Erich Topp

Fregattenkapitän (Crew 34)

35 ships sunk, total tonnage 197,460 GRT
1 warship sunk, total tonnage 1,190 tons
4 ships damaged, total tonnage 32,317 GRT

Born  2 Jul 1914 Hannover
Died  26 Dec 2005(91)Suessen, Germany

Erich Topp


8 Apr 1934 Offiziersanwärter
1 Jul 1935 Fähnrich zur See
1 Jan 1937 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Apr 1937 Leutnant zur See
1 Apr 1939 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Sep 1941 Kapitänleutnant
17 Aug 1942 Korvettenkapitän
1 Dec 1944 Fregattenkapitän


7 Nov 1939 U-boat War Badge 1939
20 Jun 1941 Knights Cross
11 Apr 1942 Knights Cross with Oak Leaves
11 Apr 1942 U-boat War Badge with Diamonds
17 Aug 1942 Knights Cross with Oak Leaves and Crossed Swords

U-boat Commands

U-57 5 Jun 1940 15 Sep 1940   2 patrols (44 days) 
U-552 4 Dec 1940 8 Sep 1942   10 patrols (308 days) 
U-3010 9 Mar 1945 26 Apr 1945   No war patrols 
U-2513 27 Apr 1945 9 May 1945   No war patrols 

Erich Topp Kapitänleutnant Erich Topp after a patrol.

Erich Topp began his naval career in April 1934. He served six months on the light cruiser Karlsruhe before joining the U-boat force in October 1937. A year later he became watch officer on U-46 (Sohler).

After four patrols in U-46, Topp took over command of U-57 (Korth). During this command he sank six ships with a total of 36,862 tons - a considerable achievement with a small coastal boat. U-57 sank on 3 September 1940 after colliding with the Norwegian ship Rona.

Topp then commissioned the larger type VIIC U-boat U-552, the famous "Red Devil Boat". Topp scored most of his successes in the North Atlantic against convoys, and off the North American coast. On his very successful eighth patrol in March/April 1942, he sank eight ships with a total of 45,731 tons.

Oberleutnant Erich Topp and his close friend Bertl Endrass

In September 1942 Topp became commander of the 27th (Training) Flotilla U-boat Flotilla, where new U-boat crews received their tactical training. Topp wrote the Battle Instructions for the new type XXI Elektro U-boat Elektro Boats in 1944, and when the war ended he was commanding one of them, U-2513, which he surrendered at Horten, Norway in May 1945.

Konteradmiral Erich Topp

After the war Topp worked for some months as a fisherman before becoming a successful architect. In March 1958 he joined the Bundesmarine (Federal German Navy). He then spent four years in the USA as a staff member of the Military Committee of NATO. Later he served in several staff positions, and for a month was deputy commander of U-boats.

Konteradmiral Erich Topp retired in December 1969. He was decorated in that year with the Großes Verdienstkreuz (Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of Federal Germany).

From 1970 to 1984 he worked as an industrial consultant for, among others, the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft shipyard.

He died on Dec 26 2005.


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).
Rohwer, J. (1998). Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two.

Patrol info for Erich Topp

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-57 11 Jul 1940  Kiel  15 Jul 1940  Bergen   5 days
2. U-57 15 Jul 1940  Bergen  20 Jul 1940  Bergen  Patrol 1,6 days
3. U-57 22 Jul 1940  Bergen  7 Aug 1940  Lorient  Patrol 1,17 days
4. U-57 14 Aug 1940  Lorient  3 Sep 1940  Sunk  Patrol 2,21 days
5. U-552 13 Feb 1941  Kiel  15 Feb 1941  Helgoland   3 days
6. U-552 18 Feb 1941  Helgoland  16 Mar 1941  St. Nazaire  Patrol 3,27 days
7. U-552 7 Apr 1941  St. Nazaire  6 May 1941  St. Nazaire  Patrol 4,30 days
8. U-552 25 May 1941  St. Nazaire  2 Jul 1941  St. Nazaire  Patrol 5,39 days
9. U-552 18 Aug 1941  St. Nazaire  26 Aug 1941  St. Nazaire  Patrol 6,9 days
10. U-552 4 Sep 1941  St. Nazaire  5 Oct 1941  St. Nazaire  Patrol 7,32 days
11. U-552 25 Oct 1941  St. Nazaire  26 Nov 1941  St. Nazaire  Patrol 8,33 days
12. U-552 25 Dec 1941  St. Nazaire  27 Jan 1942  St. Nazaire  Patrol 9,34 days
13. U-552 7 Mar 1942  St. Nazaire  27 Apr 1942  St. Nazaire  Patrol 10,52 days
14. U-552 9 Jun 1942  St. Nazaire  19 Jun 1942  St. Nazaire  Patrol 11,11 days
15. U-552 4 Jul 1942  St. Nazaire  13 Aug 1942  St. Nazaire  Patrol 12,41 days
12 patrols, 352 days at sea

Ships hit by Erich Topp

Date U-boat Commander Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
17 Jul 1940U-57Erich Topp O.A. Brodin1,960sw
17 Jul 1940U-57Erich Topp Manipur8,652brHX-55A
3 Aug 1940U-57Erich Topp Atos2,161sw
24 Aug 1940U-57Erich Topp Cumberland10,939brOB-202
24 Aug 1940U-57Erich Topp Havildar (d.)5,407brOB-202
24 Aug 1940U-57Erich Topp Saint Dunstan5,681brOB-202
25 Aug 1940U-57Erich Topp Pecten7,468brHX-65B
1 Mar 1941U-552Erich Topp Cadillac12,062brHX-109
10 Mar 1941U-552Erich Topp Reykjaborg687is
27 Apr 1941U-552Erich Topp Commander Horton227br
27 Apr 1941U-552Erich Topp Beacon Grange10,119br
28 Apr 1941U-552Erich Topp Capulet (d.)8,190brHX-121
1 May 1941U-552Erich Topp Nerissa5,583brHX-121
10 Jun 1941U-552Erich Topp Ainderby4,860br
12 Jun 1941U-552Erich Topp Chinese Prince8,593br
18 Jun 1941U-552Erich Topp Norfolk10,948br
23 Aug 1941U-552Erich Topp Spind2,129nwOG-71
20 Sep 1941U-552Erich Topp T.J. Williams8,212brSC-44
20 Sep 1941U-552Erich Topp Pink Star4,150paSC-44
20 Sep 1941U-552Erich Topp Barbro6,325nwSC-44
31 Oct 1941U-552Erich Topp USS Reuben James (DD 245)1,190amHX-156
15 Jan 1942U-552Erich Topp Dayrose4,113br
18 Jan 1942U-552Erich Topp Frances Salman2,609am
20 Jan 1942U-552Erich Topp Maro3,838grON-53
25 Mar 1942U-552Erich Topp Ocana6,256nl
3 Apr 1942U-552Erich Topp David H. Atwater2,438am
5 Apr 1942U-552Erich Topp Byron D. Benson7,953am
7 Apr 1942U-552Erich Topp British Splendour7,138br
7 Apr 1942U-552Erich Topp Lancing7,866nw
9 Apr 1942U-552Erich Topp Atlas7,137am
10 Apr 1942U-552Erich Topp Tamaulipas6,943am
15 Jun 1942U-552Erich Topp Etrib1,943brHG-84
15 Jun 1942U-552Erich Topp Pelayo1,346brHG-84
15 Jun 1942U-552Erich Topp Slemdal7,374nwHG-84
15 Jun 1942U-552Erich Topp City of Oxford2,759brHG-84
15 Jun 1942U-552Erich Topp Thurso2,436brHG-84
25 Jul 1942U-552Erich Topp British Merit (d.)8,093brON-113
25 Jul 1942U-552Erich Topp Broompark5,136brON-113
3 Aug 1942U-552Erich Topp G.S. Walden (d.)10,627brON-115
3 Aug 1942U-552Erich Topp Lochkatrine9,419brON-115

36 ships sunk (198,650 tons) and 4 ships damaged (32,317 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.
(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

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

Q-ships versus U-boats

Beyer, Kenneth

The Iron Time

Previtera, Stephen Thomas


Vause, Jordan

The Odyssey of a U-Boat Commander

Topp, Erich. Translated by Eric C. Rust
(£ 71.95)

Naval Officers Under Hitler

Rust, Eric C.

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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