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Official Squadron Diary for 2-3 May 1944

  The six pages below are copies of the pages of the Form 540, the official Squadron Dairy for the days of 2 and 3
  May 1944.  They deal with the attack and sinking of U-852 in the Gulf of Aden and were written by Fg Off
  PF Cottis, the Squadron Intelligence Officer.  All errors from the originals have been left in.

   


              No. 8 Squadron

                6
Place. Date. Time. Summary of Events. References
to
Appendices.
      subsequently travelled on the surface in a south westerly direction being under surveillance and subject to attack periodically from five other aircraft of 621 Squadron.
    Wellington "D" of 8 Squadron took off from Riyan at 0850z on 2nd May to carry out a strike but had to land at Scuiscuiban with engine trouble after failing to locate the damaged U-boat.
    At 0940z, Wellington "G" of 8 squadron (Captain F/O Forrester) was airborne at Riyan with instructions to locate the submarine in position 1023N 5200E. However, as it was not found in this position, a sea marker was dropped and A.S.V. used in an endeavour to contact other searching aircraft. "D" of 8 Squadron and a Catalina were subsequently met and a message to "D" giving a new position of the U-boat was intercepted. Finally "G" alone located the submarine inposition 0956N 5103E. As the U-boat was approaching it opened fire with forward gun at a range of 4 miles. Several shells burst in the air about 600 yards from the attack but 500 feet below, others fell in the water. Aircraft altered course to starboard and manoeuvred to make attack out of the sun. Commenced the run in at 1351z using evasive action. However the U-boat made a sharp turn to starboard of 90 and the aircraft passed over the stern at right angles. DCs were not dropped but machine gun fire was directed from the front turret against Conning tower and after deck, a considerable number of hits were observed. No rear gunner was carried, consequently the rear turret was not used. After the first attack the submarine resumed its original course and the aircraft circled to come in again out of the sun. The second attack was made at 1355z using evasive action and finally coming in with a steep turn to starboard and passing over U-boats green quarter towards its red bow just behind Conning Tower. The whole stick was seen to straddle U-boat. During this attack, the front gun was used to affect and further hits on Conning Tower observed. It must be added that only one gun in the front turret was serviceable during this sortie. The aircraft continued to shadow the submarine, by circling out of gunfire range. At 1400z a message was sent to Base " Have attacked submarine with depth charges, result of attack- its probable". At 1420z, message to base "Submarine damaged, unable to submerge, and shadowing, three hours petrol awaiting instruction. At 1455, received message from Base " Shadow enemy of type indicated to PLE, land Scuiscuiban". Submarine continued firing each time the aircraft came up sun. However, aircraft kept out of range. At 1520z message to Base " Position of submarine, SCLK 3650, course 180, speed 15 knots, maintaining S/E contact". At 1550z, a flare was dropped as S/E contact beginning to merge with land returns but this was useless as flare did not illuminate a large enough area. At 1600z intercepted message from Base to J/8 Squadron as follows " Attack enemy sub, which was in position SCNZ 5605 at 1345z, course 180, speed 7 knots, home on Rooster". At 1658 z message sent to Base " have lost touch with enemy sub, last seen in position SCLK 5049, course 170, speed 15 knots", A visual search was carried out up and down the coast in the hope that the U-boat's wake would be visisble by moonlight. Nothing was seen until 1655z when the submarine was seen from the rear turret lying stationary from the shore with a large oil patch around it, the second pilot also saw it from the bomb aimers window. Message was immediately sent to base " Regained contact, position SCLK 5249, sub stopped, large oil patch".