Allied Capture of German Submarine U-505

Allied Capture of German Submarine U-505
Allied Capture of German Submarine U-505

The Allied capture of German submarine U-505 took place at an important time in the Second World War. With the Allied invasion of Normandy planned for just two days later, the Allies were open to any small victories that might help to sway the battle in their favor. As it turned out, the capture of submarine U-505 was not just a small victory, but one which helped to bolster the Allies’ resources.

At that point in time, it had been well over a century since American seamen had managed to take control of an enemy ship while still at sea. This changed when they found a German U-boat near Africa, and immediately went about capturing the vessel. It became increasingly obvious that submarine U-505 was worthy of capture when the Germans tried to sink it themselves before the Allies could take full control. Luckily, the American sailors managed to prevent this from happening. Once they had secured the vessel, they set about exploring its contents.

Onboard the ship were several books containing German codes, allowing the Allies to decrypt enemy messages. They also discovered coding machines, further easing their efforts to understand the enemy’s codes. They were lucky to capturesubmarine U-505, as the Germans’ attempt to sink the boat before it could fall into Allied hands was not a unique effort. In fact, all German U-boats were under similar orders, as they did not want the Allies to acquire their codes, the Yakima Herald reports.

While the contents of the vessel were important, the mere knowledge of these contents was not the only motivating factor for the Allies in capturing the boat. The idea to capture a German U-boat was actually motivated by prior experience. Leading up to D-Day, the Allied naval forces had taken out three vessels similar to submarine U-505. In one of those three instances, the vessel briefly surfaced before it was ultimately destroyed. The Allies realized that they might be able to capture one of these vessels if they could simulate that experience, but prevent the vessel from sinking once it had reached the surface.

The plan to capture submarine U-505 was successful, and as a result the Allies gained a wealth of naval codes that the Germans had fought to keep from them. The ability to take over a German U-boat also gave them a first-person view of the sort of naval technology that the Germans had at their disposal. While the acquisition of the Enigma machines and code books found aboard submarine U-505 would not have been enough of a factor to lead the Allies to victory on its own, it was still an important milestone in their fight against Germany.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE