Fregattenkapitän (Crew 35)
8 ships sunk, total tonnage 25,879 GRT
1 auxiliary warship sunk, total tonnage 810 GRT
3 warships sunk, total tonnage 5,000 tons
|Born||20 Jun 1914||Dortmund|
|Died||6 Jan 1966||(51)||Köln, Germany|
|U-617||9 Apr 1942||12 Sep 1943||7 patrols (187 days)|
|U-380||Dec, 1943||11 Mar 1944||1 patrol (33 days)|
|U-967||Apr, 1944||1 Jul 1944||1 patrol (37 days)|
Albrecht Brandi began his career in the Navy as Seeoffiziersanwärter on 1 April, 1935. Other well-known members of Crew 35 were: Frkpt. Reinhard Suhren, Krvkpt. Georg Lassen and Kptlt. Engelbert Endrass.
Brandi spent six months on board the cruiser Karlsruhe for basic naval training before attending Marineschule Flensburg-Mürvik from June 1936 to March 1937.
After additional training he served as WO on several minesweepers. Brandi was on board M-1 as part of the 1.Minensuchflottille when it took part in the September 1939 attack on the Polish Westerplatte as escort for the German battleship Schleswig Holstein.
At this time Brandi made a first attempt to transfer to U-boats, but his application was refused. In May 1940 he became commander of the minesweeper M-1. In April 1941 Brandi's second attempt to transfer to U-boats was successful and he began training at Neustadt/Holstein. Following completion of training there he was ordered to the base at St. Nazaire.
The first U-boat patrol
At the end of 1941 Brandi embarked on his first submarine patrol as commander-in-training (Kommandantenschüler, also known in the Kriegsmarine as Konfirmand) aboard U-552, the famous "Red Devil Boat" commanded by Kptlt. Erich Topp.
The first area of operations was to be the Azores, but new orders were received at sea to make for the Canadian coast. Despite having neither winter equipment nor reliable charts, they nonetheless arrived at the new area of operations off Cape Race, where Topp sank two ships of some 7,000 tons.
There were many problems on this patrol, including severe weather conditions and difficulties with the torpedoes and engines, but it seems that serving under one of the top aces was good training for the U-boat novice Brandi.
On 9 April 1942 Brandi commissioned the type VIIC U-boat U-617. Only five of the crew apart from Brandi had any experience of U-boats to speak of. From April to August 1942 Brandi trained with the new boat as part of the 5. U-Flotilla (a training unit based at Kiel.)
On the first patrol they left Kiel and arrived a month later at St. Nazaire, France, sinking four ships on the way.
The Gibraltar dash
While at sea on 4 November, 1942 Brandi received an order to proceed to a new operational area: the Mediterranean. While navigating the heavily guarded Straits of Gibraltar, U-617 was targeted by a British Sunderland flying boat, but two bombs dropped both missed. On 19 November, Brandi attacked a British convoy, but the results, if any, remain uncertain. U-617 subsequently underwent four hours of depth charging, during which some 80 depth charges were dropped.
From November 1942 to September 1943, U-617 was attached to the 29. U-Flotilla (based at La Spezia/Toulon, commanded by Krvkpt. Frauenheim).
After leaving base on the boat's fourth patrol, Brandi had an extended encounter with an enemy submarine. Both commanders attempted to close in for a good firing position, but after three hours Brandi went deep and continued his patrol. On returning from this patrol, Brandi was awarded the Knights Cross on 21 January 1943 at La Spezia.
During his fifth patrol with U-617, Brandi sank the British minelayer HMS Welshman on 1 February 1943, a significant achievement. In his official history of the Royal Navy Stephen Roskill stated that HMS Welshman made a vital contribution to saving Malta.
On 11 April 1943, during his sixth patrol, Brandi received the Oak Leaves to the Knights Cross. Brandi announced one cruiser sunk, (HMS Uganda) and one ship of 23,500 tons, but there is no confirmation of these claims.
This was a general problem for U-boats operating in the Mediterranean, and especially for Brandi it seems. Rohwer shows many unconfirmed successes for Brandi. In the Mediterranean it was particularly difficult for U-boat commanders to identify their targets, because they were usually forced to dive immediately after launching torpedoes.
In August 1943 Brandi set out from Toulon on his eighth and last patrol with U-617. On 6 September 1943 he sank the British destroyer HMS Puckeridge 40 nautical miles east of Gibraltar. In the first days of the patrol the boat came across two British aircraft carriers, HMS Illustrious and HMS Formidable, but there was no opportunity to launch a torpedo.
In the early hours of 12 September, 1943 U-617 was attacked by aircraft off the Moroccan coast. Before being shot down, one of them dropped three depth charges that caused so much damage Brandi was forced to beach the boat. After abandoning ship, the crew made their way to shore, where they were interned by Spanish troops.
Brandi was held in the officers' camp near Cadiz (Spain). He succeeded in escaping and made his way back to Germany. In Berlin, he informed Admiral Dönitz personally about his adventures.
In January 1944 Brandi returned to Toulon and took command of U-380, a type VIIC boat. Brandi completed one patrol with U-380, but the boat was then destroyed in air raid on Toulon on 13 March 1944 by the 9th USAAF.
During the next patrol with U-967 in June 1944, Brandi became seriously ill and had to break off patrol. On reaching base, command of U-967 was relinquished to Oblt. Eberbach, but she was scuttled soon after on 8 August,1944, also in Toulon.
One month later KrvKpt. Brandi became the Chief of U-boats operating in the eastern Baltic. On 24 November 1944 Brandi received the Diamonds to the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (awarded for his accomplishments as U-boat commander). He was the second of only two Kriegsmarine officers to receive this award, and it was awarded to only 27 men in total from all services.
In January 1945 Fregkpt. Brandi was made Chief of the Marinekleinkampfverbände (a miniature subs unit, of types such as the Biber and Seehund).
After the War
Brandi was released from Canadian captivity in September 1945. He worked for some time as a mason before going on to study architecture. He became a successful architect in his home town of Dortmund, as well as working abroad in countries such as Saudi Arabia. Brandi was chairman of the Bund Deutscher Architekten in Dortmund for three years, and in 1964 Rotary Club chairman for the district of Westfalen.
Albrecht Brandi died in Cologne on 6 January 1966, following an illness. Officers from the Bundesmarine (German postwar Navy) formed an honour guard at his funeral at Dortmund. Some of his crew from U-617 were also present. The final words were spoken by his former crewmate Frkpt. Reinhard Suhren (Crew 35). He described Brandi as a
"Ritter ohne Furcht und Tadel"
(A knight without fear or failings).
Patrol info for Albrecht Brandi
|1.||U-617||29 Aug 1942||Kiel||7 Oct 1942||St. Nazaire||Patrol 1,||40 days|
|2.||U-617||2 Nov 1942||St. Nazaire||28 Nov 1942||La Spezia||Patrol 2,||27 days|
|3.||U-617||21 Dec 1942||La Spezia||17 Jan 1943||Salamis||Patrol 3,||28 days|
|4.||U-617||27 Jan 1943||La Spezia||13 Feb 1943||Pola||Patrol 4,||18 days|
|5.||U-617||25 Mar 1943||Pola||17 Apr 1943||Toulon||Patrol 5,||24 days|
|6.||U-617||31 May 1943||Toulon||1 Jun 1943||Toulon||Patrol 6,||2 days|
|7.||U-617||19 Jun 1943||Toulon||20 Jul 1943||Toulon||Patrol 6,||32 days|
|8.||U-617||28 Aug 1943||Toulon||12 Sep 1943||Sunk||Patrol 7,||16 days|
|9.||U-380||20 Dec 1943||Toulon||21 Jan 1944||Toulon||Patrol 8,||33 days|
|10.||U-967||11 Apr 1944||Toulon||17 May 1944||Toulon||Patrol 9,||37 days|
|9 patrols, 257 days at sea|
Ships hit by Albrecht Brandi
|Date||U-boat||Name of ship||Tons||Nat.||Convoy|
|7 Sep 1942||U-617||Tor II||292||fa|
|23 Sep 1942||U-617||Athelsultan||8,882||br||SC-100|
|23 Sep 1942||U-617||Tennessee||2,342||br||SC-100|
|24 Sep 1942||U-617||Roumanie||3,563||be||SC-100|
|28 Dec 1942||U-617||HMS St. Issey (W 25)||810||br|
|15 Jan 1943||U-617||Annitsa||4,324||gr|
|15 Jan 1943||U-617||Harboe Jensen||1,862||nw|
|1 Feb 1943||U-617||HMS Welshman (M 84)||2,650||br|
|5 Feb 1943||U-617||Corona||3,264||nw||AW-22|
|5 Feb 1943||U-617||Henrik||1,350||nw||AW-22|
|6 Sep 1943||U-617||HMS Puckeridge (L 108)||1,050||br|
|5 May 1944||U-967||USS Fechteler (DE 157)||1,300||am||GUS-38|
12 ships sunk (31,689 tons).
About ranks and decorations
Ranks shown in italics are our database inserts based on the rank dates of his crew comrades. The officers of each crew would normally have progressed through the lower ranks at the same rate.