It was said of him that on one occasion, when a British destroyer had been sighted, he had excused himself with the remark: “I’ve got to go to the lavatory for a moment,” despite the entreaties of his junior officers to take offensive action. When he returned the destroyer was not in a favourable position for attack. Such lack of enthusiasm had a depressing effect on his crew, who were not slow to show their dislike of returning to port with no pennants flying, whereas other U-Boats would usually fly several, one for each ship claimed sunk.
25th January 1942: U-boat versus merchantman in the Atlantic – Hardegen’s U-123 sinks British ship CULEBRA with deck gun
Deck gun ready and opened fire. The first shots hit the stern, then one each under the bridge and in the engine room. Steamer mans the gun and fires. The firing pin of our MG C30 is broken, so we fired with the deck gun at his gun. Several hits underneath, but he continues to fire until a direct hit struck the pivot. Gun crew out of action, the barrel can’t be moved anymore. We received 5 hits, which did not penetrate the pressure hull. Because they hit very low, I assume that they fell short, burst on the surface and only the splinters hit our hull. Some shots passed between conning tower and deck gun, one could hear them whistling past.