Oberleutnant zur See Johannes Lohs

Johannes Lohs was born on 24th June 1889 in Stiffen. Son of plant owner Oswald Lohs (mother unknown) he was schooled in his home village and later a grammar school in Chemnitz. He entered the Kaiserliche Marine on 1st April 1909 and was first assigned to the cruiser Großer Kreutzer SMS Victoria Louise where he continued his naval education. In 1912, after moving to the pocket cruiser SMS Berlin, he was promoted to lieutenant. He then became signals officer aboard the pocket cruiser SMS Strassburg, which the post he held to the outbreak of World War and saw action for the first time on 28th August 1914.

Johannes Lohs Portrait
Johannes Lohs Portrait

In 1915, after a short assignment to the battlecruiser SMS Seydlitz as signals officer, he was sent to submarine school with a promotion to Oberleutnant. In late 1916 he was moved to the U-Bootschule and gained his first command of SM UC75 of the Flanders Flotilla on 17th March 1917, followed by SM UB57 in January 1918. He led many patrols off the British coastal waters including a productive visit to the Clyde in early November 1917.

By January 1918, his qualities of a U-Boat commander were recognised and his award of the Iron Cross 1st Class in December 1917 was well merited. His ideas of U-Boat warfare and a new tactical approach brought its reward with the award of the Pour le Mérite on 24th April 1918.

On 3rd August he sailed from Zeebrugge for the last time on his last patrol in charge of UB57, sinking the last three ships of his career being the Clan Macvey, Glenlee and the City of Brisbane. On returning to base, it is believed UB57 hit a mine and all hands were lost. The last contact he made with base was on the evening of the 14th, as UB57 was homeward bound roughly in the area of the Sandiette Bank, east of the Straits of Dover. Nothing more was heard. UB57 is believed to have hit a magnetic mine laid by the 20th Destroyer Flotilla off Zeebrugge at 51.56 N, 02.02 E and regarded as the first submarine to be sunk by a magnetic mine.

Lohs Memorial
Lohs Memorial

The body of Lohs was washed ashore and was buried with full military honours at Vlissingen. The bodies of WWI Germans were moved from Vlissingen to Ysselsteyn in the Dutch province of Limburg in 1949. These WWI casualties having been moved to the new cemetary during WWII to join the men who fell in the Second World War.

The military cemetery in Ysselsteyn, Limburg is the only German cemetery in the Netherlands and is located close to the German border. Some 85 killed soldiers from the WWI and almost 32,000 from the WWII are buried here on a territory of 70 ares. For each killed soldier one cross has been placed. The data (name, grave location, dates of birth and death, rank – if known) have been written on the crosses with white colour.

Today his grave can be found at Block C, Grave 70 of the Ysselsteyn German War Cemetery, Timmermannsweg 75, 5813 AM Ysselsteyn, Netherlands

Aged only 29 at his death, Johannes Lohs was a successful and highly decorated German U-boat commander in the Kaiserliche Marine during World. Lohs is credited as the eighth most successful U-Boat commander of WWI by tonnage. In his short career, Lohs succeeded on 13 patrols to sink an enemy tonnage of over 151,000 gross register tons (GRT) as commander of SM UC75 and SM UB57. In the later Kriegsmarine the 3rd U-boat Flotilla in Kiel was named after him in 1937. His awards included the Iron Cross 1st Class and the Pour le Merite.