U-Boat Bunkers or Pens
With the fall of France, one main benefit for Donitz, and his U-Boat Command, was the acquisition of ports on the French Atlantic coast. The distance travelled by U-Boats from their home ports to the Convoy routes was greatly reduced, and thus allowed German Submarines to stay on station for an extra 10 days.
To protect the U-Boats on their return from patrol, Bunkers or Pens for their safety were built at Bordeaux, Lorient, Brest, Saint Nazaire, and at La Pallice, near La Rochelle Lorient was the first Bunker to be completed, and 19 Pens connected by channels to the harbour gave sanctuary to returned Boats, and their Crews. The facilities included main services, dry docks, work shops, accommodation, fuel, stores, all defended by strong Anti-Aircraft batteries. Doctor Fritz TodI, as Minister for Construction was responsible for building these massive Bunkers using "Organisation TodI, or the O.T." After Lorient, his construction crews worked their way along the coast, these structures were protected with 15 to 20 feet of reinforced concrete.
In March 1942, Roosevelt was suggesting to Churchill that the R.A.F. should be used on bombing U-Boat bases and their support buildings. Churchill responded by reporting that 250 bombers had attacked "U-Boat nests at Lubeck, results are said to be the best ever. It was not until the Pens were completed that Bomber Command tried to knock them out, after an attack on the Bay of Biscay bases of Lorient and Saint Nazaire, this comment was made, "From the cascade of fire and high explosive which descended on the two ports practically nothing emerged intact - except the U-Boat pens."
Donitz had this to say on the sublect: "It was a great mistake on the part of the British not to have attacked these pens from the air while they were under construction... But British Bomber Command preferred to raid towns in Germany. Once the U-Boats were in their pens it was too late."
It was not until 1944, when the R.A.F. united 3 by 4,000 pound bombs into a single "Tall Boy, armour piercing bomb, that any impact was really made on these U-Boat Bunkers.
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