Ernst Cordes

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 36)

3 ships sunk, total tonnage 20,541 GRT

Born  26 Jun 1913 Hagen-Haspe
Died  6 Apr 1945(31)English Channel


1 Dec 1934 Rekrut
23 Aug 1935 Marineoberartillerierist d. R. zugleich Reserveoffizieranwärter (ernennung)
3 Apr 1936 Offiziersanwärter
10 Sep 1936 Seekadett
1 May 1937 Fähnrich zur See
1 Jul 1938 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Oct 1938 Leutnant zur See
1 Oct 1940 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Sep 1943 Kapitänleutnant


24 Oct 1940 Iron Cross 2nd Class
29 Nov 1940 U-boat War Badge 1939
14 Jul 1941 Iron Cross 1st Class
19 Jul 1944 German Cross in Gold

U-boat Commands

U-560 25 Aug 1941 15 Jul 1942   No war patrols 
U-763 13 Mar 1943 31 Oct 1944   3 patrols (101 days) 
U-1195 1 Nov 1944 6 Apr 1945  (+)  1 patrol (41 days, * died during this patrol) 

Ernst Cordes joined the Reichsmarine in 1934 and served on the square-rigger school ship Gorch Fock, the battleship Schleswig-Holstein and the destroyer Theodor Riedel. From May 1940 to Apri 1941 he served as Second Watch Officer on the famous U-123, and then moved to another famous boat, U-103, until June 1941.

(Ernst Cordes joined the navy as a rating and was therefore not part of Crew 34. He may have been belatedly attached to the Crew for administrative purposes by the Navy’s personnel office, but he did not share the common training experience of the Crew’s regular members.)

He left U-103 for U-boat commander training at the 24th Flotilla and in August 1941 he took command of the type VIIC U-boat training boat U-560 until July 1942. He then served as a liason officer for the commander of the Luftwaffe Fliegerführer Atlantik, the German Air Force equivalent to RAF Coastal Command.

In February 1942 he was given his first combat U-boat command, the type VIIC U-boat U-763, first stationed at Danzig with the 8th Training flotilla and then with the 3rd Flotilla at La Rochelle, France. He took the boat on three combat patrols, 98 days in total at sea.

Returning from patrol with U-763 on 7 Feb 1944 Ernst Cordes and his crew celebrate shooting down two Allied aircraft.

On 7 March 1942 Ernst Cordes married Irmgard Fikentscher and on 25 April 1944 she gave birth to a son, Gerhard.

Cordes took command of U-1195, another type VIIC U-boat, in November 1944, based first at Kiel for training, and then from January 1945 at Bergen, Norway as part of the 11th Flotilla.

He left Bergen for for the English Channel on his first and last patrol in her on 1 Jan 1945. He sank two ships, an unusual achievement at this stage of the war, but went down with his boat shortly after sinking the second, the ex-Cunard liner troop transport HMS Cuba on 6 April. There were 18 survivors from the boat, but 31 men were lost with Cordes. He was 31 years old.


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

Patrol info for Ernst Cordes

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-763 14 Dec 1943  Kiel  7 Feb 1944  La Pallice  Patrol 1,56 days
2. U-763 19 Mar 1944  La Pallice  27 Mar 1944  La Pallice  Patrol 2,9 days
3. U-763 10 Jun 1944  La Pallice  15 Jul 1944  Brest  Patrol 3,36 days
4. U-1195 4 Feb 1945  Kiel  8 Feb 1945  Horten   5 days
5. U-1195 13 Feb 1945  Horten  14 Feb 1945  Kristiansand   2 days
6. U-1195 16 Feb 1945  Kristiansand  22 Feb 1945  Bergen   7 days
7. U-1195 25 Feb 1945  Bergen  7 Apr 1945  Sunk  Patrol 4,41 days*
4 patrols, 142 days at sea
* Ernst Cordes died during this patrol on 6 Apr 1945

Ships hit by Ernst Cordes

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
5 Jul 1944U-763 Glendinning1,927brFTC-27
21 Mar 1945U-1195 John R. Park7,194amTBC-102
6 Apr 1945U-1195 Cuba11,420brVWP-116

3 ships sunk (20,541 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.

About ranks and decorations
Special thanks to Fernando Almeida for data on ranks and decorations.

Media links

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Listing of all U-boat commanders

As an Amazon Associate earns a commission from qualifying purchases.