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U-Boat Victory Pennants (Germany)

Last modified: 2018-08-16 by pete loeser
Keywords: versenkungswimpel | heimatwimpel |
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U-Boat Victory Pennants

[U-Boat Versenkungswimpel] Image #1     [U-427 mit zwei Versenkungswimpeln] Image #2
Images sent by Jörg M. Karaschewski, 8 Nov 2003

     A friend of mine is writing a novel about a U Boat commander in the First World War. She is having difficulty finding information about the victory pennants flown by the U Boats when they returned from war patrols. She knows that some of them indicated the tonnage of the ships sunk, but she doesn't have much more information than that.
     If it would be better to ask for one specific thing, then what pennant or arrangement of pennants would the submarine fly if it had sunk a French battleship? She is basing her hero's naval career on that of Kapitänleutnant Robert Moraht of the U 64, who sank the "Danton" in the Mediterranean.
Patricia Winship, 7 Nov 2003

     The victory pennant, in German "Heimatwimpel" (home pennant), was a traditional flag (not codified by regulation) which was a prolonged version (flown from the highest mast, long enough to touch the water behind the ship, carrying small bras balls at the tips, c 70 cm broad and 80-95 m long) of the commission pennant, in German Kommandowimpel (command pennant, which, other than in England or America, is not a sign for the ship being in commission, but for the captain being an officer), flown by the crew when returning from more than half year's journeys or by a ship having rounded the whole earth. This is true, at least, for the German Navy of today.
Winfried Schroedter, 8 Nov 2003

[Willi Dietrich U-Boat Versenkungswimpel] Image from Jörg M. Karaschewski, 8 Nov 2003

     As far as I know the Heimatwimpel was (and is!) only shown on ships which traveled around the world or travled on sea for more than 6 months. In the background of this picture of Willi Dietrich, last commander of U-286, you can see a Heimatwimpel.
     I've also heared about victory pennants which showed the tonnage of the ships sunk, but as far as I know they were selfmade flags in differend designs and colors, because the U-Boot men made them by themselves. The Germany word for such a handmade victory pennant is Versenkungswimpel. Unfortunately, the only pictures I have show the Versenkungswimpel of World War II. The submarines showed these pennants when they come back to their harbor. One pennant for each sunk ship. The pennants had different designs, but they showed the tons of a sunk ship or a picture of a sinking ship, usually with the type of the sunk ship (sailship, tanker, etc.).
Jörg M. Karaschewski, 8 Nov 2003

     Since World War I German submarines were only about 60 meters long, a Heimatwimpel of this length would quickly get wrapped around the rudder and propeller, ensuring that the submarine never got to its Heimat. Presumably there are smaller versions.
Joseph McMillan, 18 Nov 2003

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