Joachim Schepke

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Joachim Schepke (8 March 1912 – 17 March 1941) was a German U-boat commander during World War II. He was the seventh recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded by the Third Reich to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. It was Germany’s highest military decoration at the time of its presentation to Joachim Schepke.

Career

Schepke was the son of a naval officer, and he joined the Reichsmarine in 1930. In 1934 he was assigned to the newly created U-boat arm, and in 1938 he commanded U-3. At the outbreak of World War II he took U3 to war against Allied shipping. After a short stint commanding U-19 and serving in a staff position Schepke received the command of U-100, a Type VIIb boat. After 5 patrols in U-100 she was heavily damaged on 17 March 1941 by depth charges from HMS Walker andVanoc while executing an attack on Convoy HX-112. U-100 was forced to surface and was detected on radar and consequently rammed by Vanoc. Schepke and 37 crew members perished in the ocean; six crew members were rescued. Schepke was last reported on the bridge of U-100. When Vanoc rammed his boat, he was crushed into his own periscope standards, and he went down with his boat.

Schepke claimed to have sunk 37 ships, for a total of 213,310 gross register tons (GRT), and damaged 4 more. If true, this would have made him the third skipper to have sunk over 200,000 tons. While he did positively sink 34 ships, he was known to Admiral Dönitz and throughout the fleet to exaggerate his tonnage claims; fellow U-boat men came to use the expression “Schepke tonnage” to reference them. Nonetheless, with 34 ships Schepke ranked first in number of ships sunk, and was recommended by Dönitz for Knight’s cross with Oak Leaves for this achievement.

Schepke, Günther Prien and Otto Kretschmer were friendly rivals in the U-boat service, and were the most famous U-boat commanders in the early years of the war, where all except Kretschmer eventually met their ends. Schepke was the favourite of these three, because in contrast to Kretschmer he was a convinced NSDAP party member. He wrote and illustrated the book “U-Boot Fahrer von Heute” (U-Boat Men of today) in 1940 (Berlin, Deutscher Verlag 1940). In February 1941 he made a speech in the Berlin Sportpalast for thousands of Berlin schoolchildren about the U-boat war. Before and after his death the German propaganda ministry held him as an example for German youth to follow.

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Summary of career

Ships attacked

As a U-boat commander of U-3, U-19 and U-100, Schepke is credited with the sinking of 36 ships for a total of 153,677 gross register tons (GRT), further damaging four ships of 17,229 GRT and additionally damaging one more ship so heavily that it was a total loss of 2,205 GRT.

Date U-boat Ship Nationality Tonnage
GRT
Fate[2][3][4]
30 September 1939 U-3 Vendia  Denmark 1,150 Sunk
30 September 1939 U-3 Gun  Sweden 1,198 Sunk
9 January 1940 U-19 Manx  Norway 1,343 Sunk
23 January 1940 U-19 Battanglia  United Kingdom 1,523 Sunk
23 January 1940 U-19 Pluto  Denmark 1,598 Sunk
25 January 1940 U-19 Everene  Denmark 4,434 Sunk
25 January 1940 U-19 Gudveig  Denmark 1,300 Sunk
19 March 1940 U-19 Charkow  Denmark 1,026 Sunk
19 March 1940 U-19 Minsk  Denmark 1,229 Sunk
20 March 1940 U-19 Bothal  Denmark 2,109 Sunk
20 March 1940 U-19 Viking  Denmark 1,153 Sunk
16 August 1940 U-100 Empire Merchant  United Kingdom 4,864 Sunk
25 August 1940 U-100 Jamaica Pioneer  United Kingdom 5,471 Sunk
29 August 1940 U-100 Dalblair  United Kingdom 4,608 Sunk
29 August 1940 U-100 Hartismere  United Kingdom 5,498 Damaged
29 August 1940 U-100 Astra II  United Kingdom 2,393 Sunk
29 August 1940 U-100 Alida Gorthon  Sweden 2,373 Sunk
29 August 1940 U-100 Empire Moose  United Kingdom 6,103 Sunk
21 September 1940 U-100 Canonesa  United Kingdom 8,286 Sunk
21 September 1940 U-100 Torinia  United Kingdom 10,364 Sunk
21 September 1940 U-100 Dalcairn  United Kingdom 4,608 Sunk
22 September 1940 U-100 Empire Airman  United Kingdom 6,586 Sunk
22 September 1940 U-100 Scholar  United Kingdom 3,940 Sunk
22 September 1940 U-100 Frederick S. Fales  United Kingdom 10,525 Sunk
22 September 1940 U-100 Simla  Norway 6,031 Sunk
18 October 1940 U-100 Shekatika  United Kingdom 5,458 Damaged
18 October 1940 U-100 Boekelo  Netherlands 2,118 Damaged
19 October 1940 U-100 Blairspey  United Kingdom 4,155 Damaged
20 October 1940 U-100 Caprella  United Kingdom 8,230 Sunk
20 October 1940 U-100 Sitala  United Kingdom 6,218 Sunk
20 October 1940 U-100 Loch Lomond  United Kingdom 5,452 Sunk
23 November 1940 U-100 Justitia  United Kingdom 4,562 Sunk
23 November 1940 U-100 Bradfyne  United Kingdom 4,740 Sunk
23 November 1940 U-100 Ootmarsum  Netherlands 3,628 Sunk
23 November 1940 U-100 Bruse  Norway 2,205 Total Loss
23 November 1940 U-100 Salonica  Norway 2,694 Sunk
23 November 1940 U-100 Leise Maersk  United Kingdom 3,136 Sunk
23 November 1940 U-100 Bussum  Netherlands 3,636 Sunk
14 December 1940 U-100 Kyleglen  United Kingdom 3,670 Sunk
14 December 1940 U-100 Euphorbia  United Kingdom 3,380 Sunk
18 December 1940 U-100 Napier Star  United Kingdom 10,116 Sun
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Awards

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Published in: on September 18, 2016 at 4:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

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