Peter-Erich Cremer

Korvettenkapitän (Crew 32)

6 ships sunk, total tonnage 26,873 GRT
1 ship damaged, total tonnage 8,327 GRT
1 warship damaged, total tonnage 925 tons

Born  25 Mar 1911 Metz, Lorraine
Died  5 Jul 1992(81)Hamburg, Germany

Peter Erich Cremer


15 Aug 1932 Offiziersanwärter
4 Nov 1932 Seekadett
1 Jan 1934 Fähnrich zur See
1 Sep 1935 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Jan 1936 Leutnant zur See
1 Oct 1937 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Feb 1940 Kapitänleutnant
11 Jul 1944 Korvettenkapitän


11 Feb 1940 Iron Cross 2nd Class
19 Oct 1940 Destroyer War Badge
10 Feb 1942 Iron Cross 1st Class
26 May 1942 U-boat War Badge 1939
5 Jun 1942 Knights Cross
11 Nov 1942 Wound Badge in Silver
27 Sep 1944 U-boat Front Clasp

U-boat Commands

U-152 29 Jan 1941 21 Jul 1941   No war patrols 
U-333 25 Aug 1941 6 Oct 1942   4 patrols (156 days) 
U-333 18 May 1943 19 Jul 1944   5 patrols (211 days) 
U-2519 15 Nov 1944 Feb, 1945   No war patrols 

Korvettenkapitän 'Ali' Cremer

Peter Erich Cremer began his naval career in August 1932 after studying law for six semesters. This was four months later than the usual start date, due to an accident in June of that year in which the German sailing school ship Niobe sank after capsizing, killing most of the cadets (27 men) of Crew 1932. Some men from the Reichsmarine thus went on to replace this loss.

Cremer completed the one year of basic on-board training on the light cruiser Köln. After a few months on the heavy cruiser Deutschland, he served three years in the naval artillery, returning to service at sea as II WO on the destroyer Theodor Riedel and then transferring to the U-boat force in August 1940.

In January 1941 Kptlt. Cremer commissioned U-152, a small coastal type IID U-boat which was to serve as a school boat. A few months later he took command of the larger type VIIC U-boat U-333, the 3 Little Fishes boat, an emblem suggested by the boat's number. Although 'Ali' Cremer went out for his first patrol on U-333 without any combat experience, he sank three enemy ships - but also, unfortunately, the German blockade-runner Spreewald. The subsequent official investigation exonerated Cremer, however. His next patrol, in US waters, was also successful, with four ships sunk, but it ended with Cremer nursing a badly damaged boat back to base after being rammed.

On his third patrol Cremer was seriously wounded by gunfire from the British corvette HMS Crocus. Seven of the crew were killed, and a replacement WO from the milch cow U-459 was needed to assist Cremer in bringing a once more heavily-damaged U-333 to base. After this, Cremer got the nickname 'Ali Wrack' (Ali Wreck). But his crew members insisted that "Ali on board is the the best life insurance!". Cremer spent three months in hospital recovering from his wounds.

'Ali' Cremer and his LI Oblt. (Ing) Spangenberg on board U-333.

Cremer 3
Kptlt. Cremer returning from patrol (note the '3 Little Fishes' on his capband)

From February to May 1943 he served on Dönitz' staff, but when Dönitz decided to send some experienced commanders out on patrol to investigate the situation following the massive U-boat losses of May 1943, Cremer was amongst them. And so once again Cremer took U-333 out on patrol, and in April 1944 once again returned with her badly damaged, this time from a severe depth charge attack. In July 1944 he left the boat, which was lost on the next patrol.

Cremer then commissioned the new type XXI Elektro U-boat Elektro boat U-2519, one of the highly decorated U-boat commanders (like Schnee, Bülow, Emmermann, Witt and Topp), given command of the new boats in an attempt to turn the tide in the battle of the Atlantic.

Korvkpt. Cremer left U-2519 in February 1945 to become field commander of the Marine-Panzervernichtungsbataillon (Naval Tank Destroying Battalion) which was pitted against British tanks attempting to occupy the city of Hamburg.

On 25 April, 1945 the daily Armed Forces' Wehrmachtsbericht announced:

"Ein von Korvettenkapitän Cremer geführter Panzervernichtungstrupp der Kriegsmarine, zusammengestellt aus Freiwilligen eines Unterseeboot-Stützpunktes, vernichtete innnerhalb weniger Tage 24 Panzer."

(A naval tank destroying unit under command of Korvettenkapitän Cremer, including volunteers from a U-boat base, destroyed 24 tanks during the last few days.)

In the last days of the war Cremer became commander of Dönitz's guard unit and was thus involved in the tragic incident in which Kapitän z. See Wolfgang Lüth was shot and killed by a German sentry. Following Germany's surrender he spent one month in British captivity. After the war he was successful in a new career, managing several companies.


Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1998). German U-boat commanders of World War II.

Patrol info for Peter-Erich Cremer

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-333 27 Dec 1941  Kiel  9 Feb 1942  La Pallice  Patrol 1,45 days
2. U-333 30 Mar 1942  La Pallice  26 May 1942  La Pallice  Patrol 2,58 days
3. U-333 11 Aug 1942  La Pallice  24 Aug 1942  La Pallice  Patrol 3,14 days
4. U-333 1 Sep 1942  La Pallice  9 Oct 1942  *at sea*  Patrol 4,39 days
5. U-333 2 Jun 1943  La Pallice  31 Aug 1943  La Pallice  Patrol 5,91 days
6. U-333 21 Oct 1943  La Pallice  1 Dec 1943  La Pallice  Patrol 6,42 days
7. U-333 10 Feb 1944  La Pallice  12 Feb 1944  La Pallice  Patrol 7,3 days
8. U-333 14 Feb 1944  La Pallice  20 Apr 1944  La Pallice  Patrol 8,67 days
9. U-333 6 Jun 1944  La Pallice  13 Jun 1944  Lorient  Patrol 9,8 days
9 patrols, 367 days at sea

Ships hit by Peter-Erich Cremer

Date U-boat Commander Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
22 Jan 1942U-333Peter-Erich Cremer Vassilios A. Polemis3,429grON-53
24 Jan 1942U-333Peter-Erich Cremer Ringstad4,765nwON-55
31 Jan 1942U-333Peter-Erich Cremer Spreewald5,083dt
6 May 1942U-333Peter-Erich Cremer Java Arrow (d.)8,327am
6 May 1942U-333Peter-Erich Cremer Amazone1,294nl
6 May 1942U-333Peter-Erich Cremer Halsey7,088am
10 May 1942U-333Peter-Erich Cremer Clan Skene5,214br
6 Oct 1942U-333Peter-Erich Cremer HMS Crocus (K 49) (d.)925br

6 ships sunk (26,873 tons) and 2 ships damaged (9,252 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.
(d.) means the ship was damaged.

About ranks and decorations
Special thanks to Fernando Almeida for data on ranks and decorations.

Media links

U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor
(£ 38.25)

Different Battles

Johnson, Rody

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Ali Cremer

Brustat-Naval, Fritz

U-Boat Commander

Cremer, Peter

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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