Reinhard Hardegen

German World War II U-boat commander Reinhard Hardegen

Lieutenant Commander Reinhard Hardegen is a German U-boat Commander who sank 22 ships, amounting to 115,656 gross register tons (GRT) sunk, ranking him as the 24th most successful Commander in World War II. After the war, he spent a year in British captivity before running a successful oil company and serving in Bremen's Parliament for over 32 years. An efficient and effective combat Commander, he was never known for being a virulent Nazi supporter.
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  • 2013
    Age 99
    He turned 100 in March 2013 in very good health, winning golf trophies and still driving a car.
  • 1952
    Age 38
    In 1952, he started an oil trading company, which he built up into a great success.
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  • 1946
    Age 32
    He returned home in November 1946, where he started as a businessman, first on a bike and then in a car.
  • 1945
    Age 31
    In his last posting, he served as battalion commander in Marine Infanterie Regiment 6 from February 1945 until the end of the war.
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  • 1943
    Age 29
    In March 1943, Kapitänleutnant Hardegen became chief of U-boat training of the torpedo school at Marineschule Mürwik, before taking up a position in the Torpedowaffenamt (torpedo weapon department), where he oversaw testing and development of new acoustic and wired torpedoes.
  • 1942
    Age 28
    On 31 July 1942, Hardegen relinquished command of U-123 and took up duties as an instructor in the 27th U-boat Training Flotilla in Gotenhafen.
    On 2 May, U-123 docked at Lorient, ending Hardegen's career as an active U-boat commander, although he commanded the boat for a final journey, bringing her back to Kiel for some necessary repairs in May 1942.
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    On 2 March 1942, Hardegen left for his final patrol, his second to American waters.
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    On 12 January 1942, Hardegen drew first blood, sinking the British freighter Cyclops.
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  • 1941
    Age 27
    His next patrol, in October 1941, took him to the North Atlantic.
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    After completing the patrol, Hardegen was given command of, a Type IXB U-boat operating out of Lorient. Hardegen's first patrol with U-123 started on 16 June 1941, with a course for West African waters to attack British shipping around Freetown.
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  • 1940
    Age 26
    Hardegen served as 1.WO (First Watch Officer) under Kapitänleutnant Georg-Wilhelm Schulz aboard and, after two war patrols, was given his own command, the Type IID U-boat, operating out of Kiel, on 11 December 1940.
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  • 1939
    Age 25
    In early 1939, he crashed his aircraft and was hospitalized for six months.
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  • 1936
    Age 22
    He trained as a naval aircraft observer and, after, as a pilot, and was promoted to leutnant on 1 October 1936.
  • 1935
    Age 21
    In 1935, Hardegen was transferred as a Marineflieger in the Kriegsmarines air arm.
  • 1933
    Age 19
    Born in Bremen, Germany, Hardegen dreamed of a career in the German navy from an early age. Following his graduation from high school he enrolled in the Reichsmarine as a Seekadett, sailing around the world in the light cruiser in 1933.
  • 1913
    Born on March 18, 1913.
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