Ernst Hechler

Korvettenkapitän (Crew 29)

2 warships sunk, total tonnage 1,960 tons
1 warship damaged, total tonnage 1,400 tons
2 ships a total loss, total tonnage 11,844 GRT

Born  21 Nov 1907 Lauterbach, Oberhessen
Died  23 Oct 1965(57)Alzey, Germany

Korvkpt. Ernst Hechler


1 Apr 1929 Offiziersanwärter
10 Oct 1929 Seekadett
1 Jan 1931 Fähnrich zur See
1 Apr 1933 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Oct 1933 Leutnant zur See
1 May 1935 Oberleutnant (Luftwaffe)
1 Mar 1937 Hauptmann (Luftwaffe)
1 Sep 1941 Major (Luftwaffe)
1 Jul 1943 Korvettenkapitän


23 May 1940 Iron Cross 2nd Class
25 Oct 1940 Iron Cross 1st Class
Dec 1943 Luftwaffe Combat clasp in Gold
21 Jan 1945 Knights Cross
27 Feb 1945 U-boat War Badge 1939
27 Feb 1945 U-boat Front Clasp

U-boat Commands

U-870 3 Feb 1944 30 Mar 1945   1 patrol (103 days) 

Ernst Hechler began his naval career in April 1929. After serving more than a year on the light cruiser Königsberg and a year as instructor of officer aspirants at Marineschule Mürwik, he transferred to the newly-formed Luftwaffe in May 1935, where he remained for more than eight years. He reached the rank of Squadron Leader and later held various staff positions. He flew more than 60 combat missions and was decorated with the Iron Cross First and Second Class and the Luftwaffe Combat Clasp in Gold (Frontflugspange für Kampfflieger in Gold).

In July 1943, at the age of 35, he transferred back to the Kriegsmarine and completed U-boat training. In February 1944 he commissioned U-870 and eight months later left the base at Horten, Norway for his first and only patrol.

In the first part of this patrol U-870 transmitted weather reports used for the ongoing offensive in the Ardennes. Hechler then sank three ships and damaged two more, an outstanding total for a maiden patrol at that stage of the war. Hechler claimed three additional sinkings which have not as yet been confirmed. One month before the successful boat returned, her commander received a radio message informing him that he had been awarded the Knights Cross.

U-870 was destroyed by US bombs in Bremen on 30 March 1945 (Niestlé, 1998). Ernst Hechler served the last two months of war on the staff of BdU op as A I op.


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 Ernst Hechler

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-870 31 Oct 1944  Kiel  3 Nov 1944  Horten   4 days
2. U-870 10 Nov 1944  Horten  20 Feb 1945  Kristiansand  Patrol 1,103 days
3. U-870 25 Feb 1945  Kristiansand  27 Feb 1945  Flensburg   3 days

Ships hit by Ernst Hechler

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
20 Dec 1944U-870 USS Fogg (DE 57) (d.)1,400am
20 Dec 1944U-870 USS LST-3591,625am
3 Jan 1945U-870 Henry Miller (t.)7,207amGUS-63
9 Jan 1945U-870 FFL L´Enjoue (W 44)335frGC-107
10 Jan 1945U-870 Blackheath (t.)4,637brKMS-76

4 ships sunk (13,804 tons) and 1 ship damaged (1,400 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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