Werner Hartenstein

German World War II U-boat commander Werner Hartenstein

Gustav Julius Werner Hartenstein commanded the U-boat U-156 in the German Navy of the Third Reich during World War II. He received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Corvette captain Hartenstein is credited with the sinking of 20 ships for a total of 97,504 gross register tons (GRT), and with damaging three ships and a destroyer.
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  • 1943
    Age 34
    Hartenstein and the entire crew of U-156 were killed in action by depth charges from a US PBY Catalina aircraft on 8 March 1943.
    Korvettenkapitän Ernst Kals, chief of the 2nd U-boat Flotilla at Lorient, sent a letter to Hartenstein's parents on 23 April 1943 indicating that their son had been posted as missing in action as of 12 March 1943.
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    During his fifth patrol (16 January 1943 – 8 March 1943), on 8 March 1943, Hartenstein and the entire crew of U-156 were killed in action by depth charges from a US PBY Catalina aircraft (VP-53/P-1; Lieutenant E. Dryden), east of Barbados.
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  • 1942
    Age 33
    For his service on torpedo boats, Hartenstein was awarded the German Cross in Gold on 2 February 1942.
    U-156 received a radio message on 17 September 1942 indicating that Werner Hartenstein had become the 63rd member of the U-boat service and the 125th of the Kriegsmarine to be awarded Germany's highest military honour, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
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    Heading to a rendezvous with Vichy French ships under Red Cross banners, the U-boats were attacked by a U.S. Army B-24 Liberator bomber (343d Bomb Squadron; Lieutenant James D. Harden) at 12:32 on 16 September 1942.
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    At 01:25 on 13 September 1942 Hartenstein radioed the Befehlshaber der U-Boote (BdU—commander of U-boats) requesting guidance and confirmation on how to proceed.
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    Hartenstein and the entire crew of U-156 received a hero's welcome by the people of Plauen on 20 July 1942.
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    On 1 June 1942, Hartenstein was promoted to Korvettenkapitän (corvette captain).
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    This achievement earned Hartenstein a reference on 6 June 1942 in the Wehrmachtbericht (armed forces report), an information bulletin issued by the headquarters of the Wehrmacht.
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    On Hartenstein's third patrol (22 April 1942 – 7 July 1942), U-156 sank 12 ships and damaged a further two, including the on 25 May 1942.
    On his second patrol (19 January 1942 – 17 March 1942) Hartenstein commanded a wolfpack of U-boats (Gruppe Neuland—Group New Land) during the Attack on Aruba in February 1942, attacking an oil refinery.
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    U-156 received a radio message on the evening of 8 January ordering Hartenstein to proceed at high speed to Lorient, where it arrived on 10 January 1942.
  • 1941
    Age 32
    On 30 March 1941, command of Jaguar was given to Kapitänleutnant Friedrich-Karl Paul and Hartenstein transferred to the U-boat force, and on 4 September 1941 was given command of U-156, a Type IXC U-boat.
  • 1939
    Age 30
    In October 1939 Hartenstein transferred and switched command of torpedo boat Jaguar with Kapitänleutnant Franz Kohlauf who took over command of Seeadler.
  • 1938
    Age 29
    Hartenstein took command of torpedo boat Seeadler on 20 November 1938.
  • 1937
    Age 28
    Hartenstein participated in several patrols in 1937 and 1938 on board Greif in Spanish waters during the Spanish Civil War.
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    He was promoted to Kapitänleutnant (captain lieutenant) on 1 June 1937.
  • 1936
    Age 27
    Hartenstein served as first watch officer on the torpedo boat Greif from 30 September 1936 to 13 November 1938.
  • 1930
    Age 21
    Following a 14-month stay on board the cruiser Emden (16 October 1928 – 3 January 1930) he advanced in rank to Fähnrich zur See (officer cadet) on 1 January 1930.
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  • 1928
    Age 19
    Hartenstein was then transferred to the training ship Niobe (1 July 1928 – 15 October 1928), attaining the rank of Seekadett (midshipman) on 11 October 1928.
    Aged 20, Hartenstein re-applied for the cadetship, was accepted and began his naval career with the Reichsmarine on 1 April 1928 as a member of "Crew 28" (the incoming class of 1928).
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  • 1927
    Age 18
    He matriculated at the University of Freiburg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg) in Freiburg im Breisgau on 29 April 1927.
  • 1923
    Age 14
    He celebrated his confirmation in 1923 and graduated from a humanities-oriented secondary school in Plauen with his diploma (Abitur) in 1926.
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  • 1908
    Hartenstein was born in Plauen in the Vogtland of the Kingdom of Saxony, then a federated state of the German Empire, on 27 February 1908.
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