Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Florida History: Up periscope - U-Boat sights Miami tourists

U Boat attacked and sunk off Azores 1943

By Jane Feehan

For more Miami and Fort Lauderdale history, visit

First deployed during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, German U-Boats* played their most significant role in economic warfare, sinking merchant vessels throughout the North Sea, Atlantic, and Caribbean during the World Wars. Many patrolled waters off South Florida during World War II.

In a 1987 gathering of former U-Boaters in Key Largo, attendee Heinz Rehse recounted his 1943 trip to South Florida. U-Boat 511 travelled across the Atlantic to Fort Lauderdale and headed south to Miami.  Through a periscope, they were close enough to see tourists on the beach and in the ocean. Rehse, who later became a U.S. citizen, said the crew got off the sub and swam in waters near a lighthouse in the Keys. They were never spotted. From their South Florida stop they set sail for the Caribbean where they sank eight merchant ships. 

“War nerves” were credited for some of the silly stories that emerged in Miami after sub incidents. When one U-Boat was captured, rumors spread about authorities finding milk cartons from a Dade County dairy aboard. Also part of the lore was the tale of ticket stubs from a Flagler Street movie house discovered in U-Boat officers’ quarters.

German officers and their minions could have used some amusement. About 39,000 sailors served on the 1,200 U-Boats launched before and during World War II.  Only 7,000 survived.

Or use search box at top right to find "U-Boats."
Miami News, Feb. 17, 1955, p. 33.
Miami News, Feb 2, 1987, p. 1.
A definitive source on U-Boats – Sharkhunters, Inc. preserves U-Boat history:

Tags: U-Boats off Miami, U-Boats off South Florida, U-Boats in American waters during World War II, U-Boats and WWII, German U Boats, film researcher

No comments: