Karl Thurmann (4 September 1909 – 20 January 1943) was a German U-boat commander in World War II and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, awarded by Nazi Germany to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Thurmann was born in Mülheim, Ruhr. He joined the Reichsmarine in April 1928, serving aboard the light cruisers Emden and Köln. After training, and sailing on a patrol as Kommandantenschüler (Commander-in-Training") aboard U-29 under Otto Schuhart, Thurmann commissioned the Type VIIC U-boat U-553 on 23 December 1940. Thurmann took U-553 out on nine patrols in 1941 and 1942, and sank 12 merchant ships totalling one warship, and damaged two more.
On 16 January 1943, Thurmann left La Pallice, France, on his tenth patrol. On 20 January, he sent the last radio message: Seerohr unklar ("Periscope not clear"). U-553 was never heard from again and her fate remains a mystery.
Summary of career
As commander of U-553 Karl Thurmann is credited with the sinking of twelve ships for a total of 61,390 gross register tons (GRT), further damaging two ships of 15,273 GRT and sinking one warship, HMS Gladiolus, of 925 long tons (940 tonnes).
|12 June 1941||Ranella||Norway||5,590||Sunk|
|12 June 1941||Susan Maersk||United Kingdom||2,355||Sunk|
|15 October 1941||Ila||Norway||1,583||Sunk|
|15 October 1941||Silvercedar||United Kingdom||4,354||Sunk|
|17 October 1941||HMS Gladiolus||Royal Navy||925||Sunk|
|15 January 1942||Diala||United Kingdom||8,106||Damaged|
|22 January 1942||Innerøy||Norway||8,260||Sunk|
|12 May 1942||Leto||Netherlands||4,712||Sunk|
|12 May 1942||Nicoya||United Kingdom||5,364||Sunk|
|2 June 1942||Matawin||United Kingdom||6,919||Sunk|
|3 August 1942||Belgian Soldier||Belgium||7,167||Damaged|
|18 August 1942||Blankaholm||Sweden||2,845||Sunk|
|18 August 1942||Empire Bede||United Kingdom||6,959||Sunk|
|18 August 1942||John Hancock||United States||7,176||Sunk|
|9 December 1942||Charles L D||United Kingdom||5,273||Sunk|
- Wehrmacht Long Service Award 4th Class (2 October 1936)
- Iron Cross (1939)
- 2nd Class (21 July 1941)
- 1st Class (23 October 1941)
- U-boat War Badge (1939) (23 October 1941)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 24 August 1942 as Korvettenkapitän and commander of U-553
- Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht on 22 May 1942
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-553". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net.
- Busch & Röll 2003, p. 250.
- ^ Busch & Röll 2003, p. 251.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 744.