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Gerhard Bigalk

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Gerhard Bigalk

Gerhard Bigalk
Bigalk at St. Nazaire, 15 June 1942
Born (1908-11-26)26 November 1908
Died 17 July 1942(1942-07-17) (aged 33)
North Atlantic
Buried at

(45°14′N 12°22′W / 45.233°N 12.367°W / 45.233; -12.367 (Gerhard Bigalk (death)))

Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Kriegsmarine
Years of service 1934–1942
Rank Korvettenkapitän
Unit Schleswig-Holstein
tender Saar
Condor Legion A/88
24th U-boat Flotilla
7th U-boat Flotilla
Commands held U-14

Spanish Civil War
World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Gerhard Bigalk (26 November 1908 – 17 July 1942) was a Fregattenkapitän with the Kriegsmarine during World War II and commander of U-751. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.


Bigalk spent some years in the merchant marine before joining the Kriegsmarine in April 1934. He initially trained as an observer in the naval air force, and saw service during the Spanish Civil War, making 21 combat flights in 1937. He joined the U-boat force in November 1939. He trained into 1940, taking command of the school boat U-14 between June and August 1940. He then took command of the newly built submarine U-751 when it commissioned in January 1941.[1]

Between June 1941 and July 1942 Bigalk commanded U-751 on seven combat patrols, sinking six ships totalling 32,412 tons, and damaged one ship of 8,096 tons.[2] This included the 11,000 ton British escort carrier HMS Audacity, sunk on 21 December 1941 during his fourth patrol, for which Bigalk was awarded the Knight's Cross.[1]

Bigalk died on 17 July 1942 when U-751 was sunk with all hands by depth charges dropped by a Whitley bomber from No. 502 Squadron RAF and a Lancaster bomber from No. 61 Squadron RAF in the North Atlantic north-west of Cape Ortegal, Spain.[1]

Bigalk received a posthumous promotion to Korvettenkapitän on 5 April 1945.[1]

Summary of career

Ships attacked

As a U-boat commander of U-751 Gerhard Bigalk is credited with the sinking of five ships for a total of 21,412 gross register tons (GRT), further damaging one ship of 8,096 GRT and sinking one warship of 11,000 metric tons (11,000 long tons; 12,000 short tons).

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
14 June 1941 St. Lindsay  United Kingdom 5,370 Sunk
21 December 1941 HMS Audacity  United Kingdom 11,000 Sunk
2 February 1942 Corilla  Netherlands 8,096 Damaged
4 February 1942 Silveray  United Kingdom 4,535 Sunk
7 February 1942 Empire Sun  United Kingdom 6,952 Sunk
16 May 1942 Nicarao  United States 1,445 Sunk
19 May 1942 Isabela  United States 3,110 Sunk


Wehrmachtbericht references

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Monday, 22 December 1941 (Extra) Ein im Atlantik operierendes Unterseeboot unter Führung von Kapitänleutnant Bigalk torpedierte einen englischen Flugzeugträger. Das Schiff ist gesunken. [6] A in the Atlantic operating submarine under the command of Captain Lieutenant Bigalk torpedoed an English aircraft carrier. The ship has sunk.
Tuesday, 23 December 1941 Wie durch Sondermeldung bekanntgegeben, griff ein Unterseeboot unter Führung von Kapitänleutnant Bigalk im Atlantik einen britischen Flugzeugträger an, der zur Sicherung eines Geleitzuges eingesetzt war. Das Unterseeboot machte den Flugzeugträger durch Torpedotreffer in die Schraube manövrierunfähig. Nach zwei weiteren Torpedotreffern im Vorschiff und in der Mitte ist der Flugzeugträger über das Vorschiff gesunken. [7] As announced by special bulletin, attacked a submarine under the command of Captain Lieutenant Bigalk in the Atlantic a British aircraft carrier, which was deployed to secure a convoy. The submarine made the aircraft carrier by torpedo hit in the screw incapable of maneuvering. After two further torpedo hits, one in the bow and one in the middle section, the aircraft carrier sunk over the bow.
Wednesday, 24 December 1941 Das durch das Unterseeboot des Kapitänleutnants Bigalk versenkte britische Kriegsschiff ist inzwischen als der Flugzeugträger "Unicorn" festgestellt worden. Es handelt sich hierbei um das neuste, erst während des Krieges fertiggestellte Schiff der Gattung, das in den britischen Flottenlisten als Flugbootträger geführt wird. [8] The British warship sunk by the submarine of Captain Lieutenant Bigalk has now been identified as the aircraft carrier "Unicorn". It is the newest, only just completed during the war, ship of her class, which is listed in the British fleet list as a seaplane carrier.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945 (in German). Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 (in German). München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3.

External links

  • : Gerhard Bigalk
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