U-161 under Albrecht Achilles Bermuda patrol May 1942

U-161          Achilles         8-May-1943

U-161 under the daring Kapitänleutnant Albrecht Achilles dipped southwards towards Bermuda for only three days from the 8th to the 10th of April, 1943. Aside from sinking the British 255-foot schooner Angelus 700 miles east of New York on the 19thof May little was achieved offensively on this patrol, primarily because U-161 was ordered mostly to resupply blockade running ships, several of them captured by German raiders. These included the Regensberg of Germany on 23 March, the Italien Pietro Orseolo the following day and then the Irene (ex-Norwegian Silvaplana).

After these operations both U-161 and U-174 moved west towards New York, however U-161 was attacked two days after leaving the Bermuda area by a US Navy Kinfisher out of Quonset Rhode Island off Nantucket Shoals. On 25 May U-161 was fruitlessly chasing a convoy off Cape Sable, Canada, and U-174 was sunk by Allied aircraft two days later. On the return voyage to Lorient U-161 was refueled, probably by another patrolling U-boat and arrived in Lorient on the seventh of June, 1943.

Albrecht Achilles was born in 1914 and a member of the Crew of 1934. After serving aboard the school ship Schleswig-Holstein he became signals officer on board the Gneisenau, a battleship. He joined U-boats from the Murwik academy in April 1940. Then he made three patrols under Zapp in U-66 until November 1941. He assumed command of U-161 in January 1942 and was very active in the Caribbean.

Achilles was Kapitänleutnant at the time but promoted posthumously in April 1945 to Korvettenkapitän. Over six patrols in U-161 he accrued 435 days and daringly penetrated the defenses of both Port-of-Spain Trinidad and Castries Saint Lucia, utilizing his watch officer’s experience as a merchant marine officer. His career total was an impressive 20 ships sunk or damaged (6 damaged), for 105,664 tons. For this he was awarded the Knights Cross in January 1943. On 27 September 1943 U-161 was caught by a US Navy Mariner aircraft off Bahia, Brazil and sunk with all hands, Achilles amongst them. He was 29 years of age.
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