Heinrich Bruns

Korvettenkapitän (Crew 31)

10 ships sunk, total tonnage 40,619 GRT

Born  3 Apr 1912 Castrop-Rauxel
Died  17 Apr 1943(31)North Atlantic


1 Apr 1931 Offiziersanwärter
14 Oct 1931 Seekadett
1 Jan 1933 Fähnrich zur See
1 Jan 1935 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Apr 1935 Leutnant zur See
1 Jan 1937 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Oct 1939 Kapitänleutnant
1 Apr 1943 Korvettenkapitän


1940 Iron Cross 2nd Class
1940 Destroyer War Badge
Sep 1940 Wound Badge in Silver
18 Oct 1942 Iron Cross 1st Class
18 Oct 1942 U-boat War Badge 1939
7 Jan 1944 German Cross in Gold (posthumous)

U-boat Commands

U-175 5 Dec 1941 17 Apr 1943  (+)  3 patrols (158 days) 

Heinrich A. B. Bruns joined the Navy in 1931. His officer training included deployments aboard the sail training ship (STS) Niobe and the light cruiser Karlsruhe. Prior to WW2 he had duty postings as watch officer on the torpedo boat Jaguar (DE equivalent) as well as cadet training officer aboard STS Albert Leo Schlageter and STS Horst Wessel.

At the start of the war he was a signals officer on the famous battle cruiser Scharnhorst and then moved on to the 1st torpedo boat flotilla where he took command of torpedo boat T 3 in January 1940. His boat was sunk, after escorting a German convoy in, by British bombers alongside the quay in Le Havre, France on 19 Sept, 1940. Bruns was severely wounded in this raid, requiring months of recovery and proper care. He then became a navigational officer on the training ship Schleswig Holstein before entering the U-boat service in March 1941.

After finishing U-boat commander training he was assigned as "Konfirmand" (Evaluation commander) to Ringelmann's U-75 where he went on one patrol where they sank 2 ships for roughly 10,000 tons. Heinrich Bruns was then assigned to oversee the final construction of the U-175 in Bremen, taking command of that boat on 5 Dec, 1941.

His first patrol on U-175 was outstanding as he sank 9 ships for roughly 33.000 tons during his 64-days at sea (all the ships were actually sunk during the last 30 days).

His boat was lost on its third patrol on 17 April, 1943 after only 7 days at sea. Heinrich Bruns and 12 of his men died but 41 men survived (Niestlé, 1998). The sinking of U-175 is often seen in books as many photographs exist of its loss.

Heinrich Bruns was married and had 2 children; a daughter and a son. His main passion in the navy lay in 2 things; sailing the big three-masted sail training vessels and driving destroyers. With no destroyer commands available in the Germany navy he volunteered for the U-boat service (info from his son).


Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1998). German U-boat commanders of World War II.
Niestlé, A. (1998). German U-boat losses during World War II.

Patrol info for Heinrich Bruns

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-175 15 Aug 1942  Kiel  17 Oct 1942  Lorient  Patrol 1,64 days
2. U-175 1 Dec 1942  Lorient  24 Feb 1943  Lorient  Patrol 2,86 days
3. U-175 10 Apr 1943  Lorient  17 Apr 1943  Sunk  Patrol 3,8 days
3 patrols, 158 days at sea

Ships hit by Heinrich Bruns

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
18 Sep 1942U-175 Norfolk1,901ca
21 Sep 1942U-175 Predsednik Kopajtic1,798yu
24 Sep 1942U-175 West Chetac5,627amTRIN-14
26 Sep 1942U-175 Tambour1,827pa
28 Sep 1942U-175 Alcoa Mariner5,590am
1 Oct 1942U-175 Empire Tennyson2,880br
2 Oct 1942U-175 Aneroid5,074pa
4 Oct 1942U-175 Caribstar2,592am
5 Oct 1942U-175 William A. McKenney6,153am
23 Jan 1943U-175 Benjamin Smith7,177am

10 ships sunk (40,619 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.

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.

Media links

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Shadows on the Horizon

Haskell, Winthrop A.

Bloody Winter

Waters, John M.

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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