U-boats reaching NZ?

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macdaddy
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Location: New Zealand

U-boats reaching NZ?

Post by macdaddy » 18 Mar 2005 03:43

Hey guys, I saw a documentary once when I was younger about a U-boat that had patrolled off the coast of New Zealand for a while. I believe it was mid to late war. I have no details of which boat it was, but I remember from the program that sailors heard laughter and the lights of a coastal promenade on which people were walking. I also remember that sailors even landed for a short while. Is this real? Or was this documentary just 'tabloid history'? I know that some U-boats made it to South America, so in theory it could be possible for them to have reached New Zealand. What do you think? Theoretical rumours or something more?

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Lucas**Shep
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Post by Lucas**Shep » 18 Mar 2005 03:54

Yes, there was one, U 862 under Kaptainleutenant Heinrich Timm. Went on a cruise to Australia and carried on to N.Z.
I think from memory they sunk seven vessels on this trip, but i'm not sure. It is the subject of a book called "U-Boat far from Home" (I can't remember the author).

As a point of interest, (from a post on Feldgrau that I submited a few months ago) Heinrich Timm was originally a skipper of a minesweaper (M7), and while in command of this vessel he sunk the British sub Starfish, for which he was awarded th IC 2nd class. He then transfered to subs.

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Lucas**Shep
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Post by Lucas**Shep » 18 Mar 2005 04:01

Just to add on, the uboat sailed into Napier harbour i think it was, where they saw the party goers at the town hall at some sort of dance. The bit about landing on n.z soil is not true according to the book, but there is an urban legend about German submariners landing and milking cows for the subs crew.

Simon Gunson
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Post by Simon Gunson » 02 Apr 2005 02:37

Lucas the story about milking sheep was loosely based upon an actual landing by the crew of a merchant raider in WW1 south of Christchurch NZ. A farmer awoke to noises in his barn and chased off some men with german voices. He claimed to have seen them depart the beach near his farm in a longboat. The newly drafted third mate on U-862 KaptLt Heinz Rasner had a history on merchant cruisers and was the likely source of humourous comments by Timm after the war to a reporter.

U-862 shelled a tanker called Illosis near Adelaide on 9 December 1944, then she lay in ambush on the Pacific side of Bass Strait about Christmas Eve 1944. She chased a Liberty ship the Robert J Walker north at night. U-862 had the advantage of Hohentweil radar on her bridge. She took three torpedoes to sink the ship. One was shot out of the water by the Liberty's gunners !

The U-862's log was destroyed during the war. The account comes from her first mate's diary alleging that she sailed from the NSW coast south of Sydney around the northern tip of NZ and loitered her way down the Pacific coast of NZ through January 1945.

One claim was that she went into Gisborne's narrow river harbour and turned around in the pool. Having seen that harbour this claim is quite improbable. It certainly would not have been unnoticed. The other claim that she sat off Napier's harbour and observed girls going to a dance was more credible.

After this U-862 voyaged into the teeth of a southern storm and sailed well under NZ and Australia, back to Djakarta. Interestingly there were reports of U-boats off Tasmania when U-862 was close to Sydney and this may have been U-196 which simply vanished on the same mission.

Both belonged to U-flottila 33. Prior to this NZ had last been visited by commerce raiders Orion (with Komet or Kulmerland ?) in late 1940 laying mines etc. The Japanese sub I-21 payed a visit to NZ aswell.

The book mentioned was written by David Stevens (U-boat far from home)

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