SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans

HELMUT  WITTE  (4238-1995)
Kriegsmarine, U-Bootwaffe
Commander, U-159


HELMUT WITTE was Skipper of U-159.  Born in Bojendorf, Holstein Germany 6 April 1915 and was in Naval Class 1934.  He began his active duty with several cruises on the light cruiser KÖLN before transferring to torpedo boats.  WITTE was I.W.O. on his torpedo boat but that boat was lost in a collision with the German destroyer Z.3 which he survived.

WITTE transferred to the destroyers in time to participate in the April 1940 Norway Action aboard destroyer Z.22 but that ship was torpedoed and sunk.

He transferred into the U-Bootwaffe and was attached to U-107 under Günther Hessler as Kommandantschuler (Commander in Training) where he took part in the most successful Feindfahrt (war patrol) ever by a German U-Boat.  He was decorated with the Knights Cross on 22 October 1942.

After putting U-159 into commission as her commander, his first Feindfahrt was a transit patrol from the Baltic to Lorient and on the way, his mission was to drop weather buoys at selected location.  In May 1942, he was sent to the Caribbean off Panama where he had excellent success and sank ten ships totaling more than 50,000 tons.  He also attacked a large sailing ship with his deck gun but then allowed this ship to escape - it was bad luck to sink a sailing ship.  The Capetown area was his next patrol area and he sank eight ships, took on supplies from a supply U-Boat and continued his Feindfahrt, sinking three more ships - a total of eleven ships sunk totaling almost 64,000 tons.

He fell ill during his next Feindfahrt and gave up his command and became assistant to Vizeadmiral Heye with the special naval assault units of the Kriegsmarine.  His boat did not last long as she was sunk on 15 July 1943 by USN aircraft of VP.32 south of Haiti.  The Skipper was Oberleutnant zur See Heinz Beckmann and he was killed in action as one of the 54 men who rode the boat down.

WITTE and his wife welcomed Sharkhunters Founder and President HARRY COOPER (1-LIFE-1983) into their home for a delightful visit and COOPER learned that the grandfather of WITTE's wife was Englebert Humperdink - not the popular singer of the 1960's and 1970's who took that as his stage name but the man who wrote the German opera "Hansel and Gretl".  They gave COOPER a bottle of fine wine to take back to Florida.

HELMUT WITTE was one of the Skippers who HAND-SIGNED two of our Fine Art prints to make sure that Sharkhunters could continue to tell the true and accurate history of the U-Bootwaffe.  Click on these photos to learn more about these rare and valuable prints.

"Almost Home"
Hand signed by 14 Skippers
  "Convoy in Sight"
Hand signed by 18