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Helmut Möhlmann was born on 25 June, 1913 in Kiel and joined the Reichsmarine in April 1933 as a Seekadett. Möhlmann served aboard the light cruiser Nürnburg and a couple patrols aboard the torpedo boat Luchs. In 1935 the German Navy became the Kriegsmarine as the Third Reich took control of Germany and the Wehrmacht was established.

Möhlmann also was awarded the Spanish Cross in June 1939 (for particpating in a naval capacity during the Spanish Civil War); and in November, he received the Iron Cross 2nd Class.

In April 1940 he began his career in the Unterseebootwaffe, or the U-boat arm of the Kriegsmarine, as a torpedoman. He then took some training, and commanded the training boat U-143 for several months - and by then had worked up to the rank of Kapitänleutnant.

May 22, 1941, Möhlmann commissioned the new VIIC type U-571. Only a little bit later on August 26th, near Cape Teribersky, he attacked the Soviet steamer Mariya Ulyanova. It was hit twice by U-571's torpedo's, but did not sink.

In the following March, on the 29th while afloat in the West Atlantic, Möhlmann's crew discovered the 10,923 ton British steamer Hertford, sinking it. April 6th, U-571's crew spotted and torpedoed the 10,044 tons of the large tanker Koll. Möhlmann's crew managed to damage the vessel enough to allow it to be finished off by gunfire. Eight days after that victory, while off of the American coast, U-571 sent the Margaret to the bottom.

Two days later, Mölhmann was honored with the Knights Cross to the Iron Cross for the recent success of his boat and the crew under him.

On the crew's next patrol, they were again ordered to return to the waters off of the American east coast by BdU (Befehlshaber der U-boote, or the U-Boat High Command). The crew sank 3 ships - two large, one small coaler - before returning. Later in another war patrol in January 1943, U-571 spotted and attempted to attack the motor tanker Vanja but did not succeed. In March, the boat was attacked by aircraft fire and was damaged badly enough to warrant returning to their base.

That April, they spotted the ONS 2 convoy, and attacked sinking the Ingerfire and damaging one other. Mölhmann received some significant wounds on the 22nd, in an accident on the conning tower - and so the crew returned to base once again

Shortly afterwards in May, Möhlmann handed over command of U-571 and her crew to Oberleutnant zur See Gustav Lüssow so that he could attend a course at the Naval Academy in Berlin. Between the dates of September 1943 and December 1944, Möhlmann served on the BdU Org. staff as a Kapitänleutnant. His former boat, U-571 went on to be sunk with all hands by depth charges from Australian aircraft on the 28th of January, 1944.

In December 1944, he was given command of the new 14. Unterseebootflottille (the 14th U-Boat Flotilla), with 8 U-Boats at it's disposal. Promoted April 1, 1945 to Korvettenkapitän, Möhlmann remained in this capacity until the end of the war. Afterwards, he served a small period of time as a Prisoner of War, but was released. He passed away a natural death April 12th, 1977.



Nota Bene: While the U-Boat Möhlmann commanded, U-571, has been highly popularized in recent times by the movie of the same title, the movie is historically inaccurate. Hollywood scripters took lavish poetic license and used the U-Boat's namesake for a mostly unrelated plotline. This node is a historical biography of the actual first commander of the actual U-Boat and bears no relation to the movie.

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