Nazi Saboteurs Landed In America by German U-boats

German uboats touched american soil three times during world war two


In reality, the leader of the group, George Dasch, turned all of them into the FBI. laimed all the credit but only when Dasch called the FBI did they have any idea German saboteurs were in the country.

In spite of many tall tales, German U-boats only touched American soil three times and they didn’t stay very long. Approaching an enemy coast to land agents was extremely dangerous since the boat had to go into shallow water and close an enemy coast with no intelligence.

Since the only real protection a U-Boat had was going deep underwater, being in shallow water made this impossible. Officers and crewmen intensely disliked missions such as this because it put them in such danger.

Over the years, dozens of people have told me how they had heard about German U-Boat coming ashore in the US to shop, go to the movies, have a beer, you name it. Absolutely none of these stories are true. A work colleague many years ago told me UBoat men used to come ashore for an evening of dinner, drinks, and dancing in Palm Beach. His grandfather met many of them. This is impossible but stories like this abound.

I have asked the two top U-Boat historians in the world Jak P Mallman-Showell and Dr. Timothy Mulligan if any of these stories are true and they both said, “no.” And gave me permission to quote them.


NEW YORK TIMES 10 December 1945

Aircraft and many other key armaments, relied on aluminum. As rugged as they seem, you could punch a sharpened pencil through the side of a B-17. Aluminum production in the US skyrocketed during the war.  Because it is difficult to make and requires huge amounts of electricity, there are many points in the production cycle which a saboteur could disrupt.

Whore’s Underwear Worn on U-Boats


Untrimmed beards were the mark of U-Boatmen who had been long at sea. 

Freshwater was rationed and while possible to shave in salt-water few men wanted to take the time to do that. U-Boats such as the Type VII depicted in Das Boot, were not designed for the long range operations they were compelled to undertake so there were few comforts for the men.

crew watching fellow sailor dancing in scene from director’s cut 1997 of Das Boot

Water for drinking was rationed. While the men were given one cup of fresh water every day for personal use such as brushing teeth or washing, most drank the water instead of using it for anything else since they barely received enough water as it was.

Men Wore Black Underwear: Whore’s Undies

Because storage space on a U-Boat was extremely limited, U-Boat crewmen could only bring aboard one change of clothes and two pairs of underwear for an entire war patrol which could last as long as two and occasionally three months. In order to make the dirt less obvious, the men wore black underwear which they referred to as “whore’s undies.”

US Navy fleet submarine USS Gato 1944. Fleet submarines were designed for the long range patrols required in the Pacific and had far more comforts for the men and necessities such as bathing facilities. Not washing for a long period of time is unhealthy for the skin. These boats could make 21 knots on the surface vs the German surface speed of 15/16 knots.

Unlike US Navy fleet submarines, German U-boats were not air conditioned nor did they have heat except for a handful of electric heaters. The boat took on the temperature of the water so if you were in very cold water the interior was very cold and if you were in the warm even the hot water of the tropics, the inside of the boat was hot and steamy.

It would have been like working in a steam room. Crewman often wore nothing but their underwear in conditions like this when the temperature in the boat could go above 100 degrees. (The warmth of the water combined with the heat generated by the diesel engines and other equipment in the boat).

The equipment and torpedoes were the priorities. Crewmen had to squeeze in wherever room could be found for a bunk. Except for the officers and senior petty officers, the crew “hot bunked” that is once a man woke up and went on duty an off-duty man climbed into that bunk and slept. 

No washing facilities

U-boats did not have facilities for the men to wash themselves or their clothing. The best that could be done was to wash yourself and/or your clothing in a bucket of seawater using special salt water soap issued by the UBoatwaffe.

In memoirs, veterans of the UBoatwaffe often mention that one thing they could never get used to was how badly the boat smelled. In fact, when boats came in from war patrols and docked, flotilla engineers who went aboard often threw up. That’s how bad the smell was.

These U-Boat crewmen are probably rendering honors to another ship as they come into port. Beginning in 1942, however, the crew were mustered on deck coming into port because more and more U-Boats were being sunk by striking magnetic mines.  Therefore, most of the crewmen would be saved if the boat sank. These magnetic mines were constantly being dropped into the approaches to German U-Boat ports on the French Channel coast such as Lorient by RAF Coastal Command. 

Armourers “bombing up” an RAF Coastal Command Liberator with 250-lb Mark VIII depth charges. 50% of German U-boats were actually sunk by aircraft, not by Allied escort ships.

U-boat kommandant (identified by his white cap cover) looking down through the main hatchway from the bridge into the conning tower where the helmsman sat, controlling the rudder with push buttons. In the conning tower, there was another watertight hatch.

Ventilating the Boat

Ventilating the boat to replace the foul air was difficult. On occasion, the kommandant would allow the two hatches in the conning tower to be opened and all the interior hatches–which were watertight as well— to be opened and the outboard air intakes in the diesel compartment closed. This would cause the diesel engines to start drawing air from through the open hatches and ventilate the boat. This wasn’t highly effective but it did change the air within the boat.

When proceeding on the surface in an area where they could be attacked, most of the interior hatchways would be closed or a sailor stationed close by would have the duty of immediately closing the hatch. Normally, the hatch to the engine room and beyond that the hatch E-motor compartment would be closed and dogged shut, that is they would be sealed and waterproof.

Theoretically, everyone who served in the UBootwaffe was a volunteer but we know from memoirs, post-war interviews, and wartime interrogation reports that this was not the case.


No Bathing Facilities on U-Boats Led to Constant Outbreaks of Skin Diseases and Horrible Smells Inside of the Boats

“It stinks in here!”


This still photo from the German film “Das Boot” gives you an idea of how cramped was the interior of a U-boat. This particular shot is of the engine room with the two 12 cylinder MAN diesels usually found in German U-Boats of the era. “Das Boot” translates as “The Boat.” In German, “boot” is pronounced “boat.”

Because they were unable to bathe, most U-Boat crewmen developed skin rashes, boils, and all other manner of skin diseases. The UBootwaffe had a special medical department which did nothing but study the skin diseases of Uboot crewmen. (Tuberculosis was also a major problem due to the constant damp.)

Also contributing to skin diseases among the men was the sickening miasma of air inside the uboat which clung to their skin and often infected their lungs. When boats returned from patrol and the flotilla engineers went aboard to make an inspection, they usually vomited because of the horrible smell.

U-boats were not well ventilated so when they were on the surface, the only way to get fresh air into the boat was to keep the bridge hatches open, close the outboard air intakes to the diesels, open the e-motor interior hatch and interior engine room hatch. This allowed the diesel engines to draw air from the outside through the open hatchways.

This arrangement didn’t help as much as one might think since there was no way to vent the bad air except by opening the engine room deck hatch or the forward hatch to the deck in the crew compartment. This was never, ever done at sea except in an emergency.

So the fresh air coming in helped but it did not expel the bad air. The author of every U-Boat memoir I have ever read remarks on the horrible fugue of noxious air and the the disgusting smell which no one ever completely adjusted to.

This smell was a combination of the body odor of 45 or more unwashed men, their exhalations, rotting food, diesel oil, cooking odors, and worst of all, the smell of urine and excrement in the bilges.

While the most common types of uboat, the type VII and type IX had two toilets or water closets, one was always used for storage and wasn’t available. So one toilet had to suffice for more than 45 men. The controls were so difficult to operate that each boat had one man especially trained in how to work the controls and he was known as “the toilet fuhrer”). Below 25 meters the toilet did not work because the water pressure was such that one could not open the outboard toilet valve to discharge the contents of the toilet.

Even if you could manage to open it, doing so was forbidden since it would create a weak spot and comprise the water-tight integrity of the boat. So the men used cans or buckets to urinate or defecate. As you might imagine, in the heat of action or action drills, these containers were often kicked over or in an emergency dive tipped over, spilling their contents.

Being in a Uboat was like serving time in a public latrine that was never sanitized in spite of constant efforts by the crew to keep the interior of the boat clean.


As an aside, the founder of the U-Boot Archiv in Cuxhaven, the late Horst Bredow, an officer in the UBootwaffe, had made one war patrol in the last months of World War Two. He had to be hospitalized upon returning to port because he had developed a skin rash covering his entire body. Another officer replaced him on his Uboat. The boat was sunk with all hands on her next war patrol. (The Archiv has changed its name from “U-Boot Archiv” to Deutsches U-Boot Museum.)

The link to their site is here:

The U-Boats Are Out! German Film Poster from 1917


uboat heraus

poster and description courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

“This German film poster publicises a version of the first U-boat propaganda film released by Bufa (Königliche Bild- und Film-Amt) early in 1917. Widespread stories of the exploits of the auxiliary cruiser/commerce raider ‘Möwe’ had alerted the German public to the abilities of this new marine technology. Erdt’s poster design offers the U-boat commander as a new kind of hero who is in control of his vessel and of the battle, manipulating events from a hidden underwater perspective. In fact, the majority of confrontations occurred when the submarine was on the surface. Submarine technology was not advanced and the vessels could not stay underwater for long periods. This and the shorter version of the film (‘Ein Besuch bei unseren Blaujacken’) paved the way for the extraordinary film ‘Der magische Gürtel’, promoting the effectiveness of submarine warfare to both the German public and to audiences in friendly and neutral countries. Hans Rudi Erdt designed a number of film posters for Bufa which exhibit a confident graphic expertise. In common with German poster designers of the period he combines hand-drawn lettering and bold areas of flat colour, integrating image and text into one message. This particular poster, where the ‘U’ is both part of the text and fundamental to the design, is an elegant example of his work.”

“Image: Within the shape of a large black letter ‘U’ emerge the head and shoulders of a U-boat commander, identified by his cap and jacket, who peers into the sights of a periscope toward the right of the poster. Beneath and beyond the ‘U’ shape are grey waves. On the horizon is the dark outline of a ship, broken in two and sinking, a cloud of white smoke rising from the wreck. Behind it can be traced the pale outline of another vessel. text: U BOOTE HERAUS! [The U-boats are out!] H R ERDT. Hollerbaum & Schmidt, Berlin.”

Drones Refueling in Mid-Air From Other Drones?


This is a brief but interesting piece on the future capability of two drones to conduct autonomous aerial refueling. Caveat: the paragraph following the photo comes from the website of the manufacturer, Northrop Grumman.



Northrop Grumman RQ4 Global Hawk

Autonomous Aerial Refueling

“Northrop Grumman is leveraging its synergistic partnership with NASA Dryden to execute the DARPA KQ-X program, which has demonstrated technologies that should enable autonomous high altitude fuel transfer between two Global Hawks, extending flight endurance. The engineering and development effort resulted in the first HALE formation flight, a dual-ship close formation with one UAV flying 30 feet from the extended refueling drogue of the other UAV. Northrop Grumman is responsible for all engineering and design/modification of both aircraft.”

You can read more here:




RQ4 Global Hawk

Who Is The First Man Coming Down the Gangplank?








Additional Information on this photograph which appeared in my post of 3  April 2014 titled:

Nemesis: Admiral Sir Max Horton and the Defeat of the U-Bootwaffe, Part One

you can find the entire post at the link below:


Thanks to sharp-eyed reader, Hans Saris, from the Netherlands, who sent me the email which I have copied and placed below the photograph. His email supplies lots of detail about the photograph for which I am indebted.





In my original post I had captioned the photograph above:  14 May 1945 German U-boat U-2326 surrenders to Naval Officer in Charge (NOIC) at Dundee. 

Writes Hans Saris:

In your article Nemesis, etc, there is a photo with a Dutch naval officer, an interpreter, leading German U-Boat officers down the gangway.

The sailor to the left is Dutch too. On his cap you can see the first letters of “Koninklijke Marine ” which means ; Royal Dutch Navy. 

The Dutch naval officer is : Ltz.1 J.F. van Dulm. From 10.05.1940 – 21.03.1944 he was Commanding Officer Hr.Ms. O 21 ( in command of this Dutch submarine, at the time stationed at Gibraltar, he sank the German U-95, commanded by Klt. Gert Schreiber, who became a p.o.w. )

From 04.09.1944 – 23.02.1946 J.F. van Dulm was the Senior Officer Dutch Submarines (Dundee).

Kind Regards,

Hans Saris


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Note:  I re-activated the comments section for a few days and was flooded by more than 1,000 spam emails promising everything from beautiful exotic Asian women who wanted to marry me (I’m gay so not very tempting), to miracle cures of all kinds to offers to wire me millions of dollars left to me by an altruistic decedent in Kenya and all I had to do was send US$100,000 to an attorney in Nairobi and he would send me the money. Wow!

Great Britain Comes Close to Starvation in World War One

German U-Boats Played Havoc with British Food Imports in World War One.

While we associate German U-Boats primarily with World War Two, they played an active role in World War One and came close to cutting off Great Britain from her food imports. The number of merchant ships sunk by the primitive German U-boats of the first war is astonishing.

Partly this was due to the stupidity and mule-headed stubbornness of the British Admiralty who refused to put into place a convoy system which had been used in every war fought by the British against a maritime power back through the ages.

Such a system had been used by Great Britain in centuries past and the instructions from the 1700s on how to form and escort a convoy don’t read much differently than those issued late in World War One.

Fortunately, the Royal Navy had leaned its lesson and merchant ships were ordered to sail in convoys almost as soon as the war had broken out. In a burst of foresight, the Admiralty had actually put in place the structure and personnel to implement this before the war came.



World War One British Ministry of Food poster issued in 1917 urging people to eat less bread since Great Britain had to import a significant of her wheat supplies.

(all images courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

Below is the commentary on this poster from the Imperial War Museum.

“An enormous, crusty loaf of bread, marked ‘EAT LESS BREAD’, sits on the grassy top of coastal chalk cliffs. In the background, partly obscured by the loaf, are silhouettes of warships of the British Grand Fleet set against a vivid yellow sky. text: SAVE THE WHEAT AND HELP THE FLEET. EAT LESS BREAD.”

“During the First World War, merchant shipping bringing imported food supplies into Britain was extremely vulnerable to German U Boat attack. By 1917, 400 Allied ships a month were being sunk. Although wheat was imported from new sources and Britain’s own harvest reached record levels, the government actively encouraged economy.

“The poster is neither subtle nor sophisticated. However, it does give an interesting insight into the controlled war economy established by Lloyd George. Not only was industry reorganised and food supplies rationed, but also individual freedoms were radically constrained. The poster calls on the individual to voluntarily contribute to these changes and makes a direct link between their actions and the wider war effort.” (Commentary from the Imperial War Museum)





 Another World War One poster issued by the British Ministry of Food urging people to eat less bread.






Of course, complete victory depends on each citizen not eating so much damn bread! 



Posted by writer Charles McCain, author of the World War Two naval epic:

An Honorable German


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