(German Type IXD-2 long range submarine)

IJN Submarine I-502: Tabular Record of Movement

© 2001-2010 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp

Revision 5

15 August 1942
Bremen, Germany. Laid down at Deschimag (Deutsche Schiff und Maschinenbau) AG Weser, as a 1,616-ton surface displacement Type IXD-2 long-range submarime.

8 June 1943:
Launched and numbered U-862.

7 October 1943:
Completed and registered in the Kriegsmarine. Kapitänleutnant (later Fregattenkapitän (FK), Bundesmarine) Heinrich Timm is the Commanding Officer. [1]

In the summer of 1943, the Kriegsmarine decides to send U-boats to operate in the Indian Ocean. The first group of U-boats arrives in the Far East at the end of September 1943, after the tropical monsoon rains period. Thereafter, the group is named "Monsun".

21 May 1944:
Departs Kiel with other U-boats and escorts. U-862 carries a cargo of drawings, models and blueprints of German weaponry and equipment for Japan. Her keel spaces are packed with flasks of mercury, lead, steel, uncut optical glass and aluminum.

Timm puts into Norwegian ports at Kristiansand, Bergen and Trondhiem. U-862's crew discovers a leaking fuel tank and she puts into Narvik, Norway for repairs.

3 June 1944:
Departs Narvik and heads S via the Denmark Strait.

25 July 1944:
S. Atlantic. U-862 sinks her first ship, 6,885-ton American merchant ROBIN GOODFELLOW en route to New York from Capetown, S. Africa.

August 1944:
Indian Ocean. Enroute to Penang, Malaya the newly promoted Korvettenkapitän (KK) Timm sinks four ships in the Indian Ocean for 21,133-tons. [1]

20 August 1944:
Mozambique Channel, Africa. U-862 shoots down an attacking Consolidated PBY "Catalina" of the RAF's 265/H Squadron.

9 September 1944:
Arrives at Penang. U-862 is met by ComSubRon 8 Rear Admiral Uozumi Jisaku (former CO of HAGURO) and FK Wilhelm Dommes (former CO of U-178) Chef im Südraum (Chief, Southern Area) and Commander of the German Monsun U-boat Group at Penang, their staffs and a band that plays the German and Japanese national anthems.

11 September 1944:
Timm hosts Admiral Uozumi and submarine I-8's commanding officer Cdr Ariizumi Tatsunosuke and a group of his officers aboard U-862. That afternoon, Ariizumi reciprocates and Timm and U-862's officers pay a call on the I-8.

12 September 1944:
Departs Penang in the evening. A German two-seat Arado Ar-196A floatplane (formerly of raider MICHEL/Hilfskreuzer IX/Schiff 28) provides initial anti-submarine escort. The plane has Japanese Hinomaru markings, but is flown by a Kriegsmarine officer.

13 September 1944:
Straits of Malacca. About 1200, the Arado floatplane again appears overhead. It circles U-862 and flies on to Singapore carrying FK Dommes.

About 2345, U-862 arrives at the Seletar Naval Base, Singapore. Unlike Penang, only Dommes and KK Wolfgang Erhardt (former XO of MICHEL), the Kriegsmarine's base commander at Singapore, are on hand in a pilot boat to greet the U-boat's arrival.

A few days later, U-862 is drydocked at the No. 101 Navy Repair Unit. Hundreds of flasks of mercury are removed from her keel and replaced by molybdenum and tungsten for export to Germany.

19 September 1944:
Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote (BdU) (U-boat Hq) signals U-862 that KK Timm has been awarded the Ritterkreuz (Knight's Cross) and that 50 of his crew have been awarded 1st and 2 Class Iron Crosses.

September 1944:
Timm flies to Batavia and later to Surabaya to confer with Japanese officials concerning their knowlege of shipping traffic and ASW defenses in the Australian operational area. The reluctant Japanese reveal next to nothing to a disappointed Timm.

27 October 1944:
RAF Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" bombers lay 60 mines in the Straits of Malacca's approaches to Penang.

November 1944:
Incessant Allied air and submarine attacks render Penang untenable as an operational base for submarines. The German U-boats withdraw to Batavia (Jakarta) and the Japanese I-boats relocate to Surabaya, Java (Indonesia).

4 November 1944:
U-862 departs Singapore with the German supply boat QUITO, but a drive shaft coupling fails and U-862 has to put about for repairs at Singapore.

5 November 1944:
At 1200, U-862 departs Singapore via the E entrance of Singapore Strait.

7 November 1944:
Java. Arrives at the Monsun U-Boats' new base of operations at Tanjong Priok, Batavia's outer harbor. She is met by KK Kandeler, the Kriegsmarine's base commander at Batavia, who pilots the U-862 into Batavia's main port the following day.

18 November 1944:
Departs Batavia on a war patrol to Australia and New Zealand.

9 December 1944:
Australia, 130 miles SE of Adelaide. At 1200, Timm shells 4,724-ton Greek tanker ILLIOS. The tanker returns fire with her 4-inch gun. U-862 submerges and departs the area.

24 December 1944:
Australia. U-862 cruises S of Tasmania. She turns N and sails up the New South Wales coast.

25 December 1944:
Off Montague Island, the U-862 torpedoes 7,180-ton American Liberty ship ROBERT J. WALKER. WALKER's Armed Guard's 20-mm gunfire explodes a second in-coming torpedo, but, over time, Timm fires four more torpedoes and gets another two hits. ROBERT J. WALKER sinks at 36-32S 150-45E, the only ship sunk during the war by a German U-boat in the Pacific Ocean..

25 December 1944:
Tasman Sea. U-862 heads towards New Zealand.

27 December 1944:
KK Timm attacks a ship and fires a single G7e electric torpedo that detonates prematurely.

7 January 1945:
Cape Regina, New Zealand. U-862 battles high seas as she heads for North Cape, New Zealand.

15 January 1945:
Gisborne Harbour, New Zealand. KK Timm takes U-862 into the shallows to reconnoiter the harbor for shipping, but finds no suitable targets.

17 January 1945:
U-862 receives orders from BdU to return to Jakarta immediately.

21 January 1945:
U-862 rounds South Island, New Zealand and heads towards the Tasman Sea.

26 January 1945:
Tasman Sea. U-862 battles 35-foot waves in raging seas.

6 February 1945:
700 miles SW of Fremantle, Australia. At 2240 local, U-862 attacks 7,176-ton American Liberty ship PETER SILVESTER en route alone from Melbourne, Australia to Colombo, Ceylon with a cargo of 137 Army mules and U. S. Army supplies. U-862 fires six torpedoes into SILVESTER. She is abandoned at 34-19S, 99-37E.

This is the last attack by an Axis submarine in Australian waters and in the Indian Ocean.

14 February 1945:
After circumnavigating the continent of Australia, U-862 passes through Sunda Strait and surfaces near Krakatau Island, Java. About 1700, she is met by a German two-seat Arado Ar-196A floatplane (formerly of MICHEL). The plane has Japanese Hinomaru markings, but is flown by Oberleutnant Ulrich Horn (former air officer of MICHEL). The Arado provides anti-submarine escort. The U-862 follows a Japanese escort into Tanjong Priok, Batavia. After their safe arrival, FK Dommes, KK Kandeler and other U-boat men host a reception for KK Timm and his crew.

18 February 1945:
Departs Batavia. That night, German supply ship BOGOTA escorts U-862. The next morning she is escorted through the Bangka Strait by the German HORSBURGH.

20 February 1945:
Singapore. U-862 arrives at the Seletar Naval Base. She begins an overhaul at the No. 101 Navy Repair Unit. U-862 with 66 percent battery capacity, is expected to be ready to depart end of April except for desired rest period for the crew. U-862 is to load as much rubber as possible and carry eight torpedoes for interim operation off the SE African coast enroute to Atlantic. Berlin refuses a request by Japanese Navy that she land agents off the coast of Madras, India enroute.

March 1945:
U-862 is scheduled for completion on 12 May 1945.

25 April 1945:
After a series of delays, U-862's first main engine tests are completed.

5 May 1945: Germany Ceases Hostilities with the United States and Great Britain:
Tokyo. The German naval attaché, Vizeadmiral Paul Wennecker (former CO of Panzerschiff DEUTSCHLAND/LÜTZOW) and Deutscher Admiral Ostasien (German Admiral, East Asia) sends the code-word signal "Lübeck" to all U-boats in Asia. It signifies that Germany has ceased hostilities. [1]

Singapore. Kapitän zur See (KzS) Kurt Freiwald (later Vizeadmiral, Bundesmarine) of U-181 assembles the two U-boats' crews and base personnel. He announces that theirFührer, Adolf Hitler, is dead and that Germany has ceased hostilities in the West, but continues to resist Soviet forces overrunning Berlin. [1]

6 May 1945: The Surrender of Germany:
Seletar. Vice Admiral Fukudome Shigeru (former CO of NAGATO), Commander, 13th Area Fleet, three other admirals and staff officers arrive at the No. 101 Navy Repair Unit alongside Timm's U-862 and KzS Freiwald's U-181. Fukudome informs Freiwald, Timm and Dommes, who is also present, that since Germany capitulated they are being interned. The German officers are invited to a festive dinner "in European style", where Fukudome thanks them for their war effort.

At about 1600, trucks arrive and disembark armed Japanese troops alongside the U-boats. The DKM's swastika ensigns are lowered from the U-Boats and replaced by the IJN's battle flags. During two patrols, U-862 sank seven ships for a total of 42,374-tons. Later, she is overhauled by the IJN's No. 101 Repair Unit at Seletar.

June 1945:
The U-boats' crews and base personnel are trucked to an ex-British rubber plantation at Batu Pahat in southern Malaya for internment.

15 July 1945:
Singapore. U-862 is commissioned in the IJN as I-502 and assigned to Fukudome's 13th Area Fleet. I-502 is operationally capable of conducting war patrols. The submarine's former German crew is divided into two 30-man strong parties tasked with teaching handling of the U-boat to the Japanese. LtCdr Yamanaka Shuaki (66)(former CO of RO-68) is the new CO.

The IJN plans to use I-502 for training in late August, then for a supply run to the Andaman Islands and later send her to Japan to have her tubes remodeled to accommodate Japanese torpedoes.

July-August 1945:
Potsdam, Germany. The USA, UK and USSR establish a Tripartite Naval Commission to allocate captured German Kriegsmarine and merchant marine ships between them. The “Big Three” agree that all "unallocated" German submarines which had surrendered should be sunk not later than 15 Feb '46.

1 August 1945:
The Japanese crew of I-502 starts the working-up course.

5 August 1945:
At 2005, a message from Chief of Staff, 10th Area Fleet, reads ""Report on ex-German submarines. (1) Present state. (a) I-501 and I-502 crews have been instructed and ships fitted out, largely by the Germans. Working up is about to start and should be completed by the end of the month. They will then be kept ready for sea at short notice. Each submarine will have 16 torpedoes. (b) I-505 and I-506 have completed their crews, and hulls and armament are generally satisfactory. I-505 has a mine compartment for 30 mines in which about 130 tons of aviation petrol can be loaded. The compartment has been modified for petrol stowage. In addition she can take about 35 tons of cargo. I-506 is 60% completed - - . (2) Plans for use. (a) I-501 and I-502 when ready will be used for operational transport (oil etc.) to the Andamans. After that she will operate in the Pacific and then proceed to Japan for torpedo tubes to be altered. (b) I-505 and I-506, when their crews are completed, will be detailed to transport oil and important cargoes within the Southern Area, particularly to French lndo-China, outlying islands, and Hong Kong. However, since I-506 - to be replaced, she will have to be sent to Japan as soon as possible."

15 August 1945:
I-502 departs Singapore for her first trial run, manned by her new crew.

16 August 1945: The Surrender of Japan:
Seletar Naval Base, Singapore. I-502 and I-501 (ex-U-181) are moored next to damaged cruiser MYOKO in the Johore Strait.

30 November 1945:
Removed from the Navy List. Under British supervision, her former German crew begins to strip I-502 of all valuable parts.

15 December 1945:
A Tripartite Naval Commission (TNC) memo from Vice Admiral Robert L Ghormley, USN, to the Senior British Representative on the TNC, Vice Admiral (later Admiral, Sir) Geoffrey J. A. Miles, RN, says: "I have been directed by the Chief of Naval Operations to inform you that the destruction of the U-219 at Batavia, the U-195 at Surabaya, the U-181 and U-862 at Singapore is considered to be a British responsibility".

24 January 1946:
At 1411, the British Admiralty sends a message to the Royal Navy’s C-in-C East Indies Vice Admiral (later Admiral, Sir) Clement Moody that orders destruction of the four U-Boats in Singapore and Java by not later than the TNC deadline of 15 February 1946.

13 February 1946:
I-502 is officially handed over to Royal Navy units.

14 February 1946:
Tugs GROWLER and ASSIDUOUS tow I-502 and I-501 to the Straits of Malacca.

15 February 1946:
I-502 is scuttled in 52 fathoms of water at 03-05N, 100-38E. Cdr (later Captain) Stanley Darling's frigate HMS LOCH LOMOND destroys I-502 with a single 40-yard triangular pattern of three "Squid" projector charges each weighing 390-lbs.

Authors' Note:
[1] German Naval Officer Ranks:
Leutnant zur See (Lt=Ens), Oberleutnant zur See (OL=Lt(j.g.), Kapitänleutnant (KL=Lt), Korvettenkapitän (KK=LtCdr), Fregattenkapitän (FK=Cdr), Kapitän (K=Capt), Flottillenadmiral (FA=RAdm, LC), Konteradmiral (KA=RAdm, UC), Vizeadmiral (VA=VAdm), Admiral (A=Adm), Grossadmiral (GA=FAdm)

Thanks go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan. Thanks also go to Derek Waller of UK and Hans McIlveen of the Netherlands for input concerning the final months of I-502.

– Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp

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