Saved by Walter Schmietenknop

Walter Schmietenknop "Saved" click to read to story about surviving the sinking of U-737

Read Walter Schmietenknop's 80 page story SAVED

In WW2, as a young Midshipman I served in HMAS Australia which took part in the Battle of the Atlantic over 1940-1941. Post war, in Royal Navy schools I qualified as a Torpedo Anti-Submarine specialist in 1947.

For the 50th. anniversary of winning the Battle of the Atlantic in 1993, I revisited Liverpool, toured the Western Approaches HQ there, and attended the International Naval Review off Anglesey, Wales. My great interest in German U-Boats and the Battle of the Atlantic stems from this backdrop.

U Boat U-767.
This boat was launched on the 5th. of April in 1941, but it took until the 11th. of September 1943 for her to commission. She made but one patrol, under the command of 37 year old Walter Dankleff, on the 15th. of June in 1944, he achieved his sole success by sinking the British 1,370 ton frigate HMS Mourne at the western approaches to the English Channel.

Only three days later, U-767 was detected by the British Support Group 14, made up of five destroyers, HM Ships: Fame, Havelock, Hotspur, Icarus and Inconstant. Fame attacked with her ahead throwing Hedgehog, this anti submarine weapon fires 24 projectiles which only explode on impact. She reported 2-3 hits at 95 feet, and U-767 was doomed, sinking in 240 feet of water.

Sole Survivor.
Only one crew member from her complement of 50 escaped, and this was Walter Schmietenknop, he was picked up by HMS Fame.

U-767 found.
The Starfish Enterprise Wreck Diving team led by Leigh Bishop found U-767, 58 years later. Leigh took some amazing coloured under water shots of the wreck sitting on the bottom of the English Channel in 240 feet of water. He graciously gave me permission to reproduce these photographs on AHOY.

At this stage, Leigh and I were unaware of the name of this sole survivor from U-767 and we both pondered on his identity and whether he might still be alive. From Clay Blair's book Hitler's U-Boat War. The Hunted 1942-1945 at page 589 I was able to give Leigh the information that the one survivor was Walter Schmietenknop, wrongly identified there as a Stoker, I was subsequently told that Walter served in that U-Boat as an electrician.

E-Mail from Canada.
In 2003 I received an unexpected E-Mail from Dave Karius in Vancouver Canada, telling me that Walter was his Father-in-Law, and very much alive and well.

What marvellous news!

I asked if Walter might share his story of his escape with me, so it might have a wider audience on our web site AHOY.

I received a brief report about his miraculous escape back in 1944.

Walter and Renate Schmietenknop January, 2007
Walter and Renate Schmietenknop January, 2007
Forward to December 2006.
In December 2006, totally out of the blue, I had an E-Mail from Eva Adam in Vancouver Canada, offering to share with me Walter Schmietenknop's 80 page story SAVED, the account of his escape from the stricken U-767. I was elated, and having said " YES PLEASE " Eva has kindly mailed a hard copy to me and a CD, plus a hard copy to my Web Master Terry Kearns in Atlanta Georgia.

Terry is in the process of sharing this wonderful story of a remarkable escape with all our visitors to AHOY.

We are both indeed grateful to both Walter and Eva for all their work and trouble in contacting us.

OH! the wonder of the internet and its associated E-mail.

Read Walter Schmietenknop's 80 page story SAVED


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