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Unterseeboot 256 or U-256 (also known as U Flak 2) was a German World War II Type VIIC submarine commissioned on 18 December 1941. U-256 was assigned to 8. Unterseebootflottille (U-Boat Flotilla) for training. U-256 was later transferred to 9. Unterseebootflottille for operational service. U-256 completed five wartime patrols and sank one warship totalling 1,300 tons.

First patrolEdit

U-256's first patrol started on 28 July 1942 during her transfer from Kiel to 9. Unterseebootflottille at Brest, France. During the patrol U-256 pursued Convoy SC 94, and later on 25 August was damaged by depth charges while attacking Convoy ONS 122. U-256 began limping back to France and safety, but on 2 September she was further damaged by a RAF Whitley bomber. On 3 September U-256 reached her base. Due to extensive damage she was withdrawn from service in November 1942.

Conversion to Flak submarineEdit

During U-256's overhaul for extensive repairs, U-256 was converted to a Flakboot (Flak boat) in May 1943. One of just seven U-boats converted to Flak boats, U-256 was given an increased complement of anti-aircraft guns, to give the boat a better chance of fighting off enemy aircraft. On 16 August 1943 U-256 was re-commissioned as U-Flak 2. Her second wartime patrol started on 4 October; her mission was to rendezvous with and protect U-488. U-488 was a Milchkuh ('Milk cow' or re-supply U-boat). Such boats could re-supply multiple U-boats at sea. Consequently 'milk cows' were the prime target of Allied aircraft trying to disrupt U-boat activities. On 31 October U Flak 2 was caught on the surface by the destroyer USS Borie. U Flak 2 escaped, but with minor depth charge damage. U Flak 2 returned to her base at Brest on 17 November. Because the Flak conversions were not considered a success, U Flak 2 was converted back to her original configuration in the winter of 1943/1944 and renamed back to U-256.

Final missionsEdit

U-256's third patrol started on 25 January 1944 and lasted until 22 March; U-256 patrolled west and southwest of Ireland and damaged one anti-submarine sloop, the HMS Woodpecker; which sank later while under tow. During U-256's fourth patrol between 6 June and 8 June 1944, she was seriously damaged. On 4 September U-256 became the last U-boat to leave Brest before the port was occupied by the Allies. The transit from Brest to Bergen, Norway would be U-256's last patrol. She reached Norway on 17 October, and was decommissioned on 23 October.

U-256 CommandersEdit

  • Odo Loewe - December 1941 to November 1942.
  • Wilhelm Brauel - August 1943 to June 1944.
  • Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock – September 1944 to October 1944.

ReferencesEdit

  • Bishop, C. Kriegsmarine U-Boats, 1939–45. Amber Books, 2006.
  • Williams, G. Wolf-Pack: The Story of the U-boat in World War II. Osprey Pub., 2005.de:U 256

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