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Otto Westphalen

Otto Westphalen

German World War II U-boat commander
The basics
Occupations Korvettenkapitän Submariner
Countries Germany
Gender male
Birth March 12, 1920 (Hamburg)
Death January 9, 2008 (Munich)
Otto Westphalen
The details

Otto Westphalen (12 March 1920 in Hamburg – 9 January 2008) was a German U-boat commander in World War II and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, awarded by Nazi Germany to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.


Westphalen joined the Kriegsmarine in October 1938, and took part in the invasion of Poland aboard the battleship Schlesien a year later. He then served on the torpedo boat Kondor for six months before joining the U-boat force in October 1940.

He sailed on four patrols as watch officer of U-566 in 1941, and in May 1942 took command of the school boat U-121. In March 1943 he commissioned the Type VIIC U-boat U-968, and was attached to 13th U-boat Flotilla, based at Trondheim, Norway, for operations against convoys in the Arctic Sea.

Westphalen sailed on seven combat patrols between March 1944 and May 1945, though all his victories were made in February and March 1945; he sank three merchant ships, damaged another, and sank the British sloops HMS Lark and HMS Lapwing. On 29 April 1945 he attacked but missed HMS Goodall which was sunk an hour later by U-286.

In January 1944 Westphalen served on the military court which sentenced Oskar Kusch, the commander of U-154, to death on charges of "defeatism".

Westphalen surrendered in May 1945 in Narvik.

Summary of career

Ships attacked

Ships attacked
Date Ship Tons Nationality Convoy Fate
14 February 1945 Horace Gray 7,200  United States BK-3 Total loss
14 February 1945 Norfjell 8,129  Norway BK-3 Damaged
17 February 1945 HMS Lark 1,350  Royal Navy RA-64 Total loss
17 February 1945 Thomas Scott 7,176  United States RA-64 Sunk
20 March 1945 HMS Lapwing 1,350  Royal Navy JW-65 Sunk
20 March 1945 Thomas Donaldson 7,210  United States JW-65 Sunk


  • U-boat War Badge (1939) (8 October 1941)
  • Iron Cross (1939)
    • 2nd Class (8 October 1941)
    • 1st Class (3 April 1944)
  • German Cross in Gold on 18 February 1945 as Oberleutnant zur See on U-968/13th U-boat Flotilla
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 23 March 1945 as Oberleutnant zur See and commander of U-968
  • Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht on 24 March 1945
  • ^ Busch & Röll 2003, p. 507.
  • Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 509.
  • Scherzer 2007, p. 782.

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