Korvettenkapitän Heinrich ‘Ajax’ Bleichrodt, with Knights Cross with Oak Leaves
Photo source: http://www.uboat.net/men/bleichrodt.htm
On the very same day as Schacht, U-109 under Heinrich ‘Ajax’ Bleichrodt, age 32 entered the area, entering midway from Savannah to Bermuda on 26th April and exiting the same way on the 30th of May 1942. His track looks like a < tilted counter clockwise – like the open moth of a crocodile, converging on a point off Miami where he sank two ships – the La Paz of British registry and the Laertes of Dutch flag, on the 1st and 3rd of May respectively.
On his voyage inbound Bleichrodt also sank the Harpagon north of Bermuda, bringing his total for this patrol to three ships of 18,092 tons. The La Paz, however was merely damaged for 6,548 tons. The submarine is often credited with sinking a Nicaraguan fruit carrier named the Worden of 555 tons, however this is a result of confusion over radio transmissions. Worden was simply responding “in the clear” via short wave radio to distress calls from La Paz. Photos available to the public at the National Archives of the US (NARA2) clearly show the Worden, with its name in huge letters on its side, in fine condition standing by to assist the stricken ship.
‘Ajax’ Bleichrodt graduated in the crew of 1933 and was a Kapitänleutnant at the time, achieving Korvettenkapitän late in 1943. His decorations include the Knights Cross early in the war – in October 1940, followed by an addition of the Oak Leaves in September 1942 and the U-boat War Badge with Diamonds a month later. In January 1945 he was given the War Merit Cross Second Class with Swords. His total tonnage was an impressive 24 ships of 151,260 tons, plus a warship of 1,060 tons and two ships damaged for 11,684 GRT. U-109, on its fifth of nine patrols, was sailing from and to Lorient for the Second Flotilla. The patrol began on the 25th of March and ended on the 3rd of June.
Early in his career Bliechrodt served on both the Gorch Foch and the Admiral Hipper, moving to U-boats in October 1939. He also served as First Watch Officer (second in command) of U-564 under Teddy Suhren. In one patrol as commander of U-48 in 1940 he sank eight ships of 43,106 tons. Moving ashore in July 1943 he went on to command the 27th and 22nd training flotillas. He lived until 1977, passing away in Munich at the age of 67.
SOURCES: Gudmundur Helgason, Rainer Kolbicz, www.uboat.net, 2011, Kenneth Wynn, U-boat Operations of the Second World War, Volume 1 and Volume 2, 1997