Bread Wrappers: THE U-boat Urban Legend Of WW2

In the United States, pretty much every town on the Atlantic (and many of those on the Gulf of Mexico) have a version of the same story:

  1. Suspicious individuals seen ashore.
  2. U-boat sunk or captured a few days later.
  3. Items recovered from the U-boat which could have only come from onshore such as movie tickets or, mostly commonly, bread wrappers from a local bakery.

Sometimes there are newspapers circulating hearsay decades after the war. What’s particularly fascinating about this to me is a number of people claim direct involvement. For example, I’ve had one person claim their father was aboard the warship that captured a U-boat off Jacksonville where the bread wrappers, etc were found (no such capture occurred). Several others that had parents who allegedly encountered Germans from U-boats ashore at different points on the Florida East Coast.

The legend has had legs since the war itself. I found a Letter to the Editor in May 1942 referring to it, with regard to a U-boat captured of Miami!

There were of course no U-boats captured in American waters and very few sunk there.