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Date: Friday, 6 November 1942
Place: Lorient, Brittany, France
Kapitänleutnant Ulrich Folkers (6 March 1915 - 6 May 1943) was one of the most successful commanders of the 2. Unterseebootsflotille (2nd Submarine Flotilla). Here he is seen returning to Lorient in U-125 on 6 November 1942 after his fifth patrol and more than three months at sea. Folkers sank six British ships during this sortie in his Type IX C boat. The extended patrol has caused the submarine’s paint to become very weathered. Note the windscreen on U-125’s conning tower, something normally seen only on torpedo boats! On the night of May 6 1943 the destroyer HMS Oribi located the U-125 in a heavy fog with its radar set just before 0300 and rammed her while doing something close to 20 knots. The boat was severely damaged and the British believed her to be sunk. But she did survive and at 0331 Folkers radioed BdU with an urgent request for help and U-552, U-381, U-413 and U-260 were ordered to assist him (U-614 and U-402 also in the area were told to remain on station). The boats searched for the wounded boat until the morning of the 7th. The corvette HMS Snowflake got a radar contact 0354 and soon the contact had closed to 100 meters! The starlights were turned on and revealed a heavily damaged U-boat and apparently already sinking. The corvette tried to ram but the boat escaped the turn. The crew of U-125 scuttled their boat with 5 explosive charges while almost alongside the HMS Snowflake and waited in the water to be rescued. Another corvette HMS Sunflower did reach the scene about this time. The commander of the corvette radioed the escort commander in HMS Tay but was given the shocking reply: "Not approved to pick up survivors". The corvettes HMS Sunflower and HMS Snowflake then turned towards the convoy leaving the men in the water. Kptlt. Folkers and his crew of 54 men died during that night!
"U-Boot Im Focus" magazine 2nd edition 2007