Werner Henke

Korvettenkapitän (Crew 33)

22 ships sunk, total tonnage 140,196 GRT
1 auxiliary warship sunk, total tonnage 10,850 GRT
1 ship damaged, total tonnage 6,034 GRT
1 warship damaged, total tonnage 1,920 tons
1 ship a total loss, total tonnage 4,668 GRT
1 warship a total loss, total tonnage 1,350 tons

Born  13 May 1909 Rudak, Thorn
Died  15 Jun 1944(35)Fort Hunt, Va, USA

Kapitänleutnant Werner Henke


1 Apr 1933 Offiziersanwärter
1 Jul 1934 Fähnrich zur See
8 Apr 1936 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Oct 1936 Leutnant zur See
1 Jun 1938 Oberleutnant zur See
31 Dec 1941 Kapitänleutnant
18 Mar 1945 Korvettenkapitän (posthumous)


6 Jun 1939 Iron Cross 2nd Class
6 Jun 1939 Spanish Cross in Bronze without Swords
4 May 1941 U-boat War Badge 1939
4 Oct 1941 Iron Cross 1st Class
17 Dec 1942 Knights Cross
4 Jul 1943 Knights Cross with Oak Leaves

U-boat Commands

U-515 21 Feb 1942 9 Apr 1944   7 patrols (341 days) 

Werner Henke had his first naval experience on board the battleships Admiral Scheer and Schleswig-Holstein. His first U-boat was U-124 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Schultz. The last of his four patrols with the "Edelweissboot" he completed under the later famous Kapitänleutnant 'Jochen' Mohr .

In February 1942 he commisioned his own boat, U-515. He put in an outstanding performance during his third patrol on the night of 30 April/1 May 1943 when he attacked convoy TS-37 90 miles (145km) south of Freetown, sinking eight ships in eight hours with a total of 49,456 tons. After this patrol Henke was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knights Cross.

Werner Henke (left) on board U-515, writing in the war diary (KTB)

Henke was captured when U-515 was sunk at 1510hrs on 9 April 1944 in the Atlantic north of Madeira at 34.35N, 19.18W by aircraft from the US escort carrier USS Guadalcanal and depth charges from the destroyer escorts USS Pope, USS Pillsbury, USS Chatelain and USS Flaherty. 16 of his crew died and 44 survived.

The gravestone of Werner Henke in Fort George G. Meade

Henke was shot and killed while attempting to escape from the interrogation center at Ft. Hunt, Virginia on 15 June 1944. It is reported that he simply walked towards the fence in broad daylight and slowly began climbing it. When he continued to climb after the guards shouted for him to stop, he was fatally shot. It is thought that he chose this form of suicide after being threatened with extradition to Britain and a showcase trial as a war criminal for the shooting of survivors from the sinking of the SS Ceramic (a false accusation). Henke is buried in the Soldiers Cemetery at Ft. George G. Meade, Maryland.

On 18 July, 1944 Admiral Dönitz issued the following day-order for the U-boat force:

DER OBERBEFEHLSHABER BERLIN W 32 DER KRIEGSMARINE Tirpitzufer 22-26 Tagesbefehl an die Ubootwaffe ================================ Der Ubootskommandant Kapitänleutnant Werner H e n k e , Träger des Eichenlaubs zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes, ist bei dem Versuch aus Gefangenschaft zu fliehen, gefallen. Wir haben in ihm einen unserer Besten verloren. Er vereinigte rücksichtsloses Draufgängertum mit Umsicht und und hervorragendem taktischen Können. Im Kampf gegen Geleitzüge, Einzelfahrer und Kriegsschiffe hat er sich aufs höchste bewährt und 26 Schiffe mit 166 ooo BRT, einen Kreuzer und einen Zerstörer vernichtet. Wir senken in Trauer unsere Fahnen vor dem eisenharten, tapferen Kämpfer, dem Vorbild seiner begeistert hinter ihm stehenden Be- satzung, unserem guten Kameraden. Der Kampf gegen den Feind, dem er erlag, wird fortgeführt. Dönitz Befehlsstelle der Ubootsführung Der Oberbefehlshaber der den 18.Juli 1944 Kriegsmarine und Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote

(Commander Kapitänleutnant Werner H e n k e , recipient of the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves to the Iron Cross, was killed during an attempt to escape from captivity. We have lost one of our best. He combined reckless daring with prudence and outstanding tactical ability. He proved himself against convoys, independent merchantmen and warships, and sinking 26 ships with a total of 166,000 tons, one cruiser and one destroyer. We strike the colours for a man of iron and a brave fighter, who was an inspiring example to his crew, and for a good comrade. The struggle against the enemy, in which he was killed, will continue.)


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 Werner Henke

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-515 12 Aug 1942  Kiel  13 Aug 1942  Kristiansand   2 days
2. U-515 15 Aug 1942  Kristiansand  14 Oct 1942  Lorient  Patrol 1,61 days
3. U-515 7 Nov 1942  Lorient  6 Jan 1943  Lorient  Patrol 2,61 days
4. U-515 21 Feb 1943  Lorient  24 Jun 1943  Lorient  Patrol 3,124 days
5. U-515 21 Aug 1943  Lorient  22 Aug 1943  Lorient  Patrol 4,2 days
6. U-515 29 Aug 1943  Lorient  12 Sep 1943  Lorient  Patrol 5,15 days
7. U-515 1 Nov 1943  Lorient  3 Nov 1943  St. Nazaire   3 days
8. U-515 9 Nov 1943  St. Nazaire  14 Jan 1944  Lorient  Patrol 6,67 days
9. U-515 30 Mar 1944  Lorient  9 Apr 1944  Sunk  Patrol 7,11 days
7 patrols, 341 days at sea

Ships hit by Werner Henke

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
12 Sep 1942U-515 Stanvac Melbourne10,013pa
12 Sep 1942U-515 Woensdrecht (t.)4,668nl
13 Sep 1942U-515 Ocean Vanguard7,174br
13 Sep 1942U-515 Nimba1,854pa
14 Sep 1942U-515 Harborough5,415br
15 Sep 1942U-515 Sørholt4,801nw
17 Sep 1942U-515 Mae5,607am
20 Sep 1942U-515 Reedpool4,838br
23 Sep 1942U-515 Lindvangen2,412nw
23 Sep 1942U-515 Antinous (d.)6,034amTRIN-12
12 Nov 1942U-515 HMS Hecla (F 20)10,850brTorch
12 Nov 1942U-515 HMS Marne (G 35) (d.)1,920brTorch
7 Dec 1942U-515 Ceramic18,713brON-149
4 Mar 1943U-515 California Star8,300br
9 Apr 1943U-515 Bamako2,357fr
30 Apr 1943U-515 Corabella5,682brTS-37
30 Apr 1943U-515 Bandar Shahpour5,236brTS-37
30 Apr 1943U-515 Kota Tjandi7,295nlTS-37
30 Apr 1943U-515 Nagina6,551brTS-37
1 May 1943U-515 City of Singapore6,555brTS-37
1 May 1943U-515 Clan Macpherson6,940brTS-37
1 May 1943U-515 Mokambo4,996beTS-37
9 May 1943U-515 Corneville4,544nw
18 Nov 1943U-515 HMS Chanticleer (U 05) (t.)1,350brMKS-30
17 Dec 1943U-515 Kingswood5,080br
20 Dec 1943U-515 Phemius7,406br
24 Dec 1943U-515 Dumana8,427brSTL-8

25 ships sunk (157,064 tons) and 2 ships damaged (7,954 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

Lone Wolf

Mulligan, Timothy P.

($ 59.98)

(£ 82.95)

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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