Otto von Bülow

Korvettenkapitän (Crew 30)

14 ships sunk, total tonnage 71,450 GRT
1 warship sunk, total tonnage 1,120 tons
2 ships damaged, total tonnage 16,689 GRT

Born  16 Oct 1911 Wilhelmshaven
Died  5 Jan 2006(94)Hamburg, Germany

Otto von Bülow


1 Apr 1930 Offiziersanwärter
10 Oct 1930 Seekadett
1 Jan 1932 Fähnrich zur See
1 Apr 1934 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Jan 1935 Leutnant zur See
1 Jun 1936 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Jun 1939 Kapitänleutnant
1 Jun 1943 Korvettenkapitän


6 Apr 1942 Iron Cross 2nd Class
6 Apr 1942 Iron Cross 1st Class
6 Apr 1942 U-boat War Badge 1939
20 Oct 1942 Knights Cross
26 Apr 1943 Knights Cross with Oak Leaves
May 1943 U-boat War Badge with Diamonds
20 Apr 1944 War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords

U-boat Commands

U-3 11 Nov 1940 2 Jul 1941   No war patrols 
U-404 6 Aug 1941 19 Jul 1943   6 patrols (280 days) 
U-2545 29 Mar 1945 18 Apr 1945   No war patrols 

For the first ten years of his naval career, Otto von Bülow served on the large warships Deutschland and Schleswig-Holstein, and in several navy anti-aircraft units. In April 1940 he joined the U-boat arm and seven months later took command of the school boat U-3 in the 21st (Training) Flotilla.

After the usual Baubelehrung, in August 1941 Bülow commissioned U-404 at Danzig. In January 1942 the boat left Kiel on her first war patrol. In the course of the next five patrols Bülow sank 14 ships, including the British destroyer HMS Veteran (1,120 tons).

On April 23 1943 Bülow attacked an Allied escort carrier with two FAT and two G7e torpedoes. The four torpedoes were directed at the HMS Biter, but von Bülow thought he was attacking the USS Ranger.

Upon hearing four explosions (probably the torpedoes dead end course), he considered them as hits, and transmitted the BdU the message "Ranger possible"; the answer was to confirm it (whether in his opinion he had sunk the carrier). Von Bülow answered with a "sinking assumed". The importance of this was that he received the Oak Leaves to this presumed sinking.

It was announced in The German Press, and Hitler himself awarded the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves to von Bülow when the commander of U-404 returned home. The Americans reacted blaming the German commander as a coward, but it is well known that he really believed he had sunk the carrier, and for the rest had an excellent service record witnessing his bravery.

Later, when the truth was available for the Germans, their records were changed, and the attack correctly reported as being against the Biter. Bülow left the boat after this patrol.

In September 1943, Korvkpt. Bülow founded the 23rd Flotilla in Danzig, where future U-boat commanders got their first training. When he commissioned U-2545 in the spring of 1945 he was one of the highly decorated U-boat commanders (including Schnee, Cremer, Emmermann, Witt and Topp), who took command of the new Electro U-boats (type type XXI Elektro U-boat and the smaller type XXIII Elektro U-boat) in an attempt to turn the tide in the battle of the Atlantic.

In last weeks of war Bülow commanded the Marinesturmbataillon I (Naval Assault Battalion I). After the war he spent three months in British captivity. In July 1956 he joined the newly formed German navy (Bundesmarine). In 1960 at Charleston, South Carolina he commissioned the destroyer Z-6, the former US destroyer USS Charles Ausburne. In March 1963 he became commander of the 3. Zerstörer- geschwader (3rd Destroyer Squadron). Before he retired in 1970, he spent his last five years as Kapitän zur See and garrison chief of Hamburg.


Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1998). German U-boat commanders of World War II.

Patrol info for Otto von Bülow

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-404 17 Jan 1942  Kiel  1 Feb 1942  Lorient  Patrol 1,16 days
2. U-404 14 Feb 1942  Lorient  4 Apr 1942  Brest  Patrol 2,50 days
3. U-404 6 May 1942  Brest  14 Jul 1942  St. Nazaire  Patrol 3,70 days
4. U-404 23 Aug 1942  St. Nazaire  13 Oct 1942  St. Nazaire  Patrol 4,52 days
5. U-404 21 Dec 1942  St. Nazaire  6 Feb 1943  St. Nazaire  Patrol 5,48 days
6. U-404 21 Mar 1943  St. Nazaire  3 May 1943  St. Nazaire  Patrol 6,44 days
6 patrols, 280 days at sea

Ships hit by Otto von Bülow

Date U-boat Commander Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
5 Mar 1942U-404Otto von Bülow Collamer5,112amHX-178
13 Mar 1942U-404Otto von Bülow Tolten1,858cl
14 Mar 1942U-404Otto von Bülow Lemuel Burrows7,610am
17 Mar 1942U-404Otto von Bülow San Demetrio8,073br
30 May 1942U-404Otto von Bülow Alcoa Shipper5,491am
1 Jun 1942U-404Otto von Bülow West Notus5,492am
3 Jun 1942U-404Otto von Bülow Anna1,345sw
24 Jun 1942U-404Otto von Bülow Ljubica Matkovic3,289yu
25 Jun 1942U-404Otto von Bülow Nordal3,845pa
25 Jun 1942U-404Otto von Bülow Manuela4,772am
27 Jun 1942U-404Otto von Bülow Moldanger6,827nw
11 Sep 1942U-404Otto von Bülow Marit II (d.)7,417nwON-127
12 Sep 1942U-404Otto von Bülow Daghild (d.)9,272nwON-127
26 Sep 1942U-404Otto von Bülow HMS Veteran (D 72)1,120brRB-1
29 Mar 1943U-404Otto von Bülow Nagara8,791brSL-126
30 Mar 1943U-404Otto von Bülow Empire Bowman7,031brSL-126
12 Apr 1943U-404Otto von Bülow Lancastrian Prince1,914brON-176

15 ships sunk (72,570 tons) and 2 ships damaged (16,689 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.
(d.) means the ship was damaged.

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.

Men who sank over 50,000 tons

Media links

U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor
(£ 38.25)

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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