Civil Air Patrol sinks two U-Boats


Not only did the Civil Air Patrol spot 173 U-Boats, they attacked 57 of them, resulting in two kills, reported 91 ships in distress, assisted in rescuing 363 survivors of U-Boat attacks, and reportd 17 floating mines. From Wiki:

The footnote on that paragraph goes to this .pdf article, which describes the first kill on page 9. This ‘dot-gov’ site contains the same information. A link on the page quotes a book where it says that a Col. Earle visited a U-Boat commander and asked him, ‘[W]hat do you consider to be the most outstanding factor of your defeat off the Atlantic coast of America?’ The reply: ‘It was because of those damned little red and yellow planes!’

Until a couple of years ago, I’d always heard that the CAP sank one sub. I haven’t turned up any information on the second sinking, nor the identity of the first one. It would be interesting if someone could find that information. The Civil Air Patrol has been called ‘the best-kept secret in the Air Force’. There have been a couple of high-profile searches (JFK Jr. and Steve Fossett come to mind), but the CAP do their jobs with little fanfare. They only (reportedly) sank two subs in WWII, but their spotting efforts were an important part of our Coastal Defense off the East Coast and several aircrew were killed. Even today, CAP pilots risk their lives – and occasionally lose them – performing their duties. The only compensation they receive is for fuel and such, and only on actual missions.

In any case, it’s nice to see the Civil Air Patrol mentioned in the column.

Johnny L.A., former 2LT, Civil Air Patrol

I believe one of them may have been the U-869, the discovery and exploration of which was the subject of the book Shadow Divers, by Robert Kurson. The cause of sinking is not certain, however.

U-869 was initially thought to be either U-550 or U-521. Following the links on that page, neither of those were attacked by CAP aircraft. So that’s three down, 1,147 to go… :stuck_out_tongue:

In the book, there was a claim made by a CAP pilot that he had bombed a submarine in the general location of the wreck, and this was assumed to be a possibility. Another was that a torpedo fired by the sub circled back and homed to the boat, in effect sinking itself. At the time the dives were being made, no evidence could be found in ships’ logs that indicated a possible sinking in that area.

Serious post WWII analysis has pretty well proven that CAP did not sink any U-boats. The official USN agency that credits WWII sinkings does not acknowledge any such kills. I wish it were not the case but I have tried to find any U-boats lost that were not accounted for at the time CAP could have attacked them and there absolutely is no possible candidate target that was not provably afloat at a later date! I have spent time at Kiel going over records and searched hundreds of books looking for a possible event window, that was not. I am a most serious student of CAP history and a CAP LT. Col. so I would hope for the best outcome for CAP but in honesty it did NOT happen.