Kapitänleutnant (Crew 36)
3 ships sunk, total tonnage 13,760 GRT
1 ship damaged, total tonnage 5,229 GRT
1 warship damaged, total tonnage 1,190 tons
1 ship a total loss, total tonnage 5,222 GRT
|Born||18 Apr 1917||Stuttgart|
|Died||28 Mar 1943||(25)||Mediterranean|
|U-77||2 Sep 1942||28 Mar 1943 (+)||4 patrols (96 days)|
Otto Hartmann was born in Stuttgart, the youngest of 4 children. After the secondary education he intended to become a medical doctor but money was short during the depression so instead he chose the path of a career officer to obtain a university education. Of the 85 high school graduates applying in Stuttgart he was one of the three selected to attend the Navy Cadet School in Kiel. His training to become a commander included a trip to Japan in 1936 on the sailing school ship Gorch Fock I.
His first navy positions in 1938 - 1941 were as Navy News Officer (M.N.O) first in Wilhelmshaven Germany and then Kristiansand-South in Norway. In the first 5 months of 1941 he received U-boat training and then acted as auxiliary teacher at the Navy school Mürwik. He joined U 97 as First Watch Officer under Kdt. Udo Heilmann for 4 patrols including the run through Gibraltar on 26. 09. 41. After a 3-month attachment to the 24th U-Flotilla he took command of type VIIC boat U-77 in the Mediterranean. There were 4 patrols under his command to the eastern Mediterranean, the waters off Tobruk, off Algiers and the area of f Gibraltar. Under Hartmann's command U-77 is credited with damaging the British sloop HMS Stork 1190 tons, badly damaging British SS Empire Banner 6699 tons which was then sunk by Allied gunfire, sinking the British SS Empire Webster 7043 tons, sinking the British SS Hadleigh 5222 tons and damaging the British MV Merchant Prince 5229 tons.
Up to March 28, 1943 U-77 managed to escape dangerous situations, but on that fateful day they were attacked by one plane which after some hours was joined by another. The first attack did not score a direct hit but the pressure wave from water bombs caused a serious water leak in the rear of the boat. It rendered the engines inoperable and after some repeat emergency dives the battery power declined and the pumps could not keep up with water ingress. The boat was left to defend itself on the surface but was immobile and gradually went lower in the water. The whole crew got out of the boat and all had life preserver vests. Around midnight U-77 slipped away under a last salute. The crew was in the cold water, trying to survive. After a couple of hours some of them had fallen asleep and died of exposure. Around 4 am those that had managed to stay on top of a life raft heard the engine sound of a Spanish fishing boat which rescued 9 survivors. Otto Hartman was among the dead and was buried together with 4 other crew first in the cemetery of Altea and later re-interred in Cuacos de Yuste, Spain near the Portuguese border.
The fact that there had been survivors provided descriptions of U-77’s last hours. The men were repatriated back to Germany and some found placements on other U-boats. In the 1980s after retiring from their civilian jobs four of these men found each other and met annually. Lately, through the Internet, one of Otto Hartmann’s relatives has made contact with a U-77 survivor.
Patrol info for Otto Hartmann
|1.||U-77||12 Oct 1942||Pola||1 Nov 1942||La Spezia||Patrol 1,||21 days|
|2.||U-77||3 Nov 1942||La Spezia||5 Dec 1942||La Spezia||Patrol 2,||33 days|
|3.||U-77||26 Jan 1943||La Spezia||10 Feb 1943||La Spezia||Patrol 3,||16 days|
|4.||U-77||3 Mar 1943||La Spezia||28 Mar 1943||Sunk||Patrol 4,||26 days|
|4 patrols, 96 days at sea|
Ships hit by Otto Hartmann
|Date||U-boat||Name of ship||Tons||Nat.||Convoy|
|20 Oct 1942||U-77||Mahrous||18||sy|
|12 Nov 1942||U-77||HMS Stork (U 81) (d.)||1,190||br|
|7 Feb 1943||U-77||Empire Banner||6,699||br||KMS-8|
|7 Feb 1943||U-77||Empire Webster||7,043||br||KMS-8|
|16 Mar 1943||U-77||Hadleigh (t.)||5,222||br||ET-14|
|16 Mar 1943||U-77||Merchant Prince (d.)||5,229||br||ET-14|
4 ships sunk (18,982 tons) and 2 ships damaged (6,419 tons).
About ranks and decorations
Ranks shown in italics are our database inserts based on the rank dates of his crew comrades. The officers of each crew would normally have progressed through the lower ranks at the same rate.