Oberleutnant Stefan Michael Grabowski
Patrol # 2

Duration:     24.11.1939 - 28.11.1939, 5 days on sea
Patrol Area:   AN23
Ship:   U-330, The Octopus
Type:   II C
Flotilla:   9. Flotille, Brest

24 NOV, 1939
1200 We slipped out of pen A-2 in Brest, where we had provisioned and rearmed U-330 in readiness for our next patrol. The day is cold and cloudy. Already the wind bites at our bodies as the 20 knots of northerly breeze rips through our leathers and stings our exposed facial skin. The air, jagged and sharp, reminds me of when I was a boy in Apenrade, playing in the snow. My mind wandered for a moment to the girl who lived next door to me back then. Pretty and charming with long braids of sunlit blond hair, she is now my wife in Kiel. It was on a day just like this that I remember meeting Hilde for the first time. My mind locks on her and our daughter as we pass through the channel markers and fight against the onslaught of wind and bitter cold; knowing full well the harbor is protecting us from the waves that by now must be mountainous in the open sea.

1351 Rendezvoused with the Escort ships. The weather is becoming worse, we see the two minesweepers but there is no sign of the Barrage Breaker which is also supposed to be there. I give the light signal “Gustav” and receive their reply. We merge together and fight the ever-rising waves and wind on our bow toward an eventual release point which is still hours away.

1945 It was torture arriving at the release point. The wind is at least 30 knots by now and the waves easily break over the bridge. Those on watch are already drenched to the skin and becoming numb; ice cycles hang off their hats which are supposed to keep them dry and comfortable. This patrol should prove interesting. We turn to our initial heading of 339 degrees and take our final coastal bearings before it disappears in the spray. The smoke of the escort ships has also quickly vanished in the rough spray. I order radio message #001 to be sent at this time.

25 NOV, 1939
0200 Wind steady at 35 knots with higher gusts. The spray is driven at us, burning the faces of those on watch, giving them temporary tattoos of cherry-red skin; they are half frozen, numb and exhausted by the time their watch is over. I have ordered all men on the bridge to be tethered. We cannot even dive in order to escape the unrelenting pounding we are receiving, for the water here is still too shallow to escape the residual effect of the waves while under water. Today’s motto onboard is, “perseverance through persistence.” It is appropriate, since we will persist through this weather; one way or another.

0815 Incoming message #002 identifies a convoy at Grad AM 9879 and is too far for us to pursue.

0830 In deeper water now. Dive to 120 meters to check hull valves and seals. Also check that the Papenberg Locks are tight and listen for contacts while down here…none heard but seriously, who else would be out on a night like this? We will remain down here for a few hours, most of the crew is sound asleep.

1230 Surfaced, giving the crew a 4 hour rest from the weather above.

1325 Sighted ship 7000 meters off bow in Quad AN6835 heading due east. Flank to investigate.

1403 Established nationality of merchant as Russian. We let this 5000 tonner continue on.

1407 Resumed course and speed for AN23

1410 Sent message #003

26 NOV, 1939
1000 Weather still bad. Winds 330 at 35 to 40 with higher gusts. Barometer is steady at 1001 mb. Our arrival at patrol Grad AN23 was met with an Escort steaming at high speed in our direction. Evidently, our arrival was expected. We went to periscope depth as he lost sight of us and circled off our port bow. Perhaps this is the lead for a convoy. Engines to stop, we silently wait below as our GHG’s strain to hear his screws at the and determine what he is doing. Sent message #004.

1300 He finally breaks off. No sign of screws on Hydrophones. We will surface and continue patrol.

1930 Escorts sighted. Call to “Action Stations” and continue on 355 heading at Flank Speed to intercept possible convoy.

2030 Convoy spotted behind escorts. Somehow, we found a break between them and positioned myself on the convoy’s port side. Weather lightening a bit but still around 25 knots. At 5000 meters and closing, we chance a good closing position and fired a 3 spread fan shot from tube 3 (T-lll serial number 14033 with a Pi-2 dual contact pistol set for magnetic), Tube 2 (T-lll serial number 14053 with a Pi-2 dual contact pistol set for magnetic) and Tube 1 (T-lll serial number 14030 with a Pi-2 dual contact pistol set for impact). Of the 3 eels, only one (with the impact set Pi-2 pistol) detonated, sinking a 4000 ton Liberty-type ship (no name seen). Details are included with the included Shooting Reports. Dived to periscope depth while reloading the remaining three torpedoes. Turned to 280 and increase speed to “Full” to reposition for another fan shot with the remaining eels.

2130 With two of the three eels now loaded, I amazingly stay up with the convoy while at depth. This weather slows them down quite a bit. No moon out made a perfect cover as we briefly surface and line up a tanker through the UZO. My 1WO calls the shots from tube 1 (T-lll serial number 14116 with a Pi-2 Pistol set for magnetic detonation) and tube 2 (T-lll; serial number 14109 with a Pi-2 Pistol set for Magnetic detonation). Only the number one hit and then, merely crippled the 11,000 tonner. Limping away, we lose her in the mist while we wait for the final tube to be loaded. My 1WO is despondent but sees a 7000 tonner as he swings the UZO’s over to our port. Although a bit far, she is the last of them and is in good position. The final tube (3) has just been loaded (T-l ; serial number 31200 with a TZ3 pistol) and we take a longshot with our final eel. He calmly calls out the numbers, “Course 295; Position 30; Range 6000; Depth 3”. We wait until the TDC accepts the numbers and has locked them. Within seconds I give the order to fire when ready. Oblt. z. S. Jessen takes an extra second to confirm, then calls “LOS”. The order is relayed down and our last eel slips out of its berth and into the black void. We disconnect the UZO and quickly slip down the ladder as I call “FLOOD!” and change heading to 045 degrees. The reliable accuracy of the 29-A movement in our Junghans stop watch ticks off the seconds of a seemingly never-ending torpedo run that lasts nearly a full 6 minutes. Then, we hear a distant roar, cheer like mad and quiet down as we know there will soon be hell to pay for the two kills and the limping tanker we have hit. We go deep and try to get out.

2145 They’ve found us with their 2 regular ASDIC’s and one whose sound I have never heard before. Three in all, they crisscross our path as we swing the boat port and starboard in a vain attempt to elude them. Soon, one is over us and we hear the scream from the Sound Room, “Wasserbomben!” We brace as I give last minute commands to place distance and depth between us and the cans. However, we just can’t move fast enough and a barrage like I have never been through before begins. A set of five hit just above our bow, pushing us down to 175, almost 20 meters below desired depth. Damage reports that all 3 of the outer torpedo doors are damaged, perhaps heavily. Luckily, they are taking on no water, but are now useless. We adjust for 155 again and turn to 090 at full speed. Batteries holding out well, but the constant wasserbomben is almost deafening. In addition to the ASDIC, there is that third sonar sound which none of us have heard before. My 1WO thinks it might be a new type of ASDIC, but I will discuss this in greater detail in the “Kommandant’s Report”. Wasserbomben continue and take out the periscope assembly; luckily again there is no leaking around the seals. We are now both defenseless and blind.

27 NOV, 1939
0015 Depthcharges and ASDIC both suddenly stop as the screws fade in the distance. Batteries are still good and I elect to remain under for another hour or two.

0200 Quiet for almost 2 hours. Periscope is out, but we hear nothing on the GHG’s and elect to surface.

0215 Nothing around. We proceed at “FULL” back to Brest while we radio our situation in message #005. Seas relatively calm and a moonless night give us time to begin repairs on the periscope (estimated at 12 to 18 hours) and view the bow damage (which is substantial and cannot be repaired at sea). It is amazing how much punishment these U-boats can take.

28 NOV, 1939
1850 Both arrived at original release point and finished repairs on the periscope assembly / Radioed for escort in message # 006

2005 Escort Arrives

2330 Arrive Brest in pen A-2. We are happy for this is a good omen. Patrol complete as I depart with the KTB, Kommandant’s and Engineer’s Report, and Radio Log in hand and enter the waiting staff car and watch the pens disappear in the distance behind the Mercedes.








01 Merchant   British?


Unknown (Convoy) 3 T-lll’s (2 with Pi-2 set magnetic / 1 with Pi-2 set impact)
02 Merchant British?


Unknown (Convoy)   1 T-l (TZ 3 Pistol )

Radio Log    Kommandant's Report   Chief  Engineer's Report    Shootig Report






Patrol results:





Total career results:






U-boat badge

1939 Iron Cross
2nd Class

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