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Date: Thursday, 19 April 1945
Place: Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag county, Norway
Monsoon boat U-861 was in rather battered condition when it sailed into the submarine base in Trondheim, Norway, on 19 April 1945. Behind the boat lay a 13 ½ week trip home following its departure from the base in Surabaya (Java, Indonesia) on 15 January the same year. The big Type IX D2 boat had departed Kiel on its first sortie on 20 April 1944 under the command of Ritterkreuzträger (Knight’s Cross wearer) Kapitänleutnant Jürgen Oesten. Initially assign to an area of operations off the Brazilian coast and then the east coast of Africa, U-861 sank four ships totaling 22,040 GRT and damaged the 8,139 ton tanker “Daronia” before arriving at the island base of Penang (Malaysia) on 23 September 1944. By then the boat had been at sea for five months! The U-boat stayed in Penang until 1 November 1944, undergoing necessary maintenance and allowing the crew time to rest. On 1 November U-861 left Penang for Surabaya, arriving there on 5 November after a stop in Singapore. The boat remained there until it left for Germany on 15 January 1945. It carried a load of vital war materials, for example molybdenum ore, which was stowed in zinc containers in the ballast keel, and raw rubber. Armament was limited to two torpedoes for self defense. The safe return of the boat was the first priority, not the destruction of enemy shipping. This was jeopardized during the final phase of the journey when U-861 ran into pack ice south of Greenland. The resulting “sheet metal damage” was minimal, however, and thanks to the experience of the captain and crew the boat reached its destination albeit with just 800 liters of diesel in its fuel bunkers! Note the repainted area around the Panther emblem. Georg Högel’s book “Embleme, Wappen, Malings” depicts the emblem as a panther climbing a globe. According to Jürgen Oesten, the globe was never part of the emblem. Part of the word “Lekas” is visible on the conning tower. The word is Malay in origin and means “fast”.
"U-Boot im Focus" magazine 2nd edition - 2007