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Willi Kibbat, 1943
Willi Kibbat, 1943
Willi Kibbat, 2005
Willi & Dorothy Kibbat, Christmas 2005
Photos courtesy of Willi Kibbat

Mr. Willi Kibbat, or:
How a Lintorfer Young Man Became an Englishman

by Manfred Buer
© (as appropriate) (Reproduced with permission)
Translated by Diane Malinak & Stefanie Korcz

Page 1 (146)

(Left) The house in Yorkshire where Willi lives today

(Right, top) Willi with his teacher, Edward Pleines, and classmates in the garden of the Lutheran School in Linnep where the reading class was held

(Right, bottom) Willi's first soccer team in Lintorf in 1939. Willi is 16 years old. Willi is 5th from the left; his best friend, Willi Wisniesvski is standing to his right.

Once there was a young man from a small village called Lintorf on the Dickelsbach who left town to explore the world and to learn things. He was among those on a submarine that went through the Atlantic until it reached the Gulf of Mexico. He still wonders how he didn't drown and wound up in England. To this day he lives in a beautiful country home in the Ripon/North Yorkshire.

For an historian, it was a pleasure to write this biography about Willi Kibbat. At times it sounds like just a story, and then, reality.

Out of notes, newspaper articles, pictures and oral stories, it shows that 81-year old Willi Kibbat had an exciting and fulfilling life after WWII.

Willi Kibbat was born on February 21, 1923 in Breitscheid. He had three sisters and one younger brother. Of these children there is only one sister, Rosa, and one brother, Heinz still living. His family lived in "Moelchitrott," a German farming village which today has autobahns and bridges A524 and A3 on both sides. Also, there is a modern large compost plant.

On April 1, 1929, Willi Kibbat started school. For half a year he went to a Lutheran School called Linnep. His teacher's name was Edward Pleines. After that, the family moved to Lintorf and Willi and his siblings went to a Lutheran school on the Duisburgerstrasse. Today it is known as the Edward/Deitrich School. At the time it had only two classrooms and the teacher was Walter Bloemen. His principal's name was Fritz Komorowski.

Early in his life Willi was very interested in soccer. At the age of 10, he played on the school soccer team called Rot-Weiss-Lintorf. At 16, he and his friends became Varsity players and between 1940 and 1941 had to help out as Rot-Weiss players because some of the town's regular players were drafted.

Willi Kibbat graduated in 1937, and became an electrical apprentice at the firm Cohnen on Alexanderstrasse in Duesseldorf. In 1939, after encouragement from the union and management, he continued his apprenticeship at the firm Messerschmitt AG. This firm was well known for manufacturing military related equipment. During the war, it also had a branch on Kaiserswerther in Ratingen near the west train station. Willi finished his apprenticeship and was certified as an electronic mechanic in December [September?] of 1940. He worked at the Messerschmitt AG until he was drafted in 1941.

Page 1 — (original Page 146)

Page 2 (147)

(Top left) Willi's Certificate when apprenticeship completed.

(Top right) Kapitänleutnant (lieutenant) Herbert Uhlig, commanding officer of U-527 "Meldorf."

(Bottom left) Willi Kibbat and his best friend, Willi Wisniesvski in front of a restaurant (Lindenhof).

(Bottom center) Both are in their sailor uniforms (1941).

After the draft he enlisted in the Marines [Kriegsmarine = Navy?] and was transferred to Kiel where he trained as a submarine electrical welder. In Pillau, near Koenigsberg, he was trained as a U-boat pilot. Later, he was reassigned as a border electrician on the U-527. The boat was equipped to make long missions. It was a [Type IX-C], a [something missing?] version of the VII-C-Klasse subs used by the Germans since 1943. On board were 53 men (4 lieutenants [officers?], 2 signalmen, 16 non-commissioned officers and 31 regulars). The name of the captain of the U-527 was Herbert Uhlig who was only 27 years old and had been in the service since 1935. In the fall of 1942, he brought the sub from the German shipyard in Hamburg-Finkenwerder and through the Northeast Sea Canal to Kiel.

There they were trained for torpedo shooting and the boat was declared sea ready. At this time the German U-boats were no longer the pursuers, but instead they were being pursued.

In 1941, Germany declared war against the United States. The U-boats were in dangerous water and they had little hope that the personnel would survive.

Page 2 — (original Page 147)

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