How a Chicago man helped capture the WWII German sub now at MSI

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CHICAGO — Admiral Daniel Gallery of Chicago didn’t want to just sink German submarines during World War II. He wanted to capture one.

The Nazis sunk hundreds of vessels during World War II and Americans worked to play catch-up. Eventually, the U.S. Navy became offensive against them.

Head Curator at the Museum of Science and Industry, Kathleen McCarthy, said attacking submarines was vital to the war effort.

“We actually decided to go after them—not just protect from them,” McCarthy said. “So the German subs may have been advanced but we took what we had and knew and sent them on the run.”

Gallery’s task force spotted the U-505 near the coast of  West Africa on June 4, 1944. They wanted to capture the ship so Americans could analyze German technology and retrieve code books.

The crew captured the submarine and the U-505 crew surrendered. Submarines were often “booby trapped;” fortunately, Galley was an explosives expert and determined that the ship was safe to go inside.

Gallery made his crew swear to secrecy because if the Nazis discovered the submarine was captured, they would change the codes, making years of American intelligence useless.

The U-505 was the only submarine captured during battle, and the Nazis assumed the ship sunk. German families believed they had lost their loved ones. Once the war was over, Germany found out the ship was captured and families were reunited with their loved ones.

The U-505 was donated to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago in 1954, 10 years after the capture. Gallery and Commander of the U-505, Herald Lange, met at the museum for a 20th anniversary ceremony in 1964.

This timelapse video posted by the Museum of Science and Industry shows the U-505’s final dive into the museum

The capture of the U-505 made Lange an outcast and Gallery a hero, but they eventually became friends by talking over the years.

“They really saw it as an important message to send that bitter enemies can become friends,” McCarthy said.

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