Joachim Schepke

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Joachim Schepke
Joachim Schepke.jpg
Nickname(s) Ihrer Majestät bestaussehender Offizier ("Her Majesty's best-looking officer")
Born (1912-03-08)8 March 1912
Flensburg
Died 17 March 1941(1941-03-17) (aged 29)
south-east of Iceland 61°N 12°W / 61°N 12°W / 61; -12
Allegiance Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Reichsmarine
 Kriegsmarine
Years of service 1930–1941
Rank Kapitänleutnant
Unit SSS Niobe
cruiser Emden
Meteor
Panzerschiff Deutschland
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Ritterkreuz des Eisernes Kreuz mit Eichenlaub

Lieutenant-Commander 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.[Note 1]

Career[edit]

Schepke was the son of a Navy officer, and he joined the Kriegsmarine in 1930. In 1934 he was assigned to the 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 and HMS Vanoc 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.[1]

Joachim Schepke had sunk 37 ships for a total of 155,882 gross register tons (GRT), and damaged 4 more. He was awarded the Knight's cross with Oak Leaves. 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 Nazi. 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. After his death the German propaganda ministry held him as an example for German youth to follow.[citation needed]

Awards[edit]

Wehrmachtbericht references[edit]

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Thursday, 29 April 1940 Ein Unterseeboot unter Führung von Kapitänleutnant Schepke versenkte sieben bewaffnete feindliche Handelsschiffe mit 43 000 BRT, davon fünf aus einem stark gesicherten Geleitzug.[4] A submarine under the command of Captain Lieutenant Schepke sank seven armed enemy merchant ships, with 43 000 GRT, including five from a heavily secured convoy.
Sunday, 22 September 1940 Ein Unterseeboot unter Führung von Kapitänleutnant Schepke hat acht feindliche Handelsschiffe von zusammen 61 300 BRT versenkt.[5] A submarine under the command of Captain Lieutenant Schepke has sunk eight enemy merchant ships totaling 61 300 GRT.
Monday, 21 October 1940 Durch die Beteiligung ihrer Unterseeboote an der Vernichtung der beiden britischen Geleitzüge hat Kapitänleutnant Bleichrodt die Erfolge seiner jetzigen Fahrt gegen den Feind auf 53 300 BRT, Kapitänleutnant Schepke auf 40 565 BRT gesteigert.[6] The contribution of their submarines in the destruction of two British convoys has increased the success of Captain Lieutenant Bleichrodt current patrol against the enemy to 53 300 GRT, Captain Lieutenant Schepke to 40 565 GRT.
Tuesday, 26 November 1940 Ein Unterseeboot unter Führung von Kapitänleutnant Schepke versenkte 41 400 BRT feindlichen Handelsschiffraum.[7] A submarine under the command of Captain Lieutenant Schepke sank 41 400 GRT enemy merchant shipping.
Friday, 20 December 1940 Ein Unterseeboot meldet die Versenkung seines 40. Feindlichen Handelsschiffes. Damit hat der Kommandant dieses Bootes, Kapitänleutnant Schepke, eine Gesamtversenkungsziffer von 208 975 BRT erreicht und somit als dritter Kommandant die 200 000-Tonnen-Grenze überschritten.[8] A submarine reported the sinking of its 40th enemy merchant ship. Thus, the commander of this boat, Captain Lieutenant Schepke, has a total sinking-figure of 208 975 GRT and exceeded so as the third commander the 200 000-ton limit.
Friday, 25 April 1941 Die von Korvettenkapitän Kretschmer und Kapitänleutnant Schepke geführten Unterseeboote sind von Feindfahrt nicht zurückgekehrt. Beide Boote waren kürzlich unter schwierigsten Bedingungen durchgeführten Vernichtungen von feindlichen Geleitzügen maßgeblich beteiligt und haben hierbei ihre Gesamterfolge beträchtlich erhöht.
Korvettenkapitän Kretschmer hat nunmehr neben der Vernichtung von drei feindlichen Zerstörern – davon zwei während seiner letzten Unternehmung – insgesamt 313 611 BRT, darunter die Hilfskreuzer "Laurentic", "Patroklus" und "Forfar", Kapitänleutnant Schepke 233 971 BRT feindlichen Schiffraums versenkt.
Die beiden Kommandanten, in Anerkennung ihrer hervorragenden Dienste im Freiheitskampf des deutschen Volkes mit dem Eichenlaub zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes ausgezeichnet, haben mit ihren tapferen Besatzungen unvergänglichen Lorbeer errungen. Ein Teil der Besatzung, unter ihnen Korvettenkapitän Kretschmer, geriet in Gefangenschaft.
[9]
The submarines under the command of Lieutenant Commander Kretschmer and Lieutenant Schepke have not returned from patrol. Both boats were recently instrumental in destroying enemy convoys under the toughest conditions and have increased their overall successes considerably.
Lieutenant Commander Kretschmer now has in addition to the destruction of three enemy destroyers - including two on his last undertaking - sunk a total of 313 611 GRT, including the auxiliary cruiser "Laurentic", "Patroclus" and "Forfar". Lieutenant Schepke sunk 233 971 GRT of enemy shipping.
The two commanders, awarded with the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in recognition of their outstanding services in the freedom struggle of the German people, have won imperishable laurels with their brave crews. Part of the crew, among them Lieutenant Commander Kretschmer, was taken prisoner.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In 1940, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves was second only to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes), which was awarded only to senior commanders for winning a major battle or campaign, in the military order of the Third Reich. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves as highest military order was surpassed on 28 September 1941 by the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern).

References[edit]

This article incorporates information from the revision as of 2 November 2006 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.
Citations
  1. ^ Macintyre, Donald U-boat Killer, (Avon Publications, 1956)
  2. ^ a b c Busch and Röll 2003, p. 71.
  3. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 659.
  4. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 290.
  5. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 308.
  6. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 337.
  7. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 368.
  8. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 384.
  9. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, pp. 505–506.
Bibliography
  • Busch, Hans-Joachim; Röll (2003). Der U-Boot-Krieg 1939–1945 — Die Ritterkreuzträger der U-Boot-Waffe von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [The U-Boat War 1939–1945 — The Knight's Cross Bearers of the U-Boat Force from September 1939 to May 1945] (in German). Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn Germany: Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn. ISBN 978-3-8132-0515-2. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Fuhren, Franz (1943). Kapitänleutnant Schepke erzählt. Mit einem Geleitwort von Großadmiral Dönitz. Minden: Köhler Verlag.
  • Huß, Jürgen; Viohl, Armin (2003). Die Ritterkreuzträger des Eisernen Kreuzes der preußischen Provinz Schleswig-Holstein und der Freien und Hansestadt Lübeck 1939–1945 [The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross Bearers of the Prussian Province of Schleswig-Holstein and the Free and Hanseatic City of Lübeck 1939–1945] (in German). Zweibrücken, Germany: VDM Heinz Nickel. ISBN 978-3-925480-79-9. 
  • Kurowski, Franz (1995). Knight's Cross Holders of the U-Boat Service. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-88740-748-2. 
  • Range, Clemens (1974). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Kriegsmarine [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Navy]. Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-87943-355-1. 
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2005). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe III Radusch - Zwernemann [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color III Radusch – Zwernemann] (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-22-5. 
  • Schepke, Joachim (1940). U-Boot-Fahrer von heute. Erzählt und gezeichnet von einem U-Boot-Kommandanten. Berlin, Deutscher Verlag 1940
  • 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 [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 1, 1 September 1939 to 31 December 1941] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 

External links[edit]