German submarine U-238 was a Type VIIC U-boat of the German Kriegsmarine built for service in the Second World War. She was built during 1942 by Germaniawerft of Kiel, and she was commissioned on 20 February 1943, with Oberleutnant zur See Horst Hepp in command. Hepp commanded her for her entire career, receiving a promotion to Kapitänleutnant in the process.
She was a successful, if short lived boat, sinking four freighters and damaging another during her operations against Allied convoys in the Second Battle of the Atlantic. She had the misfortune, however, of serving at the turning point of the war, when allied countermeasures were taking a heavy toll on the U-boat force. She conducted three war patrols, beginning in September 1943, following her warm up trials in the Baltic Sea.
The first patrol of the U-238 was conducted from Trondheim in Norway as part of the 1st U-boat Flotilla, and entailed the submarine exiting the North Sea via the Denmark Strait and operating against Allied shipping in the supposed "air cover gap" in the Central Atlantic, where Allied aircraft were unable to effectively operate against German U-boats. This first patrol was by far the most successful of U-238's patrols, as on 20 September, it attacked a large convoy, sinking one 7,000-ton cargo ship and damaging another. This was followed by three more victims on 23 September, when two Norwegian ships and a British freighter were sunk from the same convoy.
The U-238's second patrol was less successful, as two weeks after leaving Brest, France she was attacked by an Avenger torpedo bomber from the escort carrier USS Bogue (CVE-9), whose rockets killed two crew and wounded five more, prompting the submarine to return to Brest with severe damage which put it out of service for a month. It was during this patrol that the submarine captured two British Royal Air Force personnel, whose Vickers Wellington bomber had been shot down by the German submarine U-764.
U-238's third and last patrol began in January 1944, and lasted a fruitless month, until on 9 February, when she was caught by the convoy escorts of Convoy SL-147 and Convoy MKS-38, 270 miles off Cape Clear. She counter-attacked unsuccessfully and was sunk with all 50 hands by the sloops HMS Magpie, Starling and Kite
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