U-129 under Hans-Ludwig Witt, Bermuda patrol June 1942

U-129          Witt    8-Jun-1942

KapitänleutnantHans-Ludwig Witt in U-129 transited the region for 11 days south of Bermuda starting on the 8th of June 1942 and ending on the 1st of August. Entering east-southeast of the island Witt patrolled west-southwest until the 10th when it sank the Norwegian ship L. A. Christensen.

Then two days later, on the same southewest course, it found and sank the British Harwicke Grange over 400 miles south of the island. Witt exited the area southbound on the 13th of June. On the 28th of July U-129 returned, this time homeward bound. It motored generally east until the first of August, again well south of Bermuda and out of the area to the south-southeast.

Overall Witt’s U-129 patrol lasted over three months (94 days) with refueling en route. During it he achieved a tonnage cache of 41,570 by sinking eleven ships, four of them in the Bermuda or Bahamas sphere. They were the Norwegian L. A. Christensen of 4,362 tons, the large British steamer Hardwicke Grange of 9,005 GRT, two days later on the 12th of June, and the Millinocket, a 3,274-ton American freighter.

Witt took a similar track as U-67 and U-157 before it. In fact it entered the area on the very same day as Müller-Stöckheimin U-67 and proceeded on the same course: off Turks & Caicos on the 14th of June to enter the Old Bahama Channel on the 15th, up the coast of Cuba until the 19th, at which point it opted to round Cuba heading southwest.

On the 22nd of July (a few days after U-67) Witt took the boat through the Saint Nicholas Channel south of the Cay Sal Bank, back down the Old Bahama Channel and out past Inagua, passing just west of Mayaguana in the Crooked Island Channel on the 26th of July 1942. With a short dog-leg on the 28th to the southeast, he left the region heading eastbound on the 31st after a total patrol in the Bahamas area of a significant 27 days.

On his way back from the US Gulf (where he dispatched the Tuxpamand Las Choapasof Mexico, the Cadmusand Gundersenof Norway, the Soviet motor tanker Tuapse, Tachira of the US and Port Antonio of Norway), he sank the Onondagaof 2,309 tons in the Old Bahama Channel. This sinking occurred on the 23rd of July and resulted in the death of not only nineteen of her crew but the ship’s only passenger, Captain Mellin Edwin Respess, who had been sunk only weeks before by U-505 under Axel-Olaf Löwe while master of the Thomas McKean east of the region. On U-129’s return trip across the Atlantic she was refueled by U-463 west of the Azores. She returned to Lorient on the 21st of August 1942.

            A member of the Class of 1929, Hans-Ludwig Witt was Kapitänleutnantat the time of this patrol, obtaining Kovettenkapitän less than a year later. A few months after this patrol he was awarded the Knights Cross, amassing over his career 100,773 GRT of confirmed tonnage sunk in nineteen ships.

Like others before him he served in the school ship Gorch Fochand entered U-boat school in October 1940. Like Ali Cremer, Witt returned to the new electric U-boats towards the end of the war. Overall he experience three patrols of 275 sea days before moving ashore to join the BdU (headquarters) staff under Dönitz. He lived until 1980 and age 70.

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