Coastal Command Sunderland, U from Squadron 461, Sinks German U-Boat, U-461 in the Bay of Biscay.

At my stint at the Shrine yesterday, Thursday the 4th. of November I shared the shift with Keith Lindner who had served in HMAS Warramunga during WW2. Keith told me a relative had served in Coastal Command during WW2, and his Sunderland had sunk a German Submarine in the Bay of Biscay, the only details he knew was that this aircraft carried the same designation as did the U-Boat. eg U-761 versus U-Boat U-761.

He added, Dudley Marrows had won both a Distinguished Service Order and a Distinguished Flying Cross. That was enough for me to track down this incident which makes an amazing story. 

Coastal Command Sunderland, U from Squadron 461, Sinks German U-Boat, U-461 in the Bay of Biscay.

In the Bay of Biscay, on the 30th. of July 1943, three German submarines were proceeding together on the surface. They were loaded with fuel, ammunition and supplies, all destined to be delivered to waiting operational U-Boats who were part of the Wolf Packs roaming the Atlantic Ocean.

Royal Australian Air Force Sunderland U, from Number 461 Squadron spoils their day.
This RAAF Coastal Command Sunderland under the command of Australian, Flight Lieutenant Dudley Marrows suddenly arrived on the scene. Let Flight Lieutenant continue with his assessment of this situation.

"The Submarines were manoeuvring in formation, keeping their bows pointing towards the attacking aircraft, putting up a formidible barrage of cannon and machine gunfire. I decided that the only thing to do was to go in as low as possible. We went in, jinking violently, with all 30 guns of the three submarines firing at us. Shrapnel was hitting the fuselage like hail. Just skimming the swell tops, I had to pull up to clear the submarine as I dropped my depth charges. We just cleared the conning tower."

Robert Taylor's Painting. Caught on the Surface.

Robert Taylor's Painting. Caught on the Surface.

U-461 is finished off by Sunderland U from Squadron 461.
Seven expolsions shredded U-461, literally blowing this U-Boat apart. What a bizarre coincidence? What are the odds of all the German Submarines at sea on this day in 1943, of U-461, coming face to face with the one Coastal Command Sunderland from Squadron 461, carrying the distinguishing letter U? and meeting her match.TRULY REMARKABLE!

Flight Lieutenant Marrows could see some survivors in the water, he flew back and dropped a dingy to them, 53 of the U-Boat crew died, but 15 lived.

Fate of the other two U-Boats.
A Liberator from 53 Squadron, a Sunderland from 228 Squadron, a Catalina from 210 Squadron, a Liberator from 19 Squadron, and two Halifax Bombers from 502 Squadron joined together with Destroyers from Captain Walker's Escort Group to account for these other two enemy boats. Thus none of the supply submarines survived.

Painting of Sunderland U's attack.
Robert Taylor has produced a remarkable painting to capture the scene of Sunderland U from Squadron 461 of Coastal Command attacking the German U-Boat U-461.

Fifty Seven years on, four surviving members from the Sunderland crew, and four surviving members from the then enemy U-Boat crew have now come together to all sign a Numbered Edition of this painting, to partly be used to raise funds for the Australian War Memorial.

Post Script.
On the 16th. of September in 1943, Dudley Marrow's Sunderland was set upon by six, JU 88's, he and his crew battled them for an hour, shooting down one of them, but the aircraft lost three engines in the fight. The Sunderland riddled with bullet holes was forced to land in a 15 foot swell, and promptly sank, all her crew survived to be rescued by the Royal Navy.

Marrows finished his war by Captaining one of six Sunderlands back to Australia for service with 40 Squadron.

Awards to Dudley Marrows.
As a Flight Lieutenant, R.A.A.F. Dudley Marrows was gazetted on the 10th. of October 1943, with the award of a Distinguished Flying Cross. This was followed up on the 15th. of October 1943, when he was gazetted with the award of  a Distinguished Service Order. Within the span of but 5 days, two well earned awards are made to this intrepid Australian Flier.

Squadron 461 Crest. 
 Their Motto. They shall not pass unseen.

Squadron 461 Crest.
Their Motto. They shall not pass unseen.


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