Story of The U-234

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by ccheese, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    Last night, on the Military Channel was the story of the U-234, a German
    U-boat. I missed most of the story, so I looked it up on Wiki. It's quite
    a story, worth repeating, I think:

    "Originally constructed as a minelayer, U-234 was damaged during construction at Kiel in 1942. Following the loss of U-233 in July 1944 it was decided not to use U-234 as a mine layer and she was instead completed as a long-range cargo submarine with Japan missions in mind.

    On 25 March, 1945 U-234 departed Kiel for Kristiansand,Norway, commanded by Johann-Heinrich Fehler. She was carrying a cargo that comprised technical drawings, examples of the newest electric torpedoes, two Me 262 jet fighters in crates, and 560 kg of uranium oxide which was stored in her mine shafts, contained in about 50 - 9 inch (230 mm) lead cubes, with "U-235" painted on each. The exact characteristics of the uranium remain unknown but it is thought that it was not weapons-grade material.

    She was also carrying passengers, five German VIPs and two Japanese. The German personnel included General Ulrich Kessler of the Luftwaffe, who was to take over Luftwaffe liaison duties in Tokyo; Kai Nieschling, a Naval Fleet Judge Advocate who was to try cases of German traitors in Japan; Dr. Heinz Schlicke (a renowned German scientist later recruited by the USA in Operation Paperclip); and an expert on the V-2 rocket. The Japanese passengers were Lieutenant Commander Hideo Tomonaga of the Imperial Japanese Navy , a submarine designer, and Lieutenant Commander Genzo Shoji, an aviation expert.

    She had suffered an accidental collision with another U-boat while submerged in the Baltic, so had to undergo repairs before she could continue her voyage, and on 16 April, 1945 departed Norway for Japan.

    On 4 May 1945, Fehler heard of the surrender of German forces in Europe. The following day, May 5, Dönitz ordered all U-boats to cease offensive operations and return to their bases or surrender themselves to the nearest Allied authorities. They were to surface, fly a black flag, and report their position to the Allies. Fehler suspected a trick and contacted another U-boat (U-873) who convinced him that the message was authentic.

    Fehler decided that he would surrender to US forces, but radioed on 12 May that he would sail for Halifax, Nova Scotia to surrender to ensure that Canadian units would not reach him first. In reality, U-234 set course for Newport News, Virginia. The two Japanese passengers, upon learning that the U-boat was to surrender, took an overdose of Luminol (a barbiturate sleeping pill), died in their sleep, and were buried at sea.

    The difference between Fehler's reported course to Halifax and his true course was soon realized by US authorities who despatched two destroyers to intercept U-234 and on 14 May 1945 she was intercepted south of the Grand Banks by the USS Sutton. Members of the Sutton's crew took command of the U-boat and sailed her to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, where U-805, U-873, and U-1228 had already surrendered.

    News of the U-234's surrender with her high-ranking German passengers made the surrender a major news event, and reporters swarmed over the Navy Yard and went to sea in a small boat for a view of the submarine. However, the fact that she had a half ton of uranium oxide on board was covered up and remained classified for the duration of the Cold War.

    Dr. Velma Hunt, a retired Penn State University environmental health professor, has suggested that the U-234 may have put into two ports between her surrender and her arrival at the Portsmouth Navy Yard: once in Newfoundland, to put ashore an American sailor who had been accidentally shot in the buttocks, and once again at Casco Bay, Maine. The US Navy reportedly unloaded about 1,200 pounds (540 kg) of uranium oxide from U-234 at Portsmouth, but the two dismantled Me 262 jet fighters were not listed at Portsmouth, suggesting that they had previously been unloaded elsewhere. However, other accounts do mention the Me 262s at Portsmouth.

    U-234 was sunk off Cape Cod as a torpedo target, by a torpedo from USS Greenfish, on 20 November 1947."

    According to the little I saw of the TV show, there seems to be some
    question as to whether or not the U-234's uranium was used in the atom
    bomb that fell on Japan. Also, what happened to the two ME-262's ?????

    The photo shows the U-234 being sunk by the USS Greenfish....

    Charles
     

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  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Very interesting account Charles, thanks for posting it.
     
  3. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Agreed, very interesting!
     
  4. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting story. If you any followup research, let us know the details.
     
  5. shaba

    shaba New Member

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    wasnt she also featured in mchales navy?
     
  6. Kiwikid

    Kiwikid Member

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    That must be tongue in Cheek Shaba, since the U-234 was sunk in 1947 before McHales was filmed ?
     
  7. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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