Otto Hartmann

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 36)

3 ships sunk, total tonnage 13,760 GRT
1 ship damaged, total tonnage 5,229 GRT
1 warship damaged, total tonnage 1,190 tons
2 ships a total loss, total tonnage 11,637 GRT

Born  18 Apr 1917 Stuttgart
Died  29 Mar 1943(25)Mediterranean


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


  Iron Cross 2nd Class
  Iron Cross 1st Class

U-boat Commands

U-77 2 Sep 1942 29 Mar 1943  (+)  4 patrols (97 days) 

Otto Hartmann was born in Stuttgart, the youngest of 4 children. After the secondary education he intended to become a medical doctor but money was short during the depression so instead he chose the path of a career officer to obtain a university education. Of the 85 high school graduates applying in Stuttgart he was one of the three selected to attend the Navy Cadet School in Kiel. His training to become a commander included a trip to Japan in 1936 on the sailing school ship Gorch Fock I.

His first navy positions in 1938 - 1941 were as Navy News Officer (M.N.O) first in Wilhelmshaven Germany and then Kristiansand-South in Norway. In the first 5 months of 1941 he received U-boat training and then acted as auxiliary teacher at the Navy school Mürwik. He joined U 97 as First Watch Officer under Kdt. Udo Heilmann for 4 patrols including the run through Gibraltar on 26. 09. 41. After a 3-month attachment to the 24th U-Flotilla he took command of type VIIC boat U-77 in the Mediterranean. There were 4 patrols under his command to the eastern Mediterranean, the waters off Tobruk, off Algiers and the area of f Gibraltar. Under Hartmann's command U-77 is credited with damaging the British sloop HMS Stork 1190 tons, badly damaging British SS Empire Banner 6699 tons which was then sunk by Allied gunfire, sinking the British SS Empire Webster 7043 tons, sinking the British SS Hadleigh 5222 tons and damaging the British MV Merchant Prince 5229 tons.

Up to March 28, 1943 U-77 managed to escape dangerous situations, but on that fateful day they were attacked by one plane which after some hours was joined by another. The first attack did not score a direct hit but the pressure wave from water bombs caused a serious water leak in the rear of the boat. It rendered the engines inoperable and after some repeat emergency dives the battery power declined and the pumps could not keep up with water ingress. The boat was left to defend itself on the surface but was immobile and gradually went lower in the water. The whole crew got out of the boat and all had life preserver vests. Around midnight U-77 slipped away under a last salute. The crew was in the cold water, trying to survive. After a couple of hours some of them had fallen asleep and died of exposure. Around 4 am those that had managed to stay on top of a life raft heard the engine sound of a Spanish fishing boat which rescued 9 survivors. Otto Hartman was among the dead and was buried together with 4 other crew first in the cemetery of Altea and later re-interred in Cuacos de Yuste, Spain near the Portuguese border.

The fact that there had been survivors provided descriptions of U-77’s last hours. The men were repatriated back to Germany and some found placements on other U-boats. In the 1980s after retiring from their civilian jobs four of these men found each other and met annually. Lately, through the Internet, one of Otto Hartmann’s relatives has made contact with a U-77 survivor.

Patrol info for Otto Hartmann

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-77 12 Oct 1942  Pola  1 Nov 1942  La Spezia  Patrol 1,21 days
2. U-77 3 Nov 1942  La Spezia  5 Dec 1942  La Spezia  Patrol 2,33 days
3. U-77 26 Jan 1943  La Spezia  10 Feb 1943  La Spezia  Patrol 3,16 days
4. U-77 3 Mar 1943  La Spezia  29 Mar 1943  Sunk  Patrol 4,27 days
4 patrols, 97 days at sea

Ships hit by Otto Hartmann

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
20 Oct 1942U-77 Mahrous18sy
12 Nov 1942U-77 HMS Stork (U 81) (d.)1,190br
7 Feb 1943U-77 Empire Banner6,699brKMS-8
7 Feb 1943U-77 Empire Webster7,043brKMS-8
16 Mar 1943U-77 Hadleigh (t.)5,222brET-14
16 Mar 1943U-77 Merchant Prince (d.)5,229brET-14
26 Mar 1943U-77 City of Perth (t.)6,415brMKS-10

5 ships sunk (25,397 tons) and 2 ships damaged (6,419 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.
(d.) means the ship was damaged.
(t.) means the ship was a total loss (included in ships & tonnage lost).

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

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