The Type VIIB boat U-55 left Kiel on 16 January 1940 for its first war cruise, under the command of Kapitanleutnant Werner Heidel, and sank three merchant vessels. In the early afternoon of 30 January 1940, when about 90 miles south-west of the Scilly Isles, it was spotted on the surface by the crew of Sunderland Mk. 1 (N9025) of No.228 Sqd., flown by Flying Officer Edward J. Brooks, from Pembroke Dock, which had been called to the assistance of Convoy OA80G. Brooks attacked with one anti-submarine bomb, which narrowly missed, and then exchanged fire with the U-boat. It was evident that the U-boat was unable to dive, and indeed it had already been depth-charged to the surface by the sloop HMS Fowey. The Sunderland flew to the destroyers about 5 miles away, and flashed a signal asking them to follow it. When the destroyer HMS Whitshed and the French destroyer Valmy approached and opened fire, the U-boat was scuttled. Forty-one of the crew were rescued, but the commander did not survive. This was the first sinking of a U-bot in which Coastal Command particiipated. Ref: AIR 15/473

Bigbird, Jan 10, 2012
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