WWI U-boat commanders

Hans Oscar Wutsdorff

Oberleutnant zur See (Crew 4/09)

1 ship sunk with a total of 32,234 GRT

Born:29 Nov 1890  
Died:25 Jan 1962  

Hans Oscar Wutsdorff


1 Apr 1909 Seekadett
12 Apr 1910 Fähnrich zur See
19 Sep 1912 Leutnant zur See
2 May 1915 Oberleutnant zur See
29 Jun 1920 Kapitänleutnat
30 Jun 1926 Out of naval service
1 Dec 1931 Korvettenkapitän (Ergänzungsoffizier)


 Iron Cross 2nd class
 Iron Cross 1st class

U-boat Commands

UB 12422 Apr 1918 - 20 Jul 1918


After Wutsdorff sank the second largest ship of the war, the British passenger steamer Justicia, on 20 July 1918 his UB 124 was depth charged and he had to scuttle his boat. He and part of his crew then became POWs. During this time he had enough time to learn English.

The very large passenger streamer Justicia sunk by Wutsdorff on 20 July 1918.

Foreseen this situation, he had made the appointment with his father to send him a letter with the encoded massage in the following way: first line= first word; second line= second word; third line= third word and so on. In this way he wrote "Have sunk the "Justitia". Unfortunately his old father had forgotten the code. But he found the text of the message a bit strange and gave the letter to the German Admirality, where they found out the right code.

In the 20s he commanded the artillery-training-ship "Drache". At the end of the 20s he was teacher for yachting and English at the famous boarding-school "Salem" at the Bodensee. One of his pupils was Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, the later Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elisabeth 2.

In the 30s he served as Fregattenkapitän (Commander) in the military- defense-group of Admiral Canaris, where he had to observe the telephone conversations of the English speaking embassies.

After WW2 he was interrogated (tortured) by the Russian NKVD (Russian Secret Service) about his past life. In 1952 he was requested to build up the "DDR-Volksmarine" (East German Navy), but he fled with his family to West-Berlin, where he died 1962.

Related page
Largest ships sunk or damaged (in WWI)

Biography information from his son.

Ships hit by Hans Oscar Wutsdorff

DateU-boat Name of shipType of shipTonsNat.
20 Jul 1918 UB 124  JusticiaPassenger steamer32,234br
1 ship sunk (32,234 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.

Media links

Kaiserliche Marine U-Boote 1914-1918

Dufeil, Yves

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