Oct. 4, 1944: The River-class frigate HMCS Chebogue (K317) is struck by a German homing torpedo of the G7es type, launched from the Type IXC submarine U-1227, commanded by Friedrich Altmeier. Throughout the Battle of the Atlantic, the Royal Canadian Navy was at the forefront of encounters against the enemy, illustrated not least by the RCN’s continual encounters with Nazi Germany’s latest “wonder weapons”.
HMCS Chebogue was operating as part of convoy ONS-33, a slow route from the UK to North America, hugging the northern edge of the Atlantic. At 2249 hours, the homing torpedo struck Chebogue’s stern, destroying her propulsion capability and killing seven sailors. Unable to proceed under her own power, she was taking into tow by HMCS Chambly, the first Canadian corvette to sink a U-Boat in the war. Escorted by two other vessels, Chebogue managed to remain afloat as the group returned to the UK, arriving at Port Talbot in Wales. Declared a total loss, Chebogue was broken up in 1948.
The G7es was a forerunner of the modern torpedo. Able to passively “home in” on propeller noises, the torpedo only switched on its active sonar after travelling 400m to reduce the chances of it turning around and attacking the submarine that launched it (this wasn’t 100% fool-proof, though…). This mode of operation is very similar to today’s torpedoes. Thankfully for the Allies in the Second World War, the G7es had the tendency to prematurely explode before contacting the target due to the primitive nature of its acoustic systems, reducing the effectiveness of its explosions.
To learn more about HMCS Chebogue, check out the Government of Canada website.
Main photo: HMCS Chebogue’s wrecked stern due to the G7es torpedo (Credit: Wrecksite).