Korvettenkapitän (Crew 32)
6 ships sunk, total tonnage 26,873 GRT
1 ship damaged, total tonnage 8,327 GRT
1 warship damaged, total tonnage 925 tons
|Born||25 Mar 1911||Metz, Lorraine|
|Died||5 Jul 1992||(81)||Hamburg, Germany|
|U-152||29 Jan 1941||21 Jul 1941||No war patrols|
|U-333||25 Aug 1941||6 Oct 1942||4 patrols (156 days)|
|U-333||18 May 1943||19 Jul 1944||5 patrols (211 days)|
|U-2519||15 Nov 1944||Feb, 1945||No war patrols|
Korvettenkapitän 'Ali' Cremer
Peter Erich Cremer began his naval career in August 1932 after studying law for six semesters. This was four months later than the usual start date, due to an accident in June of that year in which the German sailing school ship Niobe sank after capsizing, killing most of the cadets (27 men) of Crew 1932. Some men from the Reichsmarine thus went on to replace this loss.
Cremer completed the one year of basic on-board training on the light cruiser Köln. After a few months on the heavy cruiser Deutschland, he served three years in the naval artillery, returning to service at sea as II WO on the destroyer Theodor Riedel and then transferring to the U-boat force in August 1940.
In January 1941 Kptlt. Cremer commissioned U-152, a small coastal type IID U-boat which was to serve as a school boat. A few months later he took command of the larger type VIIC U-boat U-333, the 3 Little Fishes boat, an emblem suggested by the boat's number. Although 'Ali' Cremer went out for his first patrol on U-333 without any combat experience, he sank three enemy ships - but also, unfortunately, the German blockade-runner Spreewald. The subsequent official investigation exonerated Cremer, however. His next patrol, in US waters, was also successful, with four ships sunk, but it ended with Cremer nursing a badly damaged boat back to base after being rammed.
On his third patrol Cremer was seriously wounded by gunfire from the British corvette HMS Crocus. Seven of the crew were killed, and a replacement WO from the milch cow U-459 was needed to assist Cremer in bringing a once more heavily-damaged U-333 to base. After this, Cremer got the nickname 'Ali Wrack' (Ali Wreck). But his crew members insisted that "Ali on board is the the best life insurance!". Cremer spent three months in hospital recovering from his wounds.
Kptlt. Cremer returning from patrol (note the '3 Little Fishes' on his capband)
From February to May 1943 he served on Dönitz' staff, but when Dönitz decided to send some experienced commanders out on patrol to investigate the situation following the massive U-boat losses of May 1943, Cremer was amongst them. And so once again Cremer took U-333 out on patrol, and in April 1944 once again returned with her badly damaged, this time from a severe depth charge attack. In July 1944 he left the boat, which was lost on the next patrol.
Cremer then commissioned the new type XXI Elektro U-boat Elektro boat U-2519, one of the highly decorated U-boat commanders (like Schnee, Bülow, Emmermann, Witt and Topp), given command of the new boats in an attempt to turn the tide in the battle of the Atlantic.
Korvkpt. Cremer left U-2519 in February 1945 to become field commander of the Marine-Panzervernichtungsbataillon (Naval Tank Destroying Battalion) which was pitted against British tanks attempting to occupy the city of Hamburg.
On 25 April, 1945 the daily Armed Forces' Wehrmachtsbericht announced:
"Ein von Korvettenkapitän Cremer geführter Panzervernichtungstrupp der Kriegsmarine, zusammengestellt aus Freiwilligen eines Unterseeboot-Stützpunktes, vernichtete innnerhalb weniger Tage 24 Panzer."
(A naval tank destroying unit under command of Korvettenkapitän Cremer, including volunteers from a U-boat base, destroyed 24 tanks during the last few days.)
In the last days of the war Cremer became commander of Dönitz's guard unit and was thus involved in the tragic incident in which Kapitän z. See Wolfgang Lüth was shot and killed by a German sentry. Following Germany's surrender he spent one month in British captivity. After the war he was successful in a new career, managing several companies.
Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1998). German U-boat commanders of World War II.
Patrol info for Peter-Erich Cremer
|1.||U-333||27 Dec 1941||Kiel||9 Feb 1942||La Pallice||Patrol 1,||45 days|
|2.||U-333||30 Mar 1942||La Pallice||26 May 1942||La Pallice||Patrol 2,||58 days|
|3.||U-333||11 Aug 1942||La Pallice||24 Aug 1942||La Pallice||Patrol 3,||14 days|
|4.||U-333||1 Sep 1942||La Pallice||9 Oct 1942||*at sea*||Patrol 4,||39 days|
|5.||U-333||2 Jun 1943||La Pallice||31 Aug 1943||La Pallice||Patrol 5,||91 days|
|6.||U-333||21 Oct 1943||La Pallice||1 Dec 1943||La Pallice||Patrol 6,||42 days|
|7.||U-333||10 Feb 1944||La Pallice||12 Feb 1944||La Pallice||Patrol 7,||3 days|
|8.||U-333||14 Feb 1944||La Pallice||20 Apr 1944||La Pallice||Patrol 8,||67 days|
|9.||U-333||6 Jun 1944||La Pallice||13 Jun 1944||Lorient||Patrol 9,||8 days|
|9 patrols, 367 days at sea|
Ships hit by Peter-Erich Cremer
|Date||U-boat||Name of ship||Tons||Nat.||Convoy|
|22 Jan 1942||U-333||Vassilios A. Polemis||3,429||gr||ON-53|
|24 Jan 1942||U-333||Ringstad||4,765||nw||ON-55|
|31 Jan 1942||U-333||Spreewald||5,083||dt|
|6 May 1942||U-333||Java Arrow (d.)||8,327||am|
|6 May 1942||U-333||Amazone||1,294||nl|
|6 May 1942||U-333||Halsey||7,088||am|
|10 May 1942||U-333||Clan Skene||5,214||br|
|6 Oct 1942||U-333||HMS Crocus (K 49) (d.)||925||br|
6 ships sunk (26,873 tons) and 2 ships damaged (9,252 tons).
About ranks and decorations
Special thanks to Fernando Almeida for data on ranks and decorations.