President Paul Stein opened the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance (attendance 127).
Bob Smith read the minutes. Jerry Transue, Membership Chairman, reported membership is 465 and that collection of late dues closes at the end of this month.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: Dick DePatie announced that Bob Moylan and Don Tiefenthaler were at home, the latter with some leg pains. Paul noted the picture in the Advertiser honoring SMC nonagenarians David Brown and Bill Sessions and their wives.
ACTIVITIES: Paddle tennis (9-7-9) and bridge as usual. 2/22 Photo/Computer Club 6 spaces available at Photo 101 course, 3/14 next group event. 4/24 4F's at 123 restaurant.
SPECIAL: Using a power point presentation, New Member Orientation Committee Chairman, Joel Pelzner, introduced the Senior Men's Club video he recently produced with Jack Messert. Dick DePatie, Rad Stone, and Jerry Transue provided feedback during the production work. The video opens with a brief club history and an overview of programs. Further details are presented on these activities, including guest speakers, various sports options, hobby groups, Couth excursions, and the like. It closes with information "on how to join". The video can be used to attract and indoctrinate new members and will be posted later today on the SMC web site as SMCNC.INFO.
HUMORIST: Bob Dalury told the story of a woman who had to cancel a posh hotel reservation. Told of the many amenities that "she could have had" and not succeeding in getting any money back, she told the clerk of an amenity "he could have had" for $50!
SPEAKER: Vice President Nick Yanicelli introduced Charles McCain, an accomplished scholar in the history of undersea warfare, who has written a novel, "An Honorable German", from the point of view of a German naval officer. McCain opened his talk by describing German U-Boat action in WWII in the North Atlantic. Keeping these sea supply lanes open was critical support for both the English and Russian war efforts.
Convoy protection was an "interlocking" effort, with the Americans in the western and the British in the eastern portions of the transport areas. McCain focused his talk on May 5 - May 6, 1943. For example, the British escort ships had exposed bridges and gangways, making traffic and visibility on board ship very difficult. While the resultant "scattering" of a convoy complicated command and safety, it also complicated U-Boat deployment for attacks. McCain read some of the actual dispatches between escort ships, noting the increasing U-Boat activity and need for more help, which had to come from bases in Iceland. Surprisingly, the U-Boat fleet was the smallest part of the German navy, with only 50,000 men. Of 1,100 U-Boats commissioned in WWII, around 800 never damaged or attacked Allied shipping (only 32 sunk or damaged 820 Allied ships). The most successful German U-Boat captain, Otto Kretschmer, was captured by the British. Ironically, during captivity he was invited to play bridge with the British ship's doctor and two convoy captains! McCain also told the remarkable story of a German who was stranded in the ocean when his distressed U-Boat submerged only to be picked up a few hours later by another U-Boat that just happened to surface a few yards away. Closing his presentation, McCain read a vivid, "gripping" passage from his book about a U-Boat captain experiencing the ramming and sinking of his ship.
THE Q AND A: McCain covered Japanese submarine activity (very little, due to technical limits), miniature submarines (Italians the best, sunk two ships), Hudson River activity (none, too shallow), U.S. torpedoes (inferior design, bureaucracy problem, ultimately resulting in loss of many Allied lives), Southern Ireland role (Allies not permitted to use its ports, but no undiscovered German agents), German saboteurs on Long Island (ratted out to FBI by leader, got no further than Coney Island and Macy's basement), 50 U.S. destroyers traded to British (had been mothballed, needed many repairs, delayed use to later in North Atlantic), McCain as a "scholar" (spent 25 years reading and reading!!), tankers supplying Allies with oil from Venezuela (eventually escorted with air cover), North Atlantic air cover (forced "surface operating" U-Boats to submerge, but cover difficult because based in Iceland, a bitter controversy because closer base in Greenland not established), advanced German submarine designed by Admiral Doenitz (only few produced due to vulnerability of manufacturing facilities), Gulf of Mexico action (54 tankers sunk), and U-Boat campaign basically a two way, "ship tonnage" war (Germans counted all ships sunk, full and empty).
Don Hudson, Assistant Secretary