Obermaschinenmaat Theo Hunkirchen

        The photos and documents in this section tell the story of one German sailor's wartime service.  They were provided by Theo Hunkirchen, whose father, Obermaschinenmaat Theo Hunkirchen, served aboard minesweeper M-72, U-622 and U-450.


Formal portrait of then Maschinenmaat Theo Hunkirchen - on the left wearing Collani jacket on the right in Service Suit

        Theo Hunkirchen was assigned to U-622 just prior to her commissioning and served aboard her for four war patrols in Northern Waters.  The boat was heavily damaged in an air raid by the US 8th Air Force near Trondheim, Norway while taking on fuel from the tanker Munkholm on 24 July 1943 and subsequently paid off.  She was the only boat lost under these circumstances.   Theo was briefly assigned to the 9th Flotilla at Brest and then to U-450, based in Toulon, France.

        U-450 was sunk in the Mediterranean on 10-March 1944 by the British destroyers HMS Blankney, Blencathra, Brecon and Exmoor and the US destroyer USS Madison.  Theo Hunkirchen was taken prisoner, put ashore in Italy and quickly transferred to England where he underwent formal interrogation by personnel of the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Center.  On 18 June 1944 he was transferred to the US for permanent internment.  On 17 March 1946 he was returned to Europe and was repatriated on 13 January 1947.  Theo Hunkirchen's wartime service is summarized below.



From   Command/POW Camp Location
  German Service Number UN 2806/39 T
  6th Minensuchflottille aboard M-72
  Promoted to Maschinengefreiter - Fireman 3cl  
  Promoted to Maschinenobergefreiter - Fireman 2cl  
MSW Wesermünde U Mot II Wesermünde, GE
1-Dec 41
Promoted to Maschinenmaat - Fireman 1cl  
2. Unterseeboots-Ausbildungsabteilung (UAA) Neustadt/2. Unterseeboots-Lehrdivision (2. ULD) 2. UAA Neustadt, GE/2. ULD GE, Gotenhafen (Gdynia), PO
U-622 (operations in Northern waters) Bergen, Trondheim, Narvik, NO
9 U-Flotilla Brest Brest, FR
Promoted to Obermaschinenmaat - Senior 1cl Petty Officer  
  U-450 (operations in the Mediterranean) Toulon, FR
  U-450 was sunk 10 March, 1944 in the western Mediterranean south of Ostia, in position 41.11N, 12.27E, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Blankney, HMS Blencathra, HMS Brecon and HMS Exmoor and the US destroyer USS Madison.
  51 survivors picked up by British destroyers HMS Brecon and HMS Urchin (which joined late) and delivered the same day to Naples, IT
  Camp PW E 326 Naples, IT
  Assigned US Internment Serial Number (ISN) 81G-237548 (M)
  Transferred to English custody at a POW camp at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius Salerno, IT
  Assigned British POW Number N. 92807
  Transferred aboard Belgian steamer Leopoldville to Glasgow, UK
  Camp 7, Winter Quarters Camp, Ascot (S.E. Cage - PWIS interrogation camp) Berkshire, UK
  Camp 21, Cultybraggan Camp Comrie, Perthshire, UK
  Embark Queen Elizabeth in Glascow for transfer to USA arrive in New York
  Communipaw (receiving center) Jersey City, USA
  Camp Patrick Henry Virginia, USA
  Camp McCain Elliott, Mississippi, USA
  Greenville Auxiliary Camp (Theo performed farm work at the W.F. Elkas Plantation - remaining under the administration of Camp McCain) The Elkas Plantation is located on the north end of Lake Washington, near Chatham south of Greenville, Mississppi, USA
  Camp Forrest Tennessee, USA
  Camp Shanks (awaiting transportation to Europe) New York, USA
  Liberty ship from New York to Antwerp, BE
  Camp 2227 Cedelheim, BE
  Transfer from Antwerp to Great Britain
  Camp 185 Springhill Lodge Camp Blockley, Gloucestershire, UK
  Camp 37, Sudley Castle Winchcombe, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK
  Camp 4, Scraptoft (transit camp) Thurnby, Leicestershire, UK
  Transfer by ship to Cuxhaven, GE
  Munsterlager (discharge camp) by truck to Bonn for dismissal Munsterlager, GE



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Personal photographs of Obermaschinenmaat Theo Hunkirchen taken during his wartime service on U-622 and U-450
German Documents of Theo Hunkirchen's wartime service
British and United States Documents from initial processing and interrogation - March to June 1944
United States Documents from permanent internment - June 1944 to March 1946
British Documents from return to Europe to repatriation - March 1946 to 13 January 1947
U-450 Commander Kurt Böhme's letter to his crew on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the loss of their U-Boat - 10 March 1974; and the notice for the reunion of U-450 veterans held in 8-11 September 1993
Return to the Permanent Internment page
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