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S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine 1935 - 1945

War-Zones of the S-Boats

 

English Channel 1942

Until well in February the S-boats at the westfront were hindered by bad weather.

On 01.01.1942 fther 2. SFltl was ordered, to contaminate the convoy-route off the English eastcoast during the following night. "S 70", "S 53", "S 105", "S 39", "S 24" and S 111" left Rotterdam and came into bad weather. They dropped their 36 LMB-III near buoy 57. The boats did not find a reported convoy and entered SBB Rotterdam on 02.01. at 10 o'clock.

On 12.01.1942 the order came for the 4. SFltl to attack a northbound convoy off Great Yarmouth in two groups. The 2. SFltl were to lay a second minebarrier and after that to attack a southbound convoy. Both flotillas left harbour in the afternoon and were already called back at 17.45. 

On 15.01.1942 "S 29" (Kptlt. Manfred Schmidt), "S 39" ((Kptlt. Zymalkowski), "S 103" (not clear and without CO) as well as "S 108" (Oblt.z.S. Karl-Friedrich Künzel) including their crews were put under command of the 2. SFltl. "S 51" of the 4. SFltl was handed over to 6. SFltl.

  Icing of the river Maas enforced transit of the 2. SFltl (Kptlt. Feldt) with boats "S 29", "S 39", "S 53", "S 62", "S 70",  "S 103", "S 104", "S 105", "S 108" and "S 111" into the still not completed Ijmuiden on 17.01.1942. 

The 4. SFltl (Kptlt. Bätge) with boats "S 48", "S 49", "S 50", "S 51", "S 52", "S 64", "S 109" and "S 110" transitted to Boulogne on 18.01.1942. "S 24" was returned to the 6. SFltl.

On 17.01.1942 the joining 6. SFltl (Kptlt. Obermaier) with "S 18", "S 19", "S 20", "S 22", "S 24", "S 69", "S 71" and "S 101" was stationed at  Ostende. 

During a mining operation of the 2. SFltl in the night 18./19.01.1942 each boat was loaded with six LMB-III. To drop the 42 mines near buoy 8 B (northwest of Cromer) was made difficult by icing of the minetracks.

The 4. SFltl operated against a reported convoy on 20.01.1942 but did not find it and had a fighting with a British destroyer, against which "S 52" launched two torpedoes, which both did not hit. During th night 21./22.01.1942 the flotilla was conducting a further insuccessful operation.

The 2. SFltl had to return during an operation on 01.1942 due to wind force 5 - 6 and rough seas.

The flotillas had to stay passive in harbour. The flotillas consisted of:

2. SFltl

Commander Kptlt.  Klaus Feldt
S 29 Kptlt. Manfred Schmidt
S 39 Kptlt. Felix Zymalkowski
S 53 Oblt.z.S. Peter Block
S 62 Oblt.z.S. Hermann Opdenhoff
S 70 Oblt.z.S. Hans Helmut Klose
S 103 - -
S 104 Oblt.z.s.  Ulrich Roeder
S 105 Lt.z.S. Victor Howaldt
S 108 Oblt.z.S. Karl-Freidrich Künzel
S 111 Oblt.z.s. Paul Popp

4. SFltl

Commander Kptlt. Niels Bätge
S 48 Oblt.z.S. Götz Frhr. von Mirbach
S 49 Oblt.z.s. Max Günther
S 50 Oblt.z.S. Karl-Erhard Karcher
S 51 Oblt.z.S. Hans-Jürgen Meyer
S 52 Oblt.z.S.  Karl Müller
S 64 Oblt..z.S. Friedrich Wilhelm Wilcke
S 109 Oblt.z.S. Helmut Dross
S 110 Oblt.z.S. Albert Causemann
S 107  - -

6. SFltl

Commander Kptlt. Albrecht Obermaier
S 19 Lt.z.S. Wolfgang Hörning
S 22 Oblt.z.S. Herbert Witt
S 24 Oblt.z.S. Heinz Nolte
 S 69 ObStrm.d. Res. August Licht
S 71 Oblt.z.S.  Klaus Thomsen
S 101 Oblt.z.S. Gerhard Meyering

"S 18" and "S 20" of the 6. SFltl were handed over to the 5. SFltl on 17.01. rsp. 20.01.1942 at Kiel rsp. Wilhelmshaven.

 

Througout February and March 1942 the 2. and the 4. SFltl co-operated. Mining and torpedo operations alternated. 

On 01.02.1942 "S 39", "S 70", "S 111", "S 62", "S 53" and "S 105" left harbour for a torpedo operation. Because of a fire on "S 105" had to be released to Ijmuiden already ater 24 minutes. The flotilla cvame into heavy wether with wind force 5 - 6 and sea state 4 - 5. An operation against a convoy reported was not to be carried out. "S 62" of the second group bumped into a fishtrawler, which did not  heave to after a shot before the bow and was taken under fire consequently. A torpedo fired was a flop and finally the ship could be identified as a Dutch trawler from Ijmuiden. "S 62" and "S 53" took 11 crewmembers on board, among them two wounded, and left the heavily damaged trawler to its fate.

In Boulogne the 4. SFltl prepared itself for the support of the operation „Cerberus“, the break through of the battleships „Gneisenau“ and „Scharnhorst“ as well as the heavy cruiser „Prinz Eugen“. The flotilla was filled up with the boats "S 39" and "S 108" from the 2. SFltl and the boat "S 69" from the 6. SFltl to 10 boats. In order to avoid to be mistaken with enemy boats by Luftwaffe the upper decks of the boats were painted in shining yellow. 

The flotilla was stationed to secure the northern flank at  sea state 5 to 6 during the break through on the 12.02.1942. During an attack by Spitfires "S 64" had to take hits with two seriously and two slightly wounded men, a fire developed in the forward tankroom, so that the boat had to be sent back to harbour. During an attack by Swordfishes (torpedo aircraft) " S 69" shot  down one aircraft. An attack by five British MTBs was without result. Die Angreifer wurden durch  den Zerstörer "Friedrich Ihn" abgedrängt. The break through was a success without further casualties.

The 2. SFltl laying in immediate readiness, did not come into action because of heavy weather coming up.

 After this operation mining and torpedo operations alternated. On 15.02.1942 the 4. SFltl witht "S 48", "S 49", "S 52", "S 109" and "S  110" dropped 35 mines off Dungeness. 

On 15.02.1942 the order was given by SKL, to transfer the 6. SFltl with eight boats and tender "Tsingtau" for operations in the area Lofot Islands - Narwik. End of April the 6. SFltl (Kptlt. Obermaier) moored in the new base Svolvær with four boats.

When the 2. SFltl after a minelaying operation was hunted by British destroyers during the night 19./20.02.1942, "S 39" and "S 53" collided. While "S 39" with a torn up side and a flooded compartment IV reached the homeport, it was learned from the British radio that from "S 53" (Obltl.z.S. Block) 18 men had been rescued, 8 men amongst them the commanding officer (CO) were missed in action. Actually the CO, Oblt.z.S. Peter Block, fell by the explosion.  Six crew members, FkObGefr Gerhard Probst, MatrGefr Heinz Rüter, MatrGefr Walter Salewski, FkGefr Heinz Ursprung, MaschGefr Heinrich Weimar and Matr Hans Müller were missed in action.

 Gordon Williamson writes in "E-Boat vs. MTB - The English Channel 1941 - 1945" (ISBN 978-1-84908-406-2, Paperback, June 2011, 80 pages): "On 19 February Convoy FS29 came under attack by E-boats from 2-s bootsflotille, but the combined fire power of the two destroyers protecting the convoy, assisted by two MGBs and two Mls, was enough to drive off the attackers.
As the E-boats sped off, S39 and S53 collided at high speed. S39 was able to proceed, but S53 was partially flooded. The destroyer HMS Holderness approached with the intention of putting a boarding crew on the e-boat and seizing her. As the destroyer drew near, however S53s commander, Oberleutnant zur See, Peter Block, blew up his vessel to prevent her capture, sacrificing his own life in the process."

David R. wrote about that i the guestbook of  http://schnellbootnet.jimdo.com/ (WEB-Master Karl M. Scheuch) on 13 October 2015: "My father only talked of this to his Great-grandsons. The ship was actually boarded. He was with the boarding party and Block in refined english advised them calmly to leave as ship was about to be explode. Ten officers and 19 ratings were taken on board (log at National Archives). HMS Holderness was damaged by explosion. By father described Block as bravest man he had known.

On 01.03.1942 the 4. SFltl with "S 48", "S 49", "S 109", "S 52", "S 51" and "S 110" went to sea, to attack an expected westbound convoy. "S 109" had to be released due to a engine failure. The boats found no enemy convoy and had to form a screen for an own convoy. In so doing they were taken under fire by own pickets off Cape Griz Nez. "S 48" took four hits in compartment II but had no personnel losses. Around 3 o'clock it was realized that the boats had been detected by British radar-stations und were taken under fire from 01.25 until 01.35 Uhr by British coastal batteries. 

   On 12.03. the die 4. SFltl had to turn around to harbour at the Westhinder bouy because of bad weather. On 14.03. the flotilla operated against a reported northbound convoy at bouy 56 F but had to turn around without any success. On the march back "S 51" was fired at by a destroyer, in compartmern II a fire develloped and there were four heavily and three light wounded men. The boat reached Ostend mit 39 cm free board at the stern.  

During the mining operatin of the S-boats between Dover and Dungeness it was realiszd that the British coastal radar stations could locate the boats, measure the minefields, and direct the British convoys around the mined areas.  That was the end of the mining operations in this area for the moment.

Because of the short ways from and to Boulogne the 4. SFltl could almost always withdraw from prosecution by enemy forces. The 2. SFltl, however, was always confronted with the alarmed defence. 

During the night 14./15.03.1942 the 2. SFltl with "S 105", "S 70", "S 111" "S 62", "S 104", "S 29" and "S 108" operated against a convoy at buoy 57 C. "S 70" had to be relased due to engine failure,  "S 104" and "S 62" reported a destroyer and to steamers. "S 104" (Oblt.z.S. Roeder) could sink the British destroyer "Vortigern", the boats then had to march back without sightcontact as single boats or in pairs. On  "S 104" occurred a hit from a dud 12-cm-shell on the bridge. One man was slightly wounded by MG-fire.

After mooring the 2. SFltl was missing "S 111" and got the message, that one boat had shortly been in contact with enemy MGBs. The flotilla left harbour to search for "S 111". The boat had already been fought down by "MGB 87", "MGB 88", and "MGB 91" and had been boarded and was being towed.  

When the 2. SFltl intercepted the towing group, the German boats opened fire, "MGB 91" was hit and of the 13 crew six were wounded. The MGBs had already cast away the tow rope, rudder and propellers had alreadyr isen from the water. The MGBs disappeared and could escape in a wall of fog.

On  "S 111" seven dead bodies were found, the CO, Oblt.z.S. Popp, the CO-Trainee, Oblt.z.S. Joppig, Seaman Nr. 1, the Bridge Midshipman, the navigation rating, the battle helmsman, and a engineering rating. 19 men were missed in action. "S 104" and "S 62" went alongside and towed the boat over the stern. 

On the march back the flotilla was attacked by 11 Spitfires. During the attacks lasting 30 minutes the boats had to take many damages, there were four severely and eight slightly wounded men. "S 111" had to be abandoned and was scuttled. All boats were out of  readiness for action for four weeks.

The heavily damaged "S 111" under the White Ensign - Picture from Hümmelchen

In his "Erinnerungen an den Schnellbootseinsatz im Westen 1940 - 1945" (Memories of the Schnellboatoperations in the West 1940 - 1945) the former 1A op (Operations-Staff-Officer) in the Staff of F.d.S.writes: "... Above that it is to be stressed that our UK-equipment ... already 1940 was monitored by the English ... since its use gave us away it was as of 1941 rather used as FuMB (Funkmeßbeobachtungsgerät = ESM) ... it was considered likely that the losses of S 38 - 1940 and S 111 - 1942 were achieved or furthered by deception on our UK on the side of the English."

On the mine barriers laid by the S-boats during March the freighter "Cressdene" (4270 BRT) und two tankers, "Audacity" (1589 BRT) and "Frumention" (6675 BRT) sank. 

The bad weather rendered a break for the boats until 10.04.1942. On this day Kptlt Töniges, CO "S 29" was transferred to 1. SFltl. "S 29" stayed with the 2. SFltl without CO as a spare boat.

On 12.04.1942 the 2. SFltl sailed an operation without any success against a southbound convoy having been reported with delay. The 4. SFltl laid a barrier near buoy 54 F when on "S 64" MatrGef. Heyduga was torn overbord by a mine. A flock of the 2. SFltl was hunted by a destroyer, in the course of which the French fog-bouys proved valuable, which were thrown over board and on which the British automatic weapons locked on.

On 14.04. "S 103" under Oblt.z.S. von Stempel was re.-commissioned after repairs. "S 101" were to be transferred to the 6. SFltl as a spare boat but stayed for the time being with the 2. SFltl.

On 20.04.1942 the S-boat force became independent. The command of the S-Boats which had been executed by Commander of the Torpedoboats (Führer der Torpedoboote = F.d.T.), who in the past had mainly cared about the S-boats, changed to the Commander of the S-boats (Führer der Schnellboote = F.d.S.). The torpedoboats were transferred to the command authority of the Commander of the Destroyers (Führer der Zerstörer = F.d.Z.). The new F.d.S. became KorvKpt. Petersen, who held this post – at last as Commodore – until the end of the war. 

The second half of April and the first week of May were again marked by bad weather. In order to despite of that carry out operations the 4. SFltl wiThe Die 2. SFltl laid mine off Orfordness with "S "S 67", "S 108", "S 104", "S 105", "S 62" and "S 70" and realized that the boats were tracked by radar almost continuously. 

On 13.05.1942 the 4. SFltl together with the 5. T-Fltl. and the 2. and 8. M-Fltl. conducted escorting for the auxiliary cruiser "Stier". The T-boats "Iltis" and "Seeadler" were sunk by British MGBs. The S-Boats could rescue a total of 83 German and three British sailors. Der Hilfskreuzer und die T-Boote "Kondor und Falke" liefen in Boulogne ein.  Thereafter the flotilla was transferred back to the fleet base Hoek van Holland, were they arrived on 15.05.1942.

During the same night the 2. SFltl was at sea for a minelying action near buoy 56. On the march tereto "S 105" had to released dur to engine failure, shortly thereafter also "S 108" had an engine failure and was accompanied by "S 62" sent back to harbour. The remaining boats, "S 104", "S 70", "S 67" and "S 24" laid 18 Minen in the targeted area.

F.d.S. stated on 16.05.1942  in his KTB (war diary), that with only two flotillas at the western front no destinct oportunities for success against the British replenishment traffic could be expected.

During the night 17./18.05. the 2. SFltl with "S 105", "S 104", "S 67" and "S 70" and the 4. SFltl withit "S 109", "S 63", "S 51" and "S 52" had left ahrbour in order to lay mines near buoy 56. While the 2. SFltl could lay its mines as planned, the 4. SFltl was hindered by landbased searchlights and laid its mines north of buoy 55 A. Since the minelaying had been tracked by radar the area was already searched by 12 fleet minesweepers on 18.05. before noon.

On 22.05.1941 the 2. SFltl laid mines northwst of buoy 56 A with three boats. The 4. SFltl had to return to harbour due to fog. Until the end of the month no actions of the two flotillas were conducted. 

On 02.06.1941 the 2. SFltl with four boats laid 24 LMB east of buoy 56 A, while the 4. SFltl could not lay its mines because of full moon and the time dely caused by air attacks. 

In the evening of 03.06. the 2. SFltl left harbour with three boats for another minelaying operation but had to return soon because "S 67" hd an engine failure. The 4. SFltl with "S 63", "S 64", "S 107" and "S 109" had just before arrival at the targetted area enemy contact. Seven British fast craft followed in its wake and were not to shake off nor to seize. Therefore, the boats could only lay their mines at dawn.  

During the night 04./05.06.1941the 4. SFltl augmented by "S 48" laid 30 LMB on the convoy route east of Dungeness. 

During the night 05./05.06.1941 the 2. SFltl witht "S 105", "S 70", "S 67" and "S 104" could lay 24 LMB near buoy 56 A. 

On 06.06.1941 the staff of F.d.S. transferred its command center to Wimereux/France.

During the night 06./07.06. the 4. SFltl left Bouogne with five boats to lay 30 mines off Dungeness but was detected by radar so that already in the morning the minesweeping commenced. During the following night the flotilla coul lay its 24 LMB but was taken under fire by a destroyer although without suffering any damages.

During the night 09./10.06.1941 the 2. SFltl left Ostend with four boats to lay mines. Because "S 105" had an engine failur the operation with the remaining two boats could not be sarried out. In th meantime teh 4. SFltl could lay 29 mines as planned. The 30th mine could not be laid since at had slid of its carriage. After the mining th flotilla was followed by three British MGBs but could shake hem off. 

From 10. to 13.06.1941 there was a break for the boats caused by the weather. On 14.06. the 2. SFltl with three boats and the 4. SFltl with four boats again left harbour with mines which were laid according to plan. This operation also was intended to distract from the passage of the towed taker "Memelland" which could proceed unbothered from Boulogne to Dunquerce.

Since both flotillas had shrunk down to seven ready for action boats they were combined under command of the commander of 4. SFltl on 16.06. and laid during the following night 42 LMB south of Beachy Head. Again they were detected by radar and the enemy directed a MTB- and a MGB-flotilla against them, which, however, came too late. The enemy started minesweeping immediately. On all minebarriers of the previous nights there were no losses of enemy ships.

On 17.06. the boats had to return because of the bad weather, on 18.06. the wid increased to force 5 - 6. On 19.06. they left harbour again to lay 42 mines south of Beachy Head. On 22.06 the seven boats operated against a convoy, which had been detected off Dungeness. They were detected by radar and fired at by MGBs and coastal artillery, they did not find the convoy.

During the following night eight boats of the 2. and 4. SFltl again left harbour with mines and laid 48 LMB southeast of Dungeness. Thereafter the weather again prevented all operations. Only on 27.06. the boats could lay 48 mines south of Hastings. During this night "S 78" en route from Rotterdam to Boulogne as reinforcement was attacked by British night fighters. Two men, MatrGefr. Simanzig and VerwGefr. Seitz were killed in action, of the four severely and the five lighter wounded men FkGefr. Gerhard Kröck died later caused by his woundings.

In the evening of 27.06. the 2. and the 4. SFltl transferred from Boulogne to Cherbourg, where they arrived in the morning of the 28.06.1942. Based upon Cherbourg they were to operate in the Lyme Bay under command of the commander 2. SFltl.

On the basis of reconnaissance reports F.d.S. expected convoys "Ranger" and "Review" in this area, however, because of nights with bright moonlight the boats had to stay in harbour. Due to worsening visibility reconnaissance flights on 02.07. did not occur and on 03.07. a reconnaissance aircraft reported a frihter and two escorts. The report arrived so late that the boats could not react accordingly.

On 06.07. the reconnaissance detected convoys "Skipper" and  "Cloak". On 08.07. the convoys "Review" and "Nation" were reportd. Based on that the 2. SFltl with eight boats attacked undetected the convoy protected by one destroyer and two escorts using the new so called "Stichansatz" (stitch attack) in the night 08./09.07. with covered skies and rain showers and reported sinking of six ships with estimated 22.000 BRT total.  In reality were sunk by "S 67" the British tanker "Pomella" (6.766 BRT), by "S 48", "S 109" and "S 70" the Norwegian steamers "Kongshaug" (1156 BRT), "Rösten" (736 BRT) and "Bokn" (698 BRT), by "S 50" the Dutch steamer "Reggestrom" (2.836 BRT). "S 104" missed an eccort with two torpedoes and "S 63" sank the British trawler "Manor", which the Co had estimated to be a tanker.

During the following weeks again mining operation were conducted because of missing enemy contact reports by air reconnaissance, so by the 4. SFltl with "S 78" and "S 66" during the night to 10.07.1942. During the night to 13.07. the 2. SFltl was in mining operations with two groups of five boats each. The boats were under radar surveilance all the time. Therefore, F.d.S. considered the mine barriers as uneffective. Of the 10 boats two had Funkmeßbeobachtungsgeräte (FuMB = ESM equipment) on board and it was beleived, that the equipment had given away the boats at a range of more than 40 miles. Therefore, the equipment was demounted again. 

During the night to 15.07. "S 48", "S 50", "S 78" and "S 66" operated as distant support for 8. MS-Flottille. During the following night the 2. SFltl with 10 boats mined the Needles Channel in weather situation at the limits for S-boats.

The bad weather prevented all S-boat operations in time to follow. Only during the night 20./21.07. 10 boats of the 2. SFltl with "S 70", "S 104" and "S 67" and of the 4. SFltl with "S 48", "S 109", "S 63", "S 64", "S 50", "S 78" and "S 66" could act as distraction for an operation of the 3. T-Fltl, laying two defensive minebarriers. Thereafter the boats were to lay 38 mines off Beachy Head. The boats were tracked by enemy radar all the time but due to the bad weather it came not to any enemy contacts. The 2. SFltl secured at  04.50 Uhr in SBB Cherbourg. When the 4. SFltl on its approach to harbour passed Cape d'Alprech it was taken under fire by German coastal artillery. 

In the meantime both flotillas were filled up by boats becomming KB again. The 5. SFltl  (Kptlt. Klug) with boats "S 77" and "S 68" were transferred from Osend to Cherbourg. As further reinforcement "S 108", "S 101", "S 62", "S 80" and "S 110" arrived at Ijmuiden. "S 108" and "S 80" collided and were out of order for some days.

From 22. to 25.07. the weather did not permit any operations. During the night to 26.07. "S 62" nd "S 108" from the 2. SFltl to Le Havre. Little after leaving harbour they were taken under fire by German coastal artillery. In the night following they transferred from Le Havre to Cherbourg.

On 26.07.1942 the 2. SFltl was ordered to transfer to Guernsey. This order could not be carried out due to bad weather.

On 28.07. the 2. SFltl ws ordered to proceed to Cape de la Hague on order to support two pickets. "VP 202" was already sunk in a fight with British destroyers. Harbour defence boats from Alderney had taken over 24 survivors. "VP 203" was burning and sank during an attempt to tow her in. 

Onm 31.07.1942 the 5. SFllt with"S 65" and "S 115" plus "S 80" and"S 105" of the 2. SFltl as well as the detached boats "S 64" and "S 66" of the the 4. SFltl  arrived at St. Peter Port/Guernsey. 

During the night to 01./02.08.19442 the 2. SFltl with "S 62", "S 70", "S 80", "S 194, "S 105", "S 67" and "S 108" actd as close support for a mining operation of the 8. M-Fltl. When entering Cherbourg the 8. MS-Fltl and the second group of the 2. SFltl were surprised by an attack of four MGBs of the 8. MGB-flotilla. The four MGBs turned away after 10 minutes and got away with only a few light damages from the fighting in which also German coastal artillery had intervened.

During the night 03./04.08.1942 the 1. AstO (first admiral staff officer) of F.d.S. , KorvKpt. Herbert Max Schultz, with 13 boats of 2. and 5. SFltl from Cherbourg and the 4. SFltl with five boats from St. Peter Port left harbour to attack convoy WP.196 ("Cloak") having bben reported by the reconnaissance. "S 65" had to return soon because of engine failure. "S 110" detected four steamers. During the attack the boats were hunted by a destroyer but came to fire anyhow. The 4. SFltl reported sinking of two steamers vo 3000 BRT and a hit on a further steamer of 20500 BRT, however, no ships were sent to the bottom of the sea. 

During the 06./07.08. the 2. and the 4. SFltl were at sea with 12 boats. Target was a westbound convoy "Range" which had been reported by reconnaissance aircraft. Also three boats of the 4. SFltl had left St. Peter Port and the 5. SFlt had left Cherbourg with the same objective. No targets were detected. The 5. SFltl laid the mines taken at sea as planned.

Since F.d.S. considered the chances to obtain successes in the western part of the Channel as little he decided to transfer the flotillas to Boulogne, Rotterdam, and Ijmiuiden. The 4. SFltl transferred on 08.08. from Cherbourg to Boulogne. Bad weather prevented operations until 13.08.1942. Two boats of the 4.SFltl marched from Boulogne to Rotterdam. The 2. SFltl transferred on 14.08. from Cherbourg to Ijmuiden. The 5. SFltl followed during the same night and laid 24 mines on teh convoy-route between Bill of Portland and Isle of Wight. At the same time the 4. SFltl left Boulogne to lay 36 mines south of Dungeness.

The command center of F.d.S. transferred on 16.08.1942 from Wimereux to Scheveningen. With the tranfer back of the three flotillas and the comming to availability of the 6. SFltl, of which five boats were at shipyards, "S 76" was aKB at Kiel, "S 69" and "S 113" were en route southward from Norway, he expected more successes in the Dover Strait and the waters between the Netherlands and the English eastcoast (called Hoofden). The 4. SFltl with "S 77" and "S 115" and "S 81" and "S 78" just having joined from Germany on short notice - from 16. to 24.08.1942 formed the second group of the 5. SFltl at Boulogne. 

During the night 16./17.08. the 5. SFltl laid 24 Minen in Lyme Bay.

On 18.08. the 5. SFltl laid another 24 mines in Lyme Bay and entered St. Peter Port on 19.08.1942.  "S 112" had been able to detect the MGBs in the area by her FuMB-equipment. 

Sorties of 4. Sfltl with six boats and of 2. SFltl also with six boats during the night 19./20.08. against a northbound convoy were without any successes. The 2. group of the 5. SFltl with "S 116", "S 112" and "S 68" from Cherbourg and "S 78", "S 81", "S 77" and "S 115" from Boulogne was alo without successes. "S 81" fished a Polish Spitfire-pilot out of the water, who had been shot down by a Me 109.

Until 24.08. bad weather preveted all further operations. On this day on flock of the 5. SFltl was ordered to leave harbour. The contact, having been reported by Luftwaffe which caused the employment, turned out to be an erronious contact. 

The 2. SFltl with six boats laid 36 mines east of Orford Ness during the night to 31.08. and the 4. SFltl laid 18 mines near buoy 54 and five boats of the 5. SFltl laid 30 mines east of Start Point. 

In the first week of september the weather was too bad for operations. Only on 04.09. an sortie was performed to the Isle of Wight by the 5. SFltl which had to be broken off because of too heavy seastate.

During the night  07/08.09. the 4. SFltl with four boats, the 6. SFltl with two boats and the 2. SFfltl with seven boats was directed towards an assumed convoy. Both boats of the 6. SFltl as well as "S 108" and "S 80" of the 2. SFltl had to be released due to engine failures. At 04.10 it came to an exchange of fire with four British ML. "S 117" with her 40mm-gun obtained hits on the opponents.

During the night to 09.09. the 5. SFltl with six boats laid 36 mines east of Start Point. 

The 6. SFltl with "S 116", "S 81", "S 65", "S 112" and "S 77" 30 mines in the same area during the night to 10.09.1942. The 5. SFltl conducted a distraction sortie from Cherbourg with five boats.

During the night 10./11.09. the 4. SFltl with "S 117", "S 66", "S 63", "S 78" and "S 79", the 6. SFltl with "S 73", "S 75" and "S 76" as well as the 2.Ffltl with "S 101", "S 62", "S 108", "S 105", "S 67" and "S 80" was ordered to perform a so called Stichansatz (stitch attack) against an assumed convoy. The convoy was not found, the 4. SFltl was attacked by a four-engined aircraft with aircraft weapons and had a fighting with three British S-boats. 

The 6. SFltl intervened in a fight between the 2. SFltl and "MGB 334", MGB 329", and "MGB 335". Hits in the engine room and a fire in the rear forced "MGB 335" (Typ Fairmile C) to stop. "MGB 334" went alongside "MGB 335" and rescued 12 survivors of the 15 crew. She tried to sink the boat with shots in the waterline but to not succeed. 

Statement Kptlt. a.D. Hans-Friedrich Nitsche, former CO "S 114" in a discussion with FKpt a.D. Norbert Rath in fall 1999: "The German Schnellboats were waiting for the order to attack. The order did not come. Only after completion of the rescue action, Petersen let the MGBs be hunted and the deserted English boat to be tugged in."

 "MGB 335" was boarded, the fire extinguished and "S 105" and "S 101" took the boat alongside in tow. The boat was handed over to tugs and picket and brought in to Den Helder.

All secret documents and the technical equipment (signalbook, minencharts, radio-, radar-, ESM- and IFF-equipment) was captured.  On "S 62" and "S 80" there were five seriously anf five lightly wounded, on "S 78" ther were two wounded and on one boat of the 6. SFltl one. 

The German side did not exploit the capturing of the boat as a means of propaganda. Thus the captured secret documents were usable for evaluation of decepted signals for a longer period.

  The 5. SFltl had left harbour for a distraction sortie, it was soon detected and the destroyers "Albrighton" and "Glaisdale" as well as some MGBs were directed towards the flotilla. In spite of this the 30 mines could be laid southwest of St. Catherines Point and enter harbour again without any incidents. 

 

MTBs of type Fairmile C - Picture: Imperial War Museum

As a consequence of this fight F.d.S. requested  reinforcement of the brigde armouring (Scull-bridge = Kalottenbrücke) and to equip the boats with 40-mm-guns as well as with Funkmess- (Radar) and Funkmessbeobachtungsgeräte (ESM).

Because of the bad weather the boats stayed in harbour until 14.09. when a sortie of the 2., 4. and 6. SFltl with 14 boats run into the empty. The 5. SFltl with "S 116", "S 81","S 77", "S 112" and "S 65" conducted a distraction sortie for the minelaying operation "Elbing" of the 8. M-Fltl.

The Hoofden-flotillas had to stay in harbours for some days due to the weather. On 17.09. the 5. SFltl with "S 116", "S 81", "S 77", "S 68" "S 112" and "S 65" conducted an attack on a convoy which had been reported by Luftwaffe. On the march out "S 77" with engine failure and "S 68" as escort had to be released. "S 112" and "S 65" fired two torpedoes each against a destroyer, which could avoid them. "S 116" missed a freighter of 2000 BRT. The boats wre pushed away by the destroyer.

In the evening of 17.09. the 2. SFltl with seven boats left Ijmuiden to operat against a convoy which had been reported by Luftwaffe, also the 4 SFltl had gone to sea from Hoek van Holland with the same target. Thick fog banks forced the boats to turn around. 

From 25. until 27.09. "S82" and "S 115" transferred from Ijmuiden to Cherbourg. In spite of frequent signalling of the ID-code the boats were taken under fire by own escort-vessels.

Only on 26.09. the Holland-flotillas could perform operations again because of the weather: The 4. SFltl with six, the 2. SFltl with five and the 6. SFltl with eight boats left to lay mines. "S 78" had to return because of an angine failure. The othr 18 boats could lay 108 mines north of the Humber estuary. Because of a compas-failure on the guide the mines fell 10 miles further north than planned. The compas-error was inflicted by the new scull-bridge which had been installed on "S 63". One these mines sank the British freighter "Ingham" ( 1337 BRT) on the 07.10.1942.  

During the night to 29.09. the 5. SFltlwith seven vboats laid 20 mines and 12 tear-buoys in Lyme Bay. By a shot of an machine-pistol which released itself the commanding officer of "S 82", Oblt.z.S. Gerhard Rebensburg, was so seriously wounded that he died at 01.30 in spite of medical assistence by the flotilla-doctor.

During the night to 02.10. the 5. SFltl  left Cherbourg with seven boats to operate against a convoy of smaller and bigger steamers ("Cloak") which had been reported by Luftwaffe. Boats "S 81" and "S 116" had engine failures and were released together with "S 115" as excort. The flock "S 112"/"S 65" detected the convoy, the flock "S 77" /"S 68" fired two torpedoes each which, however, went wrong. In a new attack they were hunted by destroyers. Four torpedoes fired against thme the destroyers could avoid. The flock "S 112"/"S 65" attacked the convoy again and "S 112" believed to had sunk a freighter of 1500 BRT and an escort, while "S 65" believed to have hit a freighter of 1500 BRT. In reality only th Navy-trawler "Lord Stonehaven" (444 BRT) sank. 

During the same night the 5. SFltl with "S 80", "S 62", "S 46", "S 67", "S 108" and "S 105" carrying six mines each besides of "S 46", which could only carry four because of the new 40mm-gun, had left Ijmuiden; "S 67" and "S 108" had to be released due to a rudder breakdown. The 4. SFltl had left harbour with "S 42", "S 117" (four mines each) and "S 66, "S 78", and "S 63" (six mines each); of these "S 66" had to be released and turned around due to engine failure. As escort "S 42" sailed with her. The 6. SFltl had left harbour with "S 71", "S 114", "S 76"  "S 73", "S 113" and "S 69" carrying six mines each. The three flotillas joined and laid a total of 74 mines in front of the Humber estuary.

Because of the bad weather the next sortie was conducted against a northbound convoy which had been reported by Luftwaffe on 06.10.1942. The 6. SFltl with eight boats detected minesweepers and escorts but could not find the convoy. The 2. SFltl detected the convoy and attacked it with "S 101", "S 62", "S 108", "S 105", "S 46" and "S 80" from a forward angle. 12 torpedoes were fired and an escort and one freighter of 3500 BRT and two freighters of 2000 BRT each were reported as sunkaus spitzer Lage an. Eswurden 12 Torpedos geschossen und ein Bewacher sowie ein Frachter von 3500 BRT und zwei Frachter von je 2000 BRT wurden als versenkt gemeldet. Also "S 79" reported a hit on a freighter of 3500 BRT. The 2. SFltl came under fire of a destroyer. The 4. SFltl reported six MLs. Sunk were "ML 339", the tug "Caroline Møller" (444 BRT) and the Daenish steamer "Jessie Maersk" (1972 BRT). The torpedoed freighters "Sheat Water" (2370 BRT) and "Ilse" (2844 BRT) sank during the trial to tow them between Cromer and Great Yarmouth. The patro boat "Sheldrake" and the auxiliary minesweeper "Monimia" were damaged. "ML 207" took the survivors of "ML 339" and of the sunken freighters ashore. The new straight-running-angle control unit on "S 80" had proven its worth.

According to British sources also "MTB 29" (Gordon Williamson: "E-Boat vs MTB" Osprey Publishing - Duel 34) and "MGB 76" (Angus Konstam: "British Motor Gun Boat 1939-45", New Vanguard 166) sunk as consequence of a collision with or in battle by fire of German S-boats on 06.10.1942. However no collision between a Grman an a British boat has been reported in German KTBs. 

A week of so bad weather followed so that S-boat operations not were feasible.

On 13.10.1942 the 5. SFltl with eight boats performed an operation against a westbound convoy, but found no targets. Thereafter they searched for survivors of the auxiliary cruiser "Komet" (Ship 45), which had been sunk by the British "MTB 236"in the early morning of 14.10.1942. Of the 251 crewmembers nobody survived. 

During the same night the 6. SFltl with eight boats, of which "S 113" had to return due to rudder damage together with "S 114" and the 4. SFltl with five and the 2. SFltl with four boats had left the etherlands harbours in order to operate against a reported convoy. At 04.00 the 4. SFltl got in contact with the convoy north of Cromer, wbich was escorted by destroyers "Whitshead" and "Westminster". The flock "S 76"/"S 73" of the 6. SFltl was pushed away, but "S 71", "S 69", "S 74" and "S 75" could fire their torpedoes. An attack of the 4. SFltl was broken off due to the strong defence. The 2 SFltl broke off the approach towards the convoy because of strong marine phosphorescence. The 6. _Sfltl reported sinking og four freighters with 8000 BRT, in reality the Norwegian steamer "Lysland" ( 1.335 BRT) and the British steamer "George Balfour" (1570 BRT) were hit. The burning "Lysland" was towed in to the Humber. "George Balfour" broke in parts while it was tugged and went aground. 

 During the next weeks only a few operations were possible because of the start of the winter gales with rain, storm and fog.. 

An advance of the 5. SFltl in the evening of 31.10. against a convoy reported by Luftwaffe reconnaissance had to be broken of because the sea state became too heavy. 

On 01.11. the Netherlands-flotillas tryed an operation against a FN-convoy, the 4. SFltl with nine boats, the 2. SFltl with eight and the 6. SFltl with seven boats left Ijmuiden and Hook van Holland, after an engine failure on "S 29" and "S 45", "S 29" was released for the basis with "S 62" and "S 45" with "S 109". The other boats detected two destroyers and some escorts but had to turn around without any results due to the worsening weather. The 5. SFltl at sea with eight boats, was detected by the enemy and orders were intercepted with exact course and distance statements for the MLs which were directed towards the flotilla. Therefore, it was called back.

There followed a break in consequence of the weather. 

During the night to 09.11.1942 the 6. SFltl with seven, the 2. SFltl and the 4. SFltl with eight boats each were in action against a northbound convoy.  "S 114" and "S 78" had to be released soon because of engine failure. "S 109" was detailed as escort. F.d.S. had embarked himnself on "S 83". The 2. SFltl detected a destroyer and shortly thereafter the convoy off Lowestoft which was brightly illuminated by flares. "S 80" fired four, "S 83", "S 105", "S 46", "S 70", and "S 101" fired two torpedoes each. They believed to have hit three steamers of 3000 BRT each. They were pushed away by heavy firing. The 4. SFltl had also attacked and reported sinking of a tanker of 2500 BRT and a freighter of 3000 BRT. A further torpedo had probably hit an escort of picket. "S 42" fired four torpedoes against a destroyer without any hits."S 113"got some 40mm-hits in th foreship. "S 48" and "S 66" towed her. The 6. SFltl believed to have torpedoed a steamer of 2500 BRT. The armed forces report (Wehrmachtsbericht) reported sinking of four ships of 11000 BRT total and damages to two steamers and an escort. 

Sunk was only the Norwegian steamer "Fidelio" (1.843 BRT) and the British steamer "Brite Wandle" (1.482 BRT) was torpedoed. She was towed in.

During the next night the 5. SFltl conducted an operation without successes against an assumed convoy between Start Point and Lizzard Head. The floitilla did not find the convoy.

During the night to 15.11. a convoy of 40 ships with three destroyers had been reported. The Netherlands-flotillas performed a sortie with 22 boats. They sailed in company to about the Bruine Bank and operated separated from there. When the 2. SFltl marched back "S 101" fell behind and was taken under fire by "ML 101" and "MGB 103". The commanding officer, Oblt.z.S. Miljes, and der Bootsmaat Bütow were killed in action, ther were five seriously and two lightly wounded. Obermaschinist  Albrecht died on 18.11. in hospital because of his wounds. Of the 4. SFltl "S 64" (Oblt.z.S. Wilcke) took hits in a fighting with destroyer "Vesper". MatrGefr Meyer was killed in action and there were three wounded. The Co reported several hits on the bridge of the destroyer. 

On 18.11.1942 the 5. SFltl. with "S  82", "S 116", "S 77", "S 112", S" 65", "S 115" and "S 81" attacked a convoy off Eddystone Ligthhouse. The first group detected the convoy and called in the second group by voice communications. The first group fired a toatal of 10 torpedoes and observed three hits, two on steamers of 3000 BRT each and one on a steamer of 2500 BRT. The destroyers fired flares so that only "S 77" and "S 116" could lauch on torpedo each. Of the second group only "S 112" could fire a torpedo and reported hit on a steamer of 1000 BRT. "S 112" sank the British trawler "Ullswater". Also sunk were the Norwegian freighter "Lab" (1118 BRT) and the British steamers "Yewforest" (815 BRT) and "Birgitte" (1595 BRT).

On 20.11. eight boats of the 5. SFltl left harbour with mines, "S 116" had to be released due to engine failure together with "S 65". The mines of the other boats were laid off Berry Head unobserved by the opponents. 

Thereafter again bad weather prevailed, so that th next operation of the 5. SFltl was performed on 30.11. against a reported convoy of seven freighters of 1000 to 2000 BRT, a passenger ship of 20000 BRT and two destroyers. The flotilla sighted seven small shadows, assumingly minesweepers and a little later the convoy south of Bornemouth. The flock "S 115"/"S 18" fired four torpedoes against the leading ship. "S 81" (Oblt.z.Ss. Wendler) sank the British trawler "Jasper". The flock "S 82"/"S 116" dogged around a longer time with two Hunt-destroyers and obtained 40mm-hits on one of them. 

On 02.12.1942 the 5. SFltl with eight boats attacked a convoy. "S 81" and "S 116" fired at the same time on a steamer of estimated 3000 BRT, "S 82" hit a steamer of estimated  2000 BRT and "S 115" (Oblt.z.S. Klocke) sunk the British destroyer escort "Penylan". The French freighter "Gatinais" (1087 BRT) was sunk. On the march back the boats were attacked by 10 Spitfire off Cape de la Hague.On "S 116" two men were killed in action and the CO was seriously wounded, on "S 82" three men were killed in action.

On 03.12. the air reconnaissance reported a convoy of five steamers of uop to 5000 BRT, 30 steamers of up to 3000 BRT and two destroyers off Great Yarmouth. Therefore the Netherlands-flotillas put to sea with 18 boats. Of the 2. SFltl "S 105" fell out due to engine failure. The flotilla sighted besides of two MGBs no targets and had to return because of the heavy sea state. Of the 4. SFltl the flock "S 78"/"S 109" hat a fighting with three MGBs. Thereby "S 109" had to take som MG-hits and had two wounded men. The 6. SFltl did not see enemies.

Thereafter the weather became so bad, that no operations were performed until 12.12. On that day the air reconnaissance reported a northbound convoy. The three Netherlands-flotillas left harbour with 17 boats, to attack the convoy in a stitch-attack.  The 2. Sfltl did only find the rear destroyer and was taken under fire by her. "S 105" gut a 10,2cm-hit in compartments VII and VII. A torpedo of "S 80" went wrong. Due to the heavy sea state the flottilla then turned around. The 4. SFltl was more in favor, it bumped into convoy FN.889 and "S 117" fired two torpedoes on a steamer of estimated 4000 BRT, both were hits and the steamer exploded. "S 63" reported two torpedohits on steamers of 2500 BRT each and in a second attack on a steamer of 3000 BRT. "S 48" reported a hit on a tanker with a "high explosion cloud". Thereafter the boats were hunted by the three destroyers. Also the 6. SFltl was hunted by the destroyers and did not come into firing position. 

 In reality were sunk by "S 48" (Oblt.z.. von Mirbach) the British freighter "Avonwood" (1056 BRT), by "S 117" (Oblt.z.S. Bludau) the BRitish freighter "Knitsley" (2272 BRT), by "S 63" (Oblt.z.S. Karcher) the BRitish freighter "Lindisfarne" (999 BRT) and the Norwegian Freighter"Marianne" (1915 BRT) and by "S 110" (Oblt.z.S. Graser) the BRitish freighter "Glen Tilt" (871 BRT). "S 105" got a 10,2-cm-hit without any personnel losses. "S 114" had to take a 4-cm-hit and several 20-mm-hits also without ancy personnel losses.

In the year 1942 the Schnellbootwaffe on the western front had to overcome or to outmanoeuver a strong force in order to close the merchant men combined in convoys which F.d.S. had directed to be the main and urgent targets.

In the area of NORE with its sub-areas Harwich and Nore on 1.11.1942 were based: 45 MGB, 24 MTB, and 35 ML, in sub-area Dover 20 MGB, 7 MTB, and 17 ML, in area PORTSMOUTH is were six SGB, 15 MGB, 16 MTB, and 28 ML, in area WESTERN APPROACHES further eight MTB and 19 ML. 

The convoys in the area NORE on 01.01.1942 were protected by 21 destroyers and seven corvettes, on 01.08.1942 reinforced by two further destroyers. In th area PORTSMOUTH were six destroyers.

In the command area NORE until end of 1942 along the total coastal line RADAR-stations were available, which reported with high precition positions and movements of the German Schnellboote using VHF-communication stations to the British Coastal Forces . In addition the British airforce had obtained air superiority in the English Channel, i.e. Reconnaissance aircraft, fighters, night fighters, torpedo aircraft and bombers were omnipresent at all times

Coastal Forces:

Type Long title Number
MGB Motor Gunboats 80
MTB Motor Torpedoboats 47
ML Motor Launches 80
SGB Steam Gunboats 6

 

The defence Areas in the English Channel and Southern Northsea (Hoofden)

In the year 1942 were sunk in this area: Two destroyers ("Vortigern" and "Penylan"), two motortorpedoboats ("MTB 220" and "MTB 29"), one motorgunboat ("MGB 76"), one motorlaunch ("ML 339"), four trawlers ("Manor", "Lord Stonehaven", "Ullswater", and "Jasper"), 19 merchant ships with 33.049 BRT. Torpedoed were five  freighters with 4387 BRT, by mines were sunk five merchant ships with 14.667 BRT, by mines were damaged two destroyers ("Whitshed" and "Cotswold") and one merchant ship with 2820 BRT. Captured was one motorgunboat ("MGB 335").

Own losses were: 14 killed in action, five seriously and 12 lightly wounded, 18 POWs. "S 53" was lost caused by collision with "S 39", "S 111" was scuttled after artillery hits.