by Jason von Zerneck & Dr. David Westwood

Part I: The Inter-War Years


Despite the provisions of the Versailles Treaty in 1919, denying Germany construction and use of submarines, the German Naval Command fully intended to remain au fait with all matters relating to the subject.  To do this it was planned that Germany should construct and test U-Boats in other countries.  From 1922 the opportunity was provided by setting up N.V.Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepsbouw (IVS). This firm, capitalized by three German yards, had its head office in The Hague.

In 1925 Naval Ministry funds were put into IVS and an order was obtained from Turkey for two U-Boats; there was also the prospect of building part of a new boat program for Spain. Korvetten Kapitän Canaris thus ordered the establishment of a special submarine office under the nomenclature Au (Ausbildung - Training).  In charge was Admiral Spindler.  He outlined his field of activity in his first action report of 12.11.26, which coincided with Canaris' recommendation.  A significant part of the report related to the factors affecting the choice of U-Boat type to be supplied to fill the future German naval requirement: one main factor was the teaching materials available for the needs of crew training.

Spindler also needed a combined team of active-service seamen and engineer branch officers to take part in testing the boats for the Turkish Navy.  Naval Command considered that on political grounds only retired personnel should be involved, together with highly experienced civilian staff.  The connection with the Turkish Navy resulted in two of the officers, who were in the transit crew, being asked by the Turkish Navy to set up a U-Boat training school for their own crews.

In Germany Spindler was actively establishing a training program, and in conjunction with the Navy Arms Superintendent he managed to start a series of theoretical lectures on the U-Boat for senior ensigns.  These took place from 1927 onwards, during the participants' torpedo courses at the Torpedo and Radio School in Flensburg-Mürwik.  The training equipment used was film taken during WWI on U-35 and U-139.  From 18 to 21 May 1927, 24 ensigns of the recruitment year 1924 received three 3-hour lectures on U-Boat subjects.

On the engineer side, Spindler planned a training program for future U-Boat engineers from 1927 onwards.  The theme of these courses had already been discussed, questions having been posed as to how the knowledge of the use of the U-Boats in the First World War could be preserved and developed.  Also, how were the majority of technical personnel to be provided, and what training equipment was available, and what needed to be supplied.

As far as sea-training was concerned it could be arranged for a select cadre of future U- Boat Officers on board future projects of TVS, These problems were discussed in a paper issued by the U-Boat Office on 17. 10. 1927:

"In order to circumvent the Versailles Treaty and to develop the U-Boat Arm to stay au fait with the subject, and to enable a limited amount of training to take place, which is not as yet feasible though every effort must be made to rectify this situation...our Spanish contacts now enable us, by the immediate expenditure of RM 1.5 million and a total of RM 3-4 million over three to four years, to come closer to our aim, i.e., to have our constructors and yard men fully conversant with all that is newest and best in the field of building submarines, and at the same time to train military personnel (seamens and engineers branches) in matters relating to submarines."

Various circumstances (e.g. the delay in the start of building in Spain and the subsequent shuffle of personnel following the Lohmann incident) caused progress in the years 1928/29 to be retarded.  The training program was however initiated by the course for 60 ensigns of the Class of 1925 which was given at the Marine Artillery School at Kiel in the early part of 1929.  On the debit side was the cancellation of the planned course at Kiel Naval Academy for Engineers.  Schottky, who lectured on the course in early 1929, took over the U-Boat Office from Spindler in 1929, and he made efforts to implement simulator training on the UZ Boats and on the Roeder designed "F" and "T" devices (early simulators).  The UZ boats were for seamanship and torpedo-firing training.  The idea was not, however, adopted by the Naval Ministry, and was not practicable for other reasons as well.  However, Schottky and a mixed group of serving officers, retired officers, civilian engineers and officials managed to gain practical experience during the testing of the two Finnish boats Vetehinen and Vesihiisi in the summer of 1930.

In 1931, despite certain difficulties, the Spanish Boat E1 was also finished.  Due to the close connections between TVS and the Navy Ministry and the further fact that the boat was built with German money, the Navy had a great deal of interest in the tests that were to be made on the boat, for it was also to be tested as the prototype for the future submarine element of the German Navy (U-A and the two Type IA boats were the result).  A notable fact was the close cooperation that existed between the serving naval officers and the builders.  Control of the actual building was in the hands of Schottky and Hey (both ex-Naval Architects and engineer officials), who had under them an experienced team and the support of the naval yard at Wilhelmshaven.  The head of the testing team was Kapitän-Leutnant a.D. Bräutigam, who for some years had been in charge of submarine building in Japan, the boats there being constructed from original German plans.  The Chief Engineer was Papenburg, and Rosing was also included, who had been on the team for the Finnish boats.  Further officers who had taken Schottky's course also took part, together with a number of men from the Eckernförde torpedo testing station, as well as some naval architecture students.  A further addition, as an observer, was the technical chief of the submarine construction department, then existing under the code-name "Igewit."

Before submarine training could be set in motion, preparations had to be made at three different levels:

1. Instruction for ensigns in submarine subjects by special lectures:

* Class of 1926 - a 3-day course in January 1930: Kiel Naval Artillery School
* Class of 1927 - a five-day 20-hour course in April 1930
* Class of 1928 - a course in Summer 1930
* Class of 1929 - a course from 16 to 21.2,1931 at the Naval School, Mürwik
(this last course was cancelled by the C-in-C Navy due to problems over the exact dates the course could actually occupy.)
2. Staff Officer courses in submarine subjects down to first lieutenant level - given from 1930 by Schottky, from 1932 by Schürer and Fürbringer.
3. Training of a small number of active-service seaman and engineer branch, officers on the TVS boats abroad. It was also decided to send three young officers to join Fürbringer at the Turkish school.

Further, following Schottky's instigation, a much greater amount of time was spent on submarine subjects at the Naval School at Mürwik and the Naval Academy at Kiel.

Nevertheless there was still no final date fixed for the start of the submarine program.  This was changed in 1932 following establishment of the building plan for 16 submarines for the Navy by 1938.  This necessitated submarine training becoming more formalized and gaining greater experience by taking part in voyages abroad and by occasional lectures.  Fürbringer was felt to be suitably experienced to set this up and so under the command of Kolbe he gave a six-day course in May 1932 to 49 ensigns at the TNS on the subject of submarines.  It was further planned for 1932, under the control of Fürbringer, to train two seamens' and one engineer branch officer yearly on an intensive course.  The course was to last twelve weeks, with 207 taught hours, and 1-2 hours daily on the "T" simulator.

Building CV707 allowed a much larger number of course members following her completion on 1.4.1933, and on 15.6.32 it was ordered that eight junior officers were to take part, being those judged suitable at Autumn promotions date in 1932.  To cope with these increased numbers a second instructor was brought in, together with seven other personnel who were particularly qualified in the subject.  The first regular course for future commanders started on 3.1.1933.  After three months training in theory and tactics there was further special training in the working of the gyro-compass, underwater sound location and escape apparatus.

CV707 began her tests at the end of May 1933 with Fürbringer as captain and Papenburg as Chief Engineer. Apart from the ten course members two further reserve officers were present.  Following a heart attack suffered by Papenburg, Braütigam took over command.

The first two fully German submarines were planned to start building in Autumn 1933, and the then Reichswehrminister von Blomberg ordered the establishment of a submarine school in Kiel-Wik, work on which was to begin on 1.10.1933.  Kapitän-Leutnant Slevogt was named as Commanding Officer, with as Senior Lecturers Fürbringer and Hülsmann, and Rösing and Freiwald as lecturers.

The first class at this school comprised eight officers, and 70-80 NCOs and seamen, all of whom assembled in Kiel in Summer 1933.  The official description of the school was the "School of anti-submarine warfare" (Unterseebootsabwehrschule (U.A.S.)), and was on the organization of, and technically incorporated into, the Inspectorate of Torpedoes.  As the planned submarine building did not take place, due to the changing political situation, the school ran just the one class until 30.9.1934.

Theoretical training included instruction in U-Boat construction from the point of view of sailor and engineer, instruction in maintaining stability, weight distribution and trim maintenance above and below water, in both peacetime and war conditions.  Also included was the use of escape apparatus.  Seamen received basic training in the practice of firing torpedoes, and officers and senior ratings in the use of the periscope.  Simultaneously, engineering personnel were instructed on the diesel and electric propulsion units.  Training equipment included an electrically operated steering machine, as well as an electric periscope and a gyro compass installation.

Practical training was carried out with the aid of simulators - minesweepers - equipped with a periscope stub housed in a covered deck compartment, with an engine installation comprised of half of the drive of a Type II and submarine steering equipment.  Training took place aboard these minesweepers and aboard CV707 in Finland from 28.5 to 4.8.1935.  To take part in the latter seven officers and six NCOs were sent to Finland in the guise of tourists and students.  Braütigam, Papenburg and Freiwald were mainly involved in this venture from the training staff.

As from 1.10.1934 a further class was formed at U.A.S. in view of the impending construction of six small boats starting in January 1935.  The submarine arm then expanded until, in the middle of 1935, it stood at 15 seamens' branch and 9 engineering branch officers, 190 NCOs and men.  On 1.12.1934 it was decided to expand the school by a further 580 men by 1.10.1935.  This would thus provide the crews of 14 large and two small boats from U.A.S. by the middle of 1936.

Following the launch of the first of the U-Boats, Braütigam and Hülsmann were transferred from U.A.S. to the newly created Development Board for submarines, which later became the U.A.K. (Ubootsabnahmekonmmando [acceptance authority of the Kriegsmarine for submarines]).  Papenburg had already been transferred to have control of U-Boat building.  The first U-Boat to come into service went to U.A.S. in the late summer of 1935 as a training boat.

On 6.6.1935 all matters relating to U-Boats were, with the exception of training, put under the command of the (then) Kapitän zur See Dönitz.  At the same time 28 seamens' branch and 9 engineering branch officers were posted to U.A.S.  Among these were the later famous names of Prien, Schepke, Schültze, Godt and Frauenheim.

Unterseebootsflottille Weddigen was set up in Kiel on 27.9.35 with boats U-7 through U-12 (leaving boats U-1 through U-6 for training).  Practical Training patrols of from four to twenty days were made in these boats, although no torpedo firings were made at this time.  Torpedo firing training was undertaken at Flotilla, where battle-training and tactical instruction were carried out.

As the production rate of larger boats increased, so did the demand for trained crews.  Kiel-Wik however did not have sufficient training or accommodation facilities to cope with these large numbers, and so a U.A.S. was established at Neustadt (Holstein) in May 1937.  The Chief Instructor there was Kapitän zur See Scheer.  In 1938 the training boats were established within their own Flotilla, and in 1939 a special school of anti-submarine warfare was set up outside the U.A.S., which eventually came under the command of the B.d.U.

Part II: Overview of U-Boat Training


In June 1935 Admiral Raeder appointed captain Karl Dönitz to the post of Commander U-Boats, responsible for the training and leadership of the burgeoning U-Boat fleet.  Interestingly, later to be a major antagonist of Dönitz, Max Horton (appointed to command Western Approaches after the war started) had been appointed to the command of the British First Cruiser Squadron on 7 June, during the conference in London.  Dönitz' influence at the time was limited but he was a convinced U-Boat officer, having served in U-Boats in World War One.  He was very much in favor of the medium sized boat, but he seems to have had no influence on the planning decisions at the time.  However the importance of the appointment was to be felt later, during the first half of the war in the Atlantic.

General opinion in the Kriegsmarine saw the U-Boat as a part of the main fleet (as did all other major navies at the time), and not as a weapon in itself, to be used against the merchant fleet of future enemies.  This was in part due to German fears of the French Fleet, and the feeling that sinking merchantmen was incidental to the U-Boat commander's real task of laying waste to the iron colossi on the surface.  Furthermore submarines were questioned as to their efficacy due to the development of ASDIC (and see later) and pre-set fuses for depth charges in England.  These, and other problems all faced Dönitz upon taking up his command in Kiel-Wik.

Then, on 28 September 1935, Dönitz was also appointed Commanding Officer of the first operational U-Boat unit - the Unterseebootsflottille Weddigen.  His command consisted solely of U-9, the Type IIB boat commissioned on 21 August 1935.  He knew that his job was to become more substantial, and he was an energetic man, and so he threw himself into the job wholeheartedly, despite, as he said himself, having been appointed with "neither orders, instructions nor guidance."  His command was one which was ideal to a reasonably senior officer; he had almost total freedom of choice in what he did, and how he did it.  Raeder's evaluation of the man was fight.  Dönitz was not entirely alone however, for a number of officers and men had already received training, and there was a corpus of experience available in the veterans of the previous war.

There had been training programs already of course, under Admiral Spindler, which had begun in 1927, although it had naturally been theoretical.  Later some sea training had been provided, thanks to Inkavos' activities, and quite a number of officers and men had also benefited from Schottky's specialized U-Boat course.  This course, which also ran from 1927 onwards, was divided into three sections.  These were:

A. i. The origins of various submarine types, and talks on the meaning of the submarine within the field of naval warfare.

ii. Lectures on foreign submarines and their weapons, with a constant feedback of Intelligence from abroad, and particularly from Inkavos and the various officers who sailed on its designs.

iii. Talks on the basic means of maintaining depth, maneuvering underwater, and submarine steering equipment.

iv. The weaponry, periscopes and the organization of protective measures to counter anti-submarine attack.

v. Lectures on attack tactics, backed up with experience from the previous war.

(All of Part A instruction was given to every young ensign of the U-Boat Arm.)

B. Staff courses in submarine subjects (down to the rank of lieutenant).  These were given from 1930 by Schottky, from 1932 by Schürer and Fürbringer.

C. The training of small groups of serving seamens and engineering branch officers on the various Inkavos boats.  Until 1932 Fürbringer, who had crewed one of the Turkish boats, was running a submarine training school for the Turkish Navy, and three young serving officers had been attached to his staff in Turkey for some time.  In addition to these special-to-arm courses, Schottky asked for, and got, lectures on U-Boat matters given at the Naval School at Kiel-Mürwik, and the Naval Academy at Kiel.

Until 1932 all the training had no practical purpose, but then the first definite plans were laid for future U-Boat building.  Hitler supported the armed forces' expansion programs, and the U-Boat training became more formalized within the general training structure; Fürbringer was put in charge because he was the most experienced of the training officers.  In May 1932 he gave his first six-day course to 49 naval ensigns.  Further training plans for 1932 included starting intensive yearly courses for seamen's branch and engineering branch officers.  This training was to be far more extensive, lasting twelve weeks.  There were to be 207 hours teaching, and one or two hours daily on the simulator.  Seatime was spent on CV707, and an increasing number of officers experienced the benefits of both theoretical and practical training.  Regular courses became standard, and von Blomberg (Minister of Defense from 1933) put the matter into the normal training program by establishing Kiel-Wik as the new submarine school from 1 October 1933.

The Commanding Officer was Kptn.-Lt. Karl Slevogt; the senior lecturers were Fürbringer and Hülsmann.  The latter was to become one of the most senior U-Boat engineering officers, and finally Chief of the U-Boat Acceptance Authority.  Lecturers were Rösing (who had tested a Swedish submarine in 1932) and Freiwald (later aide-de-camp to Raeder).  The first course assembled at Kiel in the summer of 1933.

The course comprised eight officers and more than 70 petty officers and ratings.  Still operating as the "anti-submarine training school" this was actually the only class of this nature at the school until submarine production prospects improved in 1934.  The second entry then reported on 30 September 1934.  In both cases the course consisted of theoretical instruction into U-Boat construction (from the point of view of both seamen and engineering branch), together with lectures on stability maintenance (including load planning and trim correction, surfaced and submerged).  Seamen got basic torpedo handling training and firing, and senior rates and officers were practiced in periscope use.  Engineering officers went through a much more detailed description of the power units, and all other machinery for which they would be responsible once posted to a boat.  Practical models of steering equipment, periscopes and gyro-compasses were used, to increase the value of the training.

Further practical training was done on the simulator fitted in a minesweeper.  A periscope stub was fitted in an enclosed deck compartment, and an engine replica gave half the power of a Type II; control was through another replica of the submarine's steering equipment.  A number of officers were trained in this way, and as many as possible sent to Finland to experience the real thing on CV707.  During her extremely lengthy trials period, thanks to Fürbringer, many officers benefited from training on her, including Brafitigem, Papenberg and Freiwald.

Thus, when Dönitz took command of Unterseebootsflottille Weddigen and his one U-Boat, he was not short of trained crews.  The crews then had to undergo further training, and much of that training, which took place at Kiel and Mürwik (for ensigns and lieutenants), was concerned with ASDIC, and the countermeasures to it.  Dönitz was responsible for all of this.  He had, as noted above, been promoted Commander U-Boats on 6 June 1935, his command of Unterseebootsflottille Weddigen dating from September that year, and training was part of his job.  At the time 28 seamens' branch and 9 engineering branch officers had been posted to U.A.S., among them Lieutenants Prien, Schepke, Schütze, Godt (later Admiral and Commander U-Boats) and Frauenheim.  All were to be "aces" in their time.

Unterseebootsflottille Weddigen was officially established in Kiel on 27 September, and Dönitz arrived to take command two days later.  The Flotilla was planned to be equipped with U-7 through U-12 (all Type IIB), but eventually received U-9, U-13, U-15, U-17, U-19, U-21, and U-23.  The last boat arrived on 10 October 1936.  The training Flotilla (Unterseeboots-Schulflottille) got U-8, U-10 and U-11, which arrived between 29 June 1935 and 16 December 1936.  All boats had completed acceptance trials before being put onto the Flotilla strengths.

Although Dönitz was essentially on his own as far as training and organization was concerned, he was looking forward to the task.  He wrote that he had his "own ideas about the training of the Flotilla and had set myself certain, clearly defined fundamental objectives."  He went on to give details of these objectives. He said:

"1. I wanted to imbue my crews with enthusiasm and a complete faith in their arm, and to instill in them a spirit of selfless readiness to serve in it.  Only those possessed of such a spirit could hope to succeed in the grim realities of submarine warfare.  One of the first things that I had to do was rid my crews of the ever recurring complex that the U-Boat, thanks to recent developments in British anti-submarine defense, was a weapon that had been mastered...

2. The U-Boats had to be trained as far as possible for war conditions.  I wanted to confront my U-Boat crews in peacetime with every situation with which they might be confronted in war, and to do it so thoroughly that when these situations arose in war my crews would be able to cope with them.

3. As the range at which a U-Boat should fire, both in surface and in submerged attack, I laid down the short range of 600 yards...During the summer of 1935 the U.A.S. had been teaching the young crews that when a U-Boat discharged its torpedoes submerged, it must do so at a range of over 3,000 yards from the target, in order to avoid detection by the British ASDIC apparatus...I strenuously opposed this conception...

4. I considered that the U-Boat was ideal as a torpedo carrier, even at night and in a surface attack.

5. The primary emphasis of my appreciations, objectives and consequent training methods had, however, to be laid on the tactical considerations.  And here new problems presented themselves for solution.

a. It is essential, in an attack on any given objective, to be able to deliver the attack in as great strength as possible...to bring a number of U-Boats to attack simultaneously the given objective...A massed target then, should be attacked by massed U-Boats.

b. The U-Boat has a very restricted radius of vision and is slow, even on the surface...Tactically then it must act in cooperation with a branch of the armed forces more suited to reconnaissance duties.  And for these the best is the aeroplane."

This summary gives an outline of Dönitz' method, and how he trained his crews during peacetime, and what he put into effect as soon as war broke out.  He had not however the size of force he required, nor the air reconnaissance facilities that he implies were needed to put the plan into immediate, and devastating, effect.  First results were therefore not too encouraging, but the situation improved as numbers grew and pack tactics became more effective, until there was a danger to the Allies that the Atlantic supply routes would be cut permanently.

To ensure that all crews got a very firm grounding in general boat handling they had to make 66 surfaced and 66 submerged practice attacks before being allowed to fire their first live (practice) torpedo.  Crews also trained in handling their craft in enemy waters, surfaced and submerged, in-shore and off-shore.  Then they were taught when to submerge when enemy aircraft or surface vessels were sighted, and when to remain on the surface; there was however one main rule, which was "dive if in doubt."  During the interminable 132 training attacks and during later training torpedo attacks they had to trim the boat to minimize periscope exposure, and this was done at night as well.  They were taught to use background light behind the target at night, to illuminate it, and to minimize their own silhouette at all times.  Combined with this was training to improve seamanship in the attack, thereby using the effects of wind and sea to lessen chances of being seen.  In essence they were being taught stalking tactics.

A number of tactical points were dealt with during training which had arisen from the First World War.  Other matters were the product of Dönitz' close analysis of what the enemy might do, as well as what the U-Boats could do.  Crews were taught how to maintain contact with a target whilst, when possible, getting ahead of it.  This was particularly important in convoy attacks, for only one attack might be possible, and therefore it must be effective.  Crews also received instruction in "housekeeping" - watch routines by day and by night, and how to change over routines.  This is particularly important at night, when bridge watches had to be kept in a darkened space for their night vision to develop, without which they were ineffective for up to half an hour.

Further tactical training was devoted to actions to be taken by commanders when faced with enemy defensive action.  Captains had to know when it was possible, and necessary, to withdraw at high speed on the surface, and when to creep away submerged.  In the latter case there was an inherent danger of losing contact with the target, and so this method was reserved for situations in which the boat would otherwise have been in danger.  When withdrawing they also practiced zig-zag, and when escaping underwater, they learned to operate silent routines.  They had repeated practice in technical control of the boat, and in diving and surfacing techniques.  Above all, the crew had to learn to operate as a coherent team, at all depths and all the time.  Finally they were trained in surface gunnery, and in anti- aircraft defense. The course in all lasted for a year.

One U-Boat commander wrote the following about the course:

"The knowledge acquired during this single year of intensive training, in which the crews were tested to the limits of human endeavor, was the foundation in so far as the choice of types, armament and training were concerned, upon which the future structure of the U-Boat Arm was built.  In the years that followed, tactics underwent refinement and modification.  When it became evident that Britain might take the field against us, these tactics had to be modified to meet the conditions imposed by warfare on the High Seas and the introduction of the convoy system.  But the principles remained unchanged.  The salient feature of this training year, 1935-36, was in fact that it eradicated from the mind of all commanders and their crews the inferiority complex, which had undoubtedly been prevalent among them, and the idea that the U-Boat had been mastered and rendered impotent as an instrument of war by recently developed anti-submarine devices."

This course was standard to all crews which served in the U-Boat Arm until strategic requirements forced truncation.  The detail in it, and its scope, explain how Dönitz and his training staff were able to inculcate such an exceptional esprit de corps in the U-Boat Arm, which considered itself an Elite within the Elite of the Kriegsmarine.

National Socialism did not pervade the Kriegsmarine, and long times away from base, or in such training courses, encouraged professionalism rather than any need for political justification.  The greatest achievement was undoubtedly that crews were rid of the feeling of despair when faced by ASDIC, and that they were welded into a first class naval force.

Whilst Dönitz was training his officers and men the military power of Germany was increasing, mainly at a far faster rate than that of his U-Boat Arm.  But there were slow improvements.  Unterseebootsflottille Weddigen had been established in. September 1935, and Unterseebootsflottille Saltzwedel followed in April 1936 (with U-25 through U-36, two Type IA boats, and the first of the Type VII boats).  Unterseebootsflottille Lohs was set up at the same time as Weddigen, the first boat arriving on 30 September 1935.  The full complement was to be U-12, U-14, U-16, U-18, U-20, U-22 and U-24.  The three Flotillas and the training Flotilla were the sum total of Dönitz' command until 1938, when three further Flotillas were set up, Unterseebootsflottillen Emsmann, Hundius and Wegener.

When Dönitz first assumed command he had the following units:

* Unterseebootsschulflottille - 10 boats, Types IIA and IIB
* Unterseebootsflottille Weddigen - 8 Type IIB boats
* Unterseebootsflottille Saltzwedel - 2 Type IA, 9 Type VII boats
* Unterseebootsflottille Lohs - 7 Type II boats.

Bases for the Flotillas were Kiel (Unterseebootsschulflottille, Lohs and Weddigen), and Wilhelmshaven (Saltzwedel).  Kiel was chosen for the smaller boats, having immediate access to the waters of the Baltic (and the coast of Poland), whereas Wilhelmshaven had access to the Atlantic (and the French coast and lines of communication).

The new U-Boat fleet was thus established, it had a commander, a training establishment, enough boats for three Flotillas and enough men trained in the basics to begin further, advanced, training in preparation for war.  The commander was sufficiently experienced to do his job, and to enthuse his men.  He was able to use experience in planning actively for his role in any future war.  The period from the beginning of 1936 to 1 September 1939 saw the U-Boat fleet double in size, and the development of new U-Boat types, some of which saw extended service during the war, others of which spawned new ideas, and some which disappeared from sight.  Throughout the period however there existed the theme that war would come, although Raeder certainly prayed that it would not come before his balanced fleet was ready.

Part III: The Effect of the War


With the outbreak of war in September 1939 the training boats were pressed into active service on patrol duties in the Baltic and North Seas.  Half of them were returned to the schools at the end of the Polish campaign, only to be recalled to the front during the Norwegian campaign in 1940.  However, all training boats returned to their original duties from July 1940 onwards.

War caused a change in the training program, for it was no longer practical to indulge in training at Flotilla level; such training was now reduced to a "practical" for prospective U-Boat commanders under the eye of the most experienced captains.  At the same time training capacity required for the expanded submarine war program had to be greatly increased.  Thus on 16.11.1939 training was laid down for the following numbers of crews yearly:

* 1940 - 54 crews
* 1941 - 250 crews
* 1942 - 350 crews (and similarly per year thereafter)

To allow for this U.A.S. 2 was set up in Gotenhafen on 1.7.1940, and U.A.S. 3 in Pillau on 1.7.1941.  The Neustadt school was placed under the direct command of the B.d.U. and within the organization of the B.d.U. service establishment, under direct command of Kapitän zur See von Friedeburg.

Dönitz took the important decision to place U-Boat training under the responsibility of the B.d.U., seeing this as the only way of providing a speedy and easy supply of trained men for the front.  The counter-proposal was that all matters relating to training should be placed under the command of the Commanding Admiral, Baltic.  These conflicting opinions led to a serious dispute between the B.d.U. and Admiral Raeder.  The principle remained however of training specific skills at different training schools with subsequent crew training on board.

Battle-training was provided by extra gunnery and other training schools and 1. Unterseebootsausbildungsflottille was set up in November 1939, followed by 2. Unterseebootsausbildungsflottille in April 1940, both being based in Danzig.  A tactical training school was also set up in Gotenhafen from January 1940.  All three schools were under the command of the BdU.

Commander training was done individually at Flotillas, and despite the anomalous nature of this training, due to the high standards achieved in peacetime, the method was vindicated by results.

When the U-Boat production rate was stepped up in 1941 a further gunnery school was established in Pillau and, to intensify the battle-training schedule in technical matters, a technical training group for combat boats was established in Hela.

In 1940 the whole U-Boat training establishment was transferred in April from Neustadt to Pillau, due to the danger from air attack, mine laying operations in the training area of the Lübeck Bight, and due to the lack of room at Neustadt.  There the school became 1. Unteerseeboots-Lehrdivision.  The 2. Unterseeboots-Lehrdivision, set up in July 1940, was based at Gotenhafen, but could only go into operation in November 1940 due to building difficulties.  The attached Flotillas were respectively the 21. and 22. Unterseebootsflottillen.  For crews already trained at the 1. U.L.D. the 1. Unterseebootsausbildungsabteilung was set up in February 1940 in Plön; this acted as a holding camp for fully trained crews awaiting posting to a boat.  Skills training continued, and there was the addition of military training. Small groups of these men went to the yards to do building courses, and others went to the other involved manufacturers on short courses.

Due to a delay in building boats, and the resulting back-log of trained crews, 2. Unterseebootsausbildungsabteilung was set up to cope with the personnel overflow from 1. U.A.A.  This was established at Neustadt, with responsibility for the men coming from 2. U.L.D. The rising numbers of trained crewmen available, coupled with increasing losses led to further intensification of building from the beginning of 1943.

In the organization structure there were two establishments between the B.d.U. and the Unterseeboots-Lehr-Divisionen and Unterseebootsausbildungsabteilungen; these were the H.K.U., which had overall control of the U.L.D. and U.A.A., and the Führer der Unterseebootsausbildungsflottillen, commanding certain training Flotillas.  As boats became available with fully trained crews, they were passed on to F.d.U.Ausb. as part of the Home Fleet under F.d.U.-Ost.

H.K.U. was established in Kiel on 15 January 1943.  It was responsible for all seamanship and mechanical training undertaken in the U.L.D. and U.A.A.  Increasing numbers led to a further division in Autumn 1943 when all technical NCOS and men were moved to 3. Unterseeboots-Lehrdivision.

To train the extra NCOS required for the Type XXI boat 4. Unterseeboots-Lehrdivision was set up in February 1944 in Memel.  There, in a short course of three months, men were trained after their time at 3. U.L.D.  The main part of the course was technical.  A motorized training aid for 4. U.L.D. never came into service, and following the fall in the number of commissioned boats 4. U.L.D. became superfluous and was disbanded in November 1944.

Sea time was originally allocated to the men on the basis of 10 days for 15 of the crew on board school boats, but this was discontinued when 3. U.L.D. was set up and the new intakes of officers and cadets arrived.  Nevertheless the number of training boats grew considerably.  The 8-week Officer and NCO course had one week theory and one week practical in rotation, and included 17-18 days seatime.  Ratings received dry training in boats in harbor.  General seamanship was taught in surface vessels attached to the training flotillas.

All ranks received training in general matters relating to U-Boats.  Initially training was in the Type II boats, then from mid-1943 the Type VIIC came into use (from the end of 1944 a short course in the Type XXI was given, but was discontinued due to the lack of available detail).  Training in the use of escape apparatus was standard, with equipment available for practicing the use of valves and in equalizing pressures.  Each trainee also received First Aid training.

The main point of Officer's training lay in the important matter of underwater maneuver.  First principles were learnt on the submerged steering trainer at U.L.D., followed by further training on the school boats.  The aim of the training was to ensure complete control in simple maneuvers, steering a straight course under water, minor adjustments of depth, changes of trim at various points of a course, steering the boat under known conditions and in difficulties, overcoming trim and weight distribution problems and completing successfully a diving maneuver of modest proportions.  Senior NCOS also had a short basic course in underwater maneuvering, whilst seamen grade NCOs were trained in the use of the hydroplanes.  Of equal importance with general boat knowledge was motor and engine training for technical crew members.  Training material included complete engines and motors, cut-away models and training diagrams, including charts and diagrams for diagnosing and repairing faults.

Seaman grade Officers and NCOs had only a short machinery course of a few hours.  They did however receive detailed training in U-Boat tactics and torpedo firing.  Further, there was training in ship recognition, simple navigation, and for seamens Officers and senior watchmen, training in meteorology and astronomical navigation.  Military training for crews included basic infantry training, seamanship and signaling.

When 3. U.L.D. was set up in Neustadt, 2. U.A.A. had to move from there to Zeren near Bremen, and the task division of the Unterseebootsausbildungsabteilungen was changed.  1. U.A.A. now took all trained seamen from both Unterseebootslehrdivisionen (including radio and torpedo men), while 2. U.A.A. took all technical crewmen.  Further, a six-week course for U-Boat cooks was set up elsewhere.

April 1943 saw the 3. Unterseebootsausbildungsabteilung set up in Schleswig as a holding unit for surface vessel crews for vessels under B.d.U. command.  There was also a testing company.  3. U.A.A. had no direct connection with the U-Boat war, having a purely military function.  In mid-1944 it was transferred to Pillau.

During the basic training of U-Boat commanders under H.K.U., F.d.U. had command of the remainder of the crews, preparing them for battle, especially in matters of battle-craft and torpedo firing.  Due to the direct contact between F.d.U. and S.K.L. all battle experiences could be immediately incorporated into the training.

Once a newly commissioned U-Boat had been put under the command of one of the U-Boat Admirals, and had a commander and crew, the whole went to F.d.U.-Ost until it went into battle training with F.d.U.Ausb.  Here the boat was divided into a number of classes for training, which was completed in three months.  The training was flexible enough to allow more or less time to a subject according to results.

Crews were initially under the command of H.K.U. (Kiel) for their initial training, which dealt with seamanship matters.  They were then transferred to the Unterseebootslehrdivisionen (and the two Training Flotillas, 21. and 22. Unterseebootsflottille) where they received more basic training.  They were then sent on to the Unterseebootsausbildungsabteilungen.

Crews and Officers were then transferred to join their U-Boats and came under the command of F.d.U.-Ost (Danzig).  There they were first trained at Flak-Schule VII at Schwinemünde in anti-aircraft weapons and gunnery (becoming increasingly important as a skill).  They then moved on to 19. Unterseebootsflottille at Pillau where they underwent a course in harbor training and seamanship.

The next stop was the Agru-Front at Hela, where they started to received their technical training for operating the boat as a fighting machine.  The COs torpedo course followed at 20. Unterseebootsflottille (Pillau) where they worked on pre-tactical torpedo training, followed by torpedo attack training at 25. or 26. Unterseebootsflottille (either at Libau or Pillau).

The next stop was Gotenhafen and 27. Unterseebootsflottille where they had operational tactical training, and the whole crew and boat then went for a final shake-down to one of the front training Flotillas (4., 5., 8., 31. or 32. Unterseebootsflottille based in Stettin, Kiel, Danzig, Wilhelmshaven, Hamburg, Wesermünde or Königsberg).

They were then transferred to the operational command under which they were to work (Commands West, North Sea/Arctic, etc.) and went, via replacement groups, to their operational flotilla, where they came under the command of front operational commands.

F.d.U.Ausb. also organized training for new commanders, giving them time with their more experienced counterparts who had already commanded a boat at war.  Losses from 1943 onwards however eventually rendered this part of the course ineffective.  The trainee commanders, shortly before taking over a boat, were trained at 3. U.L.D. in Neustadt in the F-Equipment; this was a simulator for underwater command having a U-Boat type tower with periscope, wheel, gyro-compass and torpedo computer.  The trainee saw a battle picture through the periscope and gave details to the computer.  Firing the dummy torpedo control stopped everything and mistakes could be analyzed.  Following this came practical torpedo firing with the special training flotillas in Danzig and Memel.

Seamens' branch commanding officers (Reserve Officers, etc.) were trained by F.d.U., not U.L.D.  There followed a 10-day course of practical work in watchkeeping on board barges of 19. Unterseebootsflottille in Pillau, accompanied by their crews.  24. Unterseebootsflottille in Memel was set up as a sound-locating training school for NCOs and men.

At the end of 1944 a special school was set up in Hela to train Officers in underwater sound location (SU-Gerät Nibelung), This was 18. Unterseebootsflottille, but it did not go into operation due to the then war situation.

From mid-1944 onwards a special team was organized and controlled by F.d.U.Ausb. to examine the new Types XXI and XXIII in order to optimize future training on these boats.  This Test Group for U-Boats also looked into and tried out new fighting methods that these boats allowed.  Specially created groups (Sultan and Pascha) tested new location methods, first submerged, then on the surface.

Early in the Autumn of 1944 Soviet advances cut back on the training program.  The gunnery flotillas moved from Libau and Memel to Gotenhafen.  After the fall of the Weichsel Front the Danzig Bight was denied to the Kriegsmarine.  The gunnery schools moved from there to Travemünde and Warnemünde in January 1945.  Agru-Front moved to Bornholm at the beginning of March, during which move it surrendered control of tactical Unterseebootsflottillen.  Also, at the start of 1945, 1. and 2. Unterseeboots-Lehrdivisionen moved west to Hamburg-Finkenwerder and Wilhelmshaven, where they were ordered to surrender soon after setting up.  3. U.A.A. in Pillau was ordered into the fighting there.

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