Horst Degen

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 33)

5 ships sunk, total tonnage 25,390 GRT
4 auxiliary warships sunk, total tonnage 1,666 GRT
4 ships damaged, total tonnage 37,093 GRT
1 warship damaged, total tonnage 1,190 tons

Born  19 Jul 1913 Münster, Westphalia
Died  29 Jan 1996(82)Lüneburg, Germany

Kptlt. Horst Degen


1 Apr 1933 Offiziersanwärter
1 Jul 1934 Fähnrich zur See
1 Apr 1936 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Oct 1936 Leutnant zur See
1 Jun 1938 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Mar 1941 Kapitänleutnant


1939 Iron Cross 2nd Class
1940 Destroyer War Badge
10 Feb 1942 U-boat War Badge 1939
1942 Iron Cross 1st Class

U-boat Commands

U-701 16 Jul 1941 7 Jul 1942   3 patrols (129 days) 

Left: Horst Degen on the tower.

Horst Degen served as the Second Watch Officer, 2WO, torpedo and radio technical officer on the destroyer Z 10 Hans Lody from Sep 1939 to June 1940. He then joined the U-boat force and underwent training from Jul to Dec 1940. Then U-boat commander training from Jan to Mar 1941.

Degen then went as commander in training on the soon-to-be famous U-552 (Topp) for its second patrol (7 Apr - 6 May 1941) - 3 ships sunk, one damaged.

Horst Degen then went to oversee construction of a U-boat (Baubelehrung) and commissioned his U-701 on 16 Jul 1941. He went out on his first patrol on 27 Dec 1941 (45 days, one ship sunk) and his second on 26 Feb 1942 (35 days, 4 small ships sunk).

Horst Degen‘s third war patrol with the U-701 from May to 7 July 1942, where he operated in American waters, was an exceptional one; sinking 4 ships (21.789 tons) and damaging 5 more (38.283 tons). He boat was sunk while waiting to sink one more ship before going back across the Atlantic (he had seen no ships for 8 days though).

When his boat was sunk by 3 depth charges from an American Hudson aircraft off Cape Hatteras all but 7 men escaped to the surface in two 18-man groups, but although the attacking aircraft dropped 4 life-west and life-raft plus marked the site with a flare the 7 eventual survivors were not found until 49 hours later, 110 miles offshore.

Nothing was found of the other group of 18 men. He and his 6 men then went to POW camp. Degen was released during June 1946.

This terrible photo of Degen was taken shortly after his rescue.


Blair, C. (1996). Hitler’s U-boat War. The Hunters, 1939-1942.
Busch, R & Röll, H-J. (1998). German U-boat commanders of World War II.

Patrol info for Horst Degen

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-701 27 Dec 1941  Kiel  9 Feb 1942  St. Nazaire  Patrol 1,45 days
2. U-701 26 Feb 1942  St. Nazaire  1 Apr 1942  Brest  Patrol 2,35 days
3. U-701 19 May 1942  Brest  20 May 1942  Lorient   2 days
4. U-701 20 May 1942  Lorient  7 Jul 1942  Sunk  Patrol 3,49 days
3 patrols, 129 days at sea

Ships hit by Horst Degen

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
6 Jan 1942U-701 Baron Erskine3,657brSC-62
6 Mar 1942U-701 Rononia213br
7 Mar 1942U-701 Nyggjaberg349fa
9 Mar 1942U-701 HMS Notts County (FY 250)541br
11 Mar 1942U-701 HMS Stella Capella (FY 107)507br
15 Jun 1942U-701 HMS Kingston Ceylonite (FY 214) [Mine]448brKN-109
15 Jun 1942U-701 USS Bainbridge (DD 246) (d.) [Mine]1,190amKN-109
15 Jun 1942U-701 Robert C. Tuttle (d.) [Mine]11,615amKN-109
15 Jun 1942U-701 Esso Augusta (d.) [Mine]11,237amKN-109
17 Jun 1942U-701 Santore [Mine]7,117amKS-511
19 Jun 1942U-701 USS YP-389170am
26 Jun 1942U-701 Tamesis (d.)7,256nw
27 Jun 1942U-701 British Freedom (d.)6,985brKS-514
28 Jun 1942U-701 William Rockefeller14,054am

9 ships sunk (27,056 tons) and 5 ships damaged (38,283 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.
(d.) means the ship was damaged.
[Mine] indicates the vessel was hit by a mine laid by said U-boat.

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

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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