(photo courtesy of German National Archive. The caption translates as “U-Boat diving.”)
The Luckiest Man in the Battle of the Atlantic was a crewman aboard U-223 which was damaged in a surface encounter with a Royal Navy escort ship. The commander of U-223 ordered the boat to submerge. One of the bridge lookouts thought the commander said “abandon ship” and jumped overboard. He didn’t even take his life jacket with him.One can only imagine his state of mind as he watched his U-Boat disappear and leave him by himself in the cold water of the North Atlantic. In that situation any man would make your peace with God.
Two hours later, hypothermic and barely afloat, the sailor watched in open mouthed astonishment as by sheer happenstance, in the vastness of the North Atlantic, U-359 surfaced just meters away from him. The crew dragged him aboard and his shipmates from U-223 were quite surprised to see him when he returned to port.
Source: U-Boat Operations of the Second World War
posted by Charles McCain, author of An Honorable German, a World War Two naval epic featuring a heroic but deeply conflicted German naval officer and U-Boat commander who is the honorable German of the title.