Merten, Karl-Friedrich

    Date of birth:
    August 15th, 1905 (Posen/Eastern-Prussia, Germany)
    Date of death:
    May 2nd, 1993 (Waldshut-Tiengen/Baden-Württemberg, Germany)
    Nationality:
    German (1933-1945, German Reich)

    Biography

    Karl-Friedrich Merten was born on 15th August 1905 in Posen, East Prussia. His father was a local politician who later becam the mayor of Elbing. After his education in Köslin, Merten decided to join the navy.
    He joined the Reichsmarine in 1926. he received his basic trainings in Strahlsund. In may he was placed as Seekadett on the Sail trainingship Niobe. He took part in the wolrd trip on the Light Cruiser Emden from November 1926 until March 1928. After this worldtrip, the to Fähnrich zur See promoted Merten, was attended the Naval school at Flensburg Mürwick. In September 1930 he served for a short period on the Linienschiff Schleswig-Holstein, after which he rapported in September 1930 on board the light cruiser Köningsberg as Oberfähnrich zur See. He received his promotion to Leutnant zur See on 1st October 1930 and then followed several trinings at the Schiffsartillerie-Schule te Kiel-Wik. Accordingly he served on board of several torpedoboats and became IIAO (Zweite Artillerie offizier) on the light cruisers Karlsruhe and Leipzig. The promotion to Kapitänleutnant followed on 1st April 1936, after what he was given the command on Geleitboot F-7 on 1st October 1937. This post he held until 12th February 1939.

    Then he was posted on the Schleswig-Holstein as Kadettenoffizier, where he took part in the opening phase of the Second World War. With the ship he took part in the occupation of Danmark. He went to the U-boat service on 1st May 1940. His training as commander he received from October 1940 as Kommandantenschuler on the U-38 with Heinrich Liebe. With this ship he took part on his first patrol in the fall of 1940. As Kommandant het brought the U-68 into service on 11th February 1941, with which he took five successfull partols. The U-68 was part of the Wolf-pack Eisbär together with U-156 of Werner Hartenstein, U-172 of Carl Emmermann, U-504 of Hans-Georg Friedrich Poske. Later they werd joined by U-159 of Helmut Witte. Merten, promoted to Korvettenkapitän on 1st April 1941, sunk his first ship on 22nd September 1941 when he torpedoed the 5302 tonnes British SS Silverbelle during an attack on Convoy SL-87. He sunk his last ship, the British SS City of Cairo on 6th November 1941. With this he sunk a Total of 29 ships with a total of 170151 BRT.

    After these patrols, Merten was placed with the U-68 with the U-boat Flotilla at Pillau. Beginning of 1943 he was appointed to Chef der 14.U-boot-Flotille in Memel and was promoted to Fregattenkapitän on 1st January 1944. The advancing Sovie Army forced him to replace his flotilla to Gotenhafen in October 1944, after which the Flotilla was dismanteled at Hamburg in March 1945. Merten was then transferred to the Führerhauptquartier, Alpenfestung and there experienced the ending of the war, where he was promoted to Kapitän zur See on 15th April 1945. He was already released as prisoner of war on 30th June 1945.

    In November 1948, the in Wiesbaden living Merten was imprisoned by the French after being accused of war crimes during the sinking of the French oiler Frimaire in June 1942 near Panama. During the process he was spoken free of all charges for the Vichy-French Frimaire had not been registered properly, neither was reported as neutral ship and also did not cary the required markings for a neutral ship. Until his terirement in 1974, Merten together with Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, salvaged sunken ships on the River Rhine and operated in the shipbuilding indusry. He wrote several books on his experiences during the war. Karl-Friedrich Merten died in Walshut on 2nd May 1993.

    Promotions:
    12th October 1926: Seekadett.
    1st April 1927: Gefreiter.
    1st April 1928: Fähnrich zur See.
    1st July 1928: Obermaat
    1st June 1930: Oberfähnrich zur See.
    1st October 1930: Leutnant zur See.
    1st April 1933: Oberleutnant zur See.
    1st April 1936: Kapitänleutnant.
    1st April 1941: Korvettenkaptän.
    1st January 1944: Fregattenkapitän.
    15th April 1945: Kapitän zur See.

    Partols:
    U-38 Kommandantenschuler end 1941.
    As Commander:
    1. U-68: Kiel, 30th June 1941 - Lorient, 1st August 1941, 33 days.
    2. U-68: Lorient, 11th September 1941 - Lorient, 25th December 1941, 106 days.
    3. U-68: Lorient, 11th February 1942 - Lorient, 13th April 1942, 62 days.
    4. U-68: Lorient, 14th May 1942 - Lorient, 10th July 1942, 58 days.
    5. U-68: Lorient, 20th August 1942 - Lorient, 6th D ecember1942, 109 days.

    Ships sunk:
    22nd September 1941: Silverbelle (British), 5302 BRT, Convy SL-87.
    22nd October 1941: Darksdale (British), 8145 BRT.
    28th October 1941: Hazelside (British), 5297 BRT.
    1st November 1941: Bradford City (British), 4953 BRT.
    3rd March 1942: Helenus (British), 7366 BRT.
    8th March 1942: Baluchistan (British), 6992 BRT.
    16th March 1942: Baron Newlands (British), 3386 BRT.
    17th March 1942: Allende (British), 5081 BRT.
    17th March 1942: Ile de Batz (British), 5755 BRT.
    17th March 1942: Scottish Prince (British), 4917 BRT.
    30th March 1942: Muncaster Castle (British), 5853 BRT, Convoy ST-18.
    5th June 1942: L.J.Drake (American), 6693 BRT.
    6th June 1942: C.O.Stillman (Panamanian), 13006 BRT.
    10th June 1942: Ardenvohr (British), 5025 BRT.
    10th June 1942: Port Montreal (British), 5882 BRT.
    10th June 1942: Surrey (British), 8581 BRT.
    15th June 1942: Frimaire (French), 9242 BRT.
    13rd June 1942: Arriaga (Panamanian), 2345 BRT.
    12th September 1942: Trevilley (British), 5296 BRT, Convoy OS-38.
    15th September 1942: Breedijk (Dutch), 6861 BRT.
    8th October 1942: Gaasterkerk (Dutch), 8679 BRT.
    8th October 1942: Koumoundouros (Greek), 3898 BRT.
    8th October 1942: Sarthe (British), 5271 BRT.
    8th October 1942: Swiftsure (American), 8207 BRT.
    9th October 1942: Belgian Fighter (Belgian), 5403 BRT.
    9th October 1942: Examelia (American), 4981 BRT.
    6th November 1942: City of Cairo (British), 8034 BRT.
    Total of 170.151 BRT.

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    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Kapitänleutnant (Captain-lieutenant)
    Unit:
    Kreuzer Karlsruhe
    Awarded on:
    October 2nd, 1936
    Dienstauszeichnung der Wehrmacht 4.Klasse, 4 Jahre
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Kapitänleutnant (Captain-lieutenant)
    Awarded on:
    December 21st, 1936
    Deutsches Olympia Ehrenzeichen Zweiter Klasse
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Kapitänleutnant (Captain-lieutenant)
    Unit:
    Kommandant des Geleitboot F-7
    Awarded on:
    April 1st, 1938
    Dienstauszeichnung der Wehrmacht  3.Klasse, 12 Jahre
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Kapitänleutnant (Captain-lieutenant)
    Unit:
    Kommandant des Geleitboot F-7
    Awarded on:
    April 20th, 1938
    Action:
    For his work while serving on Light Cruisers Leipzig and Karlsruhe from September 1935 until July 1937.
    Spanienkreuz, Bronze
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Kapitänleutnant (Captain-lieutenant)
    Unit:
    Ausbildungsoffizier Linienschiff “Schleswig Holstein”
    Awarded on:
    October 2nd, 1939
    Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Kapitänleutnant (Captain-lieutenant)
    Unit:
    Linienschiff “Schleswig Holstein”
    Awarded on:
    December 20th, 1939
    Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 1. Oktober 1938
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Korvettenkapitän
    Unit:
    Kommandant U-68 des 2. Unterseebootsflottille
    Awarded on:
    August 2nd, 1941
    U-boot Kriegsabzeichen (ohne Brillianten)
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Korvettenkapitän
    Unit:
    Kommandant U-68 / 2. Unterseebootsflottille
    Awarded on:
    December 30th, 1941
    Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Korvettenkapitän
    Unit:
    Kommandant U-68 / 2.Unterseebootsflottille
    Awarded on:
    April 8th, 1942
    Action:
    A boat under the leadership of Korvettenkapitän Merten distinguished itself in the success of the German submarines in the Atlantic ocean.
    Wehrmachtbericht
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Korvettenkapitän
    Unit:
    Kommandant U-68 / 2.Unterseebootsflottille
    Awarded on:
    June 13th, 1942
    Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes
    Action:
    Awarded for his successes during the first three patrols with U-68, during which Merten and his crew sank 11 ships with 63047 GRT. In addition they also distinguished themselves during the rescue of the crews belonging to the German blockade runner "Python" and the auxiliary cruiser "Atlantis" in November/December 1941.
    Details:
    112th Award.
    Preliminary Besitzzeugnis signed on 27th June 1942.
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Korvettenkapitän
    Unit:
    Kommandant U-68 / 2.Unterseebootsflottille
    Awarded on:
    October 9th, 1942
    Flotten-Kriegsabzeichen
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Korvettenkapitän
    Unit:
    Kommandant U-68 / 2.Unterseebootsflottille
    Awarded on:
    November 16th, 1942
    Action:
    Awarded for further successes spanning two patrols with U-68. In these two patrols alone 16 enemy vessels with 107128 GRT were sunk.
    Details:
    147th Award.
    Preliminary Besitzzeugnis signed on 30th November 1942.
    Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Korvettenkapitän
    Unit:
    Kommandant der 26.Unterseebootsflotille
    Awarded on:
    January 30th, 1943
    U-boot Kriegsabzeichen mit Brillianten
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Fregattenkapitän
    Unit:
    Kommandant der 24. Unterseebootsflottille
    Awarded on:
    January 30th, 1944
    Kriegsverdienstkreuz 2.Klasse mit Schwertern
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Fregattenkapitän
    Unit:
    Kommandant der 24. Unterseebootsflottille
    Awarded on:
    October 29th, 1944
    Kriegsverdienstkreuz 1.Klasse mit Schwertern

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