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Robert-Richard Zapp

German World War II U-boat commander
The basics
Occupation Korvettenkapitän Submariner
Country Germany
Date of birth Germersheim, Germersheim, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Date of death Jul 17, 1964 Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
The details

Robert-Richard Zapp (3 April 1904 – 17 July 1964) was a German U-boat commander in World War II. As commander of the Type IXC U-boat U-66, he sank sixteen ships on five patrols, for a total of 106,200 tons of Allied shipping, to become the 27th highest scoring U-Boat ace of World War II. 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.


Robert-Richard Zapp joined the Reichsmarine in May 1923. Before joining the U-boat service in 1939, he served aboard a minesweeper and later on took command of 251 Marineflak (Naval anti-aircraft artillery). After initial training, he served on board U-46 for a short while under Oberleutnant zur See Engelbert Endrass, with whom he participated in the battle against Convoy HX 79 in October 1940.

Zapp was appointed commander of U-66 in January 1941. U-66 was one of the boats that participated in the first wave of attacks in "Operation Drumbeat". On the first patrol of this operation, he sank five vessels, totalling 33,456 tons. On his second patrol off the eastern seaboard of the USA he sank six vessels totaling 43,946 tons. They included the 7,988 GRT Canadian passenger liner RMS Lady Hawkins on 19 January, whose final death toll was 251. Zapp was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 23 April 1942.

In June 1942 he was posted ashore to become commander of 3rd U-boat Flotilla, based at La Rochelle, France. On 1 January 1945 he was promoted to Fregattenkapitän. In the last three months of the war, he became commander of Marine-Regiment Zapp and defended the U-boat base at La Rochelle until the very end of the war in May 1945. He spent over two years in a French captivity and was released on 7 July 1947.

Summary of career

Ships attacked

As commander of U-66 Zapp is credited with the sinking of 16 ships for a total of 106,200 gross register tons (GRT), and damaging one further ship, Geo. W. McNight, of 12,502 GRT.

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate
29 June 1941 George J. Goulandris Greece 4,345 Sunk
29 June 1941 Kalypso Vergotti Greece 5,686 Sunk
30 June 1941 Saint Aslem United Kingdom 5,614 Sunk
19 July 1941 Holmside United Kingdom 3,433 Sunk
26 July 1941 I. C. White Panama 7,052 Sunk
18 January 1942 Allan Jackson United States 6,635 Sunk
19 January 1942 RMS Lady Hawkins Royal Canadian Navy 7,988 Sunk
22 January 1942 Olympic Panama 5,335 Sunk
24 January 1942 Empire Gem United Kingdom 8,139 Sunk
24 January 1942 Venore United States 8,017 Sunk
14 April 1942 Korthion Greece 2,116 Sunk
16 April 1942 Amsterdam Netherlands 7,329 Sunk
17 April 1942 Heinrich von Riedemann Panama 11,020 Sunk
26 April 1942 Alcoa Partner United States 5,513 Sunk
29 April 1942 Harry G. Siedel Panama 10,354 Sunk
2 May 1942 Sandar Norway 7,624 Sunk
3 May 1942 Geo. W. McNight United Kingdom 12,502 Damaged


  • U-boat War Badge (14 May 1941)
  • Iron Cross (1939)
    • 2nd Class (6 August 1941)
    • 1st Class (6 August 1941)
  • War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords (30 January 1945)
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 23 April 1942 as Korvettenkapitän and commander of U-66
  • Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht on 27 January 1942 and 7 May 1942
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