The Sinking of the Spanish Republican Submarine C3, by German U-Boat U-34

See the Spanish Translation.

In 1936, after Hitler decided to enter the Spanish Civil War on the National's side, 2 type V11 U-Boats, U-33 and U-34 were despatched with young officers in command. These were soon replaced with experienced U-Boat Captains, in U-33 Kurt Freiweld, and in U-34, Harald Grosse took command.

When at sea, these two boats painted out all distinguishing marks, and on the night of 27/28 of November 1936, they slipped into the Mediterranean. On the 30th. of November, the U-Boats took up a patrol separated by an imaginary line drawn through 0 degrees 44 minutes West longitude, U-34 operating west of this line around Cartagena, and U-33 to the East. These boats had instructions that if they ran into any problems, they were to enter the Italian Naval base of La Maddelena flying an Italian ensign.

U-34 in the foreground with some of her sister boats.

 U-34 in the foreground with some of her sister boats.

A few days before the German U-Boats became operational, the Italian Submarine Torricelli, had used two torpedoes to disable the Spanish Republican cruiser Miguel de Cervantes, putting her out of action for the remainder of the Spanish Civil War. Republicans put the blame on " foreign submarines" having recovered fragments of war head, traced to Italian origin.

The German boats had several failed attempts at sinking Republican destroyers, and on the 10th. of December, it was decided to withdraw them. On their way home back to Germany, on the 12th. of December, and just having passed Malaga, U-34 on the surface sighted the low silhoutte of the Spanish Republican submarine C3. The German dived quickly, it was just after 1400 ( 2 PM ) the Spanish crew having just had their lunch. Grosse quickly submerged and fired a single torpedo, at 1419 ( 2.19 PM ) it struck C3, about 8 meters from her bow, tearing her in two, and despatching the Spanish boat 70 meters to the bottom of the Mediterranean.

Spanish Submarine C3, sunk by German U-Boat U-34 off Malaga on the 11th. of December 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. there were but 3 survivors from a crew of 40.

Spanish Submarine C3, sunk by German U-Boat U-34 off Malaga
on the 12th. of December 1936 during the Spanish Civil War
there were but 3 survivors from a crew of 40.


Of a crew of 40, only 3 survived, seamen Isidoro de la Orden Ibanez and Asensio Lidon Jimenez, engaged in disposing rubbish overboard were flung clear by the blast. Merchant Captain Agustin Garcia Vinas, seconded as the Submarine's navigator, was in the conning tower talking to C3's Captain when the torpedo struck home.

Fortunately for Germany, this Republican sinking was attributed to an internal explosion. It was the only torpedo of the four that the German U-Boats fired at targets in Spanish waters that actually struck home.

By the end of December 1936, the U-Boats were home at Wilhelmshaven, and the covert German Naval presence at the Spanish Civil War was all over.


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