Tyler Machalk

Wehrpass for Funkobergefreiter Hans Plank – 1/3 Schiffekommorbhilung, 2/5.Ausbidung fur Kriegsschiffbauarbeiter, 6.Marinenachrichtenschule, 5.Ausbildung fur Kriegsschiffeneubauter , 1.Marineschule Mürwik, 9/2.Unterseebootslehrdivision, Unterseebootsabwehrkompanie, Unterseeboot Ausbildung Abteilung, 4.Baulehrkompanie Kriegsschiffsneubauten, 5.Unterseeboot Flottille (U-718) 

Funkobergefreiter Hans Plank was born on 14 Apr 24 in Nuremburg and was issued his wehrpass on 30 Jun 41. He completed 8 years of school and 3 years of trade school. He possessed swimming and bike riding certifications. Before joining the military, he listed his occupation as a machine operator. 

He was a volunteer and was called up on 7 May 41 when he had just turned 17 years old. He volunteered for service in the Kriegsmarine on 30 Jun 41 and was called to active service on 1 Nov 41 with 1/3 Schiffekommorbhilung in Eckernförde which is on the Baltic Sea northwest of Kiel. While here he went through his basic training including infantry tactics.

On 6 Jan 42, Hans was transferred to 2/5.Ausbidung fur Kriegsschiffbauarbeiter (Training school for warship construction). He was only here a short time as he went to 6.Marinenachrichtenschule in Aurich on 2 Feb 42. While here, he received radio communications training 3 Feb-27 Apr 42.

Interestingly his 4th duty assignment was obviously added much later and the earlier entries were revised accordingly. This was apparently a clerical error. On 29 Apr 42 Hans was assigned to 5.Ausbildung fur Kriegsschiffeneubauter where he was taught new warship construction. Once again, this was a shortterm assignment as on 19 May 42, he transferred to 1.Marineschule Mürwik. From Hans’ training records, we see 25 May-6 Jun 42 was spent in U-boat supplemental training while here. 

On 7 Jun 42, Hans was transferred again – this time to 9/2.Unterseebootslehrdivision in Gotenhafen. His training records show 8 Jun-4 Jul 42 was spent in U-boat Lehrgang training. His training continued when he spent 2 weeks in a Unterseebootsabwehrkompanie and then 2 more weeks in a Unterseeboot Ausbildung Abteilung.

By 1 Aug 42, he transferred again; this time to Baulehrkompanie Kriegsschiffsneubauten. That same day he was promoted to Funkgefreiter. While Hans seemed destined to work in ship construction, this wasn’t to be his fate.

On 7 Oct 42, he was again reassigned – this time to 5.Unterseeboot Flottille which was a training flotilla based in Kiel. He served with them until 18 Nov 43. About 10 months later, Hans was again promoted on 1 Aug 43 to Funkobergefreiter. 

Hans spent his time in the 5.Unterseeboot Flottille aboard U-718 which was a Type VIIC unterseeboot. It was launched 26 Mar 43 and commissioned 25 Jun 43 and commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Helmut Wieduwilt. 

On 18 Nov 43, U-718 was conducting training as part of a wolfpack near Bornholm in the Baltic Sea when she was accidentally rammed by U-476. The submarines had been maneuvering to attack the same target in the dark, and U-476 ran into U-718 while the submarines were on the surface.

U-718's hatch was closed to prevent water entering the hull, and thus only the 7 personnel in the conning tower, including Oberleutnant zur See Wieduwilt, survived. The boat's hull was ruptured by the force of the impact, causing the submarine to fill and sink very rapidly, taking 43 sailors to the bottom with her.

Hans was among this unlucky crew.

The site of this sinking was northeast of Bornholm at 55.21N, 15.24E. The boat is resting in the nerve/mustard gas zone and is off limits to divers forever it seems. 

Hans’ body was never recovered, of course. His name is listed on the wall at the U-boat Memorial (UBoot-Ehrenmal Möltenort) in Heikendorf near Kiel as a remembrance of his sacrifice. 

All work above was put together and researched by Jason Karlen. Thank you for allowing your work to be shared on Freedom2collect.

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