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Action Report
Sinking of U-371

U.S.S. PRIDE (DE-323)



FILE NO. A16-3                                                                                                              8 May, 1944.

From: Commanding Officer.
To: Commander in Chief, Mediterranean Fleet.

Via: 1. Commander Escort Division 46.
2. Commander Task Force 66.
3. Commander Eighth Fleet.

Subject: Action Report; May 2-4, 1944.

Reference: (a) Atlantic Fleet Confidential Letter 13CL-43 (Revised).

Inclosure: (A) Track Charts of all runs.
(B) T.B.S. Log of times.
(C) Copy T.B.S. code names for ships.

1. USS PRIDE (DE-323) as part of CTG-66, escorting Convoy GUS-38, station 3000 yards port beam of last ship in port column. All times mentioned herein are G.C.T. 2139 Lookouts picked up small yellow flickering light on the surface, distance one and one half miles, bearing 2600 T. Reported to Escort Commander and investigated by circling the light at a range of 500 yds. Light appeared to be bobbing about, although sea was calm. Unable to determine exact identity or type of flare. Returned to station upon orders of Escort Commander.

2. Convoy GUS-38 at position 37001’ N, 05004’ E., course 270, speed 8 knots. At 2250 the USS MENGES (DE-320), stationed astern of convoy, reported surface target astern of him at 10,000 yards, course 290. Commenced plot. 2300 MENGES reported target had reversed course. 2314 MENGES reported target had disappeared at 3500 yards and that they were going in for sound search. Shortly afterwards a flare light was seen, which at that time, was thought to be the MENGES firing hedgehog or being torpedoed. 2334 CCD46 in the USS MENGES (DE-320) notified convoy commodore by TBS light that he had been torpedoed. Upon hearing CCD46 report MENGES being torpedoed, reported same to CTF 66, who ordered us to go back and assist. Reversed course and started back to assist. Went full speed for a while but were making so much smoke that after while went to standard speed. 2336 Received orders to assist MENGES, CCD 21 in USS CAMPBELL (DE-70) to act as O.T.C. to search out and destroy submarine in vicinity. MENGES at position 37001’ N, 05029’E. 2340 General Quarters.

3. In view of ComCortDiv 46’s excellent narration (See TBS Log) of torpedoing and advice to be careful, proceeded with extreme caution. 0025 When within about three miles of MENGES, streamed two sets of FXR gear, one on each quarter. (NOTE: Upon recovering our FXR gear, the two vibrators were enmeshed and hopelessly entangled and in view of this situation, it is believed that only one FXR gear should be streamed at a time, or they be provided with paravanes).

Subject: Action Report; May 2-4, 1944. Sheet #2.

Made wide zigzags and commenced wide circle to north of MENGES in order to get moon between area of MENGES and PRIDE. While approaching area and about 4000 yards from MENGES, dropped two depth charges set at 100 feet at intervals of about one minute so as to disconcert the enemy submarine and any torpedoes which might have been sent in our direction. 0035 as PRIDE maneuvered toward MENGES radar (SL) picked up aircraft which circled over MENGES and the CAMPBELL, who was following astern. At the same time lookouts reported the same type yellow flickering light on port bow, distance undetermined, as was previously reported at 2139. 0047 picked up sound contact while maneuvering near MENGES, position 37001’ N, 5030’E, depth of water 1500 fathoms. 0058 rolled one depth charge set on 100 ft as offensive measure against possible torpedo. Manned hedgehog, submarine now bearing 1850, range 1200 yards. 0100 passed directly over submarine, fathometer indicated disturbance over entire dial. Hedgehog failed to fire, ordered check to determine this failure. Report soon came back that circuit had been tested and found all right. Contact held to 100 yards, indicating submarine not over 100 feet. 0104 Radar picked up small pip within 700 yards, pip disappeared, therefore unable to identify its value. 0106 rolled depth charge set on 100 feet as offensive measure against torpedo. 0115 regained contact, bearing 0650, range 2200. Set speed of ten knots on collision course for another hedgehog attack. Held contact to 50 yards, hedgehog again failed to operate, so took good lead and at 0124 rolled 5-charge depth charge pattern set for medium depth. Here contact was lost for 32 minutes and CCD 21 began to be concerned. There was no doubt in this officer’s mind as to contact being sub so gave him complete information as to value of contact (See TBS Log for this time). 0156 regained contact bearing 2900, range 1200 yards. Commenced approach for depth charge attack. 0200 lost contact at 800 yards indicating submarine very deep. 0207 regained contact bearing 1100, 2200 yards. Range rate seven knots, target moving slowly right. CCD 21 ordered us to make “Creeping attack” with DE 70 USS J.E. CAMPBELL in accordance with instructions contained in FTP 219. 0210 commenced creeping attack with PRIDE directing CAMPBELL on to target. Submarine plot indicated that submarine was “fishtailing” on course 1050 T. Maintained range to about 1300 yards when CAMPBELL made depth charge attack, time 0223. Regained sound contact at 0235 bearing 1100 1200 yards. PRIDE again directing CAMPBELL on to creeping attack. Broke off attack because of insufficient information during last stages of attack. Held sound contact bearing 1120 2700 yards. PRIDE maneuvering to commence attack. 0308 commenced approach for attack. PRIDE’s FXR gear causing interference with CAMPBELLS’s sound gear. CAMPBELL lost contact. PRIDE adjourned to secure FXR gear while CAMPBELL regained contact. 0339 CAMPBELL regained contact range 1500 bearing 1340. 0335 commenced creeping attack with CAMPBELL giving PRIDE ranges and bearings. 0403 dropped full thirteen-charge pattern set at 600 feet. Dropped night marker.

4. 0405 returned astern of CAMPBELL and prepared to make another attack. 0419 commenced another creeping attack steering courses 1410 T to 1560 T as directed by CAMPBELL. 0429 dropped full thirteen-charge pattern approximate position 37002’30” N, 5042’ E. Depth of water 1100 fathoms. Lookouts reported oil slick and other disturbance in area, dropped day marker to indicate point of attack. After this, CAMPBELL lost contact.

Subject: Action Report; May 2-4, 1944. Sheet #3.

5. Made large circle and came up to marker searching on various courses and speeds in area. 0527 regained contact 1000 yards south of day marker. PRIDE to direct CAMPBELL in creeping attack. Range 1700, bearing 1620. Submarine heading towards the beach. 0542 ordered CAMPBELL to commence dropping charges, range 1900, bearing 1700. 0545 CAMPBELL’s depth charges heard exploding. 0555 picked up sound contact. 0559 CAMPBELL commenced another creeping attack. 0613 plot indicated submarine to be “fishtailing” making erratic turns on base course 1700 T. Echo appeared to be mushy, so ordered CAMPBELL to break off attack. CAMPBELL resumed station astern. 0625 Good contact 1730 1950 yards. CAMPBELL commenced creeping attack with PRIDE giving sound information. Target 1700 T 2100 yards. 0632 ordered CAMPBELL to commence rolling depth charges. 0634 heard CAMPBELL’s depth charges exploding. 0700 Sub was getting so close to shore that echos of peaks were becoming hopelessly intermingled with those of sub, however, it was quite evident that the sub was going to get in there and stay until dark. So we just stopped and drifted over the spot where he was plotted by last best echos (See recorder trace). (NOTE: It will also be noted from the last track chart that the sub first appeared on the surface that night near this spot).

6. This position was in the near vicinity of Banc des Kabyles, which is 3.2 miles northwest of Ras Afia light (See chart Cap Carbon to Cap De fet, Mediterranean Sea, Algeria , Consecutive number 2924, H.O. 3983, Portfolio 29). Stopped pinging and listened.

7. 0810 picked up strong vibrations on sound gear. First the noise seemed to throb and then a definite clicking was heard, which was thought to be the submarine using his engines, and part of the time a pump. It was the writer’s opinion that the sub had put his nose in the mud and was trying to back out. This was later confirmed by statements of German prisoners taken from the water that they were stuck in the mud for some time that day. A glance at the chart will readily show how this could easily be so because of the rapid shelving at this point. We stayed in this vicinity until 1100 but no further sounds were heard. Thus we had lost contact for good after having kept it from 0047 to 0810, a period of seven hours and twenty-three minutes. It should be explained here that after each run and dropping of depth charges, the sub echos would be hopelessly intermingled with those of the disturbance caused by depth charges until the sub moved on out and increased the range, thus the runs were quite far apart.

8. Each run of the firing ship was made at standard speed and it is believed they could better be made at much slower speed for the sub generally did some fancy maneuvering or fish tailing while the firing ship was approaching, thus indicating that he could hear the vessel approaching.

9. Prisoners taken later stated that most of our charges were under him; consequently it is believed that under similar circumstances on run could be profitably employed in having the firing ship mil around over the contact, using the fathometer to find the depth.

10. 1111 commenced systematic sound search in company with CAMPBELL. Four other ships (namely; USS SUSTAIN, H.M.S. Blankey L-30, French DE SÉNÉGALAIS, and French DD ALYCON) now joined search, operating in various areas as assigned by ComCort Div 21 aboard the CAMPBELL.

Subject: Action Report; May 2-4, 1944. Sheet #4.

11. 4 MAY, 1944 – On course 2700, speed 10 knots, 3000 yards on starboard beam of CAMPBELL, conducting search for submarine. 0120 French Destroyer Escort SENAGALESE reported submarine on surface, bearing 2300 2 miles from SÉNÉGALAIS. Went to General Quarters, set flank speed, course 2700, to get north of sub in order to prevent escape to north and also to get into firing position. 0126 PRIDE commenced plotting submarine, range 6½ miles, bearing 2360 T. (See D.R.T. plot for complete track). Soon the SÉNÉGALAIS began directing heavy fire at the sub and the approach of other vessels, we could see that it was only a question of time now until the submarine would be cornered. The SÉNÉGALAIS was quite evidently doing a fine job with the sub, however, she got a little too close and at 0159 reported that she had been torpedoed, range 4 miles, bearing 1840 T. 0200 Submarine submerged bearing 1880 T. 3.2 miles. Later evidence indicates that the submarine was abandoned at this time by its crew. Preparations had been made to commence firing at submarine, but escorts approaching the submarine from West were now in range of fire. 0220 Sound attack made by L-30, English Sub-chaser BLANKEY, who dropped depth charge pattern. 0232 Sound attack made by USS SUSTAIN while heading in easterly direction and dropped pattern. After she had dropped this pattern, she continued on to the eastward for about 1000 yards where she saw many people in the water and began to pick them up. They were found to be German and soon by the count it was seen that the entire submarine crew had abandoned the submarine. The PRIDE remained to seaward of other escorts as they picked up German Submarine’s Crew and transferred them to the USS J.E. CAMPBELL, who took them to Algiers.


12. Thus ended a chase which had lasted more than thirty hours through two nights during which there was little sleep for anyone. After having been on the bridge for about thirty hours and no sleep, this officer attempted to get some sleep about 1900, May 3rd, while we were patrolling and waiting for the sub to come up, however, although I was very tired, I couldn’t sleep. At about 2200 the CAMPBELL had surface contact in shore and we were ordered to cover. In answering this call which turned out to be a fishing vessel, I realized I must get some sleep. Whereupon, at the Pharmacist Mate’s prescription, 1/8 pint of brandy was consumed and I was soon fast asleep. When the sub surfaced at 0120, I had had about three hours sleep and felt fresh and ready for another chase, or come what may.

13. At about the time the SÉNÉGALAIS  was hit, the same type of lights which were earlier reported by USS PRIDE, then more of the same seen near the MENGES shortly after being hit, was seen. Thus it is my belief that the lights were in some manner connected with firing the type torpedo fired, the probability being that one was fired at the convoy from near the first position in which the lights were first seen by this vessel.

14. Investigation of the hedgehog circuit revealed that a fuse in the A.C. circuit was blown. A thorough check of the circuit had been made on the morning of May 2nd, the plug had been broken down, contacts cleaned, hedgehogs removed, spicots and firing pins cleaned and given a voltage and continuity test unloaded, and a primary test while loaded. Evidently during the final tests the fuse in the A.C. circuit had been blown and not discovered. The gun captain did not have presence of mind enough to shift to D.C. circuit, but instructions are to fire on A.C. At present, it is not known how to make a quick test on the A.C. circuit, but a blown fuse on the A.C. circuit has been made a standard drill casualty on this vessel so that gun captains will automatically switch to D.C. circuit if the A.C. fails.

Subject: Action Report; May 2-4, 1944. Sheet #5.

15. It should be noted in reading the T.B.S. logs that a Radar Man keeps the log during ordinary cruising conditions and copies same in long hand, therefore, the log for those times may not be relied upon as much as during general quarters, for then a Chief Yeoman takes all down in shorthand and copies into log later.


Advanced copy to CominCh.
Advanced copy to Fleet Operational Training Command, Submarine Warfare Unit,
N.O.B., Norfolk, Virginia.
CTF 66
ComCortDiv 46

NOTE:  webmaster corrected the spelling to SÉNÉGALAIS in this document. The ship name was spelled SENAGALESE in the original document.

Action Report Courtesy of U-boat Archives.
Special thanks to webmaster Capt. Jerry Mason, USN, Ret., for his assistance to DESA

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