Fritz-Julius Lemp was a captain in the Kriegsmarine during World War II and commander of U-28, U-30 and U-110. He sank the British passenger liner SS Athenia in September 1939, in violation of the Hague conventions. Germany’s responsibility for the sinking was suppressed by Admiral Karl Dönitz and the Nazi propaganda. Lemp died on 9 May 1941. On 3 September 1939, while in command of U-30, he sank the 13,581 ton passenger ship Athenia, the first British ship sunk in World War II. Lemp claimed that the fact she was steering a zigzag course which seemed to be well off the normal shipping routes made him believe she was either a troopship or an armed merchant cruiser. Adolf Hitler decided the incident should be kept secret for political reasons, the German newspaper Völkischer Beobachter published an article which blamed the loss of the Athenia on the British, accusing Winston Churchill First Lord of the Admiralty, of sinking the ship to turn neutral opinion against Nazi Germany; the truth did not emerge until January 1946 at the Nuremberg trials, during the case against Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, when a statement by Admiral Dönitz was read in which he admitted that Athenia had been torpedoed by U-30 and every effort had been made to cover it up, including ordering Lemp to alter his log book.
U-110 was captured on 9 May 1941 in the North Atlantic south of Iceland by the destroyers HMS Bulldog, HMS Broadway and the British corvette HMS Aubrietia. After depth charges forced the boat to the surface, where she was shelled, Lemp ordered the crew to abandon ship and open the vents in order to sink the crippled U-boat. Lemp was not among the 34 survivors rescued by the Allied vessels, one account of his fate has him swimming back to the submarine when he realized that the scuttling charges were not going to detonate and either being shot and killed by the boarding party or drowning in the icy water. After the war the Germans claimed that Lemp had been shot in the water, either by Sub-Lieutenant Balme's boarding party from HMS Bulldog or from the Bulldog. Balme, assured German journalists that no shot had been fired at any time by his party. Joe Baker-Cresswell, commander of the Bulldog denied that Lemp had been shot, the official British explanation remains that Lemp committed suicide by drowning when he realized the consequences of his failure.
Balme's party boarded the U-boat, capturing an intact Enigma machine and the code books, which would contribute to the deciphering of German military codes by British intelligence based at Bletchley Park. Wehrmacht Long Service Award 4th Class Spanish Cross in Bronze Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 14 August 1940 as Kapitänleutnant and commander of U-30
Wolfgang Lüth was the second most successful German U-boat captain of World War II. His career record of 46 merchant ships plus the French submarine Doris sunk during 15 war patrols, with a total displacement of 225,204 gross register tons, was second only to that of Korvettenkapitän Otto Kretschmer, whose 47 sinkings totaled 273.043 GRT. Lüth joined the Reichsmarine in 1933. After a period of training on surface vessels, he transferred to the U-boat service in 1936. In December 1939 he received command of U-9. In June 1940 he took command of U-138 for two patrols. In October 1940 he transferred again, this time to the ocean-going submarine U-43 for five war-patrols. After two patrols on U-181, the second being his longest of the war, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Diamonds, he was the first of two U-boat commanders to be so honored during World War II, the other recipient being Albrecht Brandi. Lüth's last service position was commander of the Naval Academy Mürwik near Flensburg.
He was accidentally shot and killed by a German sentry on the night of 13/14 May 1945. On 16 May 1945, Lüth was given the last state funeral in the Third Reich. Lüth was a Baltic German born in Riga part of the Russian Empire, he went to the Naturwissenschaftliches Gymnasium there and after he had received his Abitur, he studied law for three semesters at the Herder-Institut. With his parents' approval he left Latvia to join the German Reichsmarine on 1 April 1933 as an officer candidate. After he underwent basic military training, he was transferred to the training ship Gorch Fock attaining the rank of Seekadett on 23 September 1933, he served with the surface fleet, going on a nine-month training tour around the world in the cruiser Karlsruhe from 24 September 1933 to 27 June 1934. He advanced in rank to Fähnrich zur See on 1 July 1934 and served for a year aboard the light cruiser Königsberg, attaining the rank of Oberfähnrich zur See on 1 April 1936 and Leutnant zur See on 1 October 1936.
In February 1937 he transferred to the U-boat arm and was promoted to Oberleutnant zur See on 1 June 1938. In July he was appointed 2nd Watch Officer of U-27, he sailed on a patrol in Spanish waters during the civil war in that country on the U-boat tender Erwin Wassner. In October he was appointed the 1st Watch Officer of U-38 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe, who during the course of World War II would earn the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves; when war broke out, Lüth was on patrol with U-38 which had left Wilhelmshaven on 19 August 1939 and patrolled the Western Approaches until returning to base on 18 September 1939. On 30 December 1939 Lüth took command of a Type IIB U-boat, he went on six patrols with this boat. In January 1940, U-9 sank the Swedish merchantman Flandria, following the premature ignition of a smoke float; this surface attack was carried out. Other sinkings included the surfaced French submarine Doris on 9 May 1940 and seven merchant ships with a total of 16,669 gross register tons.
An attack on ORP Błyskawica on 20 April 1940, was unsuccessful as the torpedoes malfunctioned and detonated in the wake of the destroyer. On 27 June 1940 Lüth took command of U-138, a Type IID submarine, with which he sank four ships on his first patrol, totalling 34,644 GRT. In October, U-138 returned from his second patrol, during which it fired a torpedo at the Norwegian merchant steamer SS Dagrun, sank the British merchant steamer SS Bonheur and damaged the British motor tanker British Glory; the German authorities believed that British Glory had been sunk and Lüth was nominated for the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, which he was awarded on 24 October 1940. In the radio announcement, Lüth was credited with sinking 12 ships and one submarine of 87,236 tons, when in reality sunken tonnage added up to only 51,316 GRT by the end of September, rising to 56,643 GRT on 15 October 1940. For his achievements, Lüth was given command of a new boat, on 21 October 1940 Lüth took command of U-43, a long range Type IX U-boat.
After twice aborting the first patrol due to mechanical failures, he carried out five patrols with this boat, totaling 204 days at sea, sinking 12 ships adding up to 64,852 GRT. On 1 January 1941 he was promoted to Kapitänleutnant. Lüth, because of his experience—like many other top commanders—was tasked with training future U-boat commanders, including Erich Würdemann; these trainees came along on single war-patrols, which would be their last exercise before they received their own command. U-43 was due to depart Lorient on a war patrol to an area off Freetown, west Africa, but early on 4 February 1941, she sank while tied to Ysere, an old sailing ship, used as a floating pier. Valves and vents had been tampered-with the previous day, but no one had noticed the slow, but steady ingress of water into the bilges. To make matters worse and contrary to a Befehlshaber der U-Boote directive, a hatch had been left open, allowing water to pour into the after torpedo room. Two petty officers were found to be most at fault.
However, according to author Jordan Vause, no record of punishment seems to have survived and Lüth's career does not appear to have been affected. U-43 was refloated and Lüth took it back out into the North Atlantic in May 1941
German submarine U-556
German submarine U-556 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. She was laid down on 2 January 1940 at the Blohm & Voss yard in Hamburg as yard number 532, launched on 7 December 1940, commissioned on 6 February 1941 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Herbert Wohlfarth, who commanded her for her entire career. U-556 conducted only two patrols, sinking six ships totalling 29,552 gross register tons and damaging one other of 4,986 tons, before she was sunk on 27 June 1941. German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-556 had a displacement of 769 tonnes when at the 871 tonnes while submerged, she had a total length of 67.10 m, a pressure hull length of 50.50 m, a beam of 6.20 m, a height of 9.60 m, a draught of 4.74 m. The submarine was powered by two Germaniawerft F46 four-stroke, six-cylinder supercharged diesel engines producing a total of 2,800 to 3,200 metric horsepower for use while surfaced, two Brown, Boveri & Cie GG UB 720/8 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 750 metric horsepower for use while submerged.
She had two 1.23 m propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres; the submarine had a maximum submerged speed of 7.6 knots. When submerged, the boat could operate for 80 nautical miles at 4 knots. U-556 was fitted with five 53.3 cm torpedo tubes, fourteen torpedoes, one 8.8 cm SK C/35 naval gun, 220 rounds, a 2 cm C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of between sixty. U-556 sailed from Kiel for her first patrol on 1 May 1941, she headed out into the waters of the northern Atlantic, south of Greenland. She made her first kill on 6 May, sinking the 166-ton Faroese fishing trawler Emanuel with her deck gun west of the Faroe Islands. On 10 May she joined the wolfpack West attacking Convoy OB 318 south-east of Cape Farewell, her first victim was the 4,986 ton British merchant ship Aelybryn, hit by one of the torpedoes fired by the U-boat at 04:42. Badly damaged, but suffering only a single casualty, the ship was towed to Reykjavík by HMS Hollyhock; the convoy scattered, but at 07:52 U-556 torpedoed and sank the 4,861-ton British merchant ship Empire Caribou.
Nine crew members and two gunners were picked up by HMS Malcolm, but the master, 31 crewmen, two gunners were lost. The U-boat had her third success of the day at 20:37, sinking the 5,086-ton Belgian merchant ship Gand. One crew member was lost and another wounded; the master, 38 crewmen and four gunners were rescued. Ten days on 10 May, the wolfpack attacked Convoy HX 126. Between 14:48 and 15:16 U-556 fired torpedoes at the convoy and sank two British merchant ships, the 4,974-ton Darlington Court and the 5,995-ton Cockaponset, the 8,470-ton tanker British Security. Loaded with 11,200 tons of benzine and kerosene, the tanker caught fire and burned for three days before sinking. There were no survivors from her crew of 53. On 26 May, while returning from patrol, low on fuel and having fired all her torpedoes, U-556 was ordered to reconnoitre the most reported position of the battleship Bismarck. U-556 and Bismarck had been neighbours in the ways at Blohm & Voss and their construction was completed at about the same time.
In January 1941, as U-556's commissioning ceremony approached, Wohlfarth wanted a band for the celebration, but could not afford to hire one. Kapitän Ernst Lindemann, commanding officer of Bismarck, lent him his ship's band; as thanks, Wohlfarth drew up a humorous Patenschaftsurkunde promising that U-556 would protect Bismarck. A drawing shows Wohlfarth as the knight Parzival on the deck of U-556 bringing down planes with a sword and reaching underwater to stop a torpedo with his thumb. A second drawing shows the submarine towing the battleship to safety; the text accompanying the drawing reads: Wir U556 erklären hiermit vor Neptun, dem Herrscher über Ozeane, Seen, Flüsse, Büche, Teiche und Rinnsale daß wir unserem grossen Bruder, dem Schlachtschiff Bismarck in jeder Lage, zu Wasser, unter Wasser, zu Lande wie in der Luft beistehen wollen. Hamburg, den 28. Januar 1941 Kommandant u Besatzung U556We, U-556, hereby declare before Neptune, Lord over oceans, lakes, brooks and rivulets, that we will provide any desired assistance to our Big Brother, the battleship Bismarck, at any place on the water, under water, on land, or in the air.
Hamburg, 28 January 1941 Commander & Crew U556 Around 19:50, Wohlfahrt saw the battlecruiser HMS Renown and the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal coming out of the mist at high speed. He recorded in his log, "Enemy bows on, 10 degrees to starboard, without destroyers, without zigzagging," but without any torpedoes, could only submerge and avoid them. Wohlfahrt saw activity on Ark Royal's flight deck, which transpired to be the launching of the second, fatal attack on Bismarck. At 20:39, Wohlfahrt surfaced and transmitted, "Enemy in view, a battleship, an aircraft carrier, course 115, enemy is proceeding at high speed. Position 48° 20′ N, 16° 20′ W." Renown's and Ark Royal's course toward Bismarck coincided exactly with his own. Wohlfahrt's War Diary contains
German submarine U-201
German submarine U-201 was a Type VIIC U-boat of the Kriegsmarine in World War II. The submarine was laid down on 20 January 1940 by Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft yard at Kiel as yard number 630, launched on 7 December 1940, commissioned on 25 January 1941 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Adalbert Schnee. Attached to the 1st U-boat Flotilla, she made nine successful patrols in the North Atlantic, the last two under the command of Kapitänleutnant Günther Rosenberg, she was a member of eight wolfpacks. She was sunk by depth charges from a British warship. All 49 hands were lost. German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-201 had a displacement of 769 tonnes when at the 871 tonnes while submerged, she had a total length of 67.10 m, a pressure hull length of 50.50 m, a beam of 6.20 m, a height of 9.60 m, a draught of 4.74 m. The submarine was powered by two Germaniawerft F46 four-stroke, six-cylinder supercharged diesel engines producing a total of 2,800 to 3,200 metric horsepower for use while surfaced, two AEG GU 460/8–27 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 750 metric horsepower for use while submerged.
She had two 1.23 m propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres; the submarine had a maximum submerged speed of 7.6 knots. When submerged, the boat could operate for 80 nautical miles at 4 knots. U-201 was fitted with five 53.3 cm torpedo tubes, fourteen torpedoes, one 8.8 cm SK C/35 naval gun, 220 rounds, a 2 cm C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of between sixty. U-201 departed Kiel for her first patrol on 22 April 1941, her route took her across the North Sea, through the gap separating Iceland and the Faroe Islands and into the Atlantic Ocean. Her first ` kill' was Capulet; the ship had been torpedoed by U-552. Moving east of Greenland, she damaged Empire Cloud on the same day, she was attacked over five hours by three escorts from Convoy OB-318. A total of 99 depth charges were dropped damaging the boat, but she escaped, she docked at Lorient in occupied France on 18 May. The submarine's second foray passed without major incident: starting on 8 June 1941, finishing on 19 July but in Brest..
U-201's third sortie began from Brest on 14 August 1941. On the 19th in mid-Atlantic she took part in a wolfpack attack on Convoy OG 71. Firing one spread of four torpedoes she hit the cargo ship Ciscar and passenger liner Aguila, carrying the Convoy Commodore and 86 other Royal Navy personnel. Both ships sank, Aguila's sinking killed 152 of the 168 people aboard, including all but one of the naval staff. U-201 continued with the concerted attack on OG 71, sinking the Irish Clonlara on 22 August and British merchants Aldergrove and Stork northwest of Lisbon on the 23rd, before returning to Brest on the 25th. Success continued to accompany U-201. Having departed Brest on 14 September 1941 she sank Runa and Rhineland, all on 21 September, she sank Cervantes on 27 September. This ship had four survivors from Ciscar on board, she accounted for HMS Springbank, a Fighter catapult ship about 430 nmi west southwest of Cape Clear, southern Ireland on the same date. One torpedo was seen to pass between Springbank and Leadgate, but two others sealed the British vessel's fate.
The submarine's final victim on this patrol was Margareta. U-201 returned to Brest on 30 September. On U-201's fifth sortie. U-201 commenced her sixth and longest patrol on 24 March 1942. Having departed Brest and crossed the Atlantic, she damaged the Argentinian and neutral Victoria about 300 nmi east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on 18 April; the crew, realizing that the ship, despite the torpedo strike, was not settling, decided to stay on board. The U-boat men only saw the neutrality markings after a second torpedo was fired and the submarine had surfaced. Victoria's complement abandoned their vessel. USS Owl, an American minesweeper towing the barge YOG-38, picked-up Victoria's distress signals and sent a boarding party across to the tanker to effect repairs; the ship reached New York on 21 April and after much legal wrangling, was repaired and requisitioned by the US government and returned to service in July. She survived the war. Three more ships went to the bottom on this patrol - Bris on 21 April, SS San Jacinto and Derryheen, both on 22 April.
The boat returned to Brest on 21 May. Patrol number seven was in tonnage terms, the boat's most successful. Departing Brest on 27 June 1942, she operated in the eastern north Atlantic, sinking the Blue Star Liner Avila Star 90 nmi east of São Miguel in the Azores on 6 July. Casualties were increased when a torpedo exploded under a lifeboat that had just been lowered from the ship and the remaining lifeboats became separated, one spending 20 days at sea before being rescued and another being lost without trace. Another victim, Cortuna
U-boat is an anglicised version of the German word U-Boot, a shortening of Unterseeboot "underseaboat." While the German term refers to any submarine, the English one refers to military submarines operated by Germany in the First and Second World Wars. Although at times they were efficient fleet weapons against enemy naval warships, they were most used in an economic warfare role and enforcing a naval blockade against enemy shipping; the primary targets of the U-boat campaigns in both wars were the merchant convoys bringing supplies from Canada and other parts of the British Empire, from the United States to the United Kingdom and to the Soviet Union and the Allied territories in the Mediterranean. German submarines destroyed Brazilian merchant ships during World War II, causing Brazil to declare war on the Axis powers in 1944. Austro-Hungarian Navy submarines were known as U-boats; the first submarine built in Germany, the three-man Brandtaucher, sank to the bottom of Kiel harbor on 1 February 1851 during a test dive.
The inventor and engineer Wilhelm Bauer had designed this vessel in 1850, Schweffel & Howaldt constructed it in Kiel. Dredging operations in 1887 rediscovered Brandtaucher. There followed in 1890 the boats WW2, built to a Nordenfelt design. In 1903 the Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft dockyard in Kiel completed the first functional German-built submarine, which Krupp sold to Russia during the Russo-Japanese War in April 1904; the SM U-1 was a redesigned Karp-class submarine and only one was built. The Imperial German Navy commissioned it on 14 December 1906, it had a double hull, a Körting kerosene engine, a single torpedo tube. The 50%-larger SM U-2 had two torpedo tubes; the U-19 class of 1912–13 saw the first diesel engine installed in a German navy boat. At the start of World War I in 1914, Germany had 48 submarines of 13 classes in service or under construction. During that war the Imperial German Navy used SM U-1 for training. Retired in 1919, it remains on display at the Deutsches Museum in Munich.
On 5 September 1914, HMS Pathfinder was sunk by SM U-21, the first ship to have been sunk by a submarine using a self-propelled torpedo. On 22 September, U-9 under the command of Otto Weddigen sank the obsolete British warships HMS Aboukir, HMS Cressy and HMS Hogue in a single hour. In the Gallipoli Campaign in early 1915 in the eastern Mediterranean, German U-boats, notably the U-21, prevented close support of allied troops by 18 pre-Dreadnought battleships by sinking two of them. For the first few months of the war, U-boat anticommerce actions observed the "prize rules" of the time, which governed the treatment of enemy civilian ships and their occupants. On 20 October 1914, SM U-17 sank the SS Glitra, off Norway. Surface commerce raiders were proving to be ineffective, on 4 February 1915, the Kaiser assented to the declaration of a war zone in the waters around the British Isles; this was cited as a retaliation for British minefields and shipping blockades. Under the instructions given to U-boat captains, they could sink merchant ships potentially neutral ones, without warning.
In February 1915, a submarine U-6 was rammed and both periscopes were destroyed off Beachy Head by the collier SS Thordis commanded by Captain John Bell RNR after firing a torpedo. On 7 May 1915, SM U-20 sank the liner RMS Lusitania; the sinking claimed 1,198 lives, 128 of them American civilians, the attack of this unarmed civilian ship shocked the Allies. According to the ship's manifest, Lusitania was carrying military cargo, though none of this information was relayed to the citizens of Britain and the United States who thought that the ship contained no ammunition or military weaponry whatsoever and it was an act of brutal murder. Munitions that it carried were thousands of crates full of ammunition for rifles, 3-inch artillery shells, various other standard ammunition used by infantry; the sinking of the Lusitania was used as propaganda against the German Empire and caused greater support for the war effort. A widespread reaction in the U. S was not seen until the sinking of the ferry SS Sussex.
The sinking occurred in 1915 and the United States entered the war in 1917. The initial U. S. response was to threaten to sever diplomatic ties, which persuaded the Germans to issue the Sussex pledge that reimposed restrictions on U-boat activity. The U. S. reiterated its objections to German submarine warfare whenever U. S. civilians died as a result of German attacks, which prompted the Germans to reapply prize rules. This, removed the effectiveness of the U-boat fleet, the Germans sought a decisive surface action, a strategy that culminated in the Battle of Jutland. Although the Germans claimed victory at Jutland, the British Grand Fleet remained in control at sea, it was necessary to return to effective anticommerce warfare by U-boats. Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer, Commander in Chief of the High Seas Fleet, pressed for all-out U-boat war, convinced that a high rate of shipping losses would force Britain to seek an early peace before the United States could react effectively; the renewed German campaign was effective, sinking 1.4 million tons of shipping between October 1916 and January 1917.
Despite this, the political situation demanded greater pressure, on 31 January 1917, Germany announced that its U-boats would engage in unrestricted submarine warfare beginning 1 February. On 17 March, German submarines sank three American merchant vessels, the U. S. declared wa
Belgium the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, the North Sea to the northwest, it has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; the sovereign state is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organisation is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds, it is divided into three autonomous regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south, the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita. Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or Communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 59 percent of the population, the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons.
The Brussels-Capital Region is bilingual, although French is the dominant language. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments. Belgium was part of an area known as the Low Countries, a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that included parts of northern France and western Germany, its name is derived after the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan centre of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the "Battlefield of Europe", a reputation strengthened by both world wars; the country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution. Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa.
The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased. Unemployment in Wallonia is more than double that of Flanders. Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country's capital, Brussels. Belgium is a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, WTO, a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area. Brussels hosts several of the EU's official seats as well as the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO.
Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy. It has high standards of living, quality of life, education, is categorized as "very high" in the Human Development Index, it ranks as one of the safest or most peaceful countries in the world. The name "Belgium" is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings. A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire; the Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and West Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which, during the Middle Ages, were vassals either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 15th centuries.
Emperor Charles V extended the personal union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The Eighty Years' War divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces and the Southern Netherlands; the latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region; the reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815, after the defeat of Napo
Gerhard Bigalk was a captain with the Kriegsmarine during World War II and commander of U-751. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross of Nazi Germany. Bigalk spent some years in the merchant marine before joining the Kriegsmarine in April 1934, he trained as an observer in the naval air force, saw service during the Spanish Civil War, making 21 combat flights in 1937. He joined the U-boat force in November 1939, he trained into 1940, taking command of the school boat U-14 between June and August 1940. He took command of the newly built submarine U-751 when it commissioned in January 1941. Between June 1941 and July 1942 Bigalk commanded U-751 on seven combat patrols, sinking six ships totalling 32,412 tons, damaged one ship of 8,096 tons; this included the 11,000 ton British escort carrier HMS Audacity from convoy HG 76, sunk on 21 December 1941 during his fourth patrol, for which Bigalk was awarded the Knight's Cross. Bigalk died on 17 July 1942 when U-751 was sunk with all hands by depth charges dropped by a Whitley bomber from No. 502 Squadron RAF and a Lancaster bomber from No. 61 Squadron RAF in the North Atlantic north-west of Cape Ortegal, Spain.
Bigalk received a posthumous promotion to Korvettenkapitän on 5 April 1945. As commander of U-751 Gerhard Bigalk is credited with the sinking of five ships for a total of 21,412 gross register tons, further damaging one ship of 8,096 GRT and sinking one warship of 11,000 long tons. Luftwaffe Observation Badge Wehrmacht Long Service Award 4th Class Cruz roja Medalla de la Campaña Spanish Cross in Silver with Swords The Return of Sudetenland Commemorative Medal of 1 October 1938 Iron Cross 2nd Class 1st Class U-boat War Badge Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 26 December 1941 as Kapitänleutnant and commander of U-751