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Erich Topp (deceased)
|Born 2nd July 1914 - Died 26th December 2005. Born in Hannover, Topp joined the Kriegsmarine in 1934, serving on the cruiser Karlsruhe, before transferring to U-Boats in 1937. He was assigned to U-46 for a number of combat tours before taking command of U57 in June 1940, sinking six ships over two missions before being sunk in a collision on the 3rd of September the same year. Surviving this, Topp then commanded U-552 from December that year, sinking 30 ships, predominantly in the North Atlantic, including the first American ship of the war to be sunk, the destroyer "Reuben James". From October 1942 he commanded the 27th submarine flottilla. He also took command of two further U-Boats, these being U-3010 for about a month in 1945, and subsequently U-2513 from April 1945 until surrendering this vessel on May 8th. His highest award was the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. The 3rd highest scoring U-boat Commander, Topp sank a total of 36 ships totalling almost 200,000 tons|
Hans-Gunther Lange (deceased)
|Hans-Gunther Lange was born 28th September 1916. He joined the navy in 1937, gaining experience as an officer aboard the torpedo boat "Jaguar" before transferring to u-boats in 1941 with U-431. In September1942 he commissioned U-711, commanding a total of eleven patrols, all of which were in Arctic waters, which included an unsuccessful attack on HMS Royal Sovereign - on loan to Russia as Archangelsk. In May 1945, Lange survived the sinking of U-711 spending the next three months in captivity. He had been awarded the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves on 29th April 1945, one month prior to being captured. He had sunk 4 ships with a total tonnage of over 15,000 tons. In October 1957 Lange joined the Bundesmarine. Here he took part in the construction of a new German U-boat weapon. For two years he commanded the 1 Uboatgeschwader and in January 1964 became commander of the entire U-boat force. Later he held several staff positions, ending his second naval career in 1972 as staff officer in the Marinedivision der Nordsee. In a branch of the German navy whose survival rate was calculated in days, Lange survived for over four years. He died on 3rd April 2014.|
|Reinhard Hardegen was born 18th March 1913, and joined the German navy in 1933. Prior to the outbreak of war, he underwent training as an aircraft observer and pilot with the Marineflieger, before a crash hospitalised him for several months, and he subsequently joined the u-boat fleet. After some time on U-124, he became commander of U-147 in December 1940, before taking over U-123 in May 1941, with several successful patrols. In December 1941, U-123 was part of Operation Drumbeat, a mission to the east coast of the United States on which U-123 sank several more ships, and after which Hardegen was awarded the Knights Cross. After another successful Drumbeat patrol, Hardegen was awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knights Cross, before leaving U-123 in July 1942 to take up a series of training and staff posts.|
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