German U-boat crews abandoned
plans to scuttle, surrender instead
Story by Stephen J. Thorne
It was a cloudy afternoon on May 13, 1945, when four Canadian navy ships intercepted U-889 some 250 kilometres southeast of Cape Race, N.L. The patrol aircraft that discovered the steaming German submarine circled overhead.
The war had been over less than a week and all German U-boats had been ordered to cease offensive operations, even before the surrender was formalized.
Almost three-quarters of the Unterseeboot crews had died during the war—an unheard of 28,000 of 40,000 men, many of whom fell victim to technologies that outpaced their own. The surrender order no doubt came as bittersweet relief to many in a service that had diminished from primarily volunteer to increasingly pressed crews.