Gerhard Glattes

Korvettenkapitän (Crew 27)

No ships sunk or damaged.

Born  6 Feb 1909 Bruchsal, Baden
Died  25 Oct 1986(77)

© Deutsches U-Boot Museum
Korvettenkapitän Gerhard Glattes


11 Oct 1927 Seekadett
1 Apr 1929 Fähnrich zur See
1 Oct 1931 Leutnant zur See
1 Jul 1933 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Oct 1936 Kapitänleutnant
1 Sep 1941 Korvettenkapitän


U-boat Commands

U-5 1 Oct 1936 2 Feb 1938   No war patrols 
U-39 10 Dec 1938 14 Sep 1939   1 patrol (27 days) 

Gerhard Glattes joined the Reichsmarine in 1927. He went through U-boat training from March to Sept 1936, and on 1 Oct 1936 took command of the small "duck" school boat U-5 (Dau), remaining there until 2 Feb 1938 (Busch and Röll, 1999).

Glattes then served in several staff positions before commencing U-boat construction familiarization (Baubelehrung) at the AG Weser yard in Hamburg on 18 Nov 1938. On 10 Dec he commissioned the much larger type IX U-boat U-39 (Busch and Röll, 1999).

First U-boat to be sunk in WWII

On 19 Aug 1939 Kptlt. Glattes took U-39 out from Wilhelmshaven in preparation for the impending war. On 14 Sept 1939, while inbound for base after 26 days at sea, the boat came across the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (91) - a submariner's dream target. Glattes carefully set up a very promising attack and fired three torpedoes. Detonations were heard, and Gattes assumed the attack had succeded, but rather than hitting the target, all three torpedoes had malfunctioned and exploded close by (Blair, 1996).

The subsequent depth charging from the three escort destroyers, HMS Faulknor, HMS Foxhound and HMS Firedrake, was accurate enough to damage U-39 so badly that Glattes brought her to the surface and ordered the crew to abandon ship. She surfaced in broad daylight in the midst of the British destroyers, who opened fire, but promptly stopped when it was evident that the Germans were abandoning ship. The entire crew of 44 were rescued (Blair, 1996).

Gerhard Glattes spent the next seven and a half years as a POW, only being released on 8 April 1947 (Busch and Röll, 1999). This was the second longest imprisonment of any U-boat Commander, beaten only by Günther Lorentz - by one day.


Blair, C. (1996). Hitler’s U-boat War. The Hunters, 1939-1942.
Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II.

Patrol info for Gerhard Glattes

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-39 19 Aug 1939  Wilhelmshaven  14 Sep 1939  Sunk  Patrol 1,27 days

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.