U-96 under Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock Bermuda patrol March 1942

U-96    Lehmann-Willenbrock       1-Mar-1942

U-96 under Kapitänleutnant (later Fregattenkapitän) Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock merely dipped into the area north of Bermuda between the first and third of March, 1942. Sailing for the 7thU-boat Flotilla the sub patrolled mainly off Nova Scotia as far south as Cape Cod and south from there. Successes included sinking the Empire Seal, Lake Osweya, Torungen, Kars and Tyr, none of them in the Bermuda area. The patrol began in Saint Nazaire on the 31st of January and ended there on the 23rd of March.

Lehmann-Willenbrock was 30 at the time and a member of the Crew of 1931. Already a holder of the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves (awarded a month before the patrol began), he commanded four submarines over his career, including U-8, U-5, and U-256. His early experience included a stint as watch officer of the Horst Wessel, a sail training ship. He entered the U-boat arm in 1940.

Over his career Lehmann-Willenbrock accrued 327 patrol days in 10 patrols, sinking or damaging 27 ships of 194,989 tons up until the Tyr. After that he was assigned commander of the 9thFlotilla, then, after managing to escape the siege of Brest for Norway in a damaged U-boat, the 11th Flotilla based there.

Before the surrender Lehmann-Willenbrock was a watch officer on the new boat U-3524. He was detained after the war he was freed in March 1946. He served in the merchant marine and daringly rescued 57 men from a burning Brazilian freighter. Between 1969 and 1979 he skippered the German nuclear research ship the Otto Hahn. Lehmann-Willenbrock was a consultant for the film Das Boot and lived until 1986, passing away in Bremen at the age of 74.


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