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Returning from a successful patrol
Born on 23 February 1913 in Riga, von TIESENHAUSEN was in Naval Class 1934. He ultimately commanded U-331 and was decorated with the Knights Cross.
When he was just a young Leutnant zur See, he was posted as part of the crew of the cruiser NÜRNBERG during her "security" patrols in Spanish waters in 1937, having to do with the Spanish Civil War.
For s short while, he was assigned to the 5th Marine Artillery Battalion stationed in Pillau (now the Russian city of Baltysk) but he was not happy there and he requested a change to the U-Bootwaffe. He was very fortunate and was posted as II. W. O. on U-23 under the great Otto Kretschmer (122-+-1985). The I.W.O. at that time was another who went on to greatness - Adalbert Schnee, so von TIESENHAUSEN had a great education. He was then posted to U-93 under another top Skipper, Klaus Korth so by the time he commissioned U-331, he was very well schooled by top people and was battle hardened.
Hit first war patrol took him, like most of the other boats, into the North Atlantic but his second patrol took him through the "Gates of Hell", the Straits of Gibraltar, and from then on he operated in the Mediterranean. His first Mediterranean patrol had him off the shore of Ras el Gibeisa where he landed a commando party from the famed Brandenburg Division. Once they were landed, he looked for targets of opportunity.
While patrolling off the coast of Bardia on 25 November, 1941 when the soundman heard heavy screws. When U-331 came within sight, they saw a group of battleships. U-331 closed to within 450 meters of the Royal Navy battleship HMS BARHAM and fired a four torpedo spread (a 'Fan of Fate') at the ship. Three torpedoes hit the battleship which almost immediately rolled over on her starboard side and in less than a minute, the magazines exploded, tearing the ship apart. This is a scene that is shown time and again on television.
von TIESENHAUSEN and U-331 had an impressive career after this sinking, but on 17 November 1942, British aircraft bombed U-331, making it impossible for her to dive. A torpedo from an old Fairey SWORDFISH flying off HMS FORMIDABLE sank the boat, but von TIESENHAUSEN and fifteen of his crew survived to be picked up and held as POWs.
The story doesn't end there - von TIESENHAUSEN must have liked the British Empire a lot while in POW camp because soon after the end of the war and after being released from his POW camp, von TIESENHAUSEN became a citizen of Canada and lived out his life in a small town on the west coast of Canada. He was very reluctant to discuss his wartime experiences.
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