|Ordered||29 Jul 1936|
|Laid down||2 Jun 1937||AG Weser, Bremen (werk 944)|
|Launched||22 Sep 1938|
|Commissioned||10 Dec 1938||Kptlt. Gerhard Glattes|
|Successes||No ships sunk or damaged|
Sunk 14 Sept 1939 in the North Atlantic west of Hebrides, in position 58.32N, 11.49W, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Faulknor, HMS Foxhound and HMS Firedrake. 44 survivors (no casualties).
General notes on this boat
14 Sep 1939. U-39 was the first U-boat sunk in the war, after an unsuccessful attack against the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (premature magnetic-pistol torpedo explosions).
KTB/SKL * reported on 22 Sept, 1939: n
c) U-Bootskrieg Atlantik: U 53, U 32 Rückmarsch angetreten. Es stehen daher nur noch 2 U-Boote (U 31, U 35) im Operationsgebiet. Von U 39 liegen keine Nachrichten vor. Boot müsste planmässig bereits in die Heimat zurückgekehrt sein: das Fehlen jeglicher Nachricht von U 39 (Kommandant Kapitänleutnant- Glattes ) trotz mehrfacher Standortnachfrage gibt zu ernsten Besorgnissen Anlass. Im Zusammenhang mit dem Schicksal des Bootes verdient eine englische Rundfunknachricht über Eintreffen der ersten gefangenen deutschen Mari- neangehörigen auf einem Londoner Bahnhof Beachtung.
U-boat-war Atlantic: U-53, U-32 heading back. Only two U-boats (U 31, U 35) remain in the operational area. There has been no word from U-39. According to plan, this U-boat should have returned home by now; the lack of response from U-39 (Commander Kapitänleutnant Glattes) in spite of multiple requests to transmit location is cause for grave concern. The fate of the U-boat may well be linked to a British radio transmission regarding the arrival of the first German Navy prisoner at a London railway station.
* SKL = Seekriegsleitung = German Supreme Naval Command
Men lost from U-boats
Unlike many other U-boats, which during their service lost men due to accidents and various other causes, U-39 did not suffer any casualties (we know of) until the time of her loss.
There was another U-39 in World War One
That boat was launched from its shipyard on 26 Sep 1914 and commissioned into the Imperial Navy on 13 Jan 1915. The Naval war in WWI was brought to an end with the Armistice signed on 11 Nov, 1918. Read about SM U 39 during WWI.