With the world's largest troopship in the crosshairs of his periscope, the captain of U-704 was confident he would be acclaimed a hero for sinking one of Englands proudest matriarch's.
Just after noon on 5 November 1942, the German Navy’s Kapitanleutnant Horst Kessler, hauled himself slowly up a narrow steel ladder leading to the tiny bridge of U-704, the submarine he’d commanded for just over a year. His climb wasn’t an easy one - plowing through high seas some 650-mi west of Ireland, the surfaced U-boat was being buffeted by fierce winds. Snow flurries and wind-driven sea spray cut visibility to less than 2-mi, and the lookouts belted to the vessel’s conning tower couldn’t use their binoculars because of the constantly overcoming swells.
It was thus something of a shock to those on the bridge when, shortly after 1 pm, the weather suddenly cleared enough to reveal a giant ship crossing the submarine’s path some 6- or 7 mi distant, racing westward. The vessel was huge, with two large funnels, two masts and a stepped-aft superstructure. A quick search through his ship-recognition book convinced Kessler the giant steamer would only be the British passenger linerturned troopship Queen Elizabeth, and he decided to make the most of his chance encounter. He had four torpedoes left in his forward tubes and one in the aft barrel, and he was determined to make them count.
So...how did this opportunity all unfold??....well it is all told in the article (click on this title): ASSAULT ON A QUEEN.