The last survivor among Germany’s top 10 U-boat aces of World War II died recently at the age of 96.
Korvettenkapitän (Lieutenant Commander) Georg Lassen sank 26 ships between March 1942 and June 1943, sending more than 156,000 gross tons to the bottom of the sea, making him the 10th most successful German submarine commander of the Second World War.
A native of the Berlin suburb of Steglitz, Lassen joined the Kriegsmarine as a 20-year old in 1935. He died Jan. 18 in Mallorca, Spain.
Lassen commanded the U-160 during his career, making just four patrols. On his last patrol, to South African waters, he sank or damaged six ships in less than five hours.
During his career, Lassen and his crew sank or damaged ships from six different countries, including seven US ships and two Canadian vessels.
In mid-June 1943 Lassen was transferred from U-160 to duties as a tactics instructor in a training unit for future U-boat commanders.
Lassen outlived most of his comrades on the U-160 by nearly seven decades. Exactly one month after he was transferred to instruction duties, the U-160 was sunk south of Azores by aircraft from the USS Santee, according to the website uboat.net.
All 57 men on board the submarine were killed.
Lassen was fortunate to have been pulled out of action when he was.
As the war went on, German U-boat losses continued to mount as advances in convoy tactics, radar, sonar, depth charges and the use of escort aircraft with increased range, along with the cracking of the German naval code Enigma, took an increasing toll on submarines and men.
In the end, the U-boat fleet suffered extremely heavy casualties, losing 793 U-boats and about 30,000 submariners, approximately 75 percent of German’s 40,000-man U-boat fleet.
(Above: U-boat Captain Georg Lassen, in white cap, being received after one of his successful patrols.)