(Herbert Kuppisch, the man destined to be the U Boat commander of the Penang’s German naval base. But was KIA when his boat (U-847) was sunk southwest of the Azores. Image source: www.uboataces)
This is a true story of German U Boats operating in the Far East with the intention of having a U Boat base in Penang, Malaya.
Barely a month later, on March 28 1943, U-178 departed from France and en route to the Indian Ocean, BdU sent a message that she was to sail to Malaya and set up a U-boat base there.
After having replenished from a surface tanker in the Indian Ocean, the U-178 arrived in Penang at the Malayan Peninsula on August 1943. KK Wilhelm Dommes became the first commander of the German U-boat base in Asia.
Penang, situated on the west coast of Peninsula Malaya was under Japanese occupation and was selected as the main U-boat base. A second base was established at Kobe, Japan, and a small repair base was located at Singapore, Jakarta and Surabaya.
A total of 41 German U-boats sailed to Far East to undertake various operations from transport duties to operations against shipping to U-boats to be presented to Japan.
These boats paid a high price for their journey, as of the forty one which had set sail, only six would return to Europe, and only two of those successfully delivered their cargo back to Germany.
Just imagine what would have happened if the Allied had not broken the German’s Enigma Code and if German and Japanese forces had an upper hand in the war against the Allied forces? Penang would have been an interesting place.