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US Navy Capture of U-505 on the high seas

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This summer I was fortunate enough to visit Chicago. There, at the Museum of Science and Industry, is one of the most remarkable exhibits you will find to the valor of the United States Navy.

 

An exhibit featuring a surviving WWII U Boat would be unique on its own. However when you are guided through the saga of how it got to be there, the emphasis is on the role that the men and the women who played a role in its capture.

 

The beginning of the exhibit sets the stage of a world at war, and the necessity of keeping the sea lanes open. This includes not only the sailors of the Merchant Marine but also the staff of the USN's "10th Fleet Headquarters", the cover name for the Navy's anti-submarine operations headquarters.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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To give the viewer the feel of the period, the exhibit is painted and finished much like a WWII headquarters. Period videos add to the atmosphere and the tension, as do a variety of recruiting posters.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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Inevitably the exhibit shows the grim reality of the Battle of the Atlantic and the horrendous losses inflicted by the German U Boat fleet.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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In May of 1944 a task force set sail under the command of Captain Daniel V. Gallery. They were directed to the coast of West Africa and based on directions from "10th Fleet" set about tracking a suspected U Boat operating in the area.

 

By this time of the war, US Navy personnel had noticed a pattern with U Boats that were trapped and in danger of being sunk. Typically the boat would surface, the crew would set scuttling charges and open sea valves, and then abandon ship. A scheme was hatched to try to board a sinking U Boat and at the least grab any code books, maps, documents or cipher machines before it went under. Germany Naval POWs were interrogated until the scuttling process was outlined and understood.

 

All that was needed was a U Boat.

 

Below is part a large mural that depicts the task force headed by the escort carrier USS Guadacanal.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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The task force searched in vain, and was preparing to return to port due to lack of fuel when on June 4, 1944 sonar contact was made.

 

The ensuing battle included the use of spotter aircraft directing the escorts in a depth bomb attack.

 

The submarine was forced to the surface and then endured a barrage of gunfire designed "to encourage the crew to leave the ship". As per the expected procedure, that's exactly what they did once the gunfire lifted.

 

For a more detailed description of the battle, as well as additional links, see:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U-505

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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Display of a Naval flier's uniform typical of the battle.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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What happened next was full of surprises for both sides. The surviving Germans who were being pulled onto the American ships were astonished to see whaleboats racing towards their wounded craft, which was circling in the water at 7 knots due to a jammed rudder. The Americans on the other hand would discover that Germans had not followed procedure and had not set their demolition charges nor opened all of the sea valves.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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Only one member of the USN boarding party had ever been on a submarine in their career.

 

The U-Boat was filling with water in it's aft compartments. Water was also coming in from the hatches.

 

The race was on to retrieve code machines and documents.

 

Every member of the boarding party had assigned tasks.

 

However, typical of the American serviceman, two sailors found themselves diverted when they found a large opening in the floor that was pumping in sea water. It was the opening for a device known as a sea strainer. Next to the opening was a large cover. Both were well aware that it might be booby trapped, and they cautiously felt for a triggering device. Still not quite knowing what this was, they placed the cover over the gushing hole and secured it. By deviating from their specific instructions, they were later credited with stopping the source of major flooding and saving the boat.

 

Although it would take days to fully secure the boat, it was now in US hands.

 

Below, the critical sea strainer cover.

 

Capture photo from USN via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U505.jpg

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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Of course the challenges for CPT Gallery's task force were far from over. Once the boat was stabilized he was ordered to tow it from the Coast of Africa to Bermuda! This would have been hazardous in a peaceful ocean, but to do so undetected during wartime was going to be feat of its own.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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In the meantime U-505 proved to be an intelligence treasure trove. Codes captured from the submarine arrived at Britain's cryptology center at Bletchley Park by June 20th, and yielded a number of ciphers that had not previously been in Allied hands. Also captured were operating instructions for the U Boat fleet.

 

Below is the U Boat's Enigma machine, which can be viewed at the museum. Although previous examples had been obtained, this one featured enhancements that were unknown to Allied cryptographers.

 

The Germans, clearly aware of the value of such intelligence, had their operating codes bound in books with red covers and bound with lead weights. This was another item the crew had skipped in their haste to abandon ship.

 

The Germans, clearly aware of the value of such intelligence, had their operating codes bound in books with red covers and bound with lead weights. This was another item the crew had skipped in their haste to abandon ship.

 

Ironically it was the Enigma machine and codes that almost got CPT Gallery court martialled for this adventure. You will note that this was the same period as D-Day; the Allies were concerned that if the Germans figured out a full U Boat had been captured that all of the codes would have been considered compromised. In the end secrecy was maintained, and all involved in the operation were decorated.

 

As a security precaution, the German crew was interred by themselves in a camp in Louisiana. The Allies did not reveal their presence to the Red Cross, in direct contravention to the Geneva Convention. It was only after the end of the war that their families found out that they were alive.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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As a side note, this was a photo of the BOMBE, a US machine designed to break enemy codes. It was so named due to it's constant ticking during operation. This would be a precursor to our current personal computers!

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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CPT Gallery continued his career and survived the war.

 

U-505 was stripped of its technology and by various reports contributed to the improvement of US submarines.

 

However, by 1946 U-505 was considered little more than a relic and slated to become a gunnery target.

 

CPT Gallery was a Chicago native and happened to learn that the Museum of Science and Technology was looking for a submarine. After negotiating with the Navy and raising $250,000 from local Chicago residents it was brought to the museum for display.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

donation2017.gif

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Initially it was displayed on the shore of Lake Michigan. But over time, the weather began to take it's toll. It was moved to its present location inside and preserved for all time.

 

The display area looks everything like a U Boat bunker. Visitors can view it from both deck level as well descending down to below the water line.

 

From what ever angle you view the boat, it still looks as deadly and efficient as it did in 1944.

 

Note to photographers: It is very dark in the display area and you will have to adjust your camera accordingly. I probably took about 40 photos at various settings to get these few.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

donation2017.gif

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Battle damage is still evident on the conning tower. While most of the crew survived, three were wounded and one was killed.

 

One interesting story is told about the restoration of the U-505. To quote the Wikipedia version:

When U-505 was donated to the Museum, her guts had been thoroughly stripped during the years she sat neglected alongside the dock at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. Admiral Gallery proposed a possible solution. Major Lohr contacted all of the German manufacturers who had supplied the components and parts that went into her, in hopes of restoring her to near-new condition. As the Admiral reported in his autobiography, Eight Bells and All's Well, the Major expected at best responses that boiled down to "Go to hell." However, to his and the Museum's surprise, every company supplied the requested parts without charge. Most included letters that said in effect, "We are sorry that you have our U-boat, but since she's going to be there for many years, we want her to be a credit to German technology."

 

Tours are available of the interior of the boat for $7. Be advised that the tours are scheduled and they fill up early; those interested should get their ticket and reservation time as soon as entering the museum.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

donation2017.gif

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Next to the sub, there are a number of side exhibits. This is the battle flag from one of the escorts, I believe the DE-665 USS Jenks, that was flown that day. As the U Boat was captured intact, it was a virtual time capsule for the German Navy as well. Exhibits include uniforms, insignia, china, navigation tools, etc.

 

On display are torpedoes. I was surprised by one shown in cut away form as to how much internal ribbing and structure there was to them. The torpedo alone is a large and complex machine.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

donation2017.gif

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Also honored were the WAVES of WWII, including Chicago native Mildred Mcafee who became their director

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

donation2017.gif

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.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

donation2017.gif

donation2007.gifdonation2008.gifdonation2009.gifdonation2010.gifdonation2011.gif
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And just to round things out a few more recruiting posters...

 

I suppose "Choose While You Can" refers to choosing the Navy before getting drafted for the Army!

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

donation2017.gif

donation2007.gifdonation2008.gifdonation2009.gifdonation2010.gifdonation2011.gif
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I went there as well this summer. My family and I didn't know that the day we went had free admission! Apparently, we were the only people in the area that didn't know. The place was so packed that they sold out on tickets to tour U-505, which I find strange because the tickets for that were also free. We attempted to get tickets 4 hours before the place even closed. I still got tons of pics of the outside, and there were some vets there answering questions. I would post my pics, but gwb123 has it covered.


In Omnia Paratus

 

Interested in original First Infantry Division items.

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One of the last things you see is a small but fitting memorial to the men of the Merchant Marine. There are also videos showing how the U-505 was moved from the outside, across a road, and inside the museum.

 

Above the U-505 exhibit is an area devoted to technology in the modern US Navy. It features everything from a simulated carrier flight deck to a command center on an attack submarine.

 

All told, along with everything else in the museum, the Museum of Science and Industry is a must see attraction in Chicago. This has to be one of the finest WWII displays I have ever seen.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

donation2017.gif

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Gil - thanks for the great and detailed tour! Excellent :thumbsup: I last saw U-505 when I was a kid and it was still an outdoor exhibit. I think I need to get back to Chicago to see the superb interpretive surroundings and displays. I've always thought this was one of the best feat of arms of the entire war and deserved a lot more publicity. Thanks again for the write-up.

Terry


to all who have served!


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Gil, that is one of my favorite displays at any museum. Like stated above, last time I was there it was still outside, and the display were very primitive compared to what they are now. Plus, the other reason I love this display so much is my Great Grandfather worked for the Chicago Museum Of Sciene & Industry, and the U-505 and the Mine Shaft ride / display were his two main work areas. He helped restore the sub when it was brought across the Lake and the street there, and placed outside. As a child my father had free run of the sub, because of his Grandfather, and has told me stories for years, about breaking the Link Trainer on numerous occasions, that was on display.I also have a copy of Galley's book autographed to my Great Grandfather..


www.vintageproductions.com


"A militaria show is a social event for anti-socials" - A.T. 2008


ASMIC Executive President

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Gil,

 

I love museums. This is an excellent thread. Thanks!! :thumbsup:


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Collecting WWII Armor and Tank Destroyer Items

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Is it still true that no swastikas or weapons are displayed?

 

In the 1950's, there were plenty of both, but in the late 1970s or so, every artifact that had a swastika was withdrawn and all the guns disappeared, including the on-board rifles and M.P. 28 SMGs and pistols and the USN 20mms and others displayed in the area. Political correctness set the tone.

 

A Chicago buddy told me that the Ju87B Stuka that had hung there for decades was banished because it had a swastika marking; I beleive it went to the Experimental Aircraft Assn at Osh Kosh, but don't know if it is still there.

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