Hans-Rudolf Rösing (28 September 1905 – 16 December 2004) was a German U-boat commander in World War II and later served in the Bundesmarine of the Federal Republic of Germany. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, awarded by Nazi Germany to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Early life and pre-war service
Rösing was born on 28 September 1905 in Wilhelmshaven, at the time an exclave of the Province of Hanover, a province of the Kingdom of Prussia. He was the son of Vizeadmiral Bernhard Rösing (1869–1947) and his wife Elfriede, née Wünsche (1882–1961). He had three brothers, Wilhelm, Kurt-Wolf and Bernhard, all killed during World War II, and a sister named Elfriede.
He joined the Reichsmarine on 31 March 1924 as a member of "Crew 1924" (the incoming class of 1924). He underwent basic military training in the 2nd department of the standing ship division of the Baltic Sea in Stralsund (4 April 1924 – 27 September 1928). Rösing was then transferred to the Elsass (28 September 1924 – 31 March 1925), attaining the rank of Seekadett (midshipman) on 1 April 1925. Rösing was then transferred to the training ship Niobe (1 April 1925 – 11 July 1925) before continuing his training on board Berlin (12 July 1925 – 30 March 1926). He then underwent a number of cadet training courses at the Naval Academy at Mürwik (31 March 1926 – 23 March 1927). These were interrupted by two navigational training cruises on the tender Nordsee (23 July 1926 – 27 July 1926) and the gunboat Panther (18 October 1926 – 22 October 1926). During this training period he advanced in rank to Fähnrich zur See (officer cadet) on 1 April 1926.
Rösing then attended more training courses, including a torpedo course (24 March 1927 – 28 May 1927), a communication course (29 May 1927 – 3 July 1927), both held at Flensburg-Mürwik. He then attended a pathfinder course (4 July 1927 – 31 July 1927) at Kiel-Wik. He then attended another naval infantry training course (1 August 1927 – 26 September 1927) with the 2nd department of the standing ship division in Strasund before taking a naval artillery course (27 September 1927 – 8 January 1928) at Kiel-Wik. Following these land based trainings he was stationed on Nymphe for 13 months (9 January 1928 – 10 March 1929). While stationed on Nymphe he was commissioned as officer and attained the rank Leutnant zur See (Second Lieutenant) on 1 October 1928. He then participated in the training course (11 March 1929 – 27 March 1929) for naval anti-aircraft artillery at Wilhelmshaven before again boarding Nymphe for three weeks (28 March 1929 – 16 April 1929).
Rösing was then stationed on Königsberg (17 April 1929 – 31 October 1929) before he was appointed company officer with the 2nd department of the standing ship division of the Baltic Sea on 1 November 1929. During this assignment he was promoted to Oberleutnant zur See (First Lieutenant) on 1 April 1930. Germany was forbidden to operate submarines under the Treaty of Versailles and Rösing was one of a small number of chosen personnel who were detached to foreign navies to gain experience in submarines. On 6 February 1931 he was officially assigned to the special task force of the naval command and put on an exchange program with the Swedish Navy. After this special assignment on 10 July 1931 he was transferred back to the 2nd department of the standing ship division (11 July 1931 – 21 September 1931). During this posting he also spent one month on board the sailing yacht Asta (1 August 1931 – 30 August 1931).
His next assignment (22 September 1931 – 22 December 1931) placed him on the Admiral's staff at the Baltic Naval Station, while in parallel he attended a technical officers training course at the Naval Academy at Mürwik. Rösing was then transferred to the 1st Schnellboot-Demi-Flotilla (23 December 1931 – 1 October 1933) where he commanded his first boat, Schnellboot S-15. During this command he attended two more training courses, anti-gas defence (4 February 1932 – 17 February 1932) and a Spanish language interpreter training vacation (5 May 1932 – 15 June 1932). He passed his Spanish interpreter test on 26 October 1932. From 4 November 1932 the end of his assignment with the 1st Schnellboot-Demi-Flotilla on 1 October 1933 he commanded S-3.
After spending two years at the Unterseebootsabwehrschule, Rösing, recently promoted Kapitänleutnant, was given his first submarine command when he commissioned the new U-11. After two years in this small Type IIB coastal submarine, he took command of U-35, a larger Type VIIA ocean-going boat. In 1937 Rösing was given command of another Type IIB, U-10, and assigned to the Torpedoerprobungskommando, responsible for the testing of new torpedo types. After a year in this post he was appointed commander of 5th U-boat Flotilla - Flotille Emsmann - at Kiel.
World War II
July 1939 saw Rösing promoted to Korvettenkapitän. Following a short spell of duty on the staff of the Befehlshaber der U-Boote (Dönitz, q.v.), Rösing was posted to command 7th U-boat Flotilla at Kiel. This command lasted until 21 May 1940, at which time he took over the Type VIIB boat U-48 from her highly successful previous commander, Herbert Schultze. His crew, among others, included the highly experienced 1st Watch Officer Reinhard Suhren, 2nd Watch Officer Otto Ites and chief engineer Erich Zürn. In the course of his two war patrols with U-48, Rösing sank 12 ships totaling over 60,000 tons and led a wolfpack dubbed Rösing's wolfpack. These achievements and earning himself the U-Boat War Badge, Iron Cross First Class and Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
Rösing left U-48 in December 1940, and was appointed liaison officer to the Italian submarine force operating out of Bordeaux in occupied France. After some months he was given command of 3rd U-boat Flotilla, but in August 1941 returned to the staff of the Befehlshaber der U-boote. In July 1942, Rösing was appointed as FdU West (Führer der Unterseeboote West), with headquarters in both Paris and at Château de Pignerolle near Angers; he was responsible for all boats committed to the Battle of the Atlantic, and thus a great majority of the entire U-boat fleet. In February 1943 he was promoted to Fregattenkapitän, and one month later to Kapitän zur See. He remained as FdU West until autumn 1944, when the Allied liberation of France forced the Kriegsmarine to transfer the remaining boats of 2nd and 7th U-boat flotillas to bases in Norway, Denmark, and northern Germany.
After the German surrender in May 1945, Rösing spent about a year in British captivity before being released. Serving as a member of the Naval Historical Team he subsequently joined the post-war Navy, and was given command of German naval units operating in the North Sea (Marine-Abschnittskommando Nordsee), and later Military District I, rising to the rank of Konteradmiral. He retired from active service in 1965, having added to the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Service Cross) to his wartime decorations. He died on 16 December 2004, at the age of 99.
Summary of career
As commander of U-48 Hans-Rudolf Rösing is credited with the sinking of twelve ships for a total of 60,701 gross register tons (GRT), further damaging one ship of 5,888 GRT.
|Date||Name of ship||Nationality||Tonnage||Fate|
|5 June 1940||SS Stancor||United Kingdom||798||Sunk at|
|7 June 1940||SS Frances Massey||United Kingdom||4,212||Sunk at|
|7 June 1940||SS Eros||United Kingdom||5,888||Damaged at|
|11 June 1940||SS Violando N Goulandris||Greece||2,375||Sunk at|
|19 June 1940||MV Tudor||Norway||6,607||Sunk at|
|19 June 1940||SS Baron Loudoun||United Kingdom||3,164||Sunk at|
|19 June 1940||SS British Monarch||United Kingdom||5,661||Sunk at|
|20 June 1940||MV Moerdrecht||Netherlands||7,493||Sunk at|
|16 August 1940||SS Hedrun||Sweden||2,325||Sunk at|
|19 August 1940||SS Ville de Gand||Belgium||7,590||Sunk at|
|24 August 1940||SS La Brea||United Kingdom||6,666||Sunk at|
|25 August 1940||SS Empire Merlin||United Kingdom||5,763||Sunk at|
|25 August 1940||MV Athelcrest||United Kingdom||6,825||Sunk at|
- Iron Cross (1939)
- 2nd Class (13 February 1940)
- 1st Class (3 July 1940)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 29 August 1940 as chief of the 7th U-boat Flotilla and commander of U-48
- Italian Croce di Guerra with Swords (1 November 1941)
- Commander Cross of Order of the Crown of Italy (1 November 1941)
- Mentioned twice in the Wehrmachtbericht on 22 June 1940 and 26 August 1940
- Commander Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (8 March 1966)
|1 April 1925:||Seekadett (Midshipman)|
|1 April 1926:||Fähnrich zur See (Officer Cadet)|
|1 May 1928:||Oberfähnrich zur See (Senior Ensign)|
|1 October 1928:||Leutnant zur See (Second Lieutenant)|
|1 April 1930:||Oberleutnant zur See (First Lieutenant)|
|1 April 1935:||Kapitänleutnant (Captain Lieutenant)|
|1 July 1939:||Korvettenkapitän (Corvette Captain)|
|1 February 1943:||Fregattenkapitän (Frigate Captain)|
|1 March 1943:||Kapitän zur See (Captain at Sea) effective as of 1 March 1943 with a rank age dated 1 June 1944|
|27 July 1961:||Flottillenadmiral (Flotilla Admiral)|
|13 November 1962:||Konteradmiral (Rear Admiral)|