| The War That Came Early |
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
|Appearance(s):|| Hitler's War|
|Type of Appearance:||Direct|
|Military Branch:|| Kriegsmarine|
(Second World War)
Gerhart Beilharz was the German Kriegsmarine expert on snorkels. He was assigned duty as a second engineer onboard U-30 when that boat was selected to test the first snorkel. Lt. Julius Lemp was not initially impressed by either, privately viewing the need for a second engineer as the same as a fighter plane needing a second propeller on its tail. However, Beilharz was enthusiastic about his new toy and it proved useful on its first cruise, allowing Lemp to sneak up on a British cruiser and sink it.
Beilharz was uncommonly tall, at about 2 meters (6'6") which was especially a problem in the cramped spaces of a U-boat. He had acquired a Stahlhelm helmet from a cousin in the infantry prior to joining the U-30 crew and wore it constantly onboard to prevent himself from accidentally braining himself on a low-hanging pipe or valve if he forgot to duck.
Over time, Lt. Lemp appreciated the snorkel more and more, with it giving his U-boat an underwater approach faster that that on batteries. He began logging it in action reports along with Beilharz's name and was quite willing to do the same when asked by Admiral Dönitz during a face to face debrief.