The Enigma(s) of U-85

Enigma' s history is inextricably linked with that of the Unterseeboote. U-85, a Type VIIB and the first U-boat to be sunk by a US warship in World War Two, was operating against shipping off the eastern coast of the United States following the end of Operation Paukenschlag, which began on 13 January 1942 and ended on 6 February 1942. U-85 was not part of Paukenschlag proper, which was carried out by five of the larger Type IX boats - U-66, U-109, U-123, U-125 and U-130.

The wreckage of U-85 [Oblt. zur See Eberhard Greger] - which sank on 14 April 1942 under gunfire and depth charges from the USS Roper, with the loss of all hands [46 dead] - lies in approximately one hundred feet of water off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina  [35.55N, 75.13W].  In August of 1997 two oak boxes were brought to the surface by diver Roy E. Parker. Their contents included: Wheels II, III, VI and VII from Enigma M2946 and Wheels I, III, IV, VI and VIII from Enigma M3131.

U-85_2.jpg (38061 bytes)   U-85_1.jpg (40165 bytes)   U-85_3.jpg (48871 bytes)   U-85_4.jpg (54435 bytes)

[click on a thumbnail to expand image - photographs Roy E. Parker]

On 3 July 2001 M2946 and part of M3131 - both Enigma M4's - were recovered by another team of divers exploring U-85. A typewriter - attached as a printing device to Enigma M2946 - was also recovered along with significant sections of a flag-signal codebook and several pads used for the preparation of radio messages.

Just over a year later, on 22 August 2002, the rest of Enigma M3131 was recovered. Some details of these recovery operations and a sampling of the photographic record can be seen by clicking here.


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