These are some of the documents relating to the career of Edmund Prochnow who joined the Reichsmarine and then served until at least 1940 in the Weddigen Flotilla and was later transferred to the 3rd and then 7th U-flotilla. He was transferred aboard U93 and survived the boat’s sinking by HMS Hesperus on the early morning of 15 January 1942.
It’s quite unusual to have such a complete service record still in existence.
The sinking of U93 (from Admiralty Interrogation Report)
“U93 maintained contact with the convoy and by the evening of 14th January, 1942, she had probably been joined by two or three other U-Boats. A Petty Officer Telegraphist stated that at about 0130 on 15th January a W/T message was transmitted to the Admiral commanding U-Boats at Lorient, and he thought that this had given an enemy destroyer an opportunity to fix U93‘s position. It was at about this time that a destroyer was heard on the hydrophones, and it seems that U93 fired one torpedo at periscope depth. No result was achieved, and soon afterwards hydrophone contact was lost. About half an hour later (skipper ObltzS Horst) Elfe decided to surface and close the convoy at utmost speed.
As soon as Elfe reached the bridge a destroyer was sighted on the starboard bow about 100 yards distant. Visibility was very poor, with some fog prevalent. There was also a considerable westerly swell.
At 0210, soon after U93 surfaced, HMS Hesperus, acting in conjunction with HMS Laforey, obtained an R.D/F contact on U93, and one minute later obtained Asdic contact. At 0213 U93 was sighted and speed was increased from 14 to 25 knots. Fire was opened at 0216, but this was checked owing to its having a blinding effect on the commanding officer of HMS Hesperus, and no hits were obtained. At 0220 the U-Boat was fully illuminated by HMS Hesperus searchlight, and two minutes later Hesperus rammed her on her port bow, at the same time dropping a pattern of five depth charges set to 50 ft. One charge passed right over the conning tower, and another landed on the casing. HMS Hesperus opened fire with two of her guns; hits were obtained, but fire was checked when it was seen that the U-Boat’s crew were abandoning ship.
When U93 was rammed the impact threw Elfe and those who were with him on the bridge into the water. The engines were stopped and many of the instruments were smashed.
The remainder of the crew who were below underwent what they described as a most terrifying experience. It seems that the force of the impact with HMS Hesperus had caused the conning tower hatch to become jammed, so that it was impossible to open it. Some water entered the control room and elsewhere, and the depth gauges had been wrecked, so that the trapped men had no idea how deep they might be. They seemed certain, however, that they were still on the surface, since the water could be heard lapping on the sides of the boat. They worked feverishly to open the conning tower and after hatches. The water had by then reached the batteries, which had been cracked by the effect of the depth charges, and an escape of chlorine was noticeable. Escape apparatus was worn by every man.
While these efforts at escape were in progress, the boat took a list to starboard and began to sink gradually by the bows. All vents were blown, so as to give the boat the best chance of remaining on the surface.
At last, after some 20 minutes labour, the bolts surrounding the conning tower hatch were removed and the hatch was opened. The rest of the crew then assembled in the control room and made their way on to the bridge, whence they leapt into the water and were picked up by HMS Hesperus and HMS Laforey. A bare two minutes after the last man had left her, U93 settled down slowly with a slight list to starboard and disappeared beneath the Atlantic swell.
It was stated that no signal was made reporting her fate to the Admiral Commanding U-Boats.
It is not known how the six members of the crew lost their lives. Some survivors were of the opinion that at least three of them had found it impossible to leave the boat, others thought that they were drowned whilst waiting to be rescued.”