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Kapitšnleutnant ROLF THOMSEN
Kriegsmarine, U-Bootwaffe Commander U-1202
was born 6 May 1915 in Berlin and was in Naval Class 1936. Like so
many others who became U-Boat Skippers, ROLF began as a flier and
flew many quite dangerous missions for which he was highly decorated.
On 1 January 1944 he transferred to the U-Bootwaffe and put U-1202
into commission at the Schichau Shipyard in Danzig. His first
Feindfahrt (war patrol) was in the North Atlantic and it began with
quite a success on 10 December as he fired all four at steamers in a
convoy. He heard four detonations at the proper time, heard
sinking noises and claimed sinking two steamers of 6,000 tons each and
also two steamers of 7,000 tons each. Only the 7,176 ton American
Liberty Ship SS DAN BEARD was confirmed sunk but at this
point in the war, it was no small accomplishment. After this
patrol, he was decorated with the Knights
Cross on 4 January 1945.
THOMSEN was back to sea quickly in March 1945 against the North
Atlantic convoys and on 21 March 1945 he fired at warships, sinking one
destroyer and damaging an escort carrier. On 31 March he fired at
two steamers estimated at 7,000 tons each and claimed both sunk.
There was no confirmation. On the next day, 1 April, he fired at a
steamer estimated at 7,000 tons and two corvettes, claiming damage to
the steamer and both corvettes sunk. There was no confirmation.
On 29 April 1945 he was decorated with the
Oak Leaf to the Knights
Cross but the despair can be seen on the faces of all
concerned - this award was made one week before the surrender order and
it was obvious that defeat was imminent.
ROLF THOMSEN went back into
the German Navy after the war and retired at the rank of
Flotillenadmiral (one Star). I met him on 25 July 2001 at the home
of ERICH TOPP, Member #118 as these two great warriors
hand-signed our print "Yesterdays Enemies - Today's Friends".
These prints were all hand-signed by ERICH TOPP, Member #118
with the Knights Cross, Oak Leaf
and Crossed Swords;
ROLF THOMSEN, Member #6327 with the
Knights Cross and
Oak Leaf; HANS-GEORG HESS,
Member #125 with the Knights Cross;
GENE FLUCKEY, Member #2169 with the
Medal of Honor and four
Navy Crosses; SLADE CUTTER, Member #3174
with four Navy Crosses; and
NED BEACH, Member #1163 with the
At the home of TOPP, I was placing the prints to
be signed in front of THOMSEN where he would sign and pass to
TOPP for his signature. TOPP was signed at fantastic
speed - ROLF and I had a tough time keeping pace with him.
Why? TOPP, at age 82, was rushing to the airport to
pick up his 22 year old girlfriend! Old sailors never change.....
They were great guys!
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