SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans
GERHARD RICHTER (214-1986)
Kriegsmarine, U-Bootwaffe, K-Verband
GERHARD, or GERRY as he was known to his friends, had an interesting career and indeed, an interesting life. After his basic training and Funkschul (radio school) he was posted to the ‘Sardinenschloß‘ (Sardine Castle) at Kerneval, a little town next to Lorient. He helped set up the radio station for the U-Boat base and for U-Boat headquarters there on the French Atlantic coast. Once it was up and functioning for the U-Boat Command, their officers, including Karl Dönitz, came and took over the facility. It was called the ‘Sardinenschloß‘ because this mansion was crammed with far more people than was comfortable and so when the Staff arrived, Admiral Dönitz liked the room GERRY had so he took over GERRY‘s room and GERRY was moved to the enlisted men’s quarters at the submarine base.
He was then posted to U-81 which was commanded at first by FRITZ GUGGENBERGER (269-1987) and later by HANNO KRIEG (199-1986) as radioman (Funkgefreiter). He rose in the ranks to Funkmaat and eventually Oberfunkmaat (Chief Petty Officer, Radio). It was GERRY on the radio of U-81 who reported back to Lorient that they had sunk the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS ARK ROYAL in the western Mediterranean and had damaged the battleship HMS MALAYA. MALAYA was so badly damaged that she was out of the war for about a year.
About this time, GERRY married his long-time sweetheart Herta. It was a beautiful wedding in Flensburg with a white horse pulling the carriage with the bride – the only thing missing was the groom! GERRY was at sea, so the marriage went on without him, but they were married for about sixty years.
After some time, GUGGENBERGER was transferred to another boat and KRIEG took command of U-81 for a while. Then KRIEG was sent to help form the K-Verband …the small boat force which consisted of one man torpedoes, one and two-man U-Boats, and explosive-laden speedboats called Linten. When KRIEG went to the K-Verband, he took RICHTER with him and so GERRY became a U-Boat Skipper. He was also the entire crew, as he had a one-man U-Boat.
After the end of the war, in the 1950’s, GERRY and Herta became U.S. citizens and settled in the Tampa Bay area where GERRY opened his own accounting firm. They had a beautiful 3,000 square foot condominium that looked out over the Intracoastal Waterway from one side, and over the St. John’s Pass from another side. When Sharkhunters President HARRY COOPER (1-LIFE-1983) and his family came to visit, Herta always pulled out toys for COOPER‘s children. GERRY was elected to the Town Council in this suburb and was President of his Condo Association Board.