Rollmann, Wilhelm.

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germanyKriegsmarineKapitän zur SeeU boat commander

Rollmann, Wilhelm, born 05-08-1907, in Wilhelmshaven, Nedersaksen,  joined the Reichsmarine of the Weimar Republic on 01-04-1926, age 18, as a member of “Crew 26” (the incoming class of 1926). Wilhelm served on several ships, which included the light cruiser Karlsruhe. He transferred to the U-boat arm in May 1937, taking command of the Type VIIA U-boat U-34 in October 1938. In seven successful combat patrols, he sank 19 merchant ships (including the neutral, clearly marked and fully lit, Greek merchantman Eleni Stathatou and the neutral Petsamo of Finland,  with a cargo of maize, sailing from neutral Rosario to neutral Cork). At 14.26 hours on 10-07-1940 the Petsamo (Master Eric Hjelt) was hit in the engine room by one torpedo from U-34, broke in two and sank within 20 minutes. Four stokers on watch below were killed. The U-boat had needed six hours to get into a favorable firing position and sank the ship in sight of the Irish coast. In the evening, the master and 33 crew members made landfall at Baltimore, Ireland.

He sunk as well the British destroyer HMS Whirlwind, the submarine HMS Spearfish. The Spearfish sailed from Rosyth on 31-07-1940, still under the command of “Jock” Forbes, to patrol off the Norwegian coast. On 1 August she was spotted on the surface by the German submarine U-34 under the command of Wilhelm Rollmann who attacked and sank her, about 180 miles (290 km) west-southwest of Stavanger. There was only one survivor, Able Seaman William Pester, who was taken about the U-34 as a prisoner of war  William Pester, son of Thomas and Margaret Pester, of Bournemouth. He was the sole survivor from HMS Spearfish, taken prisoner by U-34 and taken to Germany, where he spent the rest of the war in a POW camp. Tragically William Victor Pester died in a motor bike accident in his home town, only a few weeks after returning to the UK.   Also killed in the accident was the pillion passenger Mona Victoria Vallier (age 26). He was the best man at the wedding of Maurice Symes on that day and Mona was the sister of the bride.

Also sank the Norwegian minelayer HNoMS Frøya. On all seven patrols Leutnant zur See Hans-Hartwig Trojer served as second watch officer on U-34.

Hans-Hartwig Trojer started his career in the German Navy in April 1936. He was then a member of the so-called “Olympic Team”. On 01-04-1943 he received a promotion to Kapitänleutnant. However, Hans-Hartwig Trojer was killed when U-221 was sunk with all hands on board by an attack by a British Handley Page Halifax bomber south of Ireland on 27-09-1943. Hans-Hartwig Trojer was 27 years old when he was killed.

Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Bleichrodt was a commander in training on U-34’s sixth patrol under the command of Rollmann. Rollmann left the U-boat in September 1940, and became an instructor in 2. Unterseeboots-Lehr-Division (“2nd U-boat Training Division”). In February 1943 he commissioned the Type IXD U-boat U-848, sinking one merchant ship on his first and only patrol, bringing his career total to 20 merchant ships sunk for a total of 96,562 GRT, three warships sunk (2,365 GRT) and two ships captured for a total of 4,957 GRT. Heinrich Bleichrodt survived the war and died 09-01-1977 in Münche,, age 67..

Death and burial ground of Rollmann, Wilhelm.

Wilhelm Rollmann and his entire crew were killed in action on 05-11-1943 when U-848 was sunk by depth charges from three Liberator and two Mitchell aircraft from the United States Navy Squadron VB-107 and the US Army 1st Composite Squadron south-west of Ascension Island.


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