Werner Drechsler Max Henry, born 17-01-1923 in Mühlberg, Germany was a German U-boat crewman during World War II. He served on U-118, under command of Korvettenkapitan Werner Czygan , age 38, which was sunk off the Azores on 12-06-1943. U-118 had been at sea less than a month when she was attacked by two aircraft west of the Canary Islands followed by a further eight planes from the carrier USS Bogue. Following a heavy expenditure of bombs, .50″ and .30″ ammunition; the U-boat exploded into two parts, oil and debris were flung into the air. From 58 crew members, 16 men survived to be picked up by the escort vessel USS Osmond Ingram When he was taken prisoner he enthusiastically cooperated with his captors, probably because his father had spent time in one of Adolf Hitler’s Concentration Camps as a political prisoner.
Eventually, United States Navy intelligence officers recruited Drechsler as a spy and placed him in a prisoner of war (POW) camp near Fort Meade, Maryland with other U-Boat sailors. Werner Drechsler crewman of U-118, recovering from a bullet wound to his right knee after U-boat’s sinking by escort carrier USS Bogue on 12-06-1943, disembarks USS Osmond Ingram assisted by Hermann Polowzyk. Junior members of U-118’s crew aboard the bus that took them to the NOB Norfolk Hospital for physical examination and initial POW processing – Back Row (L-R) Werner Drechsler, Paul Reum, Erhard Lenk, Klaus Preuss – Front row (L-R) Herman Polowzyk, Gustav Behlke, Walter Schiller, Wilhelm Bort. After arrival, Drechsler worked undercover, befriending his fellow POWs in order to collect information regarding German submarine technology, operational procedures and tactics and any other intelligence which could be useful to the allies.
On 12-03-1944 Drechsler was transferred to a different POW camp in Arizona which was filled mainly with other submariners of the Kriegsmarine. This transfer took place even though Drechsler was supposed to be kept segregated from other naval prisoners , particularly his former crewmates on the U-118, who were aware of Drechsler’s spying activities. When he was taken prisoner he enthusiastically cooperated with his captors, probably because his father had spent time in one of Adolf Hitler’s Concentration Camps as a political prisoner.
Death and burial ground of Drechsler, Werner Max Henry.
Werner Drechsler’s POW Personnel Record card – POWs were photographed fingerprinted, assigned their POW number, and asked to provide the information on the card as part of their initial processing
Drechsler’s transfer to Arizona quickly had fatal results: some members of the U-118 were confined at the camp and they immediately recognised their former crewmate. Word of Drechsler’s undercover activities spread rapidly through the camp, and a kangaroo court was convened while Drechsler was asleep. The other prisoners eventually decided that it was necessary to kill Drechsler to ensure he could no longer spy upon them, and also to act as a deterrent for any other POWs who might consider collaborating with the enemy. The next morning, six and a half hour after his arrival, Drechsler was found was beaten and murdered and hanging in the shower room.
Seven men, Helmut Fischer, age 22 , Fritz Franke, age 21 , Günter Külsen , Heinrich Ludwig , age 25, Bernhard Reyak, age 21 , Otto Stengel, age 26 and Rolf Wizny , were tried by a general court-martial and executed for the beating and hanging of Drechsler. Francis Walsh served as both interrogator and prosecutor of Drechsler. In the last mass execution in the United States, the men were hanged on 25-08-1945 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. They were buried at United States Disciplinary Barracks Cemetery Fort Leavenworth, Leavenworth County, Kansas, USA. Plot Back row of the 1/2 acre cemetery
Werner Drechslwer was buried at Fort Bliss National Cemetery, Section PG, Row 7, Site 6G..