Hans-Rutger Tillessen

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 34)

7 ships sunk, total tonnage 34,632 GRT

Born  16 Apr 1913 Wilhelmshaven
Died  1 Jun 1986(73)

© Deutsches U-Boot Museum
Hans-Rutger Tillessen on the U-516


8 Apr 1934 Offiziersanwärter
1 Jul 1935 Fähnrich zur See
1 Jan 1937 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Apr 1937 Leutnant zur See
1 Apr 1939 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Apr 1942 Kapitänleutnant


 Iron Cross 2nd Class
 Iron Cross 1st Class
 U-boat War Badge 1939
14 Feb 1944 German Cross in Gold

U-boat Commands

U-516 1 Jul 1943 Dec, 1944   3 patrols (344 days) 

Hans-Rutger Tillessen joined the Kriegsmarine (Reichsmarine) in 1934. He served on the heavy cruiser Deutschland from April 1939 to Jan 1940. In Aug 1940 he was sent to the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen where he served until June 1942.

From July to Nov 1942 he went through U-boat training and then the U-boat Commander training with the 24th (Training) Flotilla until Dec 1942. In Dec he was sent to the successful boat U-506 (Kptlt. Erich Würdemann) as Commander-in-Training. With this boat he went on a 146 day patrol (14 Dec 42 - 8 May 1943) to the tip of South Africa, sinking 2 ships for almost 10,000 tons.

Kptlt. Tillessen finished additional courses in June 1943 before being given command of his first boat, the experienced U-516 - a sister boat of the U-506.

From July 1943 he commanded the boat on 3 patrols from, spending 344 days at sea, sinking 7 ships for over 34,000 tons. His successes, starting in Nov 1943 were well above the average for the time. He arrived to base from his last patrol on 4 Oct 1944 after 151 days at sea. His patrols were into the Mid-Atlantic and the Caribbean.

Kptlt. Tillessen was Commander of a midget submarine flotilla (K-Verband) and Base Leader from Jan 1945 until the German surrender in May 1945. He was detained by the Allies and freed after almost a year in captivity on 9 April 1946.

Hans-Rutger Tillessen rejoined the Bundesmarine, post-war German Navy, from 1960 to 1969, retiring as a Fregattenkapitän (Rust, 2009). He was the son of Admiral Werner Tillessen who fought at Jutland as Korvettenkapitän on the torpedo boat V30.


Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1998). German U-boat commanders of World War II.
Rust, E. (2009) E-mail correspondence. Author of Naval Officers under Hitler.

Patrol info for Hans-Rutger Tillessen

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-516 8 Jul 1943  Lorient  23 Aug 1943  Lorient  Patrol 1,47 days
2. U-516 30 Sep 1943  Lorient  1 Oct 1943  Brest   2 days
3. U-516 4 Oct 1943  Brest  26 Feb 1944  Lorient  Patrol 2,146 days
4. U-516 7 May 1944  Lorient  4 Oct 1944  Flensburg  Patrol 3,151 days
3 patrols, 344 days at sea

Ships hit by Hans-Rutger Tillessen

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
13 Nov 1943U-516 Pompoon1,082pa
18 Nov 1943U-516 Ruby39co
23 Nov 1943U-516 Elizabeth Kellogg5,189am
24 Nov 1943U-516 Melville E. Stone7,176am
8 Dec 1943U-516 Colombia1,064pa
16 Dec 1943U-516 McDowell10,195am
7 Jul 1944U-516 Esso Harrisburg9,887am

7 ships sunk (34,632 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.

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.

Media links

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Naval Officers Under Hitler

Rust, Eric C.

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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