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Heinrich Timm

Heinrich Timm

German u-boat commander
The basics
Occupations Korvettenkapitän Submariner
Countries Germany
Gender male
Birth April 30, 1910 (Bremen)
Death April 12, 1974 (Axstedt)
Heinrich Timm
The details

Heinrich Timm (30 April 1910 in Bremen – 12 April 1974 in Axstedt) was a German U-boat commander in World War II and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Naval career

Timm joined the Kriegsmarine in October 1933. He first served as a junior officer aboard the minesweepers M-132 and M-110, before taking command of M-7 in July 1939. His first success came on 9 January 1940 when he attacked the Royal Navy's submarine HMS Starfish with depth charges in the Heligoland Bight, then forcing her to the surface and then being scuttled.

Timm won the Iron Cross during the Norwegian invasion in May 1940, and then he transferred into the U-boat fleet. After U-Boat commander's training at Pillau, in September 1941 Timm took command of the new Type VIIC U-boat U-251. After training missions in the Baltic Sea, the U-251 was assigned to the 11th U-boat Flotilla, which was based at Bergen, Norway, in April 1942. Timm next commanded nine war patrols into the Arctic Sea, on the prowl against the arctic convoys of World War II to the northern seaports of the Soviet Union. There, the U-251 sank two merchant ships: The first one, on 3 May 1942, was the 6,135 ton British merchant ship SS Jutland of Convoy PQ-15, while the second, in July 1942, was the American cargo ship El Capitan from the ill-fated Convoy PQ 17. Timm also took part in "Operation Wunderland" in the Kara Sea, surfacing close to Uyedineniya Island and destroying a Soviet weather station with cannon fire from his deck gun.

When the U-251 was decommissioned to be overhauled in June 1943, Timm and his crew were sent to take over the new Type IXD2 U-boat U-862, and after training missions in the Baltic Sea, they sailed her to the Indian Ocean during mid-1944 to join the Monsun Gruppe of U-boats prowing in the Indian Ocean and farther east, from Japanese-held naval bases.

The U-862 sank five merchantmen and also shot down a British Catalina flying boat of No. 265 Squadron RAF while en route. On 5 July, Timm received notification of his promotion to Korvettenkapitän.

Then, while patrolling off eastern Australia in late 1944 and early 1945, Timm sank two American Liberty ship merchantmen. In January 1945, the U-862 entered and departed from the Port of Napier, New Zealand, undetected. This later gave rise to the widely circulated post-war "tall tale" that Timm led members of his crew ashore near Napier in order to milk some cows to supplement their meagre rations.

After the surrender of Nazi Germany on May 7, 1945, all of the German U-boat crews in the Far East were interned by the Japanese Empire at Singapore and Batu Pahat, and their U-boats were confiscated by the Imperial Japanese Navy.:235,239 The U-862 was commissioned into the Japanese Navy as the I-502.

Korvettenkapitän Timm and his crewmen were still being held in Singapore when units of the Royal Navy arrived there on September 12, 1945. The German seamen were taken into custody by the British, and they were taken to Great Britain during July 1946, and then still held prisoner, even though Nazi Germany had surrendered over a year earlier.

Timm was finally released from British captivity in April 1948.

Timm's Postwar Activities

Timm joined the new West German navy, the Bundesmarine, when it was established in 1956. Timm served in several positions, including that of the first commander of the West German frigate Scharnhorst. Timm finally retired from the Bundesmarine in 1966 with the rank of Fregattenkapitän.

Ships sunk
Date Ship Tons Nationality
In U-251
3 May 1942 Jutland 6,153  United Kingdom
10 July 1942 El Capitan 5,255  United States
In U-862
25 July 1944 Robin Goodfellow 6,885  United States
13 August 1944 Radbury 3,614  United Kingdom
16 August 1944 Empire Lancer 7,037  United Kingdom
18 August 1944 Nairung 5,414  United Kingdom
19 August 1944 Wayfarer 5,068  United Kingdom
24 December 1944 Robert J. Walker 7,180  United States
6 February 1945 Peter Silvester 7,176  United States


  • Wehrmacht Long Service Award 4th Class (4 October 1937)
  • Memel Medal (26 October 1939)
  • Sudetenland Medal (1 October 1938)
  • Iron Cross (1939)
    • 2nd Class (10 January 1940)
    • 1st Class (16 May 1940)
  • German Cross in Gold on 12 February 1942 as Kapitänleutnant on U-251 in the 6th U-boat Flotilla
  • U-boat Front Clasp (29 September 1944)
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 17 September 1944 as Korvettenkapitän and commander of U-862
  • ^ Busch & Röll 2003, p. 477.
  • Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 477.
  • Fellgiebel 2000, p. 424.

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