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Gerhard Bigalk
Bundesarchiv Bild 101II-MW-6433-39, St. Nazaire, Kommandant Bigalk.jpg
Bigalk at St. Nazaire, 15 June 1942
Born (1908-11-26)26 November 1908
Died 17 July 1942(1942-07-17) (age 77)
Place of birth Berlin-Niederschönhausen
Place of death North Atlantic
Buried at (45°14′N 12°22′W / 45.233°N 12.367°W / 45.233; -12.367 (Gerhard Bigalk (death)))
Allegiance Flag of German Reich (1935–1945).svg Nazi Germany
Service/branch War Ensign of Germany (1938–1945).svg Kriegsmarine
Years of service 1934–1942
Rank Korvettenkapitän
Unit Schleswig-Holstein
tender Saar
Condor Legion A/88
24th U-boat Flotilla
7th U-boat Flotilla
Commands held U-14
U-751
Battles/wars

Spanish Civil War
World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Gerhard Bigalk (26 November 1908 – 17 July 1942) was a Fregattenkapitän with the Kriegsmarine during World War II and commander of U-751. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German language:Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

CareerEdit

Bigalk spent some years in the merchant marine before joining the Kriegsmarine in April 1934. He initially trained as an observer in the naval air force, and saw service during the Spanish Civil War, making 21 combat flights in 1937. He joined the U-boat force in November 1939. He trained into 1940, taking command of the school boat U-14 between June and August 1940. He then took command of the newly built submarine U-751 when it commissioned in January 1941.[1]

Between June 1941 and July 1942 Bigalk commanded U-751 on seven combat patrols, sinking six ships totalling 32,412 tons, and damaged one ship of 8,096 tons.[2] This included the 11,000 ton British escort carrier HMS Audacity, sunk on 21 December 1941 during his fourth patrol, for which Bigalk was awarded the Knight's Cross.[1]

Bigalk died on 17 July 1942 when U-751 was sunk with all hands by depth charges dropped by a Whitley bomber from No. 502 Squadron RAF and a Lancaster bomber from No. 61 Squadron RAF in the North Atlantic north-west of Cape Ortegal, Spain.[1]

Bigalk received a posthumous promotion to Korvettenkapitän on 5 April 1945.[1]

Summary of careerEdit

Ships attackedEdit

As a U-boat commander of U-751 Gerhard Bigalk is credited with the sinking of five ships for a total of 21,412 gross register tons (GRT), further damaging one ship of 8,096 GRT and sinking one warship of 11,000 metric tons (11,000 long tons; 12,000 short tons).

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
(GRT)
Fate
14 June 1941 St. Lindsay Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom 5,370 Sunk
21 December 1941 HMS Audacity Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom 11,000 Sunk
2 February 1942 Corilla Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands 8,096 Damaged
4 February 1942 Silveray Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom 4,535 Sunk
7 February 1942 Empire Sun Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom 6,952 Sunk
16 May 1942 Nicarao United States 1,445 Sunk
19 May 1942 Isabela United States 3,110 Sunk

AwardsEdit

Wehrmachtbericht referencesEdit

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Monday, 22 December 1941 (Extra) Ein im Atlantik operierendes Unterseeboot unter Führung von Kapitänleutnant Bigalk torpedierte einen englischen Flugzeugträger. Das Schiff ist gesunken. [6] A in the Atlantic operating submarine under the command of Captain Lieutenant Bigalk torpedoed an English aircraft carrier. The ship has sunk.
Tuesday, 23 December 1941 Wie durch Sondermeldung bekanntgegeben, griff ein Unterseeboot unter Führung von Kapitänleutnant Bigalk im Atlantik einen britischen Flugzeugträger an, der zur Sicherung eines Geleitzuges eingesetzt war. Das Unterseeboot machte den Flugzeugträger durch Torpedotreffer in die Schraube manövrierunfähig. Nach zwei weiteren Torpedotreffern im Vorschiff und in der Mitte ist der Flugzeugträger über das Vorschiff gesunken. [7] As announced by special bulletin, attacked a submarine under the command of Captain Lieutenant Bigalk in the Atlantic a British aircraft carrier, which was deployed to secure a convoy. The submarine made the aircraft carrier by torpedo hit in the screw incapable of maneuvering. After two further torpedo hits, one in the bow and one in the middle section, the aircraft carrier sunk over the bow.
Wednesday, 24 December 1941 Das durch das Unterseeboot des Kapitänleutnants Bigalk versenkte britische Kriegsschiff ist inzwischen als der Flugzeugträger "Unicorn" festgestellt worden. Es handelt sich hierbei um das neuste, erst während des Krieges fertiggestellte Schiff der Gattung, das in den britischen Flottenlisten als Flugbootträger geführt wird. [8] The British warship sunk by the submarine of Captain Lieutenant Bigalk has now been identified as the aircraft carrier "Unicorn". It is the newest, only just completed during the war, ship of her class, which is listed in the British fleet list as a seaplane carrier.

ReferencesEdit

Notes
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Korvettenkapitän Gerhard Bigalk". uboat.net. http://uboat.net/men/bigalk.htm. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  2. "War Patrols by German U-boat U-751". uboat.net. http://uboat.net/boats/patrols/u751.html. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Busch and Röll 2003, p. 175.
  4. Busch and Röll 2003, p. 176.
  5. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 133.
  6. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 752.
  7. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 753.
  8. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 754.
Bibliography
  • Busch, Hans-Joachim; Röll (2003) (in German). Der U-Boot-Krieg 1939–1945 — Die Ritterkreuzträger der U-Boot-Waffe von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [The U-Boat War 1939–1945 — The Knight's Cross Bearers of the U-Boat Force from September 1939 to May 1945]. Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn Germany: Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn. ISBN 978-3-8132-0515-2. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Kurowski, Franz (1995). Knight's Cross Holders of the U-Boat Service. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-88740-748-2. 
  • Range, Clemens (1974). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Kriegsmarine [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Navy]. Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-87943-355-1. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives]. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • (in German) Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 1, 1 September 1939 to 31 December 1941]. München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 
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