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SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans
ERICH TOPP (118-1985)
3rd Most Successful Submarine Skipper
ERICH TOPP was born 2 July
1914 in Hannover and was in the Naval Academy Class 1934.
TOPP began his career in
the U-Bootwaffe with the Type II-C coastal boat U-57 where
he had an outstanding run off the British coast. Even though his
'dugout canoe' was vigorously attacked by Royal Navy escorts and
literally shoved into the mud on the bottom, they escaped and returned
safely from this patrol.
ERICH TOPP then took over
U-552 which became known as 'der Roteteufelboot' or
the Red Devil boat. His turmabzeichen (tower emblem) was that of
two dancing red devils.
The U-Boat Skippers were lionized to the level of a rock star in wartime Germany, and this photo of TOPP was seen all over Germany. He received many letters from Germans, including one from a beautiful young woman who included her photo, and a note saying that she wanted to be his periscope. ERICH always loved telling that story.
|TOPP told us that these two
devils represented what they had to do - sink ships;
and what they wanted to do - to return safely.
|20 June 1941 ERICH TOPP was decorated with the Knights Cross||11 April 1942 TOPP was
decorated with the Oak Leaf.
Only 28 Skippers were so decorated in the war.
|TOPP was decorated with the U-Bootskriegabzeichen (Submarine Combat Badge) with diamonds in the Swastika. Only 28 Skippers were so decorated in the war.||17 August 1942 ERICH TOPP
was decorated with the
Crossed Swords to his Knights Cross.
Only 5 Skippers received this very high award.
|At the 1998 Celebrate History in San Francisco||In his home, signing fine art
prints. He hand-signed many
prints for us to help Sharkhunters keep this history alive.
CLICK HERE to see these prints
ERICH TOPP suffered tragedy late in
his life - he and a lady friend were driving from his winter home in Spain when
they were slammed by another car, killing his girlfriend and shattering his
femur. The accident occurred one year exactly from the date on which his
wife had died.
At our Sharkhunters "Patrol in
Paradise 2000" we see ERICH TOPP (right) with COOPER
(left) and our P-3 Orion pilot. When COOPER was making the
arrangements, TOPP told him that he had a nurse who traveled with
him, so we said we would give him two connecting rooms. "NO!"
he emphatically said; she must be in the same room. Okay, so we got him
the penthouse suite. When COOPER picked them up at the
airport, the situation was a little more clear - TOPP, age 86 at
the time, walked off the plane with his nurse - a beautiful 26 year old
young woman. Those sailors really know how to live!
CLICK HERE to see this print
ROLF and COOPER looked at
each other in bewilderment as ERICH yelled for them to hurry into the
house. His 'nurse' was due at the airport shortly and they had to hurry.
It was a scene from an Abbot and Costello comedy film! With the Skippers
seated across from each other at the signing table, COOPER would put the
prints in front of THOMSEN who signed each print; COOPER would
move it to TOPP who would then put his signature on the print, and
COOPER would put the print on the stack......ONE THOUSAND PRINTS!
COOPER was like a one-armed paper hanger in a windstorm! It was a
warm day and within about five minutes, COOPER was soaked in sweat,
THOMSEN convulsed in laughter and all the while, ERICH yelling for
them to work faster, faster, faster. When they were finished, all departed
the house - TOPP sped away in his white BMW for the airport with
THOMSEN yelling at him to drive carefully. These were great men!
|Another victim of the Red Devil Boat||the Red Devil Boat heading out to sea|
|Heading out to see on patrol||The boat didn't always look the
same on her return.
HMCS SACKVILLE hit U-552 very hard
Maybe a little bent up and damaged,
but the pride always showed.
TOPP confers with his L.I on the bridge
|Keeping a sharp lookout|
ERICH TOPP was a strong, supportive
Member of Sharkhunters and a good friend. He hand signed some of our very rare fine art prints.
Click on the prints to see their descriptions.
"Knights Cross "ALMOST HOME" "CONVOY IN SIGHT"
with Oak Leaf
and Crossed Swords"
"Yesterday's Enemies are
|At the Sharkhunters 2000 "Patrol in Paradise" we see ERICH TOPP second from the right.|
Enjoy your morning coffee with
ERICH TOPP. Click on the
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