Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Daniel Murphy

U 104 KIA documentation

23 posts in this topic

U104 was depth charged in St. George's Channel in the Irish Sea on 23 April 1918 by the USS Cushing. This caused what would become fatal damage. Two days later, at 51?59'N 06?26W, U104 was spotted by HMS Jessamine while motionless on the surface attempting to repair her pressure hull. Commander Kapit?nleutnant zS Kurt Bernis dove, but was brought back up to the surface by three more depth charges. Ten crewmen escaped the sinking submarine but only 1 sailor was rescued. 32 went down in the sub and 9 drowned in the sea.

This was a long, slow, cruel kill, and might have ended differently if the submarine commander had just given up when he could have, or scuttled on the surface.

Almost a month later on May 21, 1918, a letter was written to Frau Koennecke informing her she was now a widow. A loose translation of the letter follows.

Pg1. The letter (which violates every every rule of military secrecy) states that U 104 with her husband aboard is missing. The boat left Helgoland on April 10 to wage economic war on the Southwest coast of Ireland. Since no word has been heard from the boat, it's return can no longer be counted on and it must be accepted that the boat and its good crew was lost. Nothing published by the enemy can be connected to the loss of the U 104. For the extremely heavy loss you and your family have suffered I express the sincere condolences of all U Boatmen and especially those of the II Unterseebootsflotille. The courageous crew of the U104 will be be remembered for their devotion to their country, the Navy and the U Boat service. In the interest of national security, I ask you not to release this information to the public and to refrain from placing a death notice in the newspaper.

Pg 2. From death notices in the newspaper, The English can obtain the names of commanders and crew of the Uboats and can gain knowledge of the loss of the boat. (she is then apparently advised where she can apply for a pension).

IPB Image

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 2   Posted (edited)

Pg 2.

IPB Image

Rick,

There is your answer. If anyone can help with translating some of this, it would be appeciated. I can do fair with the printed word. I am at a loss with the handwriting.

Dan Murphy

Edited by Daniel Murphy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A letter written to the "Kommando der U Division" by Frau Koennecke. :unsure: Very nice handwriting, but I have no idea what it says. Help!

Dan Murphy

IPB Image

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Might the letter have been included with this certificate proving she was indeed married to him? The date is when the document was issued not when they were married.

IPB Image

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 5   Posted (edited)

This is apparently the document to document his service and to compute how much of a pension his widow would get. It is one sheet, four pages. I would appear she again had to file for a pension under the Weimar Government as this is stamped again 1920. Pg. 1

IPB Image

Edited by Daniel Murphy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 6   Posted (edited)

Pg 2. A notation from 1958 means she probably had to file for a pension again during thepost ww2 period.

IPB Image

Edited by Daniel Murphy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah! The letter was sent out by Hugo von Rosenberg (born 3 June 1875 Hannover, died Berlin 19 October 1944), in the navy 1893-1914, 1914-17 as a "retread," 1917-23 reactivated again-- Konetradmiral zS 1.4.23.

He recieved the Pour le Merite 4 December 1917, as Commander of Subamrines Baltic from 1 October 1915 to 24 January 1918. Charakterisiert Vizeadmiral zS aD 27 August 1939 with the other living Pour le Merite holders on the 25th anniversary of "Tannenberg day" and the week before WW2 began.

It is deeply interesting to see somebody humanized like this. He could have been cashiered or arrested for violating security, and yet he chose to fully inform a "mere other ranks" widow rather than be a soulless bureaucrat sending out form letters of impersonal so-called condolence.

Next one, scan #3:

Her letter of 3 July 1918 to Uboat Command replying to theirs of 29 June and enclosing the requested

1) official record of her marriage and

2) a police certificate (apparently confirming her identity by the local authorities--simpler times)

and indicating in response that her address is, as formerly, Bergedorf bei Hamburg at Braunerstrasse 95, and she would like to receive her benefits through the Bergedorf Post Office. (Probably for postal money order cashing).

Signed Elsa K?nnecke n?e Gr?tzmacher.

Scan 4 is a Certificate of Marriage "only good in event of sickness, accident, disability, old age insurance" and written in "next of kin benefits."

It certifies from Bergedorf that Bruno K?nnecke, Oberbootsmannsmaat, born 27 January 1889 in Magdeburg-Neustadt, married Elsa Clara Johanna Gr?tzmacher, born 5 March 1898 in Hamburg

on 15 March 1918! Dated Bergedorf 28 June 1918.

Next, scan 5:

Application for confirmation of widows' benefits per the law of 17 may 1907, with officialese scratchings, strike outs and isnertions as to documentation and so on.

Scan 6

repeats their birth and marriage data, states he was a peasant and career enlistee, written in red "failed to return from a submarine mission" and "death is accepted with almost certainty."

He then had in 11 years and 201 days of pensionable service (war counted double for regulars),

after which she was certified as eligible for an annual widow's pension of RM 399, with an additional RM 200 as a war casualty, this to be paid out in monthly amounts of RM 49.91--

which from what I can tell would have been his peacetime salary in that grade, in full.

Scan 7 is not fully readable since it has a part pasted over, but is figuring of additional benefits and entitlements--

top left in red that would make actual annual benefit RM 660.

Down the column for June 1918

Wages 93

Sea Duty +18

Technical Specialty Extra pay +25

Housing allowance +18

Seniority Extra pay +12

with benefits to begin 1 July 1918

and pasted over note in red that advanced payment from the U-Division's pay office at Kiel-Wik of RM 377

sated 21 August 1918.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 9   Posted (edited)

Pg. 4. This is all I have right now. I am working on trying to translate some more papers.

IPB Image

Edited by Daniel Murphy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Scan 4 is a Certificate of Marriage "only good in event of sickness, accident, disability, old age insurance" and written in "next of kin benefits."

It certifies from Bergedorf that Bruno K?nnecke, Oberbootsmannsmaat, born 27 January 1889 in Magdeburg-Neustadt, married Elsa Clara Johanna Gr?tzmacher, born 5 March 1898 in Hamburg

on 15 March 1918! Dated Bergedorf 28 June 1918.

OMG, they were newlyweds! :speechless1::speechless1::speechless1:

Dan Murphy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 11   Posted (edited)

Ah H@ll! I am no good at this stuff. I throw myself on the mercy of Rick Research. Help! If cannot figure this one out, there is no way for what comes next.

IPB Image

Edited by Daniel Murphy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Newlyweds indeed... making me wonder if a LITTLE K?nnecke was to come along in 9 months....

Scan 9 is reckoning of service time:

a) Active duty 1 July 1908 to 21 May 1918 = straight time of 9 years 325 days

b) double time for beyond home waters service on SMS "Loreley" (Station Ship, Constantinople-- see scans below of "Loreley" taken circa 1916 from then- Paymaster Candidate August B?ning's album--

[attachmentid=49325][attachmentid=49326]

from 5 May to 31 December 1913 = + 241 days double pensionable time with notation that 1915 service there could not be counted DOUBLE-double, since it was already reckoned double as a war year.

c) due to the time of his death, 1918 was counted as 1 full year as a partial war year

for in total 11 years 201 days as would have been reckoned towards his pension and long service awards.

Noted at bottom:

"Failed to return from a submarine mission with SMS "U 104" on 21 May 1918 and death is presumed with very high certainty."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another letter from Widow Koennecke. Why the bottom was removed, I have no idea.

Dan Murphy

IPB Image

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it me or does this look like a recollection of the last cruise of the U 104? In about 1920 that one surviving member of the crew might have been released from captivity.

Dan Murphy

IPB Image

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 17   Posted (edited)

Page 3. :beer: Sorry Rick, It would take me about a week or two for this. I truly appreciate your help on this.

Dan

IPB Image

Edited by Daniel Murphy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

#11 is a reply 30 September 1918 to her dad, Police Watch Master (this probably equated to a WW2 Polizei-Meister rather than the same title but different rank at this time, Polizei-Wachtmeister) Gr?tzmacher in Bergedorf bei Hamburg of his request of 28 August for a Warrant Officer (Deckoffizier) widow's pension for his daughter--

"The Inspectorate of Submarines informs you that your request cannot be considered. Further applications of your request under the existing conditions and regulations have no possibiloity of success."

(apparently he had been pestering them.)

"Your son in law would have been promoted by seniority to U-Steuermann on 1 March 1917 but he failed to meet the requirements for that promotion. As a result he was sent for further training as a supernumerary Petty Officer to the IInd Submarine Flotilla on 16 March 1918 and assigned to SMU "U 104". On 21 May 1918 he was then reported missing in action."

(I believe the "1 March 1917" is a typographical error and from the context and timing should have read "1 March 1918.")

"Should your daughter find herself in such a great emergency situation that she requires a one-time support payment, you must then report such for separate consideration of her circumstances to Command of the U-Division in Kiel.

For Inspectorate of Submarines

Chief of Staff

signed (Typed-- "Signature!" No von Rosenberg, this guy!!!)

I'd say you got a real treasure trove here, Dan! I TOLD Richard he shoulda posted all these BEFORE selling with random samples scanned! :P:beer:

There is nothing actually missing from the letter in scans 13-14, just a bit off the blank bottom. On 11 December 1918 she is applying for an additional monthly RM 8 in family allowance she feels she was entitled to but has never received she was "only married for such a short time" and her husband "went away after only a few weeks and never returned." As a consequence she never received the additional family support allowance she feels she was entitled to. She references her existing pay, pension numbers etc etc.

The reverse asks for positive consideration and is signed "Elsa K?nnecke, Widow"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:Cat-Scratch: Aha! A letter dated Dortmund 27 May 1920 from the sole survivor of U 104, Karl Eschenberg, to Widow K?nnecke--

he had just returned home to her letter and will try to give a true picture of the events of that last cruise. That will not reduce her pain or that of her husband's old mother, but his family too suffered in the war--

"It is now over, for nothing and more nothing did the flower of manhood pass away, while the next of kin too have to pay the price Father Nation alloted to them."

"(1918): Beginning of April, it must have been about the 8th, we sailed past Helgoland and steered for the Danish coast...."

Tell us a bedtime story, daddy! Oh, chirruns, Daddy's fingies are typied to dem bonzes and will have to renew this tale upon the morrow! :beer:

(This is called "maintaining dramatic narrative tension," chirruns! It's OK, because I am not reading ahead of translating, either, so it will be as much a revelation for me as it will for you. (:rolleyes::cat: )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 20   Posted (edited)

Rick,

I understand. :P I will try to translate some more and save those fingers. Thank you for your help. BTW here are the last two pages. Apparently another request for a warrant officers pension in 1933. I would like to think she got it. THATS ALL FOLKS!

Dan Murphy

IPB Image

Edited by Daniel Murphy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 22   Posted (edited)

In the first case the attacking vessel must?

(a) Determine distance ahead of oil or bubbles that submarine is.

This distance depends upon submergence of submarine and submerged speed of submarine. Submergence is always an uncertain quality. U boats dive voluntarily to over 300 feet. U 104 used 98 feet depth to escape and 164 to 197 feet when forced to dive where mines were considered probable. Cruiser submarines dive to 492 feet and are to be tested to 525 feet. At least one U boat made a practice of remaining as near the surface as possible in order to avoid depth charges and in order to watch attacking vessels.

I just found this link to a US Navy instruction manual on "Antisubmarine Tactics" from Oct 1918. I wonder where they got some of this. Especially that which mentions U 104. Not hard to figure, there was only 1 survivor. So the information that he and other prisoners gave them helped sink other U Boats. :speechless1::speechless1::speechless1:

http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/onipubno42.htm

Dan Murphy

Edited by Daniel Murphy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 23   Posted (edited)

Aha! A letter dated Dortmund 27 May 1920 from the sole survivor of U 104, Karl Eschenberg, to Widow K?nnecke--

he had just returned home to her letter and will try to give a true picture of the events of that last cruise. That will not reduce her pain or that of her husband's old mother, but his family too suffered in the war--

"It is now over, for nothing and more nothing did the flower of manhood pass away, while the next of kin too have to pay the price Father Nation alloted to them."

"(1918): Beginning of April, it must have been about the 8th, we sailed past Helgoland and steered for the Danish coast...."

To continue:

"Guide boats led us by the mines and near evening left our company. Now we were generally inside and had the last hatch open. At the other one we go tomorrow. Due to being in Danish waters we cannot be seen. We must have these trips out of the way, since other ways are blocked by mines. Now lay we down and tried to get through our regular day. This could not rob our humor from us though.

Your husband had been assigned to our area and this is how we got to know him. He was a easy going comrade, who quickly won himself the hearts of his comrades. He piloted as a second attendant, I also believe that he would have shortly become an attendant (Deckoffizier); because if he were needed he would move up in the ranks. His service with us was now mainly that that he sat and plotted course. This calls for nerves, which only those who have experienced it can appreciate. Because of the swells and the rattling of the engines it is more arduous to concentrate. He completed his work and would only then come and rest. Deckoffizier Harder was not sure of him at first but they soon developed a good friendship. I can judge concerning this, because I had been aboard longer with Harder who had been on U 104 since May 1917. The Commandant was a very ruddy man who was thoughtful and rarely said a angry word. In this regard everything was in best harmony.

Later in the night then we spotted a vessel in the prohibited area. After we tracked it and we hailed it at noon; It emerged and was found to be a Norwegian fishing vessel, which had traveled too far. According to the law they had stopped for us, we went to them peacefully however and traded liquor and cigars for fresh fish. When they departed I had one of us go and sign which course they would take. One of the fishermen climbed to the highest point of the masts and signed back. .

The other one met was a destroyer that was hunting for us. It had been lured by our artillery fire. We passed through the lucky route between Scotland and the Scottish Islands (Fair Island) and came into the Atlantic. The next meeting seemed to hold luck for us. We sighted a large convoy, set forward now and turned straight into the attack, when one of the destroyers noticed us. We then dove underwater We had to let the whole convoy go on now. When we came up again, they had disappeared, but we made efforts to catch up. Thus when it got dark we broke off pursuit and steered to near the north exit of the Irish Sea. On the way we saw another small steamer with sailors in it. One already saw the coast of Ireland in the distance. The clearing weather gave the opportunity for those off duty to pump their lungs full of the fresh air. Everyone lay out on the deck and sunned themselves. This peace was ruined for us however by the Englishman; a U boat tried to teach us a lesson with a few torpedoes but by the watchfulness of the lookout we were able to evade them. The next the two missed by even further since we now knew where the danger threatened. Thus they had fired 4 torpedoes and for all of this they missed their goal.

Into the night we were now inside the Irish Sea, the so-called was witches cauldron. I only loosely know where we went in this area. Everyone attacked and we came in for an appropriate number of bombs. Nevertheless on April 23, 1918 we were so far that we could prepare for the home trip. We drove now to the south exit of the lake (sic), around which on Saturday and Sunday came ships traffic, some kinds which came from America. On 24,4 another steamer fell into our hands which was loaded with southern fruits. It was sunk. 80 crates of the most beautiful apples went with us on board, so that one could hardly move for the bright apples. Everything conceivable was in the best tendency; because the soon the homeland, which we loved, we could soon see again and celebrate, and we also still had another nice capture as well. But the day, which began so beautifully, what sad end it had!

The night was dark and gusty. At 12 o'clock your husband and I were relieved from watch and along with the rest of that watch and came down and went to sleep. Before we closed our eyes we put a song on. Everything was as calm as could be and suddenly the alarm bell sounds. Before we can rise, a loud crack causes the boat to shudder and starts going down at the rear. Now we run from the NCO area to just after the nose area in order to put the boat down forward by our weight. The light was already out, but there was only approximately 16 men where we were, among them your husband. The boat went up to 80m deep and the water was spurting and the lack of air robbed our ability to speak or hear and was taking our consciousness. When no other options remained for us, I tried now, with the existing compressed air to bring the boat to the surface ; when we came up, the comrades succeeded in opening the hatch . Those under the hatch when they opened it got themselves soaked, while I stood a little more deeply inside the boat. The air pressure stalled them however and then they raised the hatch. I now threw my comrades waterproof coat to the floor and since it no longer protected me I got the full jet of water. I went to get out now and luckily arrived on deck after three others had gotten out. .

Granted, their will was unforgettable while we made the last attempt to get out. We struggled with the elements, but believe me, none had the fear of death save one! All had calm decided faces, none complained and did not argue with their fate. If I could only show you! I will always remember these images. These bare faces with determined looks, as they look at me. No sound can be heard over that of the rushing air; The hair hanging in wild locks over those white foreheads, but there sits young blood of 18-19 in a corner he asks, without a clue: Whether it is now time for us to die? I think I was lucky for we did not know, that it would roll over and go in.

Mrs. Koennecke, I know I would probably not rate high as a salesman. I do not know whether have not done quite so well. If not, then I ask for pardon. I write however from what I saw, I know you still have hope for the return of your husband. For that purpose I believe I am perfectly useless; late at night I can still see the trace of the ship and a comrade, I accept, was probably only one which looked for places still a distance off.

Now I want to close. I know this has been hard for you to accept, but you must resign yourself to this fact because it is true. It is a requirement now for you still live. I also do not believe in reflecting on the dead, you do not belong always thinking about it. When he left all that was dear at home and went of to the war he wanted to live, now you must decide now that it is time to live. You must use your head, living in this world is not egotistical! That is now only way. If she lives and if you greet the dear old mother of our dear one, mention to her that we were comrades who were too soon separated.

Your devoted,

signed Karl Eschenberg

I have to say this is one of the most moving and thought provoking letters (and group)I have ever seen. I have to say I am honored to have been able to get this group and bring this story to life with a lot of help from Rick.

Dan Murphy

Edited by Daniel Murphy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0