The Book of Soden

 History of the  Soden Family 1146 - 1950

The Life and Times of Doris E. Soden  [1892 - 1979]

Iowa and Kansas, USA

It really is great to read the story of a happy and contented person, about their life experience and achievements. Such is the booklet entitled ‘History of Doris E. Soden’.

Doris lived in Iowa and Kansas all his life. I don’t know to which Soden branch he would belong, the German, the Irish or the British. So many of his friends and neighbours had very German, English and Irish names. Not too far away by American standards was Osaga country, which tribe was cared for by the German Jesuit Fr. Schoemaker and the Irish nun, Sr. Bridget Hayden.

Doris’ family consisted of his parents, four boys and two girls. His father, Fred, was a cobbler and Doris himself was born 20th July, 1892 in Seymour, Wayne County, Iowa. Doris’ schooling was basic by our standards and up to his late teens, Doris held many varied jobs to bring in the extra money needed for the family. He worked as a helper on a bee farm, a shoe shine, a cotton picker with his brother, a meat delivery boy.

In 1906 when he was fourteen, the family moved to Goodland , Kansas, a bigger industrial town with the Goodland Electrical Plant and a large rail network situated there. It was here he had his first girlfriend and worked with his sister in the County Clerks Office. He also worked at the Rock Island Railroad where he learnt radio telegraphy as well as helping in his fathers shoe business. His most successful job however was the purchase and sale of mules at the outbreak of WW1, whereby he often tripled his profit.

Doris mentioned few negative events in his life, the first being the train robbery in Hugo and the bloody shootout at the Bartholomew Farm nearby. Four people were killed altogether. He also suffered from the 1917 flu which he fortunately survived. And the incredibly cold winters they had sometimes down to -40C and the occasional sand and hail storms.

It was soon after he met and married his wife, Nelle Stallgreen, in 1919 and they remained man and wife for 51 years. With married life Doris became involved in the insurance business culminating years later in his setting up the Kansas Savings and Loan League. He and Nelle were very much community people and amongst other activities Doris was involved in were such the Free Masons, the Elks and the Rotary Club.

He recalled with great pleasure the hunting trips as a boy with his friends, collecting berries in the wooded country, fishing, hunting and spotting mountain lions, later to enjoying the family outings with Nelle and their friends on the Republican northwest of Goodland.

His dear Nelle passed away on 14th December, 1971, they had been married for 51 years. Doris died in 1979. 


Ulrich Graf von Soden - Fraunhofen [1913 - 44] was of the southern German branch of von Soden. 

In WW2 he enlisted as a officer in the German Navy (Bundesmarine) and received eventually command of U624 and its 40 strong crew. This is an outline of his career till his death at sea. 

Kommandant Ulrich Graf von Soden-Fraunhofen [1913 - 44] , Commander of U624





Graf Ulrich von Soden-Fraunhofen

Born 1913/8/2 in Friedrichshafen,Bavaria,Germany

1939-9 - 1940/7

Watch Officer & Adjutant

16. Minensuch-Flotille

1940/11 - 1941/3


12. Minensuch-Flotille

Career of Kmdt. Ulrich Graf von Soden - Fraunhofen (U Boot Archiv,Cuxhaven,Germany)

1941/4 - 1941/10

U-Boat Training

1941/10 - 1942/3

1.Watch Officer on the U552

1942/3 - 1942/5

Kommandant Training

2. U.A.A. & 24 U-Boot Flotille


Crew 36


1942/5/28 - 1943/2/7


Kommandant of U-624

The U-624 sank 5 ships of 39,855 tons and damaged 1 of 5,432 tons.

1st Mission:-

These were :

29/10/1942 Kosmos II ,a Norwegian Walkocher? In Secotr AL54

29/10/1942 The steamer Pan New York in sector AL54

18/11/1942 The steamer Yaka while belonging to the 'Viper' group

in sector AK 48

18/11/1942 Tanker President Sergent in sector AK 48

18/11/1942 Steamer Parismina in sector AK 48

2nd Mission:

25/1/1943 Lone Freighter Lackenby ,a British steamer in sector AL 45

4/2/1943 engaged as escort


7/2/1943 Sunk by RAF B-17 Fortress Squadron 220


It was sunk in the North Atlantic on 7. February,1943,in position 55'42 N,26'17W by depth charges from a British B-17 Fortress Aircraft (Sqdn. 220/J). The crew of 45 were all killed.

Drawing of the 'owl' ,the covername for U624

(U Boot Archiv ,Cuxhaven , Germany)


The U-552 carried out 10 patrols for 298 days up to August ,1942

Its Captain was the charismatic Erich Topp. Altogether with him as Captain the U552 sank 184,244 tons of Allied shipping gaining him eventually the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.

Soden was watch officer on the U552 when Topp was commander and when the USS James Reuben was sunk. He served from October,1941 to March,1942. During this time his boat patrolled the North-, and West Atlantic,the New Foundland Bank and south of Nova Scotia. Between the 25th October,1941 and

25th November, 1941 the U552 accompanied the 'Stortekecker',sank an 8000 tonne British Steamer patrolled west of Gibraltar and sank the USS Reuben James.

This happened some 6 weeks before the Americans declared war on the Germans and this was the first American ship to be sunk,though many had been damaged. 100 of the crew of 144 perished. This happened on 31.October,1941 at 0525 hours while the USS James Reuben was with the eastbound convoy HX-156.

Soden left the U-552 for Commander Training and command in May ,1942 of the U-624.


Report by the RAF Crew,7th February, 1943

Date Feb.7


Type & Number Fortress II J220 Fl.459

Crew P/O Roberson,G.Capt.

P/O Grove,P.H. 2 Pil

F/S Britten,T.Nav.

Sgt.Dreghton,L. 3 Pil.

F/Sgt. White,H.

F/S Sutton,J.S.

Sgt. Pratt,H.

Sgt. Thacker,R


Duty Parallel track sweep to cover S.G.118

Time Up 1230

Time Down 2308

Details of Sortie 1740 in position 56' 14'N,24"55'W

1812 in position 55"42'N,26"17'W,sighted u/b on surface;

after stalking through cloud cover to within 3 miles attacked

through rain at 90"

to track from starboard with d.c's. U/B straddled between

No.4 and No.5 d.c.'s

U/B submerged slowly. After plum subsided a round object 12 ft. Long rose out

of water to about 4 ft. Several pieces of yellow wood also seen. Marine marker dropped after 15 minutes and dr. and corvette contacted and then flew to C/V and reported to S.N.O.Nothing further seen.

References BAL/02/8/Feb

LV/G2/6 Feb.

Source: PRO ,Kew,England.

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