In April 1934, Ulrich Folkers joined the Kriegsmarine. After his initial training, he was placed on board the light cruiser Emden. His promotion to Seekadet, followed on September 26th 1934. After this he was promoted to Fähnrich zur See (July 1st 1935), Oberfähnrich zur See (January 1st 1937) and Leutnant zur See (April 1st 1937).
Between November 1938 and September 1939, Folkers took part on a Signalling Course and was promoted to Oberleutnant zur See on April 1st 1939. From September 1939 until November he took part in the Marine Artillerie Schule.
Ulrich Folkers was place don board of the German Destroyer Bruno Heinemann as a Wach Offizier (Watch Officer) from April 1940. He was transferred to the submarine forces in March 1941 and served as Watch Officer within the 27. and 2 U-boot Flotille. He started on board of the U 37 and commanded this ship between April and November. He was promoted to Kapitänleutnant on November 1st.
April 8th, 1934: Offiziersanwärter;
September 26th, 1934: Seekadett;
July 1st, 1935: Fähnrich zur See;
January 1st, 1937: Oberfähnrich zur See;
April 1st, 1937: Leutnant zur See;
April 1st, 1939: Oberleutnant zur See;
November 1st, 1941: Kapitänleutnant.
Between December 1941 and May 1943, he commanded the U 125, with which he gained many victories. A small list of those:
26.01.1942: Sank American cargo ship ‘West Ivis’ (5,666 BRT) off US East Coast.
23.04.1942: Sank American steam merchant ‘Lammot Du Pont’ (5,102 BRT: 6,812t linseed).
03.05.1942: Sank Dominican steam merchant ‘San Rafael’ (1,973 BRT) with one torpedo and 32 rounds from his deck-gun off Jamaica.
04.05.1942: Sank American steam merchant ‘Tuscaloosa City’ (5,687 BRT).
06.05.1942: Sank American motor merchant ‘Green Island’ (1,946 BRT) and British steam merchant ‘Empire Buffalo’ (6,404 BRT) off the Cayman Islands.
09.05.1942: Sank Canadian motor tanker ‘Calgarolite’ (11,941 BRT).
14.05.1942: Sank Honduran steam merchant ‘Comayagua’ (2,493 BRT).
18.05.1942: Sank American steam merchant ‘William J Salman’ (2,616 BRT: construction materials) and motor tanker ‘Mercury Sun’ (8,893 BRT: 93,607 barrels Navy fuel oil).
01.09.1942: Sank British steam merchant ‘Ilorin’ (815 BRT: ballast).
23.09.1942: Sank British steam merchant ‘Bruyère’ (5,335 BRT: foodstuffs and general cargo).
29.09.1942: Sank British steam merchant ‘Baron Ogilvy’ (3,391 BRT: 5,150t iron ore) southwest of Las Palmas.
30.09.1942: Sank British steam passenger ship ‘Kumsang’ (5,447 BRT: 7,000t general cargo) and steam merchant ‘Empire Avocet’ (6,015 BRT: meat and general cargo) south of Freetown.
08.10.1942: Sank British steam merchant ‘Glendene’ (4,412 BRT: 6,900t general cargo).
04.05.1943: Sank British steam merchant ‘Lorient’ (4,737 BRT) sailing with Convoy ONS-5 south of Cape Farewell.
In the early morning of May 6th 1943, ‘HMS Oribi’ detected U 125 on her radar. She ran down the bearing and rammed the surfaced and surprised U-boat just abaft the conning tower. U 125 submerged but ‘HMS Oribi’ got asdic contact and dropped a single depth on the targets estimated position. U 125 surfaced some time later and radioed Submarine Operations HQ at 0550 that she had been rammed at 0501 and was unable to dive due to damage. Fokers requested assistance. A few minutes later ‘HMS Snowflake’ detected U125 on radar and within minutes commenced firing at the boat, scoring some hits. When ‘HMS Snowflake’ considered the boat to be mortally damaged she left to investigate another radar contact which turned out to be ‘HMS Sunflower’. When she returned to U125 it had gone down probably due to scuttling charges. There were survivors in the water. Around this time ‘HMS Sunflower’ arrived and radioed the SNO aboard ‘HMS Tay’, however the response was: "Not approved to pick up survivors". ‘HMS Snowflake’ and ‘HMS Sunflower’ returned to their escort duties of convoy ONS-5, leaving Folkers and his 54 crewmen to die.
Ulrich Folkers was posthumously awarded the Knight’s Cross on March 27th 1943.
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