German submarine U-110 (1940)

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German submarine U-110 was a Type IXB U-boat of the German Kriegsmarine that operated during World War II. U-110 was captured by the Royal Navy on 9 May 1941 which provided a number of secret cipher documents to the British. U-110's capture, later given the code name "Operation Primrose", was one of the biggest secrets of the war, remaining secret for seven months. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was only told of the capture by Winston Churchill in January 1942.


Service history

U-110's keel was laid down 1 February 1940 by AG Weser, of Bremen, Germany. She was commissioned 21 November 1940 with Kapitänleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp in command.

Lemp commanded U-110 for her entire career. In an earlier command (U-30) he was responsible for the sinking of the passenger liner Athenia on the first day of the war. The circumstances were such that he was considered for court-martial. He continued, however, to be one of the most successful and rebellious commanders of his day.[citation needed]

U-110 conducted two patrols, sinking three ships totalling 10,149 tons and damaging two others totalling 8,675 tons. On 23 March 1941, her 105 millimetre deck gun exploded during firing, wounding three men. On 9 May 1941, she was captured and later sunk.

In 2007, the submarine's chronometer featured on the BBC programme Antiques Roadshow, from Alnwick Castle, in the possession of the grandson of the captain of the ship which captured her.

Operation Primrose

U-110 and U-201 were attacking convoy CB-318 in the North Atlantic south of Iceland when a torpedo launch failure resulted in Lemp's guard being dropped. In this crisis, the escorting corvette, HMS Aubretia, had responded to U-110's attack, located her with ASDIC and dropped depth charges.

U-110 survived the attack, but was seriously damaged. After a second depth-charge attack, she surfaced, to the crew's relief, and Lemp announced "Last stop, everybody out", meaning "Abandon ship". As the crew turned out onto the U-boat's deck they came under fire from two attacking destroyers (HMS Bulldog and HMS Broadway) with casualties from gunfire and drowning. The British had believed that the German deck gun was to be used and ceased fire when they realised that the U-boat was being abandoned and the crew would surrender.

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