Günter Hessler

Fregattenkapitän (Crew 27)

19 ships sunk, total tonnage 108,411 GRT
2 auxiliary warships sunk, total tonnage 10,411 GRT

Born  14 Jun 1909 Beerfelde, Lebus
Died  4 Apr 1968(58)Bochum-Laer, Westphalia, Germany

Günther Hessler


1 Oct 1927 Seekadett
1 Apr 1929 Fähnrich zur See
1 Jun 1931 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Oct 1931 Leutnant zur See
1 Jul 1933 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Oct 1936 Kapitänleutnant
1 Sep 1941 Korvettenkapitän
1 Dec 1944 Fregattenkapitän


18 Nov 1939 Iron Cross 2nd Class
1 Mar 1941 Iron Cross 1st Class
24 Jun 1941 Knights Cross
3 Jul 1941 U-boat War Badge 1939
9 Nov 1944 German Cross in Gold

U-boat Commands

U-107 8 Oct 1940 1 Dec 1941   3 patrols (200 days) 

Kptlt. Günther Hessler after his second patrol

Günther Hessler joined the Kriegsmarine in April 1927. Prior to being assigned to the U-Boot-Waffe (U-boat arm) he served on torpedo boats and the battleship Schlesien.

In April 1940 he transferred to the U-boat force and six months later commissioned U-107. It was rare for an officer to take command of a U-boat without previous experience as a watch officer or Kommandanten-Schüler (Commander-in-training), but Hessler was an experienced Navy officer and he soon demonstrated that this was a correct decision: during his first patrol he sank four ships totalling 18,514 tons.

But it was the second patrol in U-107 that was to make him famous. Kptlt. Günther Hessler put out from Lorient at 19:30 on 29 March 1941 to sink the highest tonnage of Allied merchant ships of any U-boat patrol of the entire war. U-107 left base in company with U-94 (Kuppisch), but U-107 then headed south. Her operational area was around the Canary Islands and near Freetown, where she sank 14 ships totalling 86,699 tons, starting with the British merchant SS Eskdene which required two torpedoes and 104 rounds from the 105mm fast-firing deck gun. The largest ship sunk was the British Calchas of 10,305 tons. On 1 June 1941 Hessler sank what he assumed was a 'Q ship' (decoy vessel), the British Alfred Jones (wrongly, Q-ships having been withdrawn from service in March).

After leaving U-107 Hessler spent the rest of the war as 1.Asto (1st naval staff officer) on BdU op. (U-boat High Command, operations)

Günther Hessler and his wife Ursula.

Kptlt. Hessler married Karl Dönitz's daughter Ursula in November 1937. At that time Hessler was serving on torpedo boats.

(Admiral Dönitz had only one daughter, so the claim made in some books that Adi Schnee also married a daughter of Dönitz' is untrue.)

Because Hessler was his son-in-law, Dönitz had some reservations about awarding Hessler his deserved Knights Cross, but eventually Grand Admiral Raeder signed the papers.

After the war Hessler spent over a year in Allied captivity. From 1947 to 1951 he was commissioned by the Royal Navy to write The U-Boat War in the Atlantic in three volumes, with the assistance of Korvkpt. Alfred Hoschatt, former commander of U-378 and later, on the staff of BdU op with Hessler.


Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II.
Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1997). Der U-Bootkrieg 1939-1945 (Band 2).
Rohwer, J. (1998). Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two.

Patrol info for Günter Hessler

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-107 24 Jan 1941  Wilhelmshaven  1 Mar 1941  Lorient  Patrol 1,37 days
2. U-107 29 Mar 1941  Lorient  2 Jul 1941  Lorient  Patrol 2,96 days
3. U-107 6 Sep 1941  Lorient  11 Nov 1941  Lorient  Patrol 3,67 days
3 patrols, 200 days at sea

Ships hit by Günter Hessler

Date U-boat Commander Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
3 Feb 1941U-107Günter Hessler Empire Citizen4,683brOB-279
3 Feb 1941U-107Günter Hessler HMS Crispin5,051brOB-280
6 Feb 1941U-107Günter Hessler Maplecourt3,388caSC-20
23 Feb 1941U-107Günter Hessler HMS Manistee (F 104)5,360brOB-288
8 Apr 1941U-107Günter Hessler Eskdene3,829brOG-57
8 Apr 1941U-107Günter Hessler Helena Margareta3,316brOG-57
9 Apr 1941U-107Günter Hessler Harpathian4,671brOG-57
9 Apr 1941U-107Günter Hessler Duffield8,516br
21 Apr 1941U-107Günter Hessler Calchas10,305br
30 Apr 1941U-107Günter Hessler Lassell7,417brOB-309
17 May 1941U-107Günter Hessler Marisa8,029nl
18 May 1941U-107Günter Hessler Piako8,286br
27 May 1941U-107Günter Hessler Colonial5,108brOB-318
28 May 1941U-107Günter Hessler Papalemos3,748gr
31 May 1941U-107Günter Hessler Sire5,664brOB-320
1 Jun 1941U-107Günter Hessler Alfred Jones5,013brOB-320
8 Jun 1941U-107Günter Hessler Adda7,816brOB-323
13 Jun 1941U-107Günter Hessler Pandias4,981gr
24 Sep 1941U-107Günter Hessler John Holt4,975brSL-87
24 Sep 1941U-107Günter Hessler Dixcove3,790brSL-87
24 Sep 1941U-107Günter Hessler Lafian4,876brSL-87

21 ships sunk (118,822 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.

Media links

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Listing of all U-boat commanders