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Gunther Prien
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Military Personnel
    (January 16, 1908-March 8, 1941)
    Born in Osterfeld, Germany
    German U-Boat captain
    Commanded U-47
    Sank 31 ships with a gross tonnage of 193,808
    Best known for sinking the battleship Royal Ark at the Home Fleet's anchorage at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands of Scotland (October 14, 1939)
    Nicknamed 'the Bull of Scapa Flow'
    U-47 went missing during a nighttime convoy attack (March 7-8, 1941)
    He was described by one biographer as 'the most Nazified U-boat captain' and 'an ardent, ruthless Nazi.'
    He developed a reputation as a martinet, with Admiral Karl Doenitz having to replace his entire crew when none of the old hands would work with him.
    Since the wreck of the U-47 was never found, exactly what caused it to sink remains a matter of speculation.
    The Nazi government attempted to cover up his loss, until the RAF dropped propaganda leaflets asking 'Wo ist Prien?' ('Where is Prien?'), forcing the Germans to acknowledge his death (May 23, 1941).
    Winston Churchill called the attack on Scapa Flow 'a remarkable exploit of professional skill and daring.'
    He was the first U-Boat commander to receive the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, Germany's highest military decoration.
    The Scapa Flow attack gave submariners a heroic public image in Germany that lasted the rest of the war.

Credit: C. Fishel


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