Brandi, Albrecht “Cherry”, born 20-06-1914 in Dortmund, the son of the industrial-manager Ernst Brandi, was born in Dortmund, Germany and grew up in the Weimar Republic. After the rise of the Third Reich in 1933, he joined the German Kriegsmarine in 1935 and had his study as a naval officer on board on the German cruiser Emden. After his graduation he became commander of the minesweeper M-1. Brandi was on board M-1 as part of the 1st Minensuchflottille when it took part in the September 1939 attack on the Polish Westerplatte as cover ship for the German battleship Schleswig Holstein.
The Schleswig Holstein was tast used for target practice around 1966, the remains are now submerged. Her bell was held in the collection of the Military History Museum of the Bundeswehr in Dresden as of 1990.
During the first year of World War II, Brandi cleared various minefields in the North Sea. In April 1941 Brandi started his U-boat training at the U-boat training camp in Neustadt in Holstein. He made a big impression on his colleagues because of his guts, his audacity and his strategic insight. With this he became Adolf Hitler’s favorite U-boat captain. From May 1941 to April 1942, Brandi was a Kommandantenschüle, Commander-in-training, aboard U-552 , which was commanded by famous commander Erich Topp, for three patrols.
Topp died very old age, 91, on 26-02-2005 in Suessen. On 09-04-1942 Brandi was given the command of his own U-boat, U-617 and completed the usual training with the new boat in the 5th U-boat Flotilla . For his first patrol, Brandi left Kiel in August 1942, operating in the Western Approaches before arriving at the U boat bunkers in St. Nazaire in October. During this time Brandi destroyed four merchant ships. On his second patrol, in November 1942, Brandi was ordered to the Mediterranean Sea. In the Mediterranean, U-617 was assigned to 29th U-boat Flotilla , located in La Spezia and Toulon and commanded by Korvettenkapitän Fritz Frauenheim. Frauenheim died age 57, on 28-09-1969, in Hamburg. During 1943, Brandi made various patrols in the Mediterranean Sea. During these patrols Brandi targeted British warships preying on the German and Italian supply ships that were so vital for the Afrikakorps in North Africa. In September 1943, in his last patrol in U-617, Brandi sank HMS Puckeridge, a Hunt class destroyer, off Gibraltar. A few days later, on 12 September, she was attacked near the Moroccan coast by British aircraft. One aircraft was claimed by the German Flak crew, though this is unconfirmed, while three bombs hit close to the U-617. The damage was so severe that Brandi decided to abandon ship. After evacuating into rubber boats the crew sank the U-617 with demolition charges. They managed to reach the shore and were interned by Spanish troops. Brandi was loosely held in the officers’ camp near Cadiz, and from there he succeeded in returning back to Germany. In January 1944 Brandi returned to Toulon and took command of U-380. Brandi completed one patrol with U-380, but then the boat was destroyed on 13 March 1944 in Toulon by a bombing raid of the 9th USAAF . In April 1944 Brandi became commander of U-967. During his first patrol with her in May 1944 Brandi sank the destroyer USS Fechteler. Following this he received the Swords to his Knights Cross with Oak Leaves. During the next patrol with U-967 in June 1944, Brandi became seriously ill and had to return to base. Brandi then was appointed commander of all U-boats in the Eastern Baltic Sea. During this period many ships were destroyed in the Baltic Sea and Brandi was awarded with Diamonds to his Knight’s Cross , for his leadership of the U-boat fleet. In the last year of the war Brandi became chief commander of the mini submarine fleet.
Death and burial ground of Brandi, Albrecht “Cherry”.
After the war Brandi started a career as an architect and lived in his hometown Dordmund. On 06-01-1966 Albrecht Brandi died of an illness in Dortmund. Officers from the Bundesmarine, the German postwar Navy, stood as honour guard at his funeral at the Hauptfriedhof of Dordmund. Some crew mates from U617 were also present. The final words were spoken by his crew mate Reinhard Suhren.
Suhren himself died age 68, on 25-08-1984, in Halstenbek. He described Brandi as a “Ritter ohne Furcht und Tadel”, Knight without fear or failings.