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Otto Westphalen

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Otto Westphalen

Otto Westphalen
File:Otto Westphalen.jpg
Born (1920-03-12)12 March 1920
Died 9 January 2008(2008-01-09) (aged 87)
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Kriegsmarine
Years of service 1938–1945
Rank Oberleutnant zur See
Unit 21st U-boat Flotilla
13th U-boat Flotilla
Commands held U-121
(16 May 1942 – 8 February 1943)
(18 March 1943 – 8 May 1945)

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Otto Westphalen (12 March 1920 in Hamburg – 9 January 2008) was a German U-boat commander in World War II and 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.


Westphalen joined the Kriegsmarine in October 1938, and took part in the invasion of Poland aboard the battleship Schlesien a year later. He then served on the torpedo boat Kondor for six months before joining the U-boat force in October 1940.[1]

He sailed on four patrols as watch officer of U-566 in 1941, and in May 1942 took command of the school boat U-121. In March 1943 he commissioned the Type VIIC U-boat U-968, and was attached to 13th U-boat Flotilla, based at Trondheim, Norway, for operations against convoys in the Arctic Sea.[1]

Westphalen sailed on seven combat patrols between March 1944 and May 1945, though all his victories were made in February and March 1945;[2] he sank three merchant ships, damaged another, and sank the British sloops HMS Lark and HMS Lapwing.[3] On 29 April 1945 he attacked but missed HMS Goodall which was sunk an hour later by U-286.

In January 1944 Westphalen served on the military court which sentenced Oscar Kusch, the commander of U-154, to death on charges of "defeatism".[4]

Westphalen surrendered in May 1945 in Narvik.[1]

Summary of career

Ships attacked

Ships attacked[1]
Date Ship Tons Nationality Convoy Fate
14 February 1945 Horace Gray 7,200  United States BK-3 Total loss
Norfjell 8,129  Norway BK-3 Damaged
17 February 1945 HMS Lark 1,350  United Kingdom RA-64 Total loss
Thomas Scott 7,176  United States RA-64 Sunk
20 March 1945 HMS Lapwing 1,350  United Kingdom JW-65 Sunk
Thomas Donaldson 7,210  United States JW-65 Sunk


Wehrmachtbericht reference

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
24 March 1945 (addendum) Bei dem im Wehrmachtbericht vom 23. März gemeldeten erfolgreichen Angriff auf einen nach Murmansk laufenden Nachschubgeleitzug zeichnete sich die Besatzung des unter Führung von Oberleutnant zur See Westphalen stehenden Unterseebootes besonders aus.[8] In the 23 March Wehrmacht communique reported successful attack on an replenishment convoy to Murmansk, the submarine crew under the command of First Lieutenant at Sea Westphalen particularly distinguished themselves.


  • Busch, Rainer & Röll, Hans-Joachim (2003). Der U-Boot-Krieg 1939–1945 — Die Ritterkreuzträger der U-Boot-Waffe von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 (in German). Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn Germany: Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn. ISBN 3-8132-0515-0.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 (in German). Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Patzwall, Klaus D. and Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941–1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall (in German). ISBN 3-931533-45-X.* Range, Clemens (1974). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Kriegsmarine. Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-87943-355-0.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939 – 1945 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 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. Mai 1945 (in German). München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3.

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