|Ordered||30 May 1938|
|Laid down||16 Sep 1939||F. Krupp Germaniawerft AG, Kiel (werk 601)|
|Launched||1 Aug 1940|
|Commissioned||14 Sep 1940||Kptlt. Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock|
|Successes||27 ships sunk, total tonnage 181,206 GRT|
4 ships damaged, total tonnage 33,043 GRT
1 ship a total loss, total tonnage 8,888 GRT
Decommissioned on 15 February 1945 at Wilhelmshaven.
Sunk on 30 March 1945 in the Hipper Basin at Wilhelmshaven by bombs during US air raid (8th AF).
U-96 operated with the following Wolfpacks during its career:
Hammer (5 Aug 1941 - 12 Aug 1941)
Grönland (12 Aug 1941 - 27 Aug 1941)
Kurfürst (28 Aug 1941 - 2 Sep 1941)
Seewolf (2 Sep 1941 - 10 Sep 1941)
Stosstrupp (30 Oct 1941 - 4 Nov 1941)
Störtebecker (5 Nov 1941 - 19 Nov 1941)
Benecke (19 Nov 1941 - 22 Nov 1941)
Hecht (11 May 1942 - 18 Jun 1942)
Stier (29 Aug 1942 - 2 Sep 1942)
Vorwärts (3 Sep 1942 - 25 Sep 1942)
Jaguar (10 Jan 1943 - 20 Jan 1943)
Attacks on this boat and other events
28 Apr 1941
On 28 Apr 1941 southeast of Iceland, in position 60.04N, 15.45W, the British corvette HMS Gladiolus depth charged a German U-boat. This was for some time thought to have sunk U-65, but the target was actually U-96, which escaped unscathed.
31 Oct 1941
While attacking convoy OS 10 on the surface during a full moon, Lehmann-Willenbrock fired into the convoy at long range, sinking one ship. The British escort sloop HMS Lulworth gave chase, and after driving U-96 under with gunfire, dropped 27 depth charges. None fell close, and the boat evaded the attack and continued the patrol. (Sources: Blair, vol 1, page 394)
30 Nov 1941
While penetrating the Straits of Gibraltar, U-96 was attacked at 2235hrs by a British Swordfish aircraft. Suffering some damage, the boat dived, surfaced the next morning at 0445hrs, and proceeded to base in France. The much longer and more dramatic stay in the deep described by Buchheim in his novel Das Boot is one of the numerous occasions in this book where the author fictionalized the events he experienced during his time as war correspondent on U-96. (Sources: Blair, vol 1, page 401)
3 recorded attacks on this boat.
General notes on this boat
The "Das Boot" (The Boat) Connection
Lothar-Günther Buchheim joined U-96 for one patrol as a war correspondent. This resulted in the international best-selling novel of submarine warfare Das Boot (The Boat), the short story Die Eichenlaubfahrt (The Oak-Leaves Patrol) and a three-part text-and-photo chronicle U-bootkrieg (U-Boat War), U-Bootfahrer (U-Boat-Men) and Zu Tode Gesiegt (Victoried to Death).
Buchheim was posted aboard as an official artist to provide impressions of the German Navy in action for propaganda purposes Over 5,000 of his photos survived the war, and 205 of these form the epic photo-essay U-Boat War. All the photographs in U-Boat War were taken by Buchheim with the exception of a few taken by U-96 engineering officer Fritz Grade.
Buchheim witnessed the chance meeting between U-96 and U-572 during a heavy storm. This probably occurred in November 1941. U-572 had sailed on 29/11/41, a few days after U-96 (see the mission details below). At this time U-572 was commanded by Kptlt. Heinz Hirsacker (who was condemned to death by military tribunal in 1943 charged with "Cowardice in the face of the enemy" - the only U-boat commander to suffer that fate, being executed on April 24th 1943. U-572 was lost later in 1943).
He also wrote the book Jäger im Weltmeer (Hunter in the Ocean) and in 1995 he published the novel Die Festung (The Fortress). There Buchheim writes about the last days in the port of Brest, France and his dramatic schnorchel voyage to La Pallice with the last but one U-boat to leave Brest.
Buchheim’s books are controversial because, particularly in his photo essays, he writes very critically of the U-boat force, and particularly about Dönitz. (Refuting Buchheim, Karl-Friedrich Merten wrote a book entitled Wir U-Bootfahrer sagen: "Nein! So war das nicht!" [We U-boat men say: "No, it wasn't so!"] )
Men lost from U-boats
Unlike many other U-boats, which during their service lost men due to accidents and various other causes, U-96 did not suffer any casualties (we know of) until the time of her loss.
We have 1 emblem entry for this boat. See the emblem page for this boat or view emblems individually below.
The Laughing Sawfish - 9th Flotilla
There was another U-96 in World War One
That boat was launched from its shipyard on 15 Feb 1917 and commissioned into the Imperial Navy on 11 Apr 1917. The Naval war in WWI was brought to an end with the Armistice signed on 11 Nov, 1918. Read about SM U 96 during WWI.