Korvettenkapitän (Crew 33)
24 ships sunk, total tonnage 151,260 GRT
1 warship sunk, total tonnage 1,060 tons
2 ships damaged, total tonnage 11,684 GRT
|Born||21 Oct 1909||Berga, Kyffhäuser|
|Died||9 Jan 1977||(67)||München, Germany|
|U-48||4 Sep 1940||16 Dec 1940||2 patrols (41 days)|
|U-67||22 Jan 1941||4 Jun 1941||No war patrols|
|U-109||5 Jun 1941||31 Jan 1943||6 patrols (364 days)|
After a time on the cadet ship Gorch Fock and on the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper, Kapitänleutnant 'Ajax' Bleichrodt began his U-boat career in October 1939. After the usual training, his first command was on the small training-boat U-8. In June/July 1940 he completed one patrol as IWO with U-34 under the later Knights Cross holder Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Rollmann. They sank eight ships with a total of 22,434 tons.
In August 1940 he took command of U-48, and on 8 September, 1940 he began his first patrol as a commander. Aboard as his IWO was Teddy Suhren, who later received the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. Together they sank eight ships with a total of 36,189 tons.
On 21 September, 1940 the daily Wehrmachtsbericht announced:
Das unter Führung von Kapitänleutnant Bleichrodt stehende Unterseeboot hat neun Dampfer mit insgesamt 51.862 BRT versenkt.
The U-boat under the command of Kapitänleutnant Bleichrodt sank nine merchant ships with a total of 51,862 tons.
[Note that this is a case where a wartime claim differs from a postwar-verified number.]
The second patrol of 'Ajax' Bleichrodt with U-48 in October 1940 was also a great success with eight ships sunk with a total of 43,106 tons.
On 18 October, 1940 the daily Wehrmachtsbericht once more announced:
Ein Unterseeboot unter Führung vom Kapitänleutnant Bleichrodt ..., hat auf seiner letzten Unternehmung insgesamt 42.000 BRT feindlichen Handelsschiffraum versenkt.
A U-boat under the command of Kapitänleutnant Bleichrodt sank a total of 42,000 tons of enemy shipping on his most recent patrol.
Three days before the return from that patrol, U-48 received a radio transmission regarding a Knights Cross which had been awarded. When Bleichrodt learned that it was for him, he refused to wear his new medal until his IWO Oberleutnant z. S. Teddy Suhren received one as well, since Suhren had overseen all surface shooting on previous missions. Thus on 3 November, 1940 Suhren became the first IWO to receive the Knights Cross for his "outstanding part in the sinking of more than 200,000 tons".
In Autumn 1940 Bleichrodt left U-48 and in January 1941 commissioned U-67. Then in June 1941 he took over command of U-109. In the course of six patrols he sank 13 ships with a total of some 80,000 tons and received the Oak Leaves to his Knights Cross. After five months in the 27th U-Bootflottille, Bleichrodt served one year in the 2nd ULD (U-boat training division) as tactical instructor for the officers, starting in July 1943. From July 1944 to the end of the war he was Chief of the 22nd U-Bootflottille.
Patrol info for Heinrich Bleichrodt
|1.||U-48||8 Sep 1940||Lorient||25 Sep 1940||Lorient||Patrol 1,||18 days|
|2.||U-48||5 Oct 1940||Lorient||27 Oct 1940||Kiel||Patrol 2,||23 days|
|3.||U-109||28 Jun 1941||Lorient||17 Aug 1941||Lorient||Patrol 3,||51 days|
|4.||U-109||21 Sep 1941||Lorient||22 Sep 1941||Lorient||2 days|
|5.||U-109||5 Oct 1941||Lorient||18 Nov 1941||Lorient||Patrol 4,||45 days|
|6.||U-109||27 Dec 1941||Lorient||23 Feb 1942||Lorient||Patrol 5,||59 days|
|7.||U-109||25 Mar 1942||Lorient||3 Jun 1942||Lorient||Patrol 6,||71 days|
|8.||U-109||18 Jul 1942||Lorient||6 Oct 1942||Lorient||Patrol 7,||81 days|
|9.||U-109||28 Nov 1942||Lorient||23 Jan 1943||St. Nazaire||Patrol 8,||57 days|
|8 patrols, 405 days at sea|
Ships hit by Heinrich Bleichrodt
About ranks and decorations
Special thanks to Fernando Almeida for data on ranks and decorations.