These pages contain a compilation of all known losses of life from U-boats that either survived the incident or were put into commission shortly afterwards.
2 Jan 1944
2138hrs, Bay of Biscay, inbound: a British Liberator aircraft (224 Sqn RAF/G, pilot P/O J.E. Edwards) made a Leigh Light attack. U-625 initially opened fire with the AA guns, and a hit was scored on the port side of the aircraft, wounding the radio operator with shrapnel, but the boat then began to dive. Her commander, Kptlt. Hans Benker countermanded the order to dive so that he and one of the crew could recover the Naxos radar warning device, but the dive continued, causing both men to drown.
4 Jan 1944
19.34 hours, Bay of Biscay: the inbound boat fought off an attack by a four-engined aircraft. No bombs dropped, one crewman slightly wounded by strafing.
8 Jan 1944
Aircraft attack, aircraft shot down:
British Wellington (RAF Sqdn 179/R, pilot F/O W.F.M. Davidson)
Following two aircraft attacks on the boat the previous day, the Allies initiated a Swamp operation, and at 21.40 hrs Wellington "B for Baker" of 36 Sqdn RAF located U-343 SW of Cartagena. She was then attacked by a Wellington from 179 Sqdn piloted by W/C J.H. Greswell DFC, followed by a second aircraft from 179 Sqdn. Wellington R-Robert dropped six depth charges, but several AA hits set the port wing on fire and the aircraft crashed into the sea, killing five of the crew. Only the pilot survived, after being thrown clear. U-343 passed close to his dinghy twice, but the Germans did not take him prisoner because they had "more important things to do". He was picked up by HMS Active the next morning and later received the DFC.
The boat had already sustained damage in these attacks, but there was more to come, as a Catalina (202 Sqdn RAF, pilot F/L J. Finch) then continued the attack. The aircraft broke off the attack at 23.00 hrs, and only then because flak had damaged the port wing, fuselage and both fuel tanks and wounded the flight engineer. U-343, badly damaged and unable to dive, managed to escape in the darkness, with only one man wounded by strafing, and following repairs at sea managed to reach her new base at Toulon.
9 Jan 1944
When the U-boat pens were hit during an air raid on Pola 4 U-407 crew were killed and 1 wounded. The boat next sailed on 29 Jan. [Oberleutnant (Ing) Heinz Weser, Leutnant zur See Eberhard Baumgart, Maschinenobergfreiter Rudolf Güttge, Maschinenobergefreiter Heinz Bönisch]
13 Jan 1944
While serving as a flak boat U-621 was attacked by a British B-24 Liberator (59 Sqn RAF/A) off the Bay of Biscay. Matrosengefreiter Heinz Thomas was mortally wounded and later buried at sea, and six others were wounded. The commander decided to return to base. U-621 took ten days to limp back to Brest.
22 Jan 1944
A man was lost overboard in the North Atlantic. [Maschinenobergefreiter Hermann Keller]
26 Jan 1944
The I WO was lost overboard in the North Atlantic. [Oberleutnant zur See Hans Wilkening]
6 Feb 1944
The IWO fell overboard and drowned. [Leutnant zur See Gustav-Günther Schoop]
7 Feb 1944
During the boat's trials in the Baltic near Hela one man died when he fell overboard while transferring to an outpost boat (V-Boot). [Funkgefreiter Werner Guhl]
16 Feb 1944
A Sunderland flying boat attacked U-546 in mid Atlantic. Although one man died and there was some minor damage to the diesel engines, the boat reported it was able to continue the patrol. [Matrosengefreiter Wilhelm van de Kamp]
22 Feb 1944
A Catalina aircraft (RCAF Sqdn 162/S, pilot Flying Officer C. C. Cunningham) dropped four depth charges and strafed the boat south of Iceland, killing two men. The boat was lost on the same patrol on 16 April.
24 Feb 1944
During test firing of the machine gun at base in Salamis, Greece, two men (not U-453 crew) were killed .
6 Mar 1944
At 1705hrs the boat was attacked by a Swordfish aircraft (816 Sqn FAA/X) of the British escort carrier HMS Chaser while operating against the convoy RA-57 in the Norwegian Sea. U-703 was surprised by the aircraft that used patchy clouds to stalk it, but opened fire with the quadruple and both twin 20mm AA guns just as it started to dive, strafing the U-boat and firing eight rockets in four salvoes. One rocket was seen to ricochet over the top of the conning tower after it struck the railing. The defensive fire stopped at once when six crew members were wounded, three of them seriously, but they were quickly replaced and the Swordfish kept at distance by very accurate fire until the U-boat was able to escape by crash diving after sustaining only minor damage. However, two of the injured men died after submerging and another died the following day while U-703 was returned to Narvik, where they were buried. [Funkobermaat Paul Kretschmar (died on 7 March), Bootsmaat Erich Junker, Maschinengefreiter Heinz Schade]
11 Mar 1944
Two men were wounded in an aircraft attack. After a failed attempt to meet U-608, which had a doctor on board, the men's wounds were treated and the boat continued on patrol.
11 Mar 1944
Sunk on 11 March 1944 at the Missiessy Docks in Toulon, France, in position 43.07N, 05.55E by bombs during US air raid (15th AAF). There was one fatality. [Maschinenmaat Jonny Christoph]
26 Mar 1944
While at sea off Brest, France the boat was attacked by an unidentified Allied aircraft, leaving nine men wounded, two of them badly. The boat docked at Brest (not her base) the next day.
27 Mar 1944
The inbound U-763 and U-960 were attacked by seven Mosquitos (two Mk.XVIII from 618 Sqdn and five Mk.VI from 248 Sqdn RAF) at the rendezvous point with their escort of two Sperrbrecher and four minesweepers off La Pallice. The Tsetse Mosquitos (L for Love, pilot F/O D. J. Turner and HX903/I Item, pilot F/O A. H. Hilliard) strafed U-960 and injured 14 crew, four of them seriously, including the commander with a wound above the left knee. The boat claimed one aircraft probably shot down, but while I Item was indeed badly damaged by a hit to the nose, it managed to reach base.
11 Apr 1944
Five men from the boat died during an air raid on Stettin (Szczecin, Poland).
11 Apr 1944
On the U-1061 a lookout broke his leg during heavy weather.
11 Apr 1944
An accident required the amputation of a man's finger.
21 Apr 1944
Two men died when they were stranded topside during an emergency dive to avoid an incoming aircraft. [Matrosengefreiter Alfons Robalewsky, Bootsmaat Rudolf Versic]
23 Apr 1944
During the Baltic exercises the boat lost one man off Pillau. [Matrosengefreiter Alfred Friedl]
2 May 1944
Two men were wounded in an accident with the anti-aircraft gun.
6 May 1944
Two men stepped on a land mine near Stavanger, Norway. One was killed, the other wounded. The boat departed for its second patrol from Bergen on the 20th. [Bootsmaat Günter Labahn]
12 May 1944
U-154s commander, Oblt. Oskar Kusch, was executed on 12 May "for his anti-Hitler views" after his IWO, Oblt. Ulrich Abel,* reported him for sedition. He was convicted in late January. His photo is to the right.
* The former lawyer went down with U-193 as captain when the boat was lost with all hands on 24 April 1944.
13 May 1944
One man was killed in an accident working in a diving cell while preparing U-183 for the next patrol in the Far East. The boat sailed from Penang on 17 May. [Obermaschinenmaat Erich Adelsheimer]
16 May 1944
17.15 hrs, WNW of Ålesund, Norway: Norwegian-crewed Sunderland JM667 (330 Sqdn RAF/V, pilot S/Lt C.T. Johnsen) attacked as U-668 was transiting between Bergen and Skjomenfjord. U-668 met the initial approach with heavy flak and evaded the single depth charge dropped. Four depth charges dropped on the port side during the second run caused minor damage, and one crewman suffered a bullet wound. The Sunderland was hit by flak in the fuselage and starboard wing, damaging both starboard engines, and a shell which exploded in the cockpit killed the bow gunner and wounded two more crew. The Sunderland barely made it back to Sullom Voe on three engines.
17 May 1944
A crew member on U-1192 was wounded when the 3,7 cm anti-aircraft gun exploded.
23 May 1944
The boat was attacked by an enemy aircraft and damaged slightly. One man was wounded.
14.20 hrs, off Norway: the boat was attacked while searching for U-476, which had been badly damaged in an air attack earlier in the day. The Sunderland was hit by flak during the attack run and and crashed into the sea after dropping three depth charges (no damage). The crew of 12 all died.
24 May 1944
Following crippling damage from an attack by a British Catalina flying boat (210 Sqn RAF/V) at 07.18 hrs on this day, the boat was scuttled on 25 May. U-990 saved the commander and 20 men of the crew, but 34 went down with the boat due to bad weather that made the rescue operation difficult. U-990 was then herself sunk by a B-24 Liberator aircraft on 25 May. Three men from U-476 were lost.
24 May 1944
After shooting down one Sunderland at 14.20 hours, U-921 was sighted shortly afterwards by Sunderland DW111 (RCAF Sqn 423/S, pilot F/L R.H. Nesbitt), responding to a Mayday call, which had apparently observed the first Sunderland crash from a distance of about 12 miles (19 km). U-921 avoided the five depth charges it dropped, but strafing wounded three men, including the commander, Oblt. Wolfgang Leu. Oblt. Leu got both wounded crewmen below as the boat was diving, then closed the hatch, sacrificing himself to prevent the boat sinking. U-921 reached Trondheim on 26 May under the command of the I WO. (An American submarine commander was awarded the Medal of Honor for the selfsame act of heroism in the Pacific).
25 May 1944
01.50 hrs, Norwegian Sea: surprise attack by a British B-24 Liberator (59 Sqdn RAF/C) in bad weather. The aircraft strafed the U-boat heavily and carried out two bombing runs, dropping six and then two depth charges. However, the bomb aimer had accidentally turned off the fusing switches while adjusting his intercom plug during the approach, which meant the depth charges didn't detonate. U-276 could only put up light and inaccurate flak at first because the 37mm gun malfunctioned after the first round, three of the 20mm twin gun crew were wounded, and two more men were injured when hit by waves. The U-boat escaped by crash diving after the second attack and made for Trondheim to land the wounded. [Maschinenmaat Hans Liedtke died from his wounds on 26 May]
27 May 1944
The boat fought a surface battle with two Soviet patrol boats SW of Poti in the Black Sea. One man was killed and two wounded. [Matrosenobergefreiter Johann Wölbitsch]
29 May 1944
During exercises in the Baltic the boat one man was lost during a crash dive north of Danzig. [Maschinengefreiter Johann Igel]
1 Jun 1944
One man was killed in an air attack and another wounded, who died one day later (Aulich). [Maschinenobergefreiter Matthias Giefing, Mechanikergefreiter Horst Aulich]
7 Jun 1944
A Leigh Light attack by a British Wellington bomber (179 Sqn RAF, pilot W.J. Hill) in the Bay of Biscay caused minor damage. A B-24 Liberator and a flight of Mosquitos then joined in, wounding the U-boat commander and forcing U-989 to return to base.
14 Jun 1944
An attack by a Norwegian Mosquito (333 Sqdn RAF/H, crew Erling U. Johansen and Lauritz Humlen) damaged U-290 and wounded eight of the crew. The boat reached base at Bergen, Norway two days later.
15 Jun 1944
Following his capture when U-515 was sunk on 9 April, Kptlt. Werner Henke, one of the top aces, committed suicide by pretending to attempt escape from his POW camp on 15 June after being put under psychological pressure by his US captors.
The aircraft was on anti-submarine patrol and attacked U-804 at 2259hrs west of Bergen, but was hit by AA fire and forced to ditch 13 minutes later. Eight men from U-804 were wounded in the action. The two aircrew were rescued by U-1000 at 0215hrs on 18 June and taken to Norway for interrogation.
17 Jun 1944
Two F-4F Wildcat fighters from the US escort carrier USS Croatan made repeated strafing attacks on U-853 about 30 miles (48km) south of the carrier. The boat dived and escaped before the carrier's Avenger bombers arrived, but had to return to base due to the many casualties: two dead and twelve wounded [Bootsmann Kurt Schweichler, Maschinengefreiter Karl-Heinz Löffler].
17 Jun 1944
An accident took place on 17 June during U-1018's working up exercises in the Baltic in which one man died and two were wounded. [Obersteuermann Walter Nellsen]
23 Jun 1944
A Mosquito (248 Sqn RAF/P) attacked the boat. Two men were killed and seven wounded. The boat was close to port when attacked and reached Lorient the same day. [Matrosenobergefreiter Karl Lohmeier, Mechanikerobergefreiter Friedrich Feller]
16 Jul 1944
The commander was wounded in an aircraft attack. The boat, part of a defence line off Norway, reached Bergen four days later.
18 Jul 1944
North Sea south of Norway, outbound: a Norwegian Mosquito aircraft (Sqdn 333/K) attacked U-286. Despite being left damaged and with casualties of one dead and seven wounded, the boat reached Kristiansand, Norway the same day.
19 Jul 1944
The boat was depth charged by a corvette after launching torpedoes at a freighter. No damage to either vessel.
19 Jul 1944
11.40 hrs, Norwegian Sea west of Narvik, outbound: U-968 was depth charged twice by a British B-24 Liberator (RAF Sqdn 86/R, pilot F/L W.F.J. Harwood), causing minor damage. Strafing killed one AA gunner and wounded six more [Bootsmaat Werner Hahne]. The boat returned to Bogenbucht for repairs and to replace the casualties.
20 Jul 1944
13.05 hrs, Norwegian Sea: a British Liberator bomber (RAF Sqdn 59/N, pilot FO D.A. Willows) on A/S patrol attacked after locating U-965 on radar. The Liberator passed two miles astern to take up a favourable attack position on the starboard beam. As it approached, the 37mm AA gun jammed on firing the first round and both men manning the 20mm twin gun on the port side were hit by machine gun fire [Matrosenhauptgefreiter Willibald Niederle died and Bootsmaat Lütjen was wounded]. Luckily for the U-boat, the depth charges failed to release when the Liberator passed over her stern because the lock-select lever was not fully engaged. U-965 then escaped by diving, and seven depth charges were dropped about 40 seconds afterwards. Two small streaks of oil, an oval life raft and two pieces of wood were sighted by the crew of the Liberator when it returned to the scene approx. 90 minutes later, but the U-boat was undamaged, and remained submerged until the aircraft departed. Mhg Niederle was buried at sea at 22.05 hrs.
29 Jul 1944
During an air raid on Bremen, Germany on 29 July the boat was damaged and four men were wounded. One of them died in December 1944. [Matrosenhauptgefreiter Fritz Grusa]
12 Aug 1944
One man died in an air raid on the base at Brest, France and another was wounded so badly that he died a day later. [Bootsmaat Albrecht Sekula, Maschinenobergefreiter Helmut Laskosky]
18 Aug 1944
Three men were killed and wounded during an air raid on La Pallice. The boat left for her next patrol and transit to Germany on 23 August, reaching Flensburg on 5 November.
22 Aug 1944
The boat was attacked by two RAF Martlet aircraft (modified Grumman Wildcat). Three men were killed and eight wounded. [Bootsmaat Kurt Pesch, Matrosengefreiter Heinz Schade, Maschinengefreiter Thiel]
30 Aug 1944
One man was missing after crash diving. [Mechanikergefreiter (A) Walter Heise]
12 Sep 1944
A man died of jaundice during a patrol in the North Atlantic. [Matrosenobergfreiter Wilhelm Lucksnat]
16 Sep 1944
The boat suffered casualties of two dead and three wounded in a Soviet air raid on the harbour of Libau (Liepaja), Latvia.
17 Sep 1944
One of the crew took his own life with a pistol in the port of Gotenhafen.
18 Sep 1944
22.53 hrs, Norwegian Sea: a British B-24 Liberator (RAF Sqdn 224/R, pilot FO P.M. Hill) dropped six depth charges in a Leigh-Light attack. Most overshot, but one fell close, causing only minor damage, but with serious consequences. On diving, damage to the schnorchel caused carbon monoxide poisoning of the crew. One man died and the boat was forced to return to base. [Matrosenobergefreiter Matthias Mittler]
23 Sep 1944
In the Baltic Sea a man was washed overboard. [Matrosengefreiter Erwin Stiegeler]
25 Sep 1944
One man was lost overboard from the boat. It seems that he jumped overboard in the North Atlantic after a punishment for sleeping on the watch. [Matrosengefreiter Emil-Heinz Motyl]
3 Oct 1944
A crew member was washed overboard during exercises off Danzig at 1410hrs. He was rescued and given artificial respiration, but could not be revived. [Matrosenobergefreiter Franz Albrecht]
11 Oct 1944
Two men were killed and one wounded when a torpedo exploded on board.
12 Oct 1944
During a Schnorchel failure the crew suffered a CO2 poisoning where 1 man died. [Funkmaat Gustav Hoffmann]
14 Oct 1944
Two of the crew were killed and three wounded in an air raid on Libau (Liepaja), Latvia. [Matrosenobergefreiter Walter Steube, Maschinenobergefreiter August Großdonk]
19 Oct 1944
A crew member fell overboard during exercises in the Baltic Sea and could not be found by the U-boat despite a search for several hours. Obermaschinist Paul Volkmann drowned.
22 Oct 1944
The boat was attacked by a Soviet aircraft in the Barents Sea. Three men were injured and the boat suffered slight damage.
12 Nov 1944
One man from U-541 died on 22 Nov following an accident in Flensburg. [Maschinengefreiter Valentin Seile]
4 Dec 1944
Seeman Edgar Schmidt suffered an accident while in port, and the boat left for her last patrol without him. He was posted to U-901 when fit. Date is approximate.
12 Dec 1944
U-481 met the homebound U-958 (Groth) in the Gulf of Finland to transfer a midshipman and to take over spare parts. However, the rubber dinghy with four crew members capsized after bringing Fähnrich Jähners to U-958 which managed to rescue Matrosenobergefreiter Toni Setzwein, but the other three men drowned. [Oberbootsmaat Johannes Lenz, Matrosenobergefreiter Josef Fallert, Matrosenobergefreiter Felix Pulkner]
13 Dec 1944
Four men were wounded when the machine gun exploded during an air attack.
Total numer of losses:
249 men in 79 incidents (82 dead and 167 wounded)
Return to U-boat Crew Casualties