71’s torpedoes, Able Seaman Oscar Chappel, turned the tanker into the wind to keep the flames from hitting the crew, who had gathered at the bow. Chappel sacrificed his own life, by redirecting the flames to the bridge, where he was standing. In doing so, he was able to save many of the Dixie Arrow’s crew.

  • The entire Battle of the Atlantic, from 1939 through 1945, was the deadliest naval conflict in history. In the first six months of 1942 alone, hundreds of Allied ships, millions of tons of cargo and thousands of lives were lost.

  • In early 1942, the crews aboard U.S. ships, did not expect U-boats to be operating so close to their coast. When the first U-boat attacks occurred in U.S. waters, the crew’s first thought was that they had struck a mine.

  • Many of the U-boats operating off America’s east coast during World War II, was the type VIIC, which was considered the workhorse of the German U-boat force. In addition to being armed with fourteen torpedoes, the type VIIC U-boats had mine laying capabilities.

  • On the night of June 12th, 1942, Horst Degen and his U-701 crew successfully mined the Chesapeake Bay with 15 TMB mines. The TMB was a mine that settled at the bottom of the seabed and was detonated when it sensed a ship passing by. In order for it to be effective, it had to be laid in shallow waters. This made Degen’s mission even more complicated as he had to maneuver his U-boat through the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

  • The escorts and patrol boats that assisted in protecting merchant ships off America’s east coast used a detonating device called a “Depth Charge.” These were bombs that were launched off the side of a boat and would explode at pre-set depths, estimated to be the depth at which a U-boat would be submerged. In the early stages of the war, the depth charges were set to explode at much higher depths than the U-boat was able to dive, thereby being ineffective.

  • The U.S. developed a convoy system by mid 1942, which meant that merchant ships sailed as a group, sometimes with escorts, to protect each other while at sea. Each convoy was known by two or more letters, which stood for departure or destination harbors. For example, in the case of the KS520 convoy, the ships were headed to Key Westin a southerly direction: “K” for Key West and “S” for South.

  • U-boats spent most of their time on the surface and only dove to escape from being attacked. Their main engines were diesel, which allowed them to move very fast, averaging about eighteen knots on the surface. Once submerged, they needed to switch to their electric engines, which slowed them down quite a bit.

  • During World War II, a greater percentage of merchant mariners died in the line of duty than all other U.S. services. The fact that 1 in 26 mariners lost their life was not reported during the war, because they wanted civilians to continue enlisting in the Merchant Marines.

  • During World War II, local newspapers did not reveal the extent of Germany’s success off the east coast. Newspaper stories conveying that a couple of medium-sized Allied ships had been sunk in the Atlantic were essentially reprinted each week, when in fact the number was much higher. In 1942, thirty-three Allied ships on average were sunk each week.

  • The merchant ships and Coast Guard patrol boats being targeted off the east coast would travel at around 7 knots and were completely outmatched by the U-boats’ 18 knot surface speed. This contributed to the ease of the German attacks, which the German’s ref erred to as “The Great American Turkey Shoot.”

Scott Moscrop
Scott Moscrop

I regrettably  caught just the tail end of the show. Looking forward to a reshowing. My Uncle Robert Temte lost his life when the USS ATIK decoy ship ( a suicide mission in desperate times) was sunk by the U-123 during Drumbeat. You can't tell the story without talking about the Atik and her sister ship the USS Asterion. I look forward to seeing the whole program and hopefully they .pay tribute to the brave men who gave their lives in a time of great peril for America.

Ed Collins
Ed Collins

Of approximately 60 boats at sea, Donitz was allowed by Hitler to only send five to attack America. The Admiral wanted to send 12 boats minimum.

So how is this 'Hitler's' secret attack?

You say 200 ships were lost? Everyone else seems to think it was more like 400.

Do you folks ever check facts before you show these things?