The story of U-995 and her last Skipper
Hans-Georg Hess was born in Berlin on 6 May 1923, the son of a chemistry professor at the university there. He was just seventeen when the war broke out and being a patriotic German, he volunteered for the Kriegsmarine.
He completed his basic training then posted to the U-Bootwaffe where he served aboard U-466 under Kapitänleutnant Gerd Thäter. Hess rose through the ranks to ultimately become I.W.O. (First Watch Officer) of the boat where he was responsible for the sinkings as well as shooting down one Allied aircraft. Hess was badly wounded, but at that point in the war, a doctor was posted aboard the U-Boats and Hess was saved.
Late in the war, August 1944, the Skipper of U-995, Kapitänleutnant Walter Köhentopp, was deemed ‘not aggressive enough’, was busted to common sailor and the command was given to Hess who had just turned 21!
They all knew that the war was all but over and they also knew that under Köhentopp, they would live through the war because he stayed away from combat. But what of this new ‘Draufganger’? They did not have long to wait. Hess mounted to the bridge and with his apprehensive crew standing at attention, Hess thundered out…
“You cowards! This will no longer be a yellow boat!”
At the time, they thought that Hess would take them quickly to their death. By the end of the war and with five Feindfahrten (war patrols) under their belts and with several sinkings, they had a different idea of this young Skipper and they all admired and respected him. He was decorated with the Knights Cross 11 February 1945.
After the war, Hess went on to become a Doctor of Law.