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HERBERT ZOLLER was born 19 May in 1919 and was in the Naval Academy Crew (Class) 1938 at the German Naval Academy at Flensburg/Mürwik. During his training, he commanded U-3 in a training flotilla then he was given command of U-315, a Type VII-C Frontboot. He was promoted to Oberleutnant zur See 1 April 1943.
In one major operation, in September 1944, ZOLLER was ordered to take U-315 into Kola Fjord (Soviet Union) and to sink the Soviet battleship ARCHANGELSK (the former HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN) much in the same fashion as Günther Prien did with his U-47 in Scapa Flow when he sank the battleship HMS ROYAL OAK in October 1939. This would make a great propaganda coup to lift the spirits of a German public and military who could see that the end was getting closer and closer for Germany. They needed something to lift their spirits, but the days when a U-Boat could slip into an anchorage, sink a battleship then return to a hero's welcome were long past. The Allies had learned much higher levels of security, and this anticipated success was not to be for ZOLLER and his U-315.
The Soviet Navy was quite afraid of the U-Boats, and so ARCHANGELSK had not been to sea but rather, had been hiding far up Kola Fjord for protection much as the German battleship TIRPITZ had done in Tromso Fjord, Norway. On a dark night in September 1944, ZOLLER and his U-315 slipped quietly toward the entrance to Kola Bay and learned to their horror, that the Soviets had strung an anti-submarine net across the entrance to the Fjord and now U-315 was firmly entangled in this net. They tried again and again, all through the night, but to no avail.....U-315 would not budge; she was trapped.
The clock was ticking faster and faster and soon the rays of the morning sun would reveal to the Soviets that they had snagged a U-Boat in their net and the end would come quickly for the men aboard U-315. One more try to break free - and the boat finally broke the bonds that held her almost to her destruction, and she was now free. ZOLLER decided that it was impossible to penetrate the defenses of the Fjord and he returned to base. His troubles were not over. When he returned to base, he was confronted with the very real possibility that he was going to be court-martialled for failing to penetrate the defenses and sink ARCHANGELSK!
He successfully avoided this horror and commanded U-315 for additional patrols, and was somewhat successful in the closing months of the war when the boats didn't return let alone sink anything. He attacked several ships, sinking at least one confirmed. When the war ended, he and the crew of U-315 were ordered to wait in Trondheim with their flotilla until some group of the Allies came to take them in. They could keep their weapons and frequently went hunting with the Norwegian police. They were finally taken in September 1945, but ZOLLER's bad luck had not left him.
Some years after the war, his fortunes took a bad turn and he went broke, highly unusual for a former U-Boat Skipper. He suffered several strokes and went into a nursing home. He ultimately passed away, a broken man but he still had the deep affection of his former crew.
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