Rudolf Heinz Franke

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 36)

3 ships sunk, total tonnage 13,010 GRT
1 warship sunk, total tonnage 925 tons

Born  30 Nov 1915 Berlin-Steglitz
Died  5 Apr 2003(87)

Kapitänleutnant Heinz Franke


3 Apr 1936 Offiziersanwärter
10 Sep 1936 Seekadett
1 May 1937 Fähnrich zur See
1 Jul 1938 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Oct 1938 Leutnant zur See
1 Oct 1940 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Apr 1943 Kapitänleutnant


23 Feb 1940 Iron Cross 2nd Class
21 Nov 1941 U-boat War Badge 1939
12 Dec 1941 Iron Cross 1st Class
30 Nov 1943 Knights Cross
24 Jan 1945 U-boat Front Clasp

U-boat Commands

U-148 16 Jan 1942 19 Oct 1942   No war patrols 
U-262 26 Oct 1942 25 Jan 1944   5 patrols (222 days) 
U-3509 15 Mar 1945 9 Apr 1945   No war patrols 
U-2502 12 Apr 1945 9 May 1945   No war patrols 

Kapitänleutnant Heinz Franke

Rudolf Heinz Franke joined the Kriegsmarine in April 1936, and was part of the Olympia Crew. He served for more than two years on the battle cruiser Gneisenau and was onboard during her two combat sorties in 1939 (Busch & Röll, 1999).

He transferred to the U-boat force in October 1940 and after attending Baubelehrung (U-boat Construction Familiarization) for the type VIIB U-boat U-84, he served as her First Watch Officer (IWO), before taking over his first command, the school boat U-148, at the start of 1942 (Busch & Röll, 1999).

In October 1942 he took command of U-262, and on his first patrol sank the Norwegian corvette Montbretia (Rohwer, 1998). In May 1943 Franke was sent on a mission to the Gulf of St. Lawrence to collect escaped POW U-boat men, but the planned breakout didn't succeed and U-262 returned home without them.

Heinz Franke

After Kptlt Franke left U-262 at the start of 1944 he was attached to the BdU org staff. After serving in several other senior staff positions, including Chief of training for a midget submarine unit, he took command of the type XXI Elektro U-boat U-3509 in March 1945. When that U-boat was damaged on 4 April 1945 he transferred to U-2502, another type XXI, which he commanded until she was surrendered at Horten, Norway on 9 May 1945 (Busch & Röll, 1999).

After the war he spent six months in Krageroe POW camp, Norway, and then served in a minesweeper unit (Busch & Röll, 1999).

In 1957 he joined the Bundesmarine (Federal German Navy) and served in the Armed Forces Amt für Militärkunde (Department of Military Science). He retired in March 1972 with the rank of Fregattenkapitän.

Heinz Franke died on 5 April 2003 suffering from advanced Alzheimers disease.


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 Rudolf Heinz Franke

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-262 5 Nov 1942  Narvik  9 Dec 1942  La Pallice  Patrol 1,35 days
2. U-262 16 Jan 1943  La Pallice  15 Feb 1943  La Pallice  Patrol 2,31 days
3. U-262 27 Mar 1943  La Pallice  25 May 1943  La Pallice  Patrol 3,60 days
4. U-262 24 Jul 1943  La Pallice  2 Sep 1943  La Pallice  Patrol 4,41 days
5. U-262 14 Oct 1943  La Pallice  7 Dec 1943  La Pallice  Patrol 5,55 days
5 patrols, 222 days at sea

Ships hit by Rudolf Heinz Franke

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
18 Nov 1942U-262 HNoMS Montbretia (K 208)925nwONS-144
26 Nov 1942U-262 Ocean Crusader7,178brHX-216
6 Feb 1943U-262 Zagloba2,864poSC-118
31 Oct 1943U-262 Hallfried2,968nwSL-138

4 ships sunk (13,935 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

U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor
(£ 38.25)

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Listing of all U-boat commanders

As an Amazon Associate earns a commission from qualifying purchases.