Otto Harms

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 33)


Successes
1 ship sunk, total tonnage 5,408 GRT
1 auxiliary warship sunk, total tonnage 16,923 GRT

Born  22 Apr 1909 Stralsund
Died  25 Feb 1980(70)Bremen, Germany


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Ranks

1 Apr 1933 Offiziersanwärter
1 Jul 1934 Fähnrich zur See
1 Apr 1936 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Oct 1936 Leutnant zur See
1 Jun 1938 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Jan 1941 Kapitänleutnant

Decorations

U-boat Commands

U-boatFromTo
U-6 27 Nov 1939 17 Jan 1940   No war patrols 
U-56 22 Jan 1940 13 Oct 1940   7 patrols (149 days) 
U-121 Oct, 1940 5 Nov 1940   No war patrols 
U-464 30 Apr 1942 20 Aug 1942   1 patrol (7 days) 

Otto Harms joined the Reichsmarine in 1933. From April to Oct 1939 he served as a Watch Officer with Flotilla Hundius (later 6th Flotilla) and with the U-Boat School Flotilla. Harms went though U-boat training from Oct to Nov 1939 (Busch & Röll, 1999).

From Nov 1939 to Jan 1940 he commanded the small "duck" U-6. On 22 Jan 1940 Harms took command of another "duck", the type IIC boat U-56. With this boat he sailed on 7 patrols, spending 149 days at sea (Busch & Röll, 1997). The first 4 patrols were in the North Sea while the last 3 were on the western side of the British Isles.

With the U-56 he sank 2 ships, one of which was the British Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Transylvania (F 56) on 10 Aug 1940 (Rohwer, 1998).


The British Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Transylvania (F 56) sunk by U-56 (Harms) on 10 Aug 1940. Photo Courtesy of Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart

Harms left the U-56 on 13 Oct 1940 and then served as acting commander of the small U-121 until Nov 1940. He was then an instructor with the 2nd ULD from Nov 1940 to March 1942 (Busch & Röll, 1999).

Milch Cow

From March to April 1942 Kptlt. Otto Harms was in an U-boat familiarization (Baubelehrung) to prepare for his next command, this time on a much larger type XIV Milch Cow boat. On 30 April 1942 he commissioned the U-464 at Kiel.

After training in the Baltic Kptlt. Otto Harms went out with the U-464 from Bergen, Norway on 14 Aug 1942 with the orders to support the attack U-boats in the North Atlantic (Busch & Röll, 1997). The Milch Cow itself was only armed with small AA guns, no torpedoes.

U-464 was sunk only 7 days into its patrol on 20 Aug 1942 south-east of Iceland in position 61.25N, 14.40W by a US Catalina aircraft (Niestlé, 1998). Otto Harms and 51 men of his crew survived while 2 died. They were picked up by an Icelandic trawler and became prisoners of war (POW's) in England.

Sources

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).
Niestlé, A. (1998). German U-boat losses during World War II.
Rohwer, J. (1998). Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two.

Patrol info for Otto Harms

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-56 27 Jan 1940  Kiel  17 Feb 1940  Wilhelmshaven  Patrol 1,22 days
2. U-56 4 Mar 1940  Wilhelmshaven  5 Mar 1940  Wilhelmshaven   2 days
3. U-56 14 Mar 1940  Wilhelmshaven  20 Mar 1940  Wilhelmshaven  Patrol 2,7 days
4. U-56 4 Apr 1940  Wilhelmshaven  26 Apr 1940  Kiel  Patrol 3,23 days
5. U-56 21 May 1940  Kiel  14 Jun 1940  Wilhelmshaven  Patrol 4,25 days
6. U-56 29 Jun 1940  Wilhelmshaven  21 Jul 1940  Lorient  Patrol 5,23 days
7. U-56 25 Jul 1940  Lorient  14 Aug 1940  Lorient  Patrol 6,21 days
8. U-56 19 Aug 1940  Lorient  15 Sep 1940  Kiel  Patrol 7,28 days
9. U-464 4 Aug 1942  Kiel  9 Aug 1942  Bergen   6 days
10. U-464 14 Aug 1942  Bergen  20 Aug 1942  Sunk  Patrol 8,7 days
8 patrols, 156 days at sea

Ships hit by Otto Harms

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
5 Aug 1940U-56 Boma5,408brOB-193
10 Aug 1940U-56 HMS Transylvania (F 56)16,923br
 22,331

2 ships sunk (22,331 tons).

Legend
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

Listing of all U-boat commanders