Hinrich-Oscar Bernbeck

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 34)

1 ship damaged, total tonnage 6,537 GRT

Born  5 Jul 1914 Roding, Oberpfalz
Died  9 Oct 1982(68)Hamburg, Germany

Kriegsmarine Crew photo


8 Apr 1934 Offiziersanwärter
1 Jul 1935 Fähnrich zur See
1 Jan 1937 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Jun 1937 Leutnant zur See
1 Apr 1939 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Apr 1942 Kapitänleutnant


20 Dec 1940 Iron Cross 2nd Class
2 Jul 1941 U-boat War Badge 1939

U-boat Commands

U-4 3 Feb 1941 8 Dec 1941   No war patrols 
U-461 30 Jan 1942 21 Apr 1942   No war patrols 
UD-4 30 Apr 1942 May, 1942   No war patrols 
UD-4 Jun, 1942 8 Dec 1942   No war patrols 
U-638 9 Dec 1942 31 Mar 1943   1 patrol (56 days) 

Hinrich Oskar Bernbeck joined the German Navy (Reichsmarine) in 1934. From May 1938 to March 1940 he served on the U-boat depot ship Saar, he then went through U-boat training until July 1940.

From Aug 1940 to Feb 1941 he served as the First Watch Officer (1WO) on the U-43 going out on two patrols sinking 4 ships and damaging another.

Oblt. Bernbeck commanded the small school boat U-4 from 3 Feb to 8 Dec 1941. he was then sent to oversee the final construction of a large U-boat from to jan 1942. He commissioned the large Milch Cow U-461 on 30 Jan 1942 and held that command until 21 April - having spent the time with the boat on working her up and on trials, no patrols.

On leaving U-461 he was sent to command the formed Dutch boat UD-4, taking command on 30 April 1942. He left the boat on 8 Dec 1942, but spent May and June on courses with the 24th Flotilla.

Kptlt. Bernbeck was given command of the type VIIC boat U-638 on 9 Dec 1942. With this boat he went on his first war patrol, from Kiel, Germany on 4 Feb to La Pallice, France on 31 March 1943. During this patrol he damaged one ship.

On leaving the boat on 31 March 1943 joined the 9th Flotilla at Brest, France and then served in several staff positions until the German surrender in May 1945.

Hinrich Oskar Bernbeck became a teacher in Kiel after the war (Rust, 2009).


Busch, R & Röll, H-J. (1998). German U-boat commanders of World War II.
Rust, E. (2009) E-mail correspondence. Author of Naval Officers under Hitler.

Patrol info for Hinrich-Oscar Bernbeck

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-638 4 Feb 1943  Kiel  31 Mar 1943  La Pallice  Patrol 1,56 days

Ships hit by Hinrich-Oscar Bernbeck

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
7 Mar 1943U-638 Empire Light (d.)6,537brON-168

1 ship damaged (6,537 tons).

(d.) means the ship was damaged.

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

Naval Officers Under Hitler

Rust, Eric C.

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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