The Homepage for U-35, a Type VII U-Boat
... 1936 - 1939 ...

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War Patrols

HMS KINGSTON and HMS KASHMIR arriving in Greenock (near Glasgow), Scotland, on Friday, 01 December 1939.

The arrival of the POWs was reported in The Scotsman on 04 December 1939.

crewPOW.jpg (42277 bytes) The crew of U-35 arriving at Greenock on 01 December 1939. The original caption to this wartime magazine photo read: "Most of the forty-three prisoners expressed distaste at their task of sinking defenceless ships and seemed glad that their share in this type of warfare is finished." Pictured: Ernst Weber, Siegfried Kienast, Gerhard Freier, Wilhelm Janssen, Siegfried Bruse, Johann van der Pütten, Martin Müller, Karl Sommerer. [19,33,38]

captured2.jpg (43961 bytes) Front row: Johannes Weigand, Siegfried Bruse, Martin Müller, Karl Sommerer, Theodor Schütt, Albert Schrader, Kurt Grosser, and Paul Fichte [33,38]


The crew of U-35 departing the ship. [33]

Part of the crew of U-35 departing HMS KASHMIR. Recognizable: Paul Liebau, Fritz Pietsch, Gustav Horstkötter, and Gerhard Stamer. [60,75]

The entire crew of U-35 was taken to the Tower of London, arriving there on 03 December 1939. Placed immediately in his own, very cold cell, Werner Lott, commander of U-35, said he would go on a hunger strike until he was seen by an officer. On the second day, Werner Lott was visited by Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten, commander of the destroyer flotilla which had sunk U-35. Lord Mountbatten arranged for him to be seen by the military commandant and soon afterwards Werner Lott was moved to new quarters, where he accepted an offered meal, honour now satisfied. The Admiralty sent apologies, via Lord Mountbatten, for the way that Werner Lott had been treated and offered as recompense a 'splendid' meal - an invitation for Werner Lott to dine at Scott's Restaurant. Werner Lott accepted on the condition that his second-in-command, Heinz Erchen, could accompany him. The two Germans, under promise not to attempt to escape, were given parole for the evening. Dressed in civilian clothes, they were escorted across the drawbridge to a waiting Admiralty limousine. After a very convivial dinner with two British naval officers (one being Commander Halahan), whom both had known in Gibraltar in 1938, the Germans returned to the Tower. 

The U-35 officers and the cook, Martin Müller, were moved to the POW camp at Grizedale Hall, in the Lake District of northern England, on 09 December 1939. The rest of the crew were moved to Camp 127 at Oldham, Lancashire on 09 and 13 December 1939. [5,17,39]

grizedale.jpg (21731 bytes) Grizedale Hall - Lager 1. Here British troops are seen erecting the barbed wire perimeter fencing. Photo credit - International Red Cross.

In Grizedale Hall (also known as "U-Boat Hotel"), Werner Lott was associated with the unsuccessful escape attempt of Luftwaffe pilot Franz von Werra [10]. This was described in the post-war book "The One That Got Away" (click to view excerpt) [79] which also became a movie by that name.

Beginning in June 1940, the officers and enlisted men were moved to POW camps in Canada. Siegfried Bruse remembered the train trip across Canada:
On the train to camp the food was great, and from there on it was, too. On the train the guards passed out brown paper bags full of food - meat sandwiches, apples, bananas and so forth. At first we were so distrusting. We thought the food we got was to last the entire journey, so we ate very carefully, just a little at a time to make it last. Then the guards came through and collected all the brown paper bags and threw them out the window. We got more at the next meal. We couldn't believe the waste!
From the train window, Siegfried Bruse began to form an impression of Canada:
I saw young men and women my age, on the streets, at train stations and once or twice at railway crossings in cars. They all looked so happy and carefree - totally unlike anything I'd been used to, with the military training and background I'd had. I suppose it was the amount of food and the freedom that started changing my views about Canada. [19]

Many of the crewmembers were first placed in the Gravenhurst, Ontario POW camp.
Prisoners of War being paraded on the streets of Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada:

Gerhard Stamer is the Naval Officer in the front row on the right, Rolf Dau (commander of U-42) is on the left, and Luftwaffe Major Massenbach is in the center; Heinz Erchen and Hans-Joachim Roters are visible in the second and third rows, respectively. [4]
As part of this series of photographs, Gerhard Stamer is featured on the cover of the 1993 book by Chris Madsen and Bob Henderson, "German Prisoners of War in Canada And Their Artifacts 1940-1948". [24]

The crewmembers were later moved to Fort Henry.

The POW camp at Fort Henry, Kingston, Ontario. [48]
One day at Kingston, Ontario (Fort Henry, POW camp 31), Gerhard Stamer and others were occupied on the toilet seats when General Major Georg Friemel (the senior German officer in the camp) entered the room to go to the bathroom. Gerhard Stamer remembers 'We lifted a little bit and I said "Gentlemen, the General", and he said, "Please, Stamer, forget the nonsense." We all laughed heartily.'
In the fall of 1940, one of the casemates was transformed into a beer cellar, named "Heldenkeller" (Heroes Cellar), thanks to the efforts of Gerhard Stamer and three other men. A mural is still there today gracing the ceiling of the casemate beer cellar. There are three scenes: one is of a knight and a monk to signify courage and wisdom, drinking together; another has two knights in combat to signify the ideology of fighting to the end; the third shows an attack on a merchant convoy. Crests were painted under the murals to represent German squadrons, towns, and families. [16,24]

In July 1941, evidence of one of the many escape attempts was found in the dining hut. Gerhard Stamer was sentenced to twenty-one days detention and assessed the cost of the damages to the canteen wall. But the next day when two other officers admitted to the 'crime', Gerhard Stamer was released. [16]

The officers ware later moved back to Gravenhurst. Luftwaffe pilot Ulrich Steinhilper remembers Gerhard Stamer there, and includes this group photograph in his memoirs. [29]:

GravenhurstStamer.jpg (84799 bytes) Officers at the Gravenhurst POW camp. Hptm. Neumann, Hptm. Fiebig, Obltn. Machui, Kptltn. Max Schulte (U-13), Maj. Wüstefeld, Oblt. z. S. Albrecht, Kptln. (Ing.) Gerhard Stamer, Kptln. (Ing.) Schilling (L.I. U-33), Maj. Keil, Obltn. Hennings [30]

In the Gravenhurst POW camp, from left: Gerhard Stamer (U-35), Heinz Erchen (U-35), Hermann Beckmann (U-27), Albert Schrader (U-35), Werner Lott (U-35), Johannes Franz (commander, U-27), Friedrich Ernst Otto Schilling (LI, U-33), Hans Jenisch (commander, U-32), Hans-Joachim Roters (U-35), Johannes Becker (2WO, U-33), Anton Thimm (LI, U-32), Fritz Erbshäuser (U-32), [unknown]. [76] The dog on the left was named "Hexe" (witch) and belonged to Hans-Joachim Roters; the dog on the right was named "Flaps" and belonged to Becker. [33]

Siegfried Bruse was a POW at the Bowmanville, Ontario POW camp during the infamous three-day "Battle of Bowmanville". Siegfried Bruse recalled the time as one of the more memorable periods in his captivity. One of the first incidents was the arrival in the prisoner compound of an unarmed, German-speaking Veterans Guard officer, who attempted to explain a disputed shackling order to the prisoners. As the Canadian spoke, the Germans began to crowd around him. Then, on a prearranged signal, they sprang forward and grabbed the man.
The fellow we took was a Captain, I believe. He was fairly young, too. Within two minutes he was knocked cold. We bound him and put him in a corner, and he became our prisoner of war.
After a couple days of the Germans barricading themselves in their quarters, the Canadians got the upper hand and forced an end to the resistance.
We had no choice because we were unarmed. Then the Canadians made sort of a barrier away from the front door. There were two lines of guards there and we had to walk down through the centre. As we did so, they hit us on the head with clubs. It wasn't fair, but they were mad because it had taken three days to end the whole thing. [19,21]

U35U42.jpg (113746 bytes) U-35 and U-42 crewmembers in Gravenhurst.
L-R: Gerhard Stamer (U-35), Heinz Erchen (U-35), Hans-Joachim Roters (U-35), Albert Schrader (U-35), Werner Lott (U-35), Rolf Dau (Commander of U-42), Siegfried Ludwig (U-42), Julius von Gosen (U-42), Otto Meye (U-42), Max Dünnebier (U-42). [53]

ThiSchnMayHirJanKalLieFisJacMue.jpg (91459 bytes)Espanola POW Camp, Canada.

Standing, from left: Hannes Thieme, Karl Schnute, Erich Bartold May, Hubert Hirsch, Wilhelm Janssen.

Seated: Walter Kalabuch, Paul Liebau, Gottlob Wilhelm Fischer, unknown, Martin Müller.

Standing, left to right: Gerhard Marx, Heinz Küfner, Stefan Döbele, Theodor Schütt, Walter Roloff.
Sitting, left to right: Peter von der Helm, Gerhard Oppermann, Richard Friedrich Lüneburg, Fritz Pietsch, Ernst Weber. [70]

In 1943, Heinz Küfner returned to Germany as part of a prisoner exchange. [65]

According to reminiscences of Gottfried Dukes [16], one man was always trying to escape from the Lethbridge camp. His name was Karl Rabe, he had been a Lieutenant in the Navy but had been demoted to private because of mishandling the money of his crew members. In 1943 he made four escape attempts from the Lethbridge lager. Early in the summer he made careful notes of the times of guard movements. Each evening big empty plywood boxes for the handling of bread were placed between the inner and outer main camp gates. One night he got into one of the boxes and with a handmade saw started to saw his way out of the box at a time when he calculated no guard was around. However in the silence of the prairie night his sawblade together with the vibrating of the pliable plywood made a terrible noise. Soon a sentry came to the box to watch he was joined by about twenty guards who watched him emerge from the box. His hair was shaved and he received two weeks detention.

Later in the heat of the summer Rabe having studied the drainage system the camp, decided to escape via the storm sewers. He successfully entered the pipes and had arranged to signal his escape to his comrades. However hours went by and no signal. Finally some of the prisoners could hear a faint cry for help. They ran to the guards and asked for help. Dukes was one of those in the rescue party which was allowed to go under guard to the drainage exit. There they found Rabe tightly pressed against the grill work at the end of the tunnel with water flowing around him. ‘He was holding on for dear life, shivering and holding his face amidst paper, wood and empty bottles as other waste too big to pass the bards, up to his mouth in the dirty and stinking runoff.’ Again a crew cut and two weeks detention.

Escape attempt number three involved power lines connecting the camp buildings. On a rainy night Rabe attached two wheels with handles protruding on top of the wires and rolled off into the night. Again came the cry ‘Help!’ This time the wire spanning the distance over the fence, had drooped and he was left hanging helplessly 3 meters above the ground halfway between the poles but he dared not jumping down because in the dark he couldn’t see what was below. This time the prisoners got him down before the guards discovered the event, so no crew cut or two week detention for Rabe.

The most ambitious escape attempt by this escape-a-holic was the preparation of a hot air balloon to fly over the barbed wire. Gottfried Dukes learned how to stitch the balloon ‘fabric.’ Ten prisoners helped in taking army sleeping bags apart, dipping them in a type of glue solution and drying them on the heating pipes. The big sheets were stitched together by hand and eventually the balloon took shape. The appropriate dark, cloudy night with a stiff west wind arrived. They gather the airship to fill it with gas and slowly it filled. ‘It was a real monster, about 24 feet long and 10 feet in diameter. We were all excited, this was the real thing! The decline of our spirits came fast. Filled nearly to bust, big and round the balloon take not an inch to the air. Like a big pumpkin it settled there. The heating gas was heavier than the air, it was not possible to lift the balloon from the ground. The incident wasn’t reported as far as I know.’


GrandeLigne1944.jpg (33662 bytes) U-35 crewmembers assembled at the Grande-Ligne POW camp in Quebec, Canada, 1944.
Standing, L-R: Gerhard Freier, Heinz Erchen, Hans-Joachim Roters, Gerhard Stamer, Paul Fichte
Seated, L-R: Albert Schrader, Siegfried Kienast, Werner Lott, Peter Schwarz, Kurt Grosser. [33]

Edgar, Freiherr von Salis-Soglio, a fellow POW at Grande-Ligne in 1944, wrote in his autobiography:
In addition to everything else existed a canteen - administered and expanded by naval officer Stamer. Beer is not the only thing available. Stamer supplements it by often delicious treats, considered by the suppliers of our canteen to be most desirable. They even do him a favor - The first strawberries have appeared on the market, at least as reported by the market newspaper of Montreal. But when the housewives wanted to buy strawberries, none are available any longer. Stamer has long since "scrounged" them into the stockpile. There is a serious scandal, about which we hear only from our guard, who slipped us a newspaper with the article circled in red. [58]

A photo of POWs at Grande-Ligne. Included in the picture from U-35: Kurt Grosser, Paul Fichte, Peter Schwarz, Siegfried Kienast, Albert Schrader, and Gerhard Freier. [53]

Siegfried Bruse, who had been at Bowmanville for some time, remembered a visit from the child of one of the guards in December 1944:
That little fellow got such good treatment. You see, we hadn't seen seen a child for such a long time, and this was Christmas. We had Christmas trees made up, decorated with tin cans, and some of them were beautiful. But this was a child! The guys each wanted to give him a gift. When he left he had all kinds of wall plaques, carvings, paintings, chocolates, everything we could think of giving him. It took about ten guards to carry all the stuff out. But for us it was a tremendous thing. [19]
Siegfried Bruse as a Prisoner of War. Siegfried Bruse was running the canteen at Bowmanville when the authorities decided that the POWs should have beer in the camp.
They came to me one day and asked me what brand we wanted. I didn't know anything about Canadian beer so I asked the guards to let us have a sample of whatever was available. A day or so later they showed up with ten or twelve cases, all different. We tried them all but Kingsbeer was the favorite. We were allowed some breakage, but most of it was consumed in somebody's room after the canteen closed. We had fun. [19]

None of the crew died while in Canadian captivity. [16]

The story continues after the POWs are released from captivity ...

War Patrols

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