Wehrmacht-planned Great Escape
May 1943: the tide turned in the Atlantic and more U-boats were sunk than cargo ships. But just before the reversal of fortunes, U-262 (type VII) made a remarkable sortie to Canada. It was to be the German-side’s ‘Great Escape’.
Under command of Oberleutnant Heinz Franke, the boat entered the Cabot strait 27-28 April under sealed orders to rescue POWs who were to have escaped from Camp 70 near Fredericton. Dodging ice and coastal patrol-planes, Franke’s boat was in position on the escape date.
However, Canadian intelligence services had detected the plot (decoded POW letters sent via Red Cross to Germany) and Canadian coastal command planes were waiting to ambush Franke at the rendezvous. Franke laid low until May 6th – the escape date, but when no one showed up he left on the 7th. This was not the first time U-boats shadowed Canada’s coast with the purpose of landing or retrieving spies and POWs.
To read more about U-Boats in Canada, check out The History of Canada.
Main photo: U-262 returning to base. Two aircraft “kills” painted on the conning tower (Credit: U-Historia).