U-109 under Heinrich ‘Ajax’ Bleichrodt, Bermuda patrol February 1942

U-109          Bleichrodt     3-Feb-1942

U-109 under Kapitänleutnant Heinrich ‘Ajax’ Bleichrodt, age 32 entered the area on the third of February 1942 north-northwest of Bermuda heading southeast. On the 6th the boat turned to port and headed off in a northeasterly direction, exiting the region northeast of Bermuda on the eighth. U-109 was one of five boats in the first Drumbeat wave, and began its patrol for the 2nd U-boat Flotilla off Newfoundland. On the 19thof January Bleichrodt fired six torpedoes at a single ship but all missed and the vessel escaped. Then on the 23rd she sanke the British Thirlby of 4,887 tons of Cape Sable, Canada.

Closer to Bermuda U-109 sank the British ship Tacoma Star on the first of February. Then on the 4th she was refueled by the homeward bound U-130 north of Bermuda. On the fifth, whilst north of the island, she dispatched the British tanker Montrolite of 11,309 tons and the following day the Halcyon of Panama, 3,531 tons. It took 300 rounds of gunfire to dispatch Halcyon. U-109 left the region on the eigth and returned to Lorient on the 23rd of February, having begun the patrol on the 27thof December 1941.

‘Ajax’ Bleichrodt graduated in the crew of 1933 and was a Kapitänleutnant at the time, achieving Korvettenkapitänlate 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, 2013, Kenneth Wynn, U-boat Operations of the Second World War, Volume 1 and Volume 2, 1997, R. Busch, and H.-J. Röll, German U-boat Commanders of World War II, 1988, Franz Kurowski, Knights Cross Holders of the U-boat Service