Otto Kretschmer PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 12 February 2009 10:45

Otto Kretschmer

Born: 1 May, 1912, Heidau, Liegnitz

Died: 5 Aug, 1998 Bavaria

Age: 86

Cause of death: Accident while on holiday

Notable because: Sank more tons of shipping than any man in History. One of the most successful U Boat captains of WW2 despite being captured in 1941. Developed night time surface attacks and his motto became 'One torpedo one ship.'

 

Fregattenkapitän (Crew 30)

Successes
40 ships sunk for a total of 208,954 GRT
3 auxiliary warships sunk for a total of 46,440 GRT
1 warship sunk for a total of 1,375 tons
1 ship sunk for a total of 2,136 GRT
5 ships damaged for a total of 37,965 GRT
2 ships a total loss for a total of 15,513 GRT


U-boat Commands

U-boatFromTo 
U-35 31 Jul, 1937 15 Aug, 1937   No war patrols 
U-23 1 Oct, 1937 1 Apr, 1940   8 patrols (102 days) 
U-99 18 Apr, 1940 17 Mar, 1941   8 patrols (127 days) 

Kptlt. Kretschmer (right) after patrol on U-99
on the 21st July 1940 in Lorient (France)

Before the 17-year-old Otto Kretschmer began his naval career he spent eight months in Exeter, England where he mastered the English language. Beginning in April 1930 he went through the usual officer training, spending three months on the sailing school ship Niobe and more than a year on the light cruiser Emden.

He served on the light cruiser Köln starting in December 1934, and in January 1936 transferred to the U-boat force. Here he received a solid pre-war training as a U-boat officer. His first command was on U-35 and there he participated in a patrol in Spanish waters in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.

In September 1937 he left U-35 and took over the Type II U-boat U-23. After the outbreak of the war he won his first successes with U-23 on some patrols in the North Sea in the area of the English and Scottish east coast.

In November 1939 he laid nine mines in Moray Firth, Scotland. The first great success for Otto Kretschmer was the sinking of the Danish tanker Danmark (10,517 tons) on 12 January 1940.

Just over a month later he sank the British destroyer HMS Daring (1,375 tons).

He left U-23 in April 1940 and in the same month commissioned U-99. After two months of training U-99 left Kiel for her first patrol in June 1940. In the course of the next patrols Otto Kretschmer became famous on his U-99 for his night-time surface attacks against convoys, and there his motto "One torpedo ... one ship" was created!


Kptlt. Kretschmer amidst the crew of U-99 after patrol enjoying the first bottle of beer.

Especially notable was the sinking of three British Armed Merchant Cruisers, Laurentic (18,724 tons), Patroclus (11,314 tons) and Forfar (16,402 tons) in November 1940 for a total of more than 46,000 tons. At that time Silent Otto became the "tonnage king" among U-boat men, never to be dethroned.

On his last patrol he was also very successful and attacked 10 ships. He was captured after scuttling U-99 at 0343hrs on 17 March, 1941 (Schepke was lost in the same battle) south-east of Iceland in approximate position 61N, 12W after depth charge damage inflicted by the British destroyer HMS Walker. Kretschmer managed to surface his badly damaged boat and save 40 out of his 43-man crew (his chief engineer died) before the boat sank again for the last time.

Otto Kretschmer
(c) 1997 Stephen Ames

After his capture he spent more than six and a half years in British captivity. For more than four years he was held in Canada in Camp 30 (often referred to as Camp Bowmanville), from where he maintained contact with BdU. In December 1947 he returned to Germany.

In 1955 Otto Kretschmer joined the Bundesmarine (postwar German navy), in 1957 becoming commander of the 1. Geleitgeschwader (1st Escort Squadron). In November 1958 he became commander of the Amphibische Streitkräfte (Amphibian Forces). Starting in 1962 he served in several staff positions before becoming Chief of Staff of the NATO Command COMNAVBALTAP in May 1965, a position he held for four years. He retired in September 1970 with a rank of Flotillenadmiral.

During a vacation during the summer of 1998 Otto Kretschmer died in hospital in Bavaria after an accident.

Patrol info for Otto Kretschmer


 U-boat Departure Arrival   
1. U-23 25 Aug, 1939  Wilhelmshaven 4 Sep, 1939  Wilhelmshaven Patrol,11 days 
2. U-23 9 Sep, 1939  Wilhelmshaven 21 Sep, 1939  Kiel Patrol,13 days 
3. U-23 29 Sep, 1939  Kiel 16 Oct, 1939  Kiel Patrol,18 days 
4. U-23 1 Nov, 1939  Kiel 9 Nov, 1939  Kiel Patrol,9 days 
5. U-23 5 Dec, 1939  Kiel 15 Dec, 1939  Kiel Patrol,11 days 
6. U-23 8 Jan, 1940  Kiel 15 Jan, 1940  Wilhelmshaven Patrol,8 days 
7. U-23 18 Jan, 1940  Wilhelmshaven 29 Jan, 1940  Wilhelmshaven Patrol,12 days 
8. U-23 9 Feb, 1940  Wilhelmshaven 28 Feb, 1940  Kiel Patrol,20 days 
9. U-99 18 Jun, 1940  Kiel 25 Jun, 1940  Wilhelmshaven Patrol,8 days 
10. U-99 27 Jun, 1940  Wilhelmshaven 21 Jul, 1940  Lorient Patrol,25 days 
11. U-99 25 Jul, 1940  Lorient 5 Aug, 1940  Lorient Patrol,12 days 
12. U-99 4 Sep, 1940  Lorient 25 Sep, 1940  Lorient Patrol,22 days 
13. U-99 13 Oct, 1940  Lorient 22 Oct, 1940  Lorient Patrol,10 days 
14. U-99 30 Oct, 1940  Lorient 8 Nov, 1940  Lorient Patrol,10 days 
15. U-99 27 Nov, 1940  Lorient 12 Dec, 1940  Lorient Patrol,16 days 
16. U-99 22 Feb, 1941  Lorient 17 Mar, 1941  Sunk Patrol,24 days 
16 patrols, 229 days at sea 

Ships hit by Otto Kretschmer


Date BoatName of shipTonsNat.ConvoyFate *
4 Oct, 1939 U-23Glen Farg876 br  
8 Dec, 1939 U-23Scotia2,400 da  
 
11 Jan, 1940 U-23Fredville1,150 nw  
12 Jan, 1940 U-23Danmark10,517 da total loss
24 Jan, 1940 U-23Varild1,085 nw  
18 Feb, 1940 U-23HMS Daring (H 16)1,375 br HN-12  
19 Feb, 1940 U-23Tiberton5,225 br  
22 Feb, 1940 U-23Loch Maddy4,996 br HX-19 total loss
5 Jul, 1940 U-99Magog2,053 ca HX-52  
7 Jul, 1940 U-99Bissen1,514 sw  
7 Jul, 1940 U-99Sea Glory1,964 br  
8 Jul, 1940 U-99Humber Arm5,758 br HX-53  
12 Jul, 1940 U-99Ia4,860 gr  
12 Jul, 1940 U-99Merisaar2,136 es captured
18 Jul, 1940 U-99Woodbury4,434 br  
28 Jul, 1940 U-99Auckland Star13,212 br  
29 Jul, 1940 U-99Clan Menzies7,336 br  
31 Jul, 1940 U-99Jamaica Progress5,475 br  
31 Jul, 1940 U-99Jersey City6,322 br OB-191  
2 Aug, 1940 U-99Alexia8,016 br OB-191 damaged
2 Aug, 1940 U-99Lucerna6,556 br OB-191 damaged
2 Aug, 1940 U-99Strinda10,973 nw OB-191 damaged
11 Sep, 1940 U-99Albionic2,468 br  
15 Sep, 1940 U-99Kenordoc1,780 ca SC-3  
16 Sep, 1940 U-99Lotos1,327 nw SC-3  
17 Sep, 1940 U-99Crown Arun2,372 br HX-71  
21 Sep, 1940 U-99Baron Blythswood3,668 br HX-72  
21 Sep, 1940 U-99Elmbank5,156 br HX-72  
21 Sep, 1940 U-99Invershannon9,154 br HX-72  
18 Oct, 1940 U-99Empire Miniver6,055 br SC-7  
18 Oct, 1940 U-99Fiscus4,815 br SC-7  
18 Oct, 1940 U-99Niritos3,854 gr SC-7  
19 Oct, 1940 U-99Clintonia3,106 br SC-7 damaged
19 Oct, 1940 U-99Empire Brigade5,154 br SC-7  
19 Oct, 1940 U-99Snefjeld1,643 nw SC-7  
19 Oct, 1940 U-99Thalia5,875 gr SC-7  
3 Nov, 1940 U-99Casanare5,376 br  
3 Nov, 1940 U-99HMS Laurentic (F 51)18,724 br  
4 Nov, 1940 U-99HMS Patroclus11,314 br  
5 Nov, 1940 U-99Scottish Maiden6,993 br HX-83  
2 Dec, 1940 U-99HMS Forfar (F 30)16,402 br HX-90  
2 Dec, 1940 U-99Samnanger4,276 nw  
3 Dec, 1940 U-99Conch8,376 br HX-90  
7 Dec, 1940 U-99Farmsum5,237 nl OB-252  
 
7 Mar, 1941 U-99Athelbeach6,568 br OB-293  
7 Mar, 1941 U-99Terje Viken20,638 br OB-293  
16 Mar, 1941 U-99Beduin8,136 nw HX-112  
16 Mar, 1941 U-99Ferm6,593 nw HX-112  
16 Mar, 1941 U-99Franche Comte9,314 br HX-112 damaged
16 Mar, 1941 U-99J.B. White7,375 ca HX-112  
16 Mar, 1941 U-99Korshamn6,673 sw HX-112  
16 Mar, 1941 U-99Venetia5,728 br HX-112  
 312,383 

* Unless otherwise noted the ships listed here were sunk.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 February 2009 16:44
 

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