Daily Event for September 4

Attacks against U-boats during World War 2 was common place, the successful ones are remembered and
recorded thus in the history books. The unsuccessful ones are mostly forgotten except by those who were on
the receiving end of a relentless depth charge attack. Those who survived such attacks are few.

The USS Greer DD-145 was en route to Argentia, Iceland when she was signaled by an RAF Hudson bomber
to the presence of a submerged U-boat approximately ten miles ahead of her. Forty minuets later the Greer's
crew picked up a sound target believed to be the U-boat and the captain began to follow the target. About two
hours after the initial signal from the bomber her pilot signaled he was running low on fuel and was returning
to base but, before he did so he dropped four depth charges on the unseen U-boat. This action was probably
responsible for what happened next.

Kapitänleutnant Georg-Werner Fraatz, commanding officer of the mystery U-boat, U-652, may have believed
the attack came from the Greer and so he took the appropriate action. U-652, a Type VIIc, was a new boat
having commissioned only five months and one day earlier, she was matched against the USS Greer, an
old Wickes Class four stacker built during the last war. Greer was 314' long and displaced 1,154 tons, the
U-652 was 220' long and displaced 871 tons submerged and had four torpedo tubes in her bow and
one in the stern.

By 12:30 the U-652 was finally seen by the lookouts on the Greer. She was seen as close as 100 yards away
but Greer made no attempt to attack the boat, that would soon change. At 12:48 Greer's lookouts sighted
a torpedo running toward the ship, her captain ordered up flank speed and turned the rudder hard to port,
the torpedo passed harmlessly 100 yards or so to her stern, the captain of the Greer now attacked.

Greer made a pass at the U-652 dropping 8 depth charges, this was answered by another torpedo from the
U-652, again missing the Greer. Soon the Greer lost sonar contact with the U-652 and the hunt was on. The
search took two hours but finally the target was located and another series, this time of 11 depth charges
were loosed at the U-652 but the attack, dramatic though it was, failed to sink the boat. The U-652 had
managed to slip away and the hunt was called off.

This seems to have been the only direct contact the Greer ever had with a U-boat although she was on
scene to rescue survivors of other U-boat attacks. On Mar. 21, 1942 she rescued thirteen survivors from the
Equipoise which had been sunk by the U-160 and again on Apr. 23, 1942 rescued twenty-four from the
Robin Hood which was sunk by U-575.

The Greer was involved in a training accident on Oct. 15, 1943 when she rammed and sank the USS Moonstone
PYc-9 off New York, Moonstone sank in four minuets and one crewman was killed, Greer picked up the rest
of the survivors. Greer ended her days under the cutters torch in Baltimore, Maryland.

The U-652 went on to sink four other ships including two Royal Navy warships but did not survive the war. Her
time came on June 2, 1942 when she was bombed by a Swordfish aircraft, the boat was so badly damaged
she had to be scuttled by U-81 northeast of Bardia, Libya. KpLt. Fraatz went on to command the U-529
and was lost with her in Feb. 1943. Four other men on the U-652 that day went on to command their own

This failed attack by a U. S. ship against a German U-boat occurred on Sept. 4, 1941, three months before the
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the official entry of the U. S. into World War 2. The USS Greer and the
U-652 were the first American and German warships to trade shots in the second world war. Two months
later on Oct. 31, 1941 the USS Reuben James DD-245 would become the first American ship sunk in the second
world war, she was sunk by the U-552.
© 2007 Michael W. Pocock

2006 Daily Event