The U-182: the Commander and Crew

Through fortunate circumstances, I have been able to gather information on the U-182, Korvettenkapitän Nikolai (or Nicolai) Clausen, and the crew. 

I am in now in contact with Nikolai Clausen's daughter directly. 

The daughter was born after Clausen's death and currently lives in Germany. 

Through this contact I have been provided a small glimpse into Clausen's personal life.

I have also been provided unpublished and rare images of the U-182. 

I have looked for images of this boat for years but have always been unsuccessful. 

There are no combat images as this boat was sunk while returning from its first patrol.

Note: All personal photographs of Clausen on this page are courtesy of Nikolai's daughter (except as noted) and copyrighted accordingly.

U-Boat Type IX-D2

 

Type IX-D2: High speed and heavy armament

Typical Type IX-D2 Specifications

Displacement:
1,616 to 1,804 (submerged) tons
Dimensions:
 287.5 x 24.5 x 17.75 feet
Propulsion:
4,400 hp 19.25 knots (surface) 1,000 hp 7 knots (submerged)
Range:
23,700 miles at 12 knots (surface) or 57 miles at 4 knots (submerged)
Depth max:
755 feet
Armament: 1 x 4.1 inch gun , 1 x 37mm and 1 x 20mm AA gun , 6 x 21 inch torpedo tubes (4 x bow , 2 x stern) , with 24 torpedoes or six torpedoes and 32 mines
Crew:
57

The U-182 was a Type IX D2 U-boat. It was laid down on 7 April 1941 by AG Weser, Bremen. It was commissioned on 30 June 1942 by Kapitänleutnant Nikolai Clausen, a Knight's Cross holder.

The officers and crew of the U-182. Taken on 30 June 30 1942 at Deschimag wharf in Bremen, when U-182 was commissioned.  The first of only two known photos of this boat.  Clausen is on the left.

Raising the battle standard on the U-182. Taken on 30 June 30 1942 at Deschimag wharf in Bremen, when the U-182 was commissioned. The second of only two known photos.


From June to November 1942 the U-182 served as a training submarine with the 4th Flotilla. After this session the U-182 joined the 12th Flotilla (Bordeaux).

On 19 December 1942 the U-182 departed Horten, Norway for its operational area, the South Atlantic / Indian Ocean with Kapitänleutnant Nikolai Clausen as its commander.

During this patrol the U-182 sank 5 ships for a total of 30,071 tons. These ships were:

the British Ocean Courage, sunk 15 January 1943
the British Llanashe, sunk 17 February 1943
the American Richard D. Spaight, sunk 10 March 1943
the British Aloe, sunk 5 April 1943
and the Greek Adelfotis, sunk 1 May 1943

The U-182 was sunk 16 May 1943 off the island of Madeira by depth charges from the destroyer USS MacKenzie. The entire crew of 61 perished.


Westward - Ho!

Westward-ho!  From the conning tower of U-129.

The ship's combat emblem was "Westward ho!" written in old German script on the front of the conning tower.

There were in total 4 U-boats with this old Viking slogan, which was also used by the pilgrim fathers and westward settlers in America.

The first one was U-37.  After its first patrol, when U-37 entered Wilhelmshaven on 8 November 1939, the commander Werner Hartmann met Niko Clausen on the quay. 

Clausen at this time was commander of the minesweeper M-134. They had dinner together. Hartmann promised to request Clausen as watch officer on his U-boat. 

Upon their return to U-37, the crew had painted this slogan in black letters on the tower.  

Eventually Clausen became commander of U-37.

Later, when Clausen commissioned U-129 he kept the same slogan. The image above is an unpublished photograph of this slogan on the conning tower of U-129.

When Hartmann commissioned U-198 on 3 November 1942, he also chose his old slogan from U-37.   


The Commander

Asmus Nikolai "Niko" Clausen

Korvettenkapitän Nikolai Clausen was a distinguished naval commander. In his career he sank 24 ships for a total of 74,807 tons, including the French U-Boat Sfax.

He was born 2 June 1911 in Flensburg, and died 16 May 1943 in the Atlantic.

4 year old "Niko" Clausen. Taken on 20 August 1915.  Note that he is already wearing a navy uniform.

This photo was taken in autumn 1941.  

Clausen, at the time commander of U-129 was on holidays with his crew in the Austrian Alps town of Pörtschach, the god-parent town of U-129.  

He was then 30 years old.

His wedding photo from 1942. (© Sharkhunters International, Inc)


A photo presumably taken at the U-182 commisioning.  Franz Dietl, Ubermachinisten is believed to be second from right.  Clausen is in the center.  His daughter provided the following information:

The photo is from the estate of Anna Dietl widow, mother of the chief mechanic Franz Dietl. It should (be) at the Baubelehrung or on the day of entry in June 1942.
Franz Dietl can be seen in the photo as a second person to the right of the captain Niko Clausen. 

The other officers were first identified in 2008 by happy coincidence with the help of the only living eyewitness of U-182, then Maschinenmaats Franz Fischer and are referred to by name:

From left to right:

Obermaschinenmaat Erwin Fenzel, born 22 April 1915
Obermaschinist Kurt Röhricht, born 8 December 1914
Obermaschinenmaat Wilhelm Brunner, born 8 August 1914
Kapitänleutnant und Kommandant Asmus Nikolai Clausen, born 2 June 1911
Funkmaat Kurt Behrendts, born 8 July 1915
Obermaschinist Franz Dietl, born 9 September 1916
Obersteuermann Ernst Hillebrand, born 11 January 1911

Missing from the photo of the chief mechanic Helmut Schendel, born 25 March 1919. The only possible explanation for this is that he might have been sick, or that he took the photo.


Clausen's U-boat Career

Nikolai Clausen joined the Kriegsmarine in October 1929 as seaman. He sailed the next several years on torpedo boats (T-185 and G-10) and on the sailing school ship Gorch Fock.

In September 1935 he transferred to the expanding U-boat force. In April 1936, after some months training he served on U-26 under Kapitänleutnant Werner Hartmann. In March 1937 he entered the naval officer training school at Mürwik. During the next two years he served on the cruiser Admiral Graf Spee and on the mine sweeper M-134.

The U-37 (Note the "Westward Ho!" on the conning tower)

When the war broke out in autumn 1939 his old commander Werner Hartmann asked for him, so Niko Clausen became the first watch officer (I WO) on U-37. 

He rode 3 patrols on U-37 mostly in the Atlantic and received his Iron Cross second class personally from Karl Dönitz after the first patrol.

Clausen and the commander of the U-boat fleet, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz

(Note: This photo was used in the film "U-571"  It can be seen on the wall in the Officer's Mess)

He left the U-boat in summer 1940 and commissioned in August 1940 the type IID U-boat the U-142. 

Only two months later he went back to U-37 and replaced the commander, Victor Oehrn. 

During the next three patrols Clausen sunk 12 mostly smaller ships.


U-37 and the Estrellano

One of the ships sunk by Clausen and the U-37 was the British steam merchant ship "Estrellano" travelling at the time in Convoy HG-53.

Click here to read a survivor's account of the sinking.


In May 1941 he left U-37 which then became a training boat and three weeks later he commissioned the U-129.

The first three patrols with U-129 mostly in the Atlantic ended without success but on the fourth patrol in Caribbean waters Niko Clausen sank 7 ships for a total of 25,613 tons. 

During this patrol he was awarded the Knight's Cross. In May 1942, after the patrol he handed over the U-boat to Hans-Ludwig Witt.

On the deck of the U-182.  Taken on 30 June 30 1942 at Deschimag wharf in Bremen, when U-182 was commissioned.

Kapitänleutnant "Niko" Clausen commissioned the U-182 in June 1942. 

On the U-182's first and only patrol he sank 5 ships for a total of 30,071 tons.

During the return U-182 was lost with all hands on 16th May 1943, depth charged by the American destroyer USS MacKenzie.

The U-182 had been homeward bound on the surface when it was picked up by the MacKenzie's radar. The U-182 quickly submerged however could not successfully avoid the MacKenzie's sonar. 

The MacKenzie attacked twice, however left the area after about 90 minutes unsure as to her success. Review of German records after the war confirmed the sinking.


Nikolai Clausen's Naval Promotions

Clausen joined the Kriegsmarine in 1929 and advanced as follows:

01/10/1931 : Obermatrose
01/10/1933 : Matrosengefreiter
01/11/1933 : Bootsmannmaat
01/09/1935 : Obersteuermannsmaat
01/05/1937 : Fähnrich zur See
01/10/1937 : Oberfähnrich zur See
01/01/1938 : Leutnant zur See
01/04/1939 : Oberleutnant zur See
01/01/1941 : Kapitänleutnant
05/04/1945 : Korvettenkapitän (posthumous)

His Decorations

Clausen's decorations included: 

the Iron Cross 2nd class: awarded 28 February 1940; 

the U-boat War Badge (Ubootskriegsabzeichen): awarded 18 April 1940

the Iron Cross 1st class: awarded 10 June 1940; 

and the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross: awarded 13 March 1942.


The following two photos were taken on 13 March 1942 on board the U-129 in the mid Atlantic.  

At the time the boat was returning from the Guyana coast.  

The Knight's Cross has been manufactured on board after receiving confirmation of the award.  

The on-board manufacture of a Knight's Cross was a common practice during the war. 

It showed the crew's respect for their captain and allowed the officer to enjoy the award prior to arrival at port.


Clausen was the 103rd member of the Kriegsmarine and the 46th member of the U-Boat forces to receive the Knight's Cross.

Click here to see Nikolai Clausen's Wehrpass

Click here to see Nikolai Clausen's U-boat War Badge and Award Certificate


The Crew

These two photos were taken in June 1942, when the U-182 was commissioned.  Notables of the town of Bremen gave a reception to the crew as they did for each boat taken over at Deschimag wharf.  

Clausen is sitting in the center row.  The young lady from the first row would three months later become Frau Clausen.  

Clausen is sitting in the middle.  


The Deceased Crewman and Prisoners

All 61 crewmen perished on the U-182.  They are:

Rank, Name, Date of birth

  1. MaschOGfr, Horst Arnold, 17.06.23
  2. MaschOGfr Erwin Baur 17.01.24
  3. FkMt Kurt Behrendts 08.07.16
  4. MtrOGfr Gerhard Beiche 23.02.21
  5. Lt Hans-Jürgen Breitkopf 17.02.22
  6. OMaschMt Wilhelm Brunner 08.08.14
  7. MaschOGfr Hans Buschkämper 14.02.23
  8. KptLt Nikolai Clausen (Commander) 02.06.11
  9. FkOGfr Günter Diemert 03.05.22
  10. OMasch Franz Dietl 09.09.16
  11. OFkMt Werner Dunisch 18.06.17
  12. OMaschMt Erwin Fenzel 22.04.15
  13. MaschMt Heinz Fiacre 24.12.19
  14. MaschOGfr Hermann Fischer 10.09.23
  15. MaschOGfr Hans Golek 30.12.22
  16. MaschMt Helmut Grether 04.05.18
  17. MaschMt Josef Grim 25.01.20
  18. MaschOGfr Withold Grochocki 27.07.20
  19. MechMt Erich Guth 29.08.19
  20. MaschOGfr Horst Haase 01.06.22
  21. OFkMt Günter Hallek 19.09.18
  22. OLt Georg-Wilhelm Heinichen 27.03.20
  23. MaschOGfr Rudolf Heinrich 14.11.22
  24. OFähnr Johann Herr 26.05.17
  25. MaschOGfr Gerhard Heym 28.07.21
  26. OStrm Ernst Hillebrand 11.01.11
  27. MaschOGfr Werner Hofmann 21.11.21
  28. MtrHGfr Werner Kaiser 16.10.18
  29. MtrOGfr Fritz Kaminska 28.06.23
  30. MtrOGfr Hans-Joachim Keppler 10.02.23
  31. KptLt (Ing) Bernhard Klaunig 22.11.13
  32. MaschOGfr Heinrich Korff 16.04.23
  33. FkOGfr Alois Krönauer 25.01.24
  34. MaschOGfr Karl Kunz 15.06.23 (Click here to see letters from Flotilla Command to the crewman's family)
  35. MaschMt Arthur Mai 30.10.19
  36. Lt NT Robert Maibohm 03.11.20
  37. MaschOGfr Werner Mettchen 14.12.22
  38. MtrOGfr Bernhard Mittmann 18.06.24
  39. BtsMt Heinz Nawroth 03.10.22
  40. Fähnr Dietrich Pfeiffer 30.05.24
  41. BtsMt Johann Plank 08.07.22
  42. MaschOGfr Werner Richter 01.05.24
  43. OMasch Kurt Röhricht 08.12.14
  44. MarSt Arzt Wilhelm Dr. Runte 20.11.10
  45. Lt (Ing) Hans-Jochen Schaube 10.07.20
  46. OMasch Helmuth Schendel 25.03.19
  47. FkMt Rolf Schöne 30.10.20
  48. BtsMt Nikolaus Scholz 15.01.18
  49. MaschMt Ludwig Schorsch 17.09.20
  50. MtrOGfr Richard Sehrt 30.12.23
  51. Btsm Helmut Spieler 06.04.17
  52. MechGfr Hermann Tewes 22.02.23
  53. MaschMt Erich Tiesler 16.10.20
  54. MaschOGfr Gottfried Urban 13.02.22
  55. MtrOGfr Kurt Volkmer 20.07.24
  56. MtrGfr Günter Wattrodt 25.08.24
  57. MaschOGfr Ernst Weimer 23.07.21
  58. SanOGfr Heinrich Weiske 02.03.22
  59. MechGfr Reinhold Wilczeck 07.03.23
  60. MechMt Johannes Wunderlich 16.02.20
  61. MaschMt Adolf Zacharias 24.12.16

In addition to the crewmen, prisoners were on board the U-182 at the time it was lost: 2 captains and at least 1 engineer.  

There was a directive to reduce the number of qualified enemy captains by retaining the officers and especially the commanders of ships sunk. 

Captain Angus MacLennan from the British steamer "Aloe" (sunk on 5 April 1943) and the captain from the Greek steamer "Adelfotis" (sunk on 1 May 1943) were on board.

Captain Angus MacLennan

Here is a photo of Captain Angus MacLennan of the steamer "Aloe" which was sunk on 5 April 1943.  This photo was provided by great-niece Audrey Paterson who wrote to me after finding this site. 

Audrey writes:

"My great uncle Angus MacLennan was Master of the 'Aloe' and a crewman later wrote to the family to tell them that when she was sunk by U182, the Master and First Engineer of the 'Aloe' were taken aboard the U-boat and the rest of the crew took to the lifeboats - they were subsequently rescued by allied shipping."

 

"Angus had married a Miss MacKenzie in South Africa in his 50s but unfortunately, she died in childbirth along with her baby daughter.  His family had come from the island of Fladda, off Raasay, and he was a native speaker of Scottish Gaelic.  His father, Norman MacLennan, was also a merchant seaman and spent a considerable part of his life as a yachtsman for the families who owned Raasay House.  Angus apparently began his seafaring career working with his father."


One of my correspondents obtained a copy of the U-182's war diary, as written by the German operations staff.  

According to these records, the "Aloe" was carrying a cargo of wheat (5000 tons), wood (5000 tons), lead (350 tons) and mail.
 


Epilogue

Conflicts such as the one between the USS MacKenzie and the U-182 occurred many, many times during the war.

The purpose of this web page is not to glorify the men of the U-182, nor to vilify them.  

The men of the MacKenzie and the men of the U-182 were performing their duty to the best of their ability.  

Fortunately the MacKenzie prevailed, unfortunately with the loss of good fighting men on the U-182.  

But then that's the nature of war.

I hope you have enjoyed viewing this information.


And when at length her course is run,

Her work for home and country done,

Of all the souls that in her sailed

Let not one life in Thee have failed;

But hear from heaven our sailor’s cry,

And grant eternal life on high!


See Letters from Kriegsmarine Flotilla Command to a U-Boat Crewman's Family

Nikolai Clausen's Wehrpass

Nikolai Clausen's U-Boat War Badge and Award Certificate

Return to the USS MacKenzie Page

Return to Collecting History