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Monday, 9 March 2015

Gustav Julius Werner Hartenstein

Gustav Julius Werner Hartenstein

Career:

Branch: Kaiserliche Marine / Reichsmarine / Kriegsmarine
Born: 27 February 1908 in Plauen, Vogtland.
Died: 8 March 1943 in the Atlantic Ocean.

Ranks:
Korvettenkapitän 1 June 1942
Kapitänleutnant 1 June 1937
Oberleutnant zur See 1 September 1934
Leutnant zur See 1 October 1932
Oberfähnrich zur See 1 April 1932
Fähnrich zur See 1 January 1930

Decorations:
Spanish Cross in Bronze without Swords 6 June 1939
Iron Cross 2nd Class 16 November 1939
Iron Cross 1st Class 27 April 1940
German Cross in Gold 2 February 1942
U-boat War Badge 1939, 17 March 1942
Knights Cross 17 September 1942

Commands:
Seeadler
Takes command on November 1938
Ends command on October 1939

Jaguar
Takes command on October 1939
Ends command on March 1941

U-156
Takes command on 4 September 1941
Ends command on 8 March 1943

Personal Information:

Gustav Julius Werner Hartenstein was born on 27 February 1908 and became a Korvettenkapitän with the Kriegsmarine during World War II and U-boat commander of U-156. 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. He is credited with the sinking of 20 ships for a total of 97,504 gross register tons (GRT), further damaging three ships of 18,811 GRT and damaging one warship of 1,190 tons.

Born in Plauen, Werner Hartenstein joined the Reichsmarine of the Weimar Republic in 1928. After a period of training on surface vessels and service on various torpedo boats during the Spanish Civil War and first year of World War II, he transferred to the U-boat service in 1941. In September 1942, Werner Hartenstein was involved in the Laconia incident. He and the entire crew of U-156 were killed in action by depth charges from a US PBY Catalina aircraft on 8 March 1943.

Early life

Werner Hartenstein was born in Plauen in the Vogtland of the Kingdom of Saxony on 27 February 1908. He was the second child of William Karl Adolf Hartenstein, an export merchant, and Selma Emma Hartenstein, née Schlingensiepen. Werner Hartenstein had an older sister, Thea Irena, and a younger sister, Charlotte. He celebrated his confirmation in 1923 and graduated from the humanistische Staatsgymnasium (humanities-oriented secondary school) in Plauen with his Abitur (diploma) in 1926. After graduation in 1926 he applied for naval officer cadetship but was rejected at first, instead he studied two semesters of jurisprudence. He matriculated at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg (University of Freiburg) in Freiburg im Breisgau on 29 April 1927.

Aged 20, Werner Hartenstein reapplied, was accepted and began his naval career with the Reichsmarine on 1 April 1928 as a member Crew 1928 (the incoming class of 1928). He underwent basic military training in the 2nd department (II. Abteilung) of the standing ship division (Schiffsstammdivision) of the Baltic Sea in Stralsund 1 April 1928 to 30 June 1928. Werner Hartenstein was then transferred to the training ship Niobe (1 July 1928 to 15 October 1928) attaining the rank of Seekadett (Naval Cadet) on 11 October 1928. Following a 14 month stay onboard the cruiser Emden (16 October 1928 to 3 January 1930) he advanced in rank to Fähnrich zur See (ensign) on 1 January 1930. Werner Hartenstein then underwent a number of officer training courses at the Naval Academy at Mürwik, including navigational training cruises on the survey vessel Meteor, before transferring to the light cruiser Köln 1 October 1931 to 23 September 1934. His stay on light cruiser Köln was occasionally interrupted to attend further training courses at Wilhelmshaven and Kiel-Wik. During this assignment on 30 January 1933, the National Socialist Party, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, came to power in Germany, ushering in a period of naval rearmament. In 1935, the Reichsmarine was renamed the Kriegsmarine.

Werner Hartenstein served as I. Wachoffizier (1st watch officer) on torpedo boat Greif from 30 September 1936 to 13 November 1938.Werner Hartenstein was promoted to Kapitänleutnant (captain lieutenant) on 1 June 1937. He participated in several patrols in 1937 to 1938 on board Greif in Spanish waters as part of the Legion Condor during the Spanish Civil War. For these services he was awarded the Spanish Cross in Bronze (Spanienkreuz in Bronze) on 6 June 1936.

World War II

At the outbreak of World War II, Werner Hartenstein continued to command torpedo boats. In this position, he completed 65 patrols in the North Sea, Norwegian waters, Bay of Biscay and in the English Channel in the first one and a half years of the war. Werner Hartenstein took command of the torpedo boat Seeadler on 20 November 1938. In October 1939 Werner Hartenstein transferred and switched command of torpedo boat Jaguar with Kapitänleutnant Franz Kohlauf who took over command of Seeadler. On 30 March 1941, command of Jaguar was given to Kapitänleutnant Friedrich-Karl Paul and Werner Hartenstein transferred to the U-boat force, and on 4 September 1941 given command of U-156, a Type IXC U-boat. For his service on torpedo boats, Werner Hartenstein was awarded the German Cross in Gold (Deutsches Kreuz in Gold) on 2 February 1942. Karl Dönitz personally pinned the German Cross in Gold on Werner Hartenstein's leather jacket on 17 March 1942. Initially U-156 was assigned to the 4th U-boat Flotilla at Stettin as a training boat. It then transferred to the 2nd U-boat Flotilla at Lorient, France on 31 December 1941.

Werner Hartenstein's first patrol 24 December 1941 to 10 January 1942 was an uneventful transfer patrol taking U-156 from Kiel to Lorient. U-156, together with U-87 and U-753, transiting through the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal, passing Brunsbüttel where they joined up with a Sperrbrecher (pathfinder or minesweeper) and U-135. The convoy received aerial protection by a number of Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter aircraft and split up once they reached Cuxhaven. Passing south of the Shetland Islands, bypassing the Hebrides, U-156 slowly approached Rockall, where two weather buoys were released. The first buoy, WFB 33 (Wetterfunkgeräte/Boje weather radio buoy) was released on 7 January 1942 at 51°04.3'N 11°04'W? / ?51.0717°N 11.067°W? / 51.0717 -11.067? (WFB 33 (weather buoy)). The second buoy, WFB 32 was released on 8 January 1942 at 02:44 at 53°24'N 13°32'W? / ?53.4°N 13.533°W? / 53.4 -13.533? (WFB 32 (weather buoy)) in the Porcupine Bank. U-156 received a radio message on the evening of 8 January ordering Werner Hartenstein to proceed to Lorient at high speed where it arrived on 10 January 1942.

On his second patrol 19 January 1942 to 17 March 1942 Werner Hartenstein commanded a Wolfpack of U-boats (Gruppe Neuland Group New Land) during the Attack on Aruba in February 1942, attacking an oil refinery. U-156 along with U-67 under the command of Günther Müller-Stöckheim and U-502 under the command of Jürgen von Rosenstiel departed from Lorient under the protection of a Sperrbrecher in the early morning of 19 January 1942. Werner Hartenstein's orders were to conduct a simultaneous surprise attack of the Gruppe Neuland against the shipping traffic off Aruba and Curaçao. Besides U-156, U-67 and U-502, Gruppe Neuland also included the submarines U-129 under the command of Nicolai Clausen and U-161 under the command of Albrecht Achilles.

On 16 February, after observing the area for a few days, U-156 came around to the refineries. There in front of her target were two Lago Company flat bottom steamers, SS Pedernales and Oranjestad, both British owned oilers. At 01:31, U-156 surfaced in San Nicolaas Harbour some 1.5 km (0.81 nmi 0.93 mi) offshore and attacked the two British tankers at anchor. Werner Hartenstein fired one torpedo from his bow tubes at Pedernales. The torpedo attack was successful and Pedernales was hit amidships. Loaded with crude oil, the steamer immediately burst into flames, killing eight of her 26 crewmen and wounding her captain Herbert McCall. Oranjestad then began to lift anchor and steam away but she was too late and was hit by a second torpedo fired from U-156. She too burst into flames and an hour later, sunk in about 70 m (230 ft) of water. Fifteen of her 22 crewmen were killed.

At 03:13, U-156 attacked the Texaco owned tanker SS Arkansas which was berthed at Eagle Beach next to the Arend/Eagle Refinery. Just one of the torpedoes struck Arkansas and partially sank her but the damage was moderate and caused no casualties. Commander Werner Hartenstein then steamed further around Aruba and directed his men to take to the deck guns and prepare for a naval bombardment of the large oil tank of the Lago Oil & Transport Co. Ltd. The crew of the 10.5 cm SK L/45 naval gun forgot to remove the water cap from the barrel, so when Werner Hartenstein ordered them to fire, the gun blew up. Gunnery Officer Dietrich von dem Borne was wounded badly, one foot having been severed. His comrade and trigger man Heinrich Büssinger was badly wounded as well and died several hours after the attack. Werner Hartenstein ordered the 37 mm (1.46 in) flak gun to continue the attack which caused only superficial damage.
On Werner Hartenstein's third patrol 22 April 1942 to 7 July 1942, U-156 sank 12 ships and damaged a further two, including the USS Blakeley on 25 May 1942. This achievement earned Werner Hartenstein a reference in the Wehrmachtbericht on 6 June 1942. The Wehrmachtbericht was an information bulletin issued by the headquarters of the Wehrmacht. To be singled out individually in the Wehrmachtbericht was an honour and was entered in the Orders and Decorations' section of a soldier's Service Record Book.

U-156 along with U-502 again departed from Lorient under the protection of a Sperrbrecher on the 22 April 1942 destined for the Caribbean Sea. Prior to the departure Dietrich von dem Borne, who had been severely wounded on the second patrol, was replaced by Oberleutnant zur See of the Reserve Gert Mannesmann. Chief engineer (Leitender Ingenieur) Wilhelm Polchau reported to Werner Hartenstein on 6 May that the diesel compressor had malfunctioned. Werner Hartenstein radioed U-66 under the command of Robert-Richard Zapp to assist. On 10 May U-156 and U-66 rendezvoused and for the exchange of 5 cubic metres (6.5 cu yd) of fuel oil, the necessary spare parts were exchanged and the fuel compressor repaired. U-156 sighted the first steamer in the early afternoon on 12 May, the first of twelve ships eleven merchantmen and one warship attacked on this patrol, ten of which were sunk.

U-156 positioned near Fort-de-France was ordered to observe the traffic to and from Martinique. Lying roughly 11 nautical miles (20 km 13 MI) off shore, the hydrophones detected a ship. Werner Hartenstein attacked from a submerged position firing two torpedoes. One torpedo struck the bow of the Blakeley after a 25-second run-time. Werner Hartenstein observed that the bow was completely blown away but its engines kept running. The waters around Martinique were extremely shallow and Werner Hartenstein decided not to pursue the destroyer. During this patrol, Werner Hartenstein was promoted to Korvettenkapitän (corvette captain) on 1 June 1942. The 1st watch officer, Paul Just, left U-156 after returning from the third patrol. Just was replaced by Oberleutnant zur See Leopold Schumacher as new 1st watch officer. Just later became commander of U-6, U-151 and U-546.

Werner Hartenstein and the entire crew of U-156 received a hero's welcome by the people of Plauen on 20 July 1942. The people lined the streets as the whole crew marched from the railway station to the City Hall for the official welcome reception.
On U-156's fourth patrol 20 August 1942 to 16 November 1942, Werner Hartenstein sank and then organised the rescue of the survivors of RMS Laconia, resulting in the Laconia incident and Laconia order.

U-156 together with U-68 under the command of Karl-Friedrich Merten departed from Lorient on 20 August 1942 heading for the Bay of Biscay. Werner Hartenstein received the order to operate against Convoy SL-119 on 25 August. After a two day pursuit, U-156 at the time was positioned west of Casablanca, found a straggler, the SS Clan Macwhirter. Werner Hartenstein attacked from a submerged position to avoid detection under the bright moonlight. Clan Macwhirter was hit by two torpedoes and sank which killed nine members of the crew and two gunners, 79 sailors survived the sinking. Two later sightings on 2 September and 6 September did not lead to a favourable attack position and escaped.

On 12 September 1942 U-156 was now patrolling off the coast of West Africa midway between Liberia and Ascension Island roughly 600 nautical miles (1,100 km 690 MI) south of Cape Palmas. At 11:37 the aft port lookout sighted a smoke stack at 230 degrees. Werner Hartenstein followed the target, which was zigzagging at 14 knots (26 km/h 16 mph), until the general direction of the large ocean liner became evident. U-156 was running at 17 knots (31 km/h 20 mph) into a favourable attack position. Werner Hartenstein ordered the attack at 21:07. He slowed speed at 22:00 and ordered a surfaced deflection shot from torpedo tubes I and III. After three minutes and six seconds the first torpedo detonated followed shortly by the second. He hoped to capture the ship's senior officers. To his surprise, Werner Hartenstein saw over two thousand people struggling in the water. Werner Hartenstein immediately began rescue operations. Laconia sank at 23:23.

At 01:25 on 13 September 1942 Werner Hartenstein radioed the Befehlshaber der U-Boote (BdU commander of U-boats) requesting guidance and confirmation on how to proceed. The BdU responded at 03:45 ordering Wolf pack Eisbär, consisting of U-507 under the command of Harro Schacht, U-506 under the command of Erich Würdemann and U-459 under the command of Georg von Wilamowitz-Möllendorf to assist Werner Hartenstein immediately. At 06:00 Werner Hartenstein ordered that the following message be sent on the 25m wavelength:

If any ship will assist the ship wrecked Laconia crew, I will not attack providing I am not being attacked by ship or air forces. I picked up 193 men. 4°53 South/11°26 West German submarine


The message was repeated twice on the international 600m wavelength. The BdU later changed the order slightly and U-506, U-507 and the Italian submarine Capellini were dispatched. In parallel U-156 was assisting and supplying the survivors in the numerous lifeboats that kept arriving or were picked up. U-506 arrived at 11:32 on 14 September 1942, followed by U-507 in the afternoon of 15 September. 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. The attack ordered by Captain Robert C. Richardson III, which killed a number of people in the lifeboats and damaged U-156, forced Werner Hartenstein to abandon the rescue operations. A majority of survivors were later rescued by British merchant ships and two unarmed Vichy French warships, the cruiser Gloire and the sloop Annamite, out of Dakar, Africa.

This event later became known as the Laconia incident and led BdU Admiral Karl Dönitz to issue the Laconia order to his U-boat commanders that stated in part No attempt of any kind must be made at rescuing members of ships sunk... At the end of the war, the Laconia Order was unsuccessfully used against Admiral Karl Dönitz in his war crime trial, because Fleet Admiral Nimitz testified that in the war with Japan the United States Navy had followed the same general policy as was set forth in the German admiral's directive.

U-156 received a radio message on 17 September 1942 indicating that Werner Hartenstein, as the 63rd member of the U-boat service and 125th of the Kriegsmarine, had been awarded Germany's highest military honour, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Werner Hartenstein handed out one bottle of beer for each member of the crew. Celebrating the event, Werner Hartenstein held a speech, honouring the achievements of everyone and telling them that he would wear the decoration in their name.

On 19 September 1942, U-156 was roughly 800 nautical miles (1,500 km 920 MI) south of Freetown and the crew was still repairing minor damage, when the lookout spotted a ship at 04:30. The target was the British ship Quebec City, en route from Cape Town to Freetown. Werner Hartenstein attacked from a submerged position and hit Quebec City with one torpedo fired from tube VI. Werner Hartenstein surfaced and approached the lifeboats and asked the survivors for the ship's name. Quebec City did not sink easily and U-156 fired 58 rounds from the 37 mm (1.46 in) flak gun and seven further shots from the 10.5 cm gun before Werner Hartenstein ordered a cease fire. Coupled with a direct hit in the ship's stern ammunition magazine, followed by an explosion, Quebec City slowly sinks. According to William Clark, a member of Quebec City's crew, Werner Hartenstein made sure that the survivors had enough water and provisions and that Captain William Thomas had the exact coordinates This story of that attack and the impression that the humanitarian actions of Werner Hartenstein made is documented in the book by David Cledlyn Jones, The Enemy We Killed, My Friend. Jones states that Hartgenstein was concerned about the survivors' well-being but did not inquire about provisions, nor did he offer additional food or water. Hartgenstein did express that it would have been his wish to tow them at least some distance to the African coast explaining that he was not able to do so as he recently had been attacked while attempting to aid survivors
During his fifth patrol 16 January 1942 8 March 1943, on 8 March 1943, Werner 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. The Catalina dropped four Mark 44 Torpex water-bombs at 13:15 from an altitude of 23 m to 30 m which straddled U-156. Two bombs were observed to hit the water 3.0 m to (4.6 m starboard and just aft of U-156, lifting it and breaking it in two, followed by an explosion. At least eleven survivors were seen swimming in the water. The Americans dropped two rubber rafts and rations, and five men were seen to reach one the rafts. The USS Barney was dispatched from Trinidad to rescue the survivors. The search was abandoned on 12 March 1943. Korvettenkapitän Ernst Kals, chief of the 2nd U-boat Flotilla at Lorient, sent a letter to Werner Hartenstein's parents on the 23 April 1943 indicating that their son had been posted as missing in action as of 12 March 1943. US officials announced the destruction of the U-boat on 10 May 1943.

Ten months after his death a service of remembrance was held in Plauen on 15 January 1944. The service was attended by his parents, his sisters and other members of the family, the mayor of Plauen, Eugen Wörner, senior officials and councillors The local press reported that His parents have accepted that their loving son will not return home but is resting in peace with his Lord.

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Sources:

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