Herbert A. Werner

Oberleutnant zur See (Crew XII/39)

No ships sunk or damaged.

Born  13 May 1920 Freiburg, Bresgau
Died  6 Apr 2013(92)Vero Beach, Florida, USA

Ltn. Werner on board the U-230


1 Dec 1939 Offiziersanwärter
1 Nov 1940 Fähnrich zur See
1 Nov 1941 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Apr 1942 Leutnant zur See
1 Dec 1943 Oberleutnant zur See


1940 Minesweeper War Badge
20 Sep 1941 U-boat War Badge 1939
1943 Iron Cross 2nd Class
18 Dec 1943 Iron Cross 1st Class

U-boat Commands

U-415 17 Apr 1944 14 Jul 1944   2 patrols (6 days) 
U-953 Aug, 1944 Apr, 1945   3 patrols (94 days) 

Hebert A. Werner joined the Kriegsmarine in 1939. From April to Nov 1941 he went through Watch Officer sea training on the U-557 (KrvKpt. Ottokar Arnold Paulssen). During his stay on the boat they went out on 3 patrols, spending 93 days at sea. The sank 5 ships for almost 28,000 tons. Werner left the boat in Nov 1941 for more training. U-557 was lost one month later, on 16 Dec, with all hands (Niestlé, 1998).

Werner then went through more U-boat training from Dec 1941 to April 1942 and became the First Watch Officer (1WO) on the new U-612 (Kptlt. Paul Siegmann) in May. During training in the Baltic the U-612 was rammed by U-444 on 6 Aug 1942 and sunk with the loss of 2 lives. U-612 was raised the same month and later returned to service as a training boat.

Werner followed Commander Siegmann along with the crew to a U-boat familiarization (Baubelehrung) for a new boat in Oct and on 24 Oct 1942 they commissioned the new type VIIC boat U-230 at Kiel.

On U-230 as First Watch Officer (1WO) young Ltn. Herbert A. Werner served on the boat for 171 days at sea during 4 patrols from Feb to Dec 1943. They only sank one small ship of 2,868 tons - as by this time the U-boats had become the hunted.

Herbert A. Werner on boardHerbert A. Werner on board.

From Jan to April 1944 Werner went through U-boat Commander training and on 17 April 1944 he took command of the veteran type VIIC boat U-415. After 2 aborted patrols the boat was lost to a mine near Brest on 14 July 1944 (Niestlé, 1998). Werner served with the 1st Flotilla at Brest, France from July to Aug 1944 when he was given command of another experienced boat, the U-953.

With the U-953 Oblt Herbert A. Werner went out on 3 patrols, spending 94 days at sea. He first went from Brest, France to La Pallice and then to Norway to escape the Allied advance into France. Werner then took the boat out on one 42 day patrol from Bergen, Norway in Feb - March 1945.

Werner served with the 33rd Flotilla from April 1945 to the end of the war. He was briefly detained by the Allies, being free in the fall of 1945.

After the war - and his book Iron Coffins

Oblt. Herbert A. Werner is most famous for writing the excellent book Iron Coffins, in which he describes his life on U-boats during World War II. The book is very dark at times as much of his career takes place long after the "happy times" were over and the boats were hunted down by the hundreds. He speaks of his strained relations with the U-boat brass and his desire to get one of the newer Elektro boats.

According to an obituary for Herbert A. Werner he died on 4 April 2013 at Vero Beach, Florida, USA. This must be the same man, date of birth, name and location match perfectly (Obitsforlife).


Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II.
Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1997). Der U-Bootkrieg 1939-1945 (Band 2).
Niestlé, A. (1998). German U-boat losses during World War II.
Obitsforlife.com (2013). Herbert A. Werner Obituary.
Werner, H. A. (2002). Iron Coffins

Patrol info for Herbert A. Werner

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-415 6 Jun 1944  Brest  8 Jun 1944  Brest  Patrol 1,3 days
2. U-415 11 Jul 1944  Brest  13 Jul 1944  Brest  Patrol 2,3 days
3. U-953 10 Aug 1944  Brest  11 Aug 1944  Brest  Patrol 3,2 days
4. U-953 12 Aug 1944  Brest  19 Aug 1944  La Pallice  Patrol 3,8 days
5. U-953 31 Aug 1944  La Pallice  11 Oct 1944  Bergen  Patrol 4,42 days
6. U-953 16 Oct 1944  Bergen  25 Oct 1944  Flensburg   10 days
7. U-953 4 Feb 1945  Kiel  9 Feb 1945  Kristiansand   6 days
8. U-953 12 Feb 1945  Kristiansand  15 Feb 1945  Bergen   4 days
9. U-953 21 Feb 1945  Bergen  3 Apr 1945  Bergen  Patrol 5,42 days
10. U-953 6 Apr 1945  Bergen  9 Apr 1945  Trondheim   4 days
5 patrols, 100 days at sea

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

Media links

Iron Coffins

Werner, Herbert A.

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim


Vause, Jordan

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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