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Vet 23

SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans


Kriegsmarine and U-Boat Skipper, Flotilla Commander

Born 15 August 1908 in Posen, he attended the Naval Academy in the Class of 1926.
As a young Leutnant zur See, MERTEN served as Gunnery Officer aboard the cruiser KÖNIGSBERG. Later he served aboard the torpedoboat T-157 and was Skipper of the escort vessel F-7 for a while.  later, he was Cadet Training Officer aboard the old SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN.

Shortly after the outbreak of war (early 1940) MERTEN volunteered for the U-Boat service. Because he had enough rank, he sailed aboard a Frontboot (combat sub) as “Kommandantenschüler” or Commander in Training. This was U-38 under command of HEINRICH LIEBE (1670-1990).

Now ready for his own boat, he put U-68 into commission on 11 February 1941 and commanded for five Feindfahrten (war patrols) and was the lead officer during the rescue of the crews of the raiders ATLANTIS and PYTHON. Under his command, his U-68 and other boats towed a string of overcrowded lifeboats all the way from the South Atlantic to one of the French bases used by the U-Bootwaffe.

He was promoted and commanded the 24th U-Bootflottille based in Pillau then took command of the 26th U-Bootflottille based in Memel where he ran the operations to save some 50,000 Germans from Memel plus 6,000 Hitler Youth in the face of the onrushing Red Army.

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MERTEN was arrested three years after the close of the war, in October 1948, to appear before the Frimaire Trial in France.  In spite of the anger and hatred of the complainants, their case was dismissed and MERTEN was released in March 1949.
We were honored to meet MERTEN in person during our 1988 “Patrol” to the French bases and North Germany.  He was a kindly old gentleman – a polite and honorable officer of the old school.

MERTEN (far left) is receiving his Oak Leaf to his Knights Cross.  Next to him is Wolfgang Lüth; third from left is FRIEDERICH GUGGENBERGER (269-1987) and shaking hands with Adolf Hitler is S-Boat Skipper Walter Tonneges. Kapitän zur See MERTEN gave us his interview film and other great footage. Click these scenes to view our DVD-8, available from Sharkhunters, on Patreon soon.
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