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 S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine 1935 - 1945

War Zones of the S-Boats

English Channel 1944

Since the British escorts had increased not only in numbers but their crews had also improved in qualification ans experioence and one prerequisit - air-reconnaissance - was not given, the F.d.S. (FKpt. Petersen) had to rely on electronic support means (Funkaufklärung) almost exclusively in order to operate his boats.

In the west the 2., 4., 5., 6., 8., and 9. SFltl with a total of 46 ready-for-action boats attacked the British convoys along the English south and east coasts based upon Ijmuiden, Rotterdam, and Cherbourg. 

Five more boats were aKB in German shipyards.

How much value was seen by OBdM, Großadmiral Dönitz, in the S-boats, is underlined by the award of Eichenlaub zum Ritterkreuz (oak leaves to the knight's cross) for F.d.S. on 01.01.1944. On this day the Kriegsmarine owned nine S-Boat-Flotillas and three flotillas with midget S-boats. Under command of Schnellbootlehrdivision (S-Boat-School-Divison) were the 1. and the 2. S-Schul-Fltl with 15 boats in the Baltic. Seven other boats were at ship yards. 

During the first week of January bad weather kept the boats in their harbours. The 5. SFltl had available only seven boats, two boats were in Le Havre for installation of 40mm-guns.

During the night 05./06.01.1944 the 5. SFltl with "S 100", "S 138", "S 136", "S 84" conducted a torpedo attack against an eastbound convoy reported at Lizzard Head. The first  pair, "S 141", "S 142", "S 143", bumped into an escort and "S 143" fired a torpedo at her, which, however, went wrong. Since the escort showed no reaction, they could evade her. The second pair "S 100", "S 138" detected at 02.58 convoy WP457, "S 100" fired at a steamer of estimated 3000 BRT and observed a detonation, "S 143" sank an auxiliary of 3000 BRT,  "S 142" sank a freighter of 2000 BRT, "S 138" sank the trawler "Wallasea". "S 141" reported the sinking of a freighter of 1500 BRT and of a tanker of 3000 BRT. It was the British freighter "Underwood" (1990 BRT). In total 23 torpedoes were fired most of which went wrong. Besides of the "Underwood" were sunk: The Swedish freighter "Solstad" (1408 BRT) by "S 143" and the British motorship "Polperro" (403 BRT) by "S 136" and "S 84". The destroyer "Mackey" had in the meantime pushed the 2. pair away from the convoy.

For the 11.01.1944 F.d.S. had ordered a mining-operation north of the mouth of the Humber for the flotillas stationed in Holland, the 2. SFltl left Ijmuiden harbour with nine, the 6. SFltl with eight and the 8. SFltl with three boats, but had to return without results due bad weather.

On 16.01.1944 the 5. SFltl with "S143", "S 142, "S 141", "S 100", "S 138", "S 136" and "S 84" operated from Cherbourg against a westbound convoy off Lizzard Heas. "S 184" had to stay behind because of an engine failure, and the other boats bumped on the convoy but were taken under fire imediately by a destroyer, so tht they had to perform four runs in vain. When "S 142" reported a rudder failure via radio one of the escorts relayed  that imediately to a group of MGBs. Tje MGBs searched for "S 142" without result. All boats returned safely.

For F.d.S. this incident was reason to order that radio-trafik was to be reduced to the most necessary situations and should be used only to short signals as long as possible.

In the evening of the 20.01.1944 the 5. SFltl with "S 143", "S 142", "S 141", "S 100", "S 138", "S 136" and "S 84" sortied against the Bay of Plymouth in order to feign that the boats were laying a the main emphasis on the area west of Lizard Head and thus weakening the defenceof trh eastern part of the Channel. An advance against a convoy in the Lyme Bay was broken off because of bad weather. On the way back the boats were attacked from the air. On "S 142" one man was wounded lightly. The attacking Beaufighters reported serious damages on the boat.

On 20./21. 01.1944 the first operation of the flotillas stationed in the Netherlands was conducted after a long period of bad weather. A combined minelaying and torpedo operation against the convoy-route north of the Humber estuary had been planned . The 2. SFltl with seven, the 8. SFltl with eight and the 6. SFltl with seven boats left Ijmuiden harbour, the 4. SFltl with three and two added boats from the 9. SFltl left Hoek van Holland harbour. Because of the worsening weather   the 2., 8. and 6. SFltl broke the action off and returned into harbour, while the 4. SFltl and the two boats of the 9. SFltl could lay their mines as planned. On "S 150" one mine could not be laid because of sea damage. A destroyer fired illumation grenades. But the flotilla slipped away. "S 150" lost contact to the flotilla but managed to sail back to Hoek van Holland alone. 

On 28.01.1944 fthe 5. SFltl with seven boats conducted a sortie against a convoy, but had to sail back to harbour without success due to the bad weather.

In the night 30./31.01.1944 the 5. SFltl sortied against a convoy reported by reconnaissance as having been detected east of Dungeness. From the British radio transmissions F.d.S. could determine that the flotilla had detected convoy CW.243. The 1. pair ("S 112", "S 143") was hunted by a destroyer, the 2. pair ("S 142", "S 138") had more fortune. "S 142" sank the British trawler "Pine" and the freighter "Emerald" (806 BRT), "S 138" sank the freighter "Caleb Sprange" (1813 BRT). The 3. pair was hunted by destroyers and MGBs.

Early February the 9. SFltl transferred from Vlissingen to Dunkerque, where it arrived on 13.02.1944 and was caught there by bad weather. It was thought to co-operate from there with the 5. SFltl. On 04.02.1944 the SKL ordered transfer of one SFltl to the Finnish Bay. However, the 6. SFltl, detailed by F.d.S., could not leave harbour earlier than 06.02.1944 because of the bad weather and arrived at Kiel one evening later. "S 128" and "S 135" stayed behind at Rotterdam where they were retrofitted with 40-mm guns.

The new 40-mm-gun - Picture: PK-Foto

On 05.02.1944 the 5. SFltl bumped into a convoy east of Dungeness. At 22.36 landbased enemy radars detected the boats and the bright moonlight caused the flotilla commander to return to harbour.

On 06.02. the 9. SFltl arrived at Boulogne. Because of the bad weather and the bright moonlight nights no sorties were performed before mid February 1944. Therefore, the 9. SFltl could not yet arrive at its destiny Cherboug. Until 12.02. it had just come to Le Havre.

Because of the weather and the light moon-nights further operations were not conducted any earlier than mid February 1944. In spite of the strong enemy defences the F.d.S. still saw better chances for success along the English eastcoast. Because of a possible landing of the Allies on the Iberian peninsula he had let the harbours of  Bordeaux, Arcachon, Bayonne, and Saint-Jean-de-Luz be prepared as possible bases. A transfer to these harbours was however never performed. The  2. and 8. SFltl stayed at Ijmuiden and the 4. SFltl at Rotterdam. Since 4. SFltl was retrofitted with the new charged engines only 12 ready-for-action boats were available.

On 12./13.02.1944 the 12 boats layed mines on the northern British convoy routes, during this action "S 99" and "S 65" of the 8. SFltl could sink the British trawler "Cap D'Antifer". 

On 14./15.02.1944 the mining operation was repeated, but this time only by the 2. SFltl. The 8. SFltl as a battle group was to get into fights with the MGBs with the aim to capture one of the boats, in order to obtainr material that could give information about the British convoy routes. Close to Ijmuiden the returning boats of the 2. SFltl bumped into the three MTB-groups which had been lurking there. The flares fired by the pickets rendered advantages to the German boats during the gun-fights but the MTBs could disappear in spite of having taken many hits. "S 89" as leading boat was so severely damaged that it had to be towed in, one man had been severely wounded; "S 98" was not ready for action too, she had one man killed in action. Also the 8. SFltl found a MGB-group, could achieve many hits but not conquer a boat. "S 99" and "S 133" were also damaged, on "S 133" one man was killed in action. 

In a common opoeration of the  5. and the 9. SFltl with 13 boats in teh night to the 16.02.1944 against a westbound convoy in the area south of Selsey Bill the boats were detected by radar und had to abandon the action due to strong fighterbomber-activities. "S 140" deconnected because of rudder failure was attacked with bombs which all fell into her wake. 

In the night to the 22.02.1944 the 8. SFltl with nine boats and the 2. SFltl with five boats under command of the flotilla commander of the 8. SFltl, Korv.Kapt. Felix Zymalkowski, had left harbour in order to attack convoy FS.1369 which had been located by the radio recconnaissance between the Humber estuary and Cromer . "S 85" had to be dismissed because of sea damages and "S 117" because of engine failure. The operation had finally to be broken off because of bad weather

In the following night the 8. SFltl with "S 64", "S 65", "S 69", "S 85", "S 93", "S 127" and "S 129" and the 2. SFltl with "S 86", "S 67",  "S 94", "S 80" and "S 92", as well as "S 128" and "S 135" of the 6. SFltl, which had not yet transferred to baltic like their flotilla were to attack convoy FS.1369 off Smith's Knoll. The 15 boats were divided up ínto four groups. At 01.52 the 2. SFltl arrived at the convoy-route and bumped there into destroyer "Garth", against which eight torpedoes were launched, all went wrong and the destroyer opened fire. When the flotilla turned away "S 128" (Oblt.z.S. Rindfuß) rammed "S 94" (Oblt.z.S. Bosenuik). Both boats had strong water penetration. By an attack of the 2. group against the destroyer which was not hit again,"S 86" and "S 67" succeeded in taking over the crews of both boats. Both boats were scuttled. Also with the newly installed FuMB-equipment "Naxos" of "S 127" (Oblt.z.S. Osterloh) the convoy was not detected..

The 8. SFltl had also fought with destoyer "Southdown" without being able to detect the convoy. Also in this flotilla two boats collided causing one dead (MatrGefr. Ernst Berghammer) and one injured man. The two destroyers together with "MTB 609" and "MTB 610" employed as MGBs without torpedoes had detected the 15 boats exactly and held them away from the convoy. Since the British side assumed that the boats had laid mines a minesweeping action started imediately. Both flotillas entered Ijmuiden in the morning of the 23.02.1944 without any success.

During the night to the 25.02.1944 the two flotillas were to lay mines on the convoy-route eat of Cromer. One hour after leaving harbour of the 2. SFltl with five and of the 8. SFltl with eight boats F.d.S.  got the message thta a southgoing convoy had been detected northeast of Cromer. The two flotillas were redirected to angage the convoy with torpedoes. The mines should be laid as a side-issue in the patrolling area of the destroyers. The 2. SFltl had started minelaying already when they detected the convoy and fired six G 7 a and four FAT (Flächenabsuchende Torpedos = area searching torpedos) against a column with six freighters and the destroyer "Vivian", which imedeately turned towards the boats. In retreating two explosion-flashes were to see and three detonation-noises to hear.

The 8. SFltl had laid their mines when they were haunted by destroyer escort "Eglinton". They fired four FAT and two G 7 a and observed two explosion-pillars and heard five explosion-noises. On their way back they bumped into four British MGBs, which were taken under fire imediately. Three 40mm-hits on one of the boats were observed.

The boats had laid 36 UMB and 26 BMC and fired 16 torpedoes. Radio reconnaissance determined that the British freighter "Philipp" (2085 BRT) had been sunk. This success was held good for the 8. SFltl.

A sortie of both flotillas against a convoy off Great Yarmouth during the next night was without success.

A sortie of the 9. and the 5. SFltl with "S 144", "S 145", "S 146", "S 130", "S 112", "S 143", "S 139", "S 142", "S 136" and "S 84" under command of Kptlt. Frhr. Götz von Mirbach, kommander 9. SFltl, in teh night to the 28.02. was broken of in rain and poor visibility because the boats did not find targets. On the way back "S 142" and "S 136" collided, so that both boats had to be reported aKB.

Also a sosrtie of the 2. and the 8. SFltl with 14 boats under command of Korv.Kapt. Zymalkovski (Commander 8. SFltl) against a convoy at Smith's Knoll in teh night to the 01.03.1944 turned out without successes, because the boats had to return because of heavy seastate. Prior to that "S 135" and "S 92" had tobe dismissed because ofg engine failure. During the same night teh 5. and the 9. SFltl performed a sortie against a convoy supposed ti be in the area of Plymouth. "S 140" and "S 141" had tobe dismissed early because of engine failure. The radio-recconnaissence-service reported that teh British had detected both units and that the convoys had been redirected. Therefore, the boats were called back and they entered Cherbourg in the morning of the 01.03.1944.

On 02.03.1944 the 5. SFltl with five and the 9. SFltl with four boats left harbour for a torpedo-operation against a convoy reported west of Lizzard Head. At the same time the boats should look into Lyme Bay since concentrations of ships had been observed there since weeks. The convoy was not sighted. On the way back two aircraft attacked the boats off Alderney with bombs and aircraft weapon. The boats came back to Cherbourg without damages.

The nights with bright moonlight prevented all S-boat-activities in the following time.

On 11.03.1944 the 5. and the 9. SFltl transferred to Brest with 11 boats. The stitch-actions sailed from there went into empty spaces because of misssing air reconnaissance. On 15.03.1944 reported the reconnaissance a convoy off Land's End. The two flotillas were directed against it. The British Coastal Command reported the boats. The convoy protected by corvettes "Azalea" and "Primrose" was redirected and the cruiser "Bellona" and the destroyers '"Ashanti" and Tatar" as well as the destroyers escort "Melbreak" and "Brissenden", two minesweepers and MTB-groups were ordered into the sea-area.

On 20.03.1944 the 5.  and the 9. SFltl with 13 boats advanced against convoy WP.494 which had been reported at Start Point. This advance had to be cancelled by the flotillas because they received the message "WP entering Waymouth Bay now". On the march back "S 146" and "S 84" collided and shortly thereafter "S 143" and "S 139". "S 146" and "S 139" were aKB until the end of the month.

Another operation of the 5. and the 9. SFltl against a westbound convoy on 22.03. was broken of because visibility decreased. Missing of radiodetectionmeans reduced prospects for success against stengthened British defences.

In the Netherlands the situation was even worse. Bad visibility and storm prevented all operations until end of March. During the night 23./24.03.1944 the 2. SFltl had left the harbour of  Ijmuiden with six, the  4. SFltl the harbour of Hoek van Holland with three, and the 8. SFltl the harbour of Ijmuiden with seven boats, in order to operate against a southbound convoy. Bad visibility forced them to return. On the march to the homeport "S 65" and "S 85" from the 8. SFltl collided. During the night  25./26.03.1944 the boats were operating against the enemy again. But as in four other operations the boats were driven off by destroyers or they did not find the convoys. 

The Allied now took more and more the offensive rôle. A total of 385 Marauders (B 26) of the USAF attacked the basis Ijmuiden in several waves on 26.03.1944, without being able to penetrate the S-boat- und the mine-bunkers with bombs, but the newly built bunkers and the supply buildings took severe damages. "S 93" and "S 129", which were both outside the bunker, were sunk. In front of the bunker-entrance a lighter sank, so that entering and leaving the bunker could only be performed at high water for a longer period. Both boats were recovered early April 1944 and transported to Germany on lighters for canibalization.

Begge både blev hævet i begyndelsen af april og transporteret med lightere to Tyskland for kanibalisation.

Wreck off "S 93" on the Quay of Haringshaven Ijmuiden 07.04.1944

Wreck off "S 1293" on the Quay of Haringhaven Ijmuiden 12.04.1944

 

 

Advances without success against convoys were performed during the night to the 28.03. with 15 boats, during the night to the 30.03. with 13 boats, and during the night to the 31.03. with 12 boats. In the evening of the 29.03.1944 "S 64" and "S 117" fished 10 men of a shot-down US-bomber out of the water. During the last night of March the boats were illuminated by British aircraft, so that they could not approach the convoy undetected and therefore turned away. On their way back they came into a fight between "MTB 350", "MTB 244", "MTB 245", and "MTB 241" and a German costal convoy. In the course of it "MTB 241" was sunk. In spite of exchance of recognition-signals "S 85" had to take several hits by own convoy-close-support ujits but had no malfunctions.

During the first week of April there was no S-boat weather, therefore, the boats remained in harbours. On 11.04. "S 168" (Oblt.z.S. Dau), "S 173" (ObStrm. Pape), and "S 177" (Lt.z.S. Boseniuk) joined as reinforcements for the 9., 4. and 2. SFltl.

On 12.04.1944 the 5. SFltl with "S 140", "S 143", "S 138",  "S 112", "S 141" and "S 100" performed an ineffective operation off Portland Bill. On 13.04.1944 the 4. and the 8. SFltl were to lay mines off Smith's Knoll but had to return due to poor visibility.

In the night to the 14.04.1944 the 5. and the 9. SFlt performed an advance against Lyme Bay but were called back after two hours, because the convoy west of Portland Bill was not longer to catch up with.

During the night 18./19.04.1944  the 8. SFltl laid mines. In a fight with MGBs and the British destroyer "Witshed" "S 64" got direct hits into the starbord torpedo tube and in the double-mounted MG amidships. "S 133" which was dead in water because of engine failure and to extinguish a fire got a hit into the CO's stateroom and a direct hit on the protection shield of the aft gun. On both boats there five men were slightly wounded. In the 5. SFltl, which had also laid mines, one man (MatrObGefr. Ewald Schänzer) was killed in action on "S 141" in a fight with British guards, one man was severely wounded. The 9. SFltl could lay its 30 mines without interference.

In the night to the 20.04.1944 the 8. SFltl with six and the 4. SFltl with 7 boats had to break of a mineing-action because of bad weather. The 5. SFlt with "S 143", "S 138", "S 112", and "S 100" and teh 9. SFltl with "S 146", "S 144", "S 150", "S 130", and "S 167" were on  an directed approach against a CW-convoy west of Portland Bill but were pushed away by destroyers escort "Middleton" and "La Combatante " (ex "Haldon"). The boats entered Cherbourg without damages, besides of "S 144" which grounded off Calais. 

In the early morning of the 22.04.1944 the 5. SFltl with "S 100", "S 112", "S 143", "S 140", and "S 138 and the 9. SFltl with "S 146", "S 150", "S 145", S 144", "S 130" and "S 167" approached a WP-convoy west of Portland Bill as directed.  The destroyers "Volunteer" and "Middleton" together with "MGB 214", MGB 617", and "MGB 235" attacked the 9. SFltl and "S 167" got several hits. There were two seriously and two lightly wounded men. "W 130" and " 167" reported hits on MGBs.

In the evening ogf the 22.04.1944 the 8. SFltl with five and the 4. SFltl with six boats left harbour to advance the English coast bur had to return because of bad weather.

The 5. SFltl with "S 100", "S 143", "S 138", "S 136", "S 140", and "S 142" attacked convoy CW.246 off Dungeness. Seven torpedoes were fired but only "S 100" (ObStrm. Borkenhagen) succeeded in sinking the Dutch navy-tug "Roode Zee". The boots were several times taken under fire and on "S 138" and "S 136" were one seriously and two lightly wounded men.

The 9. SFltl with "S 146", "S 147", "S 145", "S 167", "S 130", and "S 150" had a fighting off Hastings with destroyers escort "Stevenstone" and "La Combatante" as well as with MGBs and MTBs. On "S 145" there was a seriously and two lightly wounded men due to a 40mm-hit. "MTB 359" was damaged. On their way back the boats were attacked by the air with bombs without any damages.

Maintenance of the new Flak Engine-Maintenance
Pictures: PK-Fotos

Group West ordered F.d.S. to conduct reconnaissance in the Channel because of an expected landing. 

On 25.04.1944 Luftwaffe reported a unit of 44 ships of 8000 - 9000 BRT dead in water off Selsy Bill, another 120 ships on the roads of Spithead an yet another 100 off Portsmouth rsp. Southampton.

The 5. and the 9. SFltl left harbour in the evening of the 25.04. with six boats each in order to reconnoitre this area. South of Isle of Whight the boats came under fire of the British frigate "Rowlex" and the French destroyer escort "La Combatante". "S 167" got a 10,2cm-hit in compartment V on port side. "S 147" (Lt.z.S. Bernhard Teenhausen) got a direct hit and was dismissed. "S 146" (Kptlt. Ulrich Roeder) headed towards the opponents in order to distract from "S 147" which, however, sank under fire of "La Combatante", the destroyer rescued one survivor.

Destroyer "Stevenstone" and frigate "Seymour" attacked the boats north of Barfleur without any damages to the boats. In the morning of the 26.04. a lifeboat was sighted by a British aircraft from which later 11 survivors of "S 147", among them the CO and three wounded were rescued. Of the 13 men killed in action the following are known by name: ObMasch. Willi Hupfer (L.M.), MaschMat. Hermann Schmidt, MaschMt. Oswald Lienau, Seekadett Erich Lamm, MatrObGefr. Karl-Heinz Petersen, MatrObGefr. Hans Bremert, MaschObGefr. Rolf Stein, MaschObGefr. Herbert Wertmann, MaschGefr. Theodor Abdorf.

 

On 27.04.1944 the 5. SFltl with boats "S 136" (Kptlt. Jürgensmeyer), "S 138" (Oblt.z.S. Stohwasser, "S 140" (Oblt.z.S. Goetschke), "S 142" (Oblt.z.S. Ahrens), S 100" (ObStrm. Borkenhagen), and "S 143" (Oblt.z.S. Schmölzer) and the 9. SFltl with  "S 150" (Oblt.z.S. Behr), "S 130" (Oblt.z.S. Rabe), and "S 145" (Oblt.z.S. Schirren) were ordered to attack a convoi in Lyme Bay which had been reported by own reconnaissance. 

In Lyme Bay they bumped into a force of eight American landingships guarded by corvette "Azalea". „LST 507“ (app. 4600 ts) was hit by torpedoes of „S 150“ and „S 130“ and „LST 531“ (ca. 3000 ts) was sunk by „S 130“ and „S 138“. „LST 289“ (app. 200 ts) hit by a torpedo of "S 145" could enter harbour on own power. 197 American seamen and 441 GIs were killed-in-action. The defence-fire of the guard-ships was so ineffective that all S-boats could enter harbour undamaged. 

Destroyers "Onslow" and "Saladin" came too late and could not mesh in with the fight. The 5. SFltl reported sinking of a destroyer and of a steamer of 1500 BRT.

On 29.04.1944 the 5. and the 9. SFltl were in vain looking for targets off Cherbourg. "S 138", "S 143", and "S 100" left Le Havre same evening and had underways a fight with destroyer "Brilliant" and destroyer escort "La Combatante". "S 100" got a light hit. 

Because of the bright moonshine during the  nights the flotillas performed sailling exercises, UKW-tests and firing practises in the first weeks of May. Seekriegsleitung asked for more mining-actions in the area of Isle of Whight to fight the invasion.

The next operation was not performed before the night 12./13.05.1944 by the 5. SFltl with "S 100", "S 112", "S 142", "S 136", "S 141", and "S 140" and the 9. SFltl with "S 146", "S 145", "S 130", and "S 150" in the area around the Isle of Whight. In a fight with guard-ships "S 141" (Oblt.z.S. Sobottka) was lost due to a artillery-hit by "La Clmbatante". The six survivors, among them the CO were fished up by "La Combatante". There were 20 men killed in action, among them Lt.z.S. Klaus Dönitz, the oldest son of O.B.d.M., OFhnr.z.S. Horst N., StMasch. Wilhelm Kühner, FunkObGefr. Bußler, FunkObGefr. Günter Rutkowski, FunkObGefr. Helmut Weigt, MaschObMt. Horst Thon, MaschObMt. Bernd N., MatrObGefr. Wilhelm Vornkahl, MatrObGefr. Alfred Gerhardt. MatrObGefr. Karl Hennings,MaschObGefr. Konrad Thoß, MechObGefr. Hermann Seifert, MechObGefr. Otto Schißler, Matr. Günter Rost, MaschGefr. Erwin Heller, StrmGefr. Erich Klein und ein Gefr. (Jahrg. 1925).

During the night to the 16.05.1944 the 4., the 5. and the 9. SFltl left Cherbourg and were to lay mines off the Isle of Whight, what, however, had to be broken of because of bad weather, while the 2. SFltl  with "S 177", "S 178", "S 189", and "S 179" had left Ijmuiden to lay 20 mines off Hearty Knoll. In a fight with destroyer "Quorn" "S 178" got a hit and two men were wounded by splinter. In the morning of the 16.05.1944 the 8. SFltl transferred from Ijmuiden to Ostende.

In the following night the 2. SFltl was at sea again with mines to be laid off Smith's Knoll, but because of the visibility getting poorer and heavy seastate they had to return. On "S 189" two mines were washed overbord by overcoming seas.

In the night to the 18.05.1944 the 8. SFltl with "S 64", "S 87", "S 127", "S 133", "S 83", "S 117", and "S 67" laid 31 LMB in the vicinity of lightvessel Sunk. The 2. group with "S 83", "S 117", and "S 67" came under fire by sloop "Sheldrake" and "MGB 321", but came unharmed back. The 4. SFLtl with "S 169", "S 171", "S 188", "S 174", "S 175", "S 172", and "S 187" laid 21 UMB and 14 M-1 between Folkstone and Dungeness. 

In the same night the 5. SFltl with "S 100", "S 112", and "S142" (1. group) and "S 136", "S 138", and "S 140" (2. group) as well as the 9. SFltl with "S 130", "S 168", "S 145", "S 146", "S 144", and "S 150" on a minelaying operation off Lyme Bay. The 1. group of 5. SFltl broke the operation of because of the weather, of the 2. group "S 136" and "S 138" laid 12 BMC off Hope Nose. The 9. SFltl broke thropugh a group af destroyers and laid 27 BMC. On their march back they were involved in fights with a group of destroyers and three MGB-groups.

In the night to the 19.05.1944 the 5. SFltl with "S 100", "S 140", S 142", "S 138", and "S 112" laid 10 BMC and 12 UMB off Start Point and had en exchange of fire with German pickets. The 9. SFltl performed reconnaissance from Cherbourg to Le Havre and had a fight with steamgunboats "Grey Owl" and "Grey Wolf".

  In the night to the 20.05.1944 the 8. SFltl with "S 64", "S 133", "S 127", "S 87", "S 83", "S 117", and "S 67" laid 12 UMB and 16 M-1 off Orfordness. On the march back "S 87" (Oblt.z.S. Rathenow) was severely damaged by an attack of British Swordfish-aircraft and could not be maintained in spite of a trial by S 54" to tug it. Killed in action were: Seekadett Böhland, MechObGefr.  Baumann, MaschObGefr. Schürks. MaschObGefr. Schulze was missed in action. All other crewmembers were rescued by other boats, among them nine wounded.

In the night to the 21.05.1944 the 2. SFltl with six boats broke of a mining action off Smith's Knoll because of thick fog.

In the night 23./ 24.05.1944 the 9. SFltl laid mines south of Brighton and was taken under fire by destroyer "Vanquisher", which guarded convoy WP.526. In the course of the action "S 112" got several 40mm-hits, MatrObGefr. Kurt Klose was killed in action and one seaman was wounded. Of the 5. SFltl, carraing out a distraction operation for the 9. SFltl, "S 100" was damaged on the way back by bombs. One seaman was seriously wounded.

On the 25. and on the 26.05.1944 the weather was to bad for S-boat-actions. On 27.05.1944 F.d.S. ordered:

"The 8. SFltl transfers during the night 29./30. May latest  30./31. May from  Ostende to Vlissingen and via the channels on to Ijmuiden.

The 2. SFltl transfers at the same time through the channels to Vlissingen and on to Ostende. Remaining there probably until end of Ende August.

The 4. SFltl remains at Boulogne probably until June 13th."

The 2. SFltl with "S 177", "S 178", "S 179", and "S 181"moored in the SBB Rotterdam in the early morning of the 30.05.1944. The 8. SFltl with six boats entered Ijmuiden in teh evening of the 31.05. afrter it had been attacked by Lightnings on the march without any damages. The 40mm-gun had proven during the defence against the attackers.

On 28.05.1944 the 5. SFltl laid 20 UMB off the Isle of Whight with five boats. The flotilla was taken under fire and attacked from the air without any damages, the 9. SFltl laid 24 mines off Beachy Head. It observed a fight between a destroyer and a MGB, which was hit to fire. 

During the night 23./ 24.05.1944 "S 100" was damaged by bombs while returning to harbour. One seaman was severely wounded.

End of May the 5. and the 9. SFltl were stationed at Cherbourg, the 4. SFltl at Boulogne, the 2. SFltl at Ostend, the 8. SFltl had been transferred back to Germany to be retrofitted with new engines.

On the 03.06.1944 under cover of 447 fighters 543 four-engined bombers dropped 1580 ts bombs on German coastal batteries, bases, and docks in the Pas de Calais. Resulting in severe damages in the harbours of Boulogne and Calais. The S-boats were laying protected in their bunkers. By a hitting a door of the bunker "S 172" and "S 174" were blocked for a certain time.

On 05.06.1944 the Allied landing in the Normandy took place. Therefore, on 02.06. the first ships of the invasion fleet had left the distant English harbours. Bad weather was the reason for the units at sea to be turned around or stopped, but on 05.06.1944 at 04.15 local time, with better weather in sight, General Eisenhower gave his final „O.K., we’ll go!“  

More than 4.000 landing-vessels with soldiers and equipment of five infantry divisions, escorted by more than 900 warships, among them six battleships, 23 cruisers, and 105 destroyers, headed towards the French coast. More than 200 minesweepers cleared eight swept channels  through the German minefields. The Coastal Forces screened the flanks and laid mines in front of Cherbourg and Le Havre. The Supreme Command West (OK West) as well as the Navy Group Leader West  (Marinegruppenleitung West; Adm Krancke) had not received a forecast of the weather improvement and considered the activities in the Channel to be a fake-landing, in order to distract from a landing at a different place.

Therefore, on orders of the Group West, still mines were laid  in front of beaches suited for a landing between Le Havre and the Scheldt estuary. The S-boats were laying at Cherbourg (5. and 9. SFltl), at Boulogne (4. SFltl), at Oostend (2. SFltl), and at Ijmuiden (8. SFltl). 

The boats of the 5. and the 9. SFltl were ordered on 06.06.1944 at 03.00 local time to advance against the enemy from Cherbourg to the northwest and northeast, they broke off the action at dawn without having sighted anything. The 4. SFltl carried out reconnaissance from Boulogne, reported a destroyer and returned into the bunker in the morning of the 06.06.1944 without further sighting reports.

Not earlier than at 14.00 local time of the invasion day the Group West had gained a better view of the situation. The Allied had made available 1213 units for this invasion, among them seven battleships, 2 monitors, 23 cruisers,  80 fleet destroyers and 25 destroyers escort, 63 frigates and 71 corvettes. Besides of numerous transport vessels 4126 landing vessels were deployed. 

During the night 06./07.06.1944 all boats available in the West were deployed. The 2. SFltl (Korv.Kapt. Opdenhoff) conducted a reconnaissance advance from Ostend  with five boats without sighting targets. The 8. SFltl (Korv.Kapt. Zymalkowski) reconnoited from Ijmuiden with four boats, also without results. The 4. SFltl (Korv.Kapt. Fimmen) left harbour  to carry out reconnaissance with eight boats, it was subject of several air attacks, however, without taking damages. After a short fight with a destroyer the flotilla entered Boulogne harbour. The 5. SFltl (Korv.Kapt. Klug) with its six boats during a battle with British destroyers run into a minefiled and lost "S 139" (Kptlt. Dietrich), 22 men were killed-in-action: StObMasch. Werner Ramp, ObStrm. Werner Göbel, MaschObMt. Paul Singer, MaschObMt. Reinhold Rubin, MaschObMt. Werner Hosemann, FkObGefr. Bernhard Musiol, FkObGefr. Walter Kurzydlowski, FkObGefr. Walter Müller, MaschObGefr. Johann Graf, MachObGefr. Harry Radtke, MaschObGefr. Werner Schatz, MaschObGefr. Heinz Lubanowski, MaschObGefr. Erich Küsch, MaschObGefr. Hans Sannow, MatrObGefr. Hermann Hensel, MatrObGefr. Wilhelm Pattschull, MatrObGefr. Rudolf Schnabel, MartrObGefr. Karl Seger, ZimmermannsObGefr. Gerhard Becker, MechObGefr. Josef Stenzel, MatrGefr.Hermann Reisinger, MatrGefr. Willi Jansen, four men became POWs: The CO, Kaptlt. Dietrich, ObBtsmMt. Erich Stenzel, StrmMt. Adolf Nissen und ObMt. Walter Corsten. 

The 9.SFltl (Korv.Kapt. v. Mirbach) operated partly together with the 5. SFltl. The torpedoes fired against destroyers all went wrong. The 9. SFltl sank "LCI 105" off St. Vaast, the 5. SFltl sank the British "LCT 875". During a common attack against three big targets "S 140" (Oblt.z.S. Bongertz) took a hit from a mine. Besides of the CO 14 men were killed-in-action, ObMt. Paul Klimek, FkObGefr. Wilhelm Wilke, FmObGefr. Karl Sendt, FkObGefr. Rudolf Koppisch, Mt. Wilhelm Buhrandt, FkMat. Gerhard Müller, MaschObGefr. Adolf Wittje, MaschObGefr. Rudolf , MaschObGefr. Heinz Hedrich, MatrHptGerf. Franz Grametbauer, MatrObGefr. Werner Zelzer, MatrObGefr. Kurt Müller, MatrObGefr. Helmut Pfützner, Matr. Alfons Tigges. Eight men could be rescued at winds from northwest 5 - g Bft. The boat  was lost. The other boats fought with frigate "Steaner", "MTB 448", and "MTB 478" and could not approach the convoy. 

Since at Group West still a big undertaking at a different place was thought of, it was continued to lay "Blitz-Sperren" during the night 07./08.06.1944. The 8. SFltl stayed at Ijmuiden, the 4. SFltl with eight boats left Boulogne and bumped after a fighting with destoyers into convoy ECM 1. "S 187" and "S 172" fired torpedoes. Sunk were the American "LST 376 (1490 ts) and "LST 324" (1490 ts). Destroyer "Beagle" rescued 250 survivors. The British destroyers "Saumarez", "Vigaro", and "Isis" and the Norwegian destroyer "Stord" came too late to intercept the boats. 

During the same night the boats of the 5. and the 9. SFltl coming from the west took advantage of a enemy minefield to fire at a supply unit and the screening forces . The 5. SFltl reported a hit on a cruiser and a destroyer; sunk was the US fleet-destroyer „Meredith“. In a fight with MGBs the CO and two men were slightly and three men were seriously wounded on "S 84" caused by a direct artillery hit. Compartment II was burning and the fire could not be extinguished before the boat was moored in the SBB. On "S 142" (Lt.z.S. Albrecht Pillet) the middle engine was damaged, "S 138" got a hit under the waterline. The 9. SFltl sank the landing vessels "LCT 376" and "LCT 314". In a battle with MGBs two engines were unserviceable on "S 145", on "S 168" all three. The other four boats sank the British "LCT 105" and "LCT 875". On "S 130" Seekadett Hermann Ritter und Matr. Max Pieper were killed-in-action, on the other boats there were four wounded men. "S 144", "S 168", and "S 145" had to be reported not-ready-for-action (aKB). The 8. SFltl had to stay in harbour in Holland due to bad weather.

 

S-Boats in the Channel - Picture: PK-Foto

In the morning of the 08.06.1944 there was still a total of 19 boats available for action in the Channel: In the 2. SFltl (Boulogne) four, in the 4. SFltl (Le Havre) seven, in the 5. SFltl (Cherbourg) five, in the 9. SFltl (Cherbourg) three boats. Therefore, the 8. SFltl  with four boats was transferred to Ostend. 

During the night 08./09.06.1944 again all boats were in action. The 2. SFltl had to break of its action because of worsening weather. The 8. SFltl performed reconnaissance but did only see an aircraft. The 4. SFltl was forced to return with its mines because of an enemy contact. The 5. and the 9. SFltl could lay their 36 mines in spite of fire from the American destroyers "Frankford", "Baldwin" and "Hambleton" as planned. The 9. SFltl reported sinking of two landingships of 4600 BRT each. On the boats there werde two wounded.

In the night 09./10.06.1944 the boats had the same orders. The 5. SFltl with "S 84", "S 100", "S 136", "S 138", and "S 142" and 9. SFltl with "S 130", "S 144", "S 146" "S 150", and "S 167" were stuck in the defence ring "Dixie Patrol" off Cape Barfleur, while the 4. SFltl with "S 188", "S 169", "S 173", "S 172", "S 187", and "S 175"  could lay 24 mines east of the transit-route and was involved in fights with destroyers. "S 188" reported a torpedo-hit on a ferry of 5000 BRT. "S 172" and "S 187" reported hits on two freighters of 2000 BRT each. "S 175" reported missfirings.

"S 190" and "S 180" transitted from Vlissingen to Boulogne attached to the 8. SFltl. In so doing "S 190" hit a mine, which caused no injured persons but had a waterpenetration as result. The boat had, however, to go into a dock. Therefore, the pack sailed to Rotterdam. The 2. SFltl with "S 177", "S 178", "S 179", and S 189" fired eight TZ-3 and FAT, all went wrong. In a second run every boat fired two torpedoes again and teh flotilla reporting sinking of two freighters of 900 and. 1500 BRT respectively and entered Le Havre. 

S 188 (Oblt.z.S. Karcher) is checked out for damages after a battle with Canadian corvettes on 10.06.1944 auf Schäden untersucht. The boat was sunk on 14.06.1944 in Le Havre by bombs.

Picture: Archives Volker Groth

Since the stored torpedoes at Le Havre were not suffcient for two flotillas and a T-boat-flotilla, there were only 13 torpedoes available for the next operation of the 2. SFltl. Therefore, the boats had to sail to Boulogne for replenishment with torpedoes. The 4. SFltl had still a full load.

In the morning of the 10.06.1944 23 B-24 "Liberator"-bombers dropped 67 ts of bombs on the F.d.S.-base at St. Wimereux without hitting the F.d.S.-bunker.

In the night 10./11.06.1944 the 5. SFltl with "S 84", "S 100", "S 112", "S 136", and "S 142" and 9. SFltl with "S 130", "S 144", "S 146", "S 150", and "S 167" could break through from the west on the replenishment-trafik. The flotilla sank in a fight with destroyer "Stayner" and the 35. MTB-flotilla "MTB 448". "S 136" (Kptlt. Jürgensmeier) came out of sight and was lost, CO and 18 men, ObFhnr.z.S. Erich Barheer, MechObMt. Gerhard Fuhrmann, MaschObMt. Heinz Schmidt, MaschMt. Johann Boll, MatrObGefr. Franz Kuhn, MatrObGefr. Heinz Müller, MatrObGefr. Rudi Handtke, MatrObGefr. Rischkowski, MatrObGefr. Johann Goretzki, MaschObGefr.Karl-HEinz Melcher, MaschObGefr. Valentin Kilian, MaschObGefr. Dodel, MaschObGefr. Gerhard Pickert, MaschObGefr. Friedrich Schwarze, MechObGefr. Robert Reichert, FkObGefr. Walter Kuner, FkObGefr. Gerhard Danker und Matr. (SOA) Wolfgang Siebert,  were killed  in action, three men became POWs.

Crew of "S 136" - P icture: Archives Dennis van Dijkhuizen

The 5. SFltl sailed to support the 9. SFltl off Barfleur and torpedoed the British destroyer "Halsted", which could in spite of a torn of forecastle could reach Portsmouth towed in but came never back to sea. The 9. SFltl broke through on a convoy close to the coast, all fired torpedoes failed. Shortly after it sank a Phoenix-caisson (for construction of artificial Mulberey-harbours off landing areas „Omaha“ and „Gold“), the American tug Schlepper "Partridge", the British tug "Sesame" and "LST 538". After fights with SGBs "Grey Wolf" and "Grey Goose" the flotilla penetrated the escort-ring. Off Cherbourg the flotilla was attacked by bombers. "S 130" was damaged severely by fragments and had to be reported aKB. The CO and four men were wounded. "S 146" and "S 144" evaded to Le Havre. 

The 4. SFltl with "S 169", "S 171", "S 173", "S 187" "S 188", and "S 172" laid 24 UMB-mines west of Le Havre and sailed after persuit by the Canadian destroyer "Sioux", the Polish destroyer "Krakowiak", the British frigate "Duff" and the 55. MTB-flotilla with light damages but without breakdowns to Boulogne. 

The 2. SFltl with "S 177", "S 179", "S 189", and "S 178" left Le Havre. "S 174" and "S 175" had only to engines operational both and transitted to Boulogne. The four boats laid after they had outmanoeuvred a group of destroyers with the Norwegian"Stord" and the British "Scorpion", Scourge", and "Kelvin" according to plan and ununnoticed 16 LMB-mines and could subsequently approach the replenishment-trafik. "S 177" (Lt.z.S. Boseniuk) and "S 178" (Oblt.z.S. Braune) sank the ammunition-steamer "Dungrange" (621 BRT), loaded with gasoline-barrels, the British motorvessel "Ashanti" (534 BRT) and the freighter "Brackenfield" (657 BRT), loaded with ammunition and gasoline-barrels. 

The 8. SFltl with "S 83", "S 117", "S 127", and "S 133" had left Ostende for a reconnaissance voyage and was attacked two times by aircraft without taking damages.

The Allied reconnaissance, however, reported the mined areas immediately on the basis of intercepted radio transmissions, so that these could be avoided or swept clean. That also applied for later mining operations. Since the other maritime forces (destroyers and submarines) had been destroyed or repulsed, only the S-boats and the T-boats were left to fight against the landing forces.

For the night 11./12. 06.1944 the same operational profile was in force, however, with support of the 4. Artillery-Bearer-Flotilla. The 5. SFltl and the 9. SFltl with a total of six boats attacked a unit of the American destroyers "Laffey" and "Nelson" and "S 138" (Oblt.z.S. Stohwasser) achieved a hit on "Nelson". The ship could be towed to Portsmouth. A hit on "S 100" had malfunction of the compas as result and MaschObGefr. Heinz Sommerfeld" was killed.The boats "S 146" and "S 144" belonging to the 9. SFltl operated without success from Le Havre.

The 8. SFltl again conducted reconnaissance from Ostend with sighting of an enemy vessel. Off Le Havre the 2. SFltl came into a fight with Canadian MTBs and destroyer escort "Talybont" and "S 181" took a hit on the rear of the bridge. MatrObGefr. Franz Nilisterfer was killed and one man was wounded. When returning to harbour "S 179" and "S 181" were damaged by a mine detonation in an own "Blitzsperre". The 4. SFltl with "S 169", "S 187", "S 173", "S 188", "S 171", and "S 172" got into an aircraft attack and later into a fight with destroyers "Onslaught", "Onslow", "Offa", and "Oribi",  without suffering damages from both. In a battle with MTBs "S 171" (Kptlt. Wiencke) sank the British "MBG 17" by artillery.

In the meantime SKl had ordered that the 6. SFltl operating in the Baltic was to transfer to the western front. The flotilla with its nine boats left Reval on 13.06.1944 heading west.

During the night 12./13.06.1944 the flotillas were to attack the replenishment-traffic for the landing-forces from the west and the east. The 5. and the 9. SFltl supported by artillery-bearers were involved in a fight with screening forces of "Dixie"-Patrol but did not find the replenishment- traffic which had been called off south of the Isle of Whight during the nights because of the losses encountered previously. Off Le Havre they bumped into another patrol. "S 138" was hit in a fight witrh the British destroyer "Isis" and the destroyers escort "Glaisdale" and "Stevenstone", one man was wounded, the boat burst in flames but could be kept floating. The boats entered Le Havre because a penetation to Cherbourg seemed without chances. 

The 5. SFltl with its only combat ready boats "S 100", "S 84", and " 143" had to return to Le Havre because of a compas failure and thick fog.

Also the 2. and the 4. SFltl with  "S 169", "S 173", "S 188", "S 171" und "S 172" had left Le Havre. Air Attacks against the boats were without consequences. Short after midnight "S 169" from the 4. SFltl suffered a minehit with waterpenetration in compartment III but could enter harbour. When entering harbour the boat was rammed by an outgoing paddle-steamer on starbord -side. The other boats of the flotilla came into a fight with the Canadian corvettes "Camrose", "Baddeck", and "Louisburg". " S 188" (Kptlt. Karcher) got some 20mm- and 40mm-hits, the CO and two men were wounded.

The 2. SFltl was attacked by an aircraft on its march to Boulogne. Few minutes later six aircraft attacked. 

"S 178" (Oblt.z.S. Braune) got a direct hit and sank. Kille din action were: The CO, Lt. (Ing.) Hans-Ulrich Schaube, ObFhnr.z.S. Ernst-Günther Heidrich, StrmMt. Wilhelm Reinmuth, MaschMt. Walter Schuckardt, MatrHptGefr. Jürgen Grimm, MatrHptGefr. Johann Hirschbeck, MatrHptGefr. Georg Weber, MatrObGefr. B., FkObGefr. Lorenz Kriegler, MaschObGefr. Heinz Harms, MaschObGefr. Reinhold Schmid, MechObGefr. Hans Haas, ZimmermannsObgefr. Fritz Kluge, MatrGefr. Leo Heppner, MatrGefr. Friedrich Weinzierl, Matr. Kurt Winkelmann. 10 survivors could be rescued from a rubber boat by a search and rescue boat of Luftwaffe next morning. The attempts to rescue men the attacks by the aircraft with bombs and aircraft weapon were continued and all boats were hit.

On "S 189" (Ob.Strm. Sczesny) the engines could no longer be stopped, the boat burst in flames and was sunk during the next attack. Killed were: The CO, ObFhrn.z.S. Karl-Ludwig Gumpert, ObMasch. Max Schlegl (L.M.), MaschMt. Oskar Seidler, MatrObgefr. Josef Peinelt, FkObGefr. Alfred Zaddach, MaschObGefr. Gerhard Hesse, MaschObGefr. Alfred Pfeiffer, MaschObGefr. Herbert Zulley, MatrGefr. Paul Zehn, MatrGefr. Friedrich Weinzierl, Matr. (SOA) Karl-Heinz Ilgenfritz. Eight men could be rescued by "S 181".

On "S 179" (Oblt.z.S. Neugebauer) all engines broke down and the boat was burning. An attempt to tow the boat by "S 181" (Oblt.z.S. Schlenck) under permanent attacks by the "Beaufighters" of der RAF-Squadrons 143 and 236 the boat sank two miles off Boulogne. In an attempt to rescue the survivors "R 97'" went alongside. A bomb fell between "S 179" and "R 97", causing sinking of  "S 179", some moments later sank the R-boat by explosion of the scuttling charges. "R 99" had taken over the remaining crew. Killed were: ObMasch. Reinhold Ewnuschenko (L.M.), BtsmMt Arthur. Püschel (Seem. Nr.1), StrmMt. Karl Holzinger, MaschMt. Bernhard Schnittger, MatrObGefr. Hubert Bittrich, MatrObGefr. Karl-Heinz Giehse, MaschHptGefr. Hans Tröger, MaschObGefr. Rolf Angermann, MaschObGefr. Theodor Kissmer, MaschObGefr. Otto Leithäuser, SchrObgefr N.N., MaschGefr. Emil Broza, Matr. Fritz Flämig. 

Seven men had been rescued by "S 181".  Besides of the 42 men killed in action there were 20 wounded.

During the night 13./14.06.1944 the boats were again to attack the landing fleet, the 5. and the 9. SFltl were to sail to Cherbourg afterwards because of the concentration of boats on Le Havre. Wind from northwest with force seven forced the boats of the 4., 5., and 9. SFltl to call off the operation and to return to Le Havre. The radio traffic was intercepted and decifered and the Allied attacked the boats in the evening of the 14.06.1944 by 221 Lancaster-bombers escorted by fighters and Mosquitos. 14 S-boats ("S 84", "S 100",  "S 138", "S 142", "S 143", "S 144", "S 146", "S 150", "S 169", "S 171", "S 172", "S 173", "S 187", "S 188")  and three of the four torpedoboats in harbour were sunk, only "S 167" escaped by leaving harbour. "S 169" turned over in the dock, "S 146" was sat on teh beach and broken in two parts, of "S 150" the forecastle was torn of, "S 144" was caught under a sunken dock. During the raid 18 men were killed-in-action, among them the Commander of the 5. SFltl (KptLt Johannsen), who on the day of his death had been awarded the knight's cross, StObMasch. Gerhard Laschke of "S 100", Seekadett Günther Odebrecht von "S 150", MatrObGefr Arnold Scheider of "S 169", MatrObGefr Helmut Rennwald of "S 171", FkObGefr Josef Linden, MechObGefr. Karl-Heinz Renner, MatrObGefr. Hans Winkler, MechGefr. Willi Pommerenke, MaschGefr. Alfred Spielberg, and MaschGefr Werner Schmidt of "S 172", MaschObGefr. Heinz Quaas of "S 173", MaschObGefr Otto Köhring, MaschObGefr. Klaus Klier, and FkObGefr. Horst Glöckner of "S 188", MatrGefr. Heinz Reichel of "S 167". Furthermore there were 25 men wounded amoung them the Commander of the 9. SFltl (KptLt v. Mirbach) and four COs.  

 

   Kapt z.S. Petersen, 499. Bearer of the Oackleaves       KptLt v. Mirbach, 500. Bearer of the Oakleaves

During the following night another raid was conducted against Boulogne. While nine minesweepers, to pickets and three minesweeper-tenders sank, the 2. SFltl could leave harbour in time before the S-boat-bunker was penetrated by bombs and thus remained without damages worth mentioning. 

The raids of these two nights had weakened the navy in the Channel considerably, of the 31 S-boats at the outset of the invasion in the four flotillas only 13 remained operational:

Oostend 8. SFltl  3 boats S 83, S127, S 133
Boulogne 2. SFltl 4. SFltl  4 boats 2 boats  S176, S 180, S 181, S 182    S174, S 175
Le Havre 9. SFltl  1 boat S 167
Cherbourg 9. SFltl 3 boats S 130, S 145, S 168

Therefore the boats of the 2. and the 4. SFltl were combined under command of the Commander 2. SFltl and the personnel of the 5. SFltl was sent to the homeland for a new formation. To avoid another concentration on Le Havre and since Boulogne was under continous attack by the Allied airforces, Dieppe was activated as an additional base. The 6. SFltl had been requested for as reinforcement from the Baltic and the 8. SFltl was to be filled up with new boats.

In the following night an air attack was performed on Boulogne. 155 Lancasters, 130 Hallifaxes and 12 Mosquitos dropped about 1300 ts of bombs. Nine R-boats, two minesweepers, two pickets, three tugs, five harbour defence boats, and three minesweeper tenders sank.

The air attacks of these two nights had weakened the navy in the Channel decisively, of the 31 S-boats at the outset of the landing in four flotillas only 13 were combat ready:

Ostende 8. SFltl  3 boats S 83, S127, S 133
Boulogne 2. SFltl 4 boats S 176, S 180, S 181, S 182
 4. SFltl 2 boats S 174, S 175
Le Havre 9. SFltl  1 boat S 167
Cherbourg 9. SFltl 3 boats S 130, S 145, S 168

Therefore, the boats of the s. and 4. SFltl were combined under command of teh Commander 2. SFltl and teh personnel of the 5. SFltl were sent to Germany to put up a new  5. SFltl. To prevent a new concentration on Le Havre and because Boulogne was under steady access of the Allied air forces, Dieppe was activated as an additional base. The 6. SFltl had been requested for as an augmentation from the Baltic and the 8. SFltl  was to be filled up with hew boats.

Loading Mines at the Destropyed Boulogne

Group West kept demanding that the boats were to attack the Allied invasion fleet also after this disaster. 

Therefore, the 8. SFltl left Ostende on 16.06.1944 with three boats, the 2. SFltl left Boulogne with four boats, the 4. SFltl and the 9. SFltl each with three boats left Cherbourg, in order to operate against the invasion fleet. Two hours before leaving harbour the commander 2. SFltl had reported that Le Havre was no loger suitable as base, since the enemy were blokking the harbour-entrance. Therefore F.d.S. left it to him to break through to Cherbourg.

After attacks by fighterbombers the 8. SFltl entered Ostende again at 02.00, little later entered the 2. and the 4. SFltl Boulogne, they had also to stand attacks by fighterbombers. The 9. SFltl had because of poor visibility not found targets and came back to Cherbourg. Also in the next neight the operation of the 9. SFltl  turned out similar.

On 17.06.1944 the 9. SFltl got order to supply the „Festung Cherbourg“ (Fortress Cherbourg), which hab been encircled in the meantime, with ammunition and provisions.

In spite of the estimation of the situation by the commander 2. SFltl Group West ordered transfer of the flotilla to Le Havre, what was carried out with "S 174", "S 175", "S 178", "S 180", "S 181", and "S 190" ("S 174" and"S 175" had been turned over to the 2. SFltl by the 4. SFltl). In the same night the 9. SFltl traferred from Cherbourg to St. Malo with "S 130", "S 145", "S 168" and the damaged boat "S 112".

On 18.06.1944 the 1. US-Army advanced to Barneville and with that the "Festung Cherbourg" was no longer useable for teh S-boats. Group West ordered destroyment of the S-boats-base besides of three boxes.

On 19.06.1944 the 6. SFlt was supposed to enter Ijmuiden, because of damages by bombs of the locks of Brunsbüttelkoog, however, they were delayed.

In the night 22./23.06.1944 "S 130", "S 145", and "S 168" (Group Rabe) transported ammunition and 24 army-officers to Cherbourg. 

The 8. SFltl transferred with three boats from Ostende to Boulogne and got damages on all boats by bomb-fragments, on "S 83" rwo men were wounded and the boat had to go to a dock. 

The 2. SFltl with seven boats was at sea with mines when it came into a fight with destroyers. "S 190" (Kptlt. Wendler) got several 10,2-cm-hits and had to be given up. The crew could be rescued. Three men were wounded, MaschMt. Georg Klöhn was missed in action. The flotilla came back to Le Havre without having laid her mines.

In the night to the 24.06.1944 SKl ordered that all combat-ready boats were to transfer to St. Malo.ordnete die SKl an, dass alle einsatzbereiten Boote nach St. Malo. The Goup Rabe had to leave Cherbourg, since the harbour was to be blocked definitively, and transferred with 27 embarked soldiers on each boat to St. Malo.

In the night 24./25.06.1944 the 2. SFltl could lay its mines in spite of a fight with destroyers "Stord" and "Venus". All torpedoes fired missed their targets. "S 175" got a 12-cm direct hit on teh bridge, MatrHptGefr. Leonard Strauß und FkObGefr. Alfred Geiger were killed, one man was wounded. On teh march back "S 181" got a 40mm-hit in a fight with MGBs, two men were wounded.  

"S 130" and "S 168" transferred from St. Malo to Alderney. The 8. SFltl transferred with three boats to Le Havre.

On 26.06.1944 the 6. SFltl (KptLt Obermaier) with the boats "S 39", "S 76", "S 90", "S 91", "S 114", "S 132", and "S 135" arrived at Ijmuiden. It was transferred to Le Havre in early July.  

 In attempting, to break through from Alderney to Dieppe "S 130", "S 145", and "S 168" from the 9. SFltl got into a fight with destroyers during the night 26./27.06.1944. "S 145" (Ob.Strm. Seifert) got a hit in compartments V and VI and sailed back to Alderney with only one engine. The other boats arrived at Dieppe. "S 145" arrived at St. Malo on the 27.06.1944. Here was still "S 112". F.d.S. planned to transfer both boats to Brest for repairs.

uring the night 27./28.06.1944 a sortie of the 2. and 8. SFltl into the Seine-bight was without result. During the night 28./ 29.06.1944 the boats of the 2. SFltl laid mines, the 8. SFltl operated as covering force. The action was not observed.  

During the night 03./04.07.1944 the 8. SFltl left harbour with three boats to lay mines. Also this action became known by the Allies prematurely so that a group of MGBs was directed against them. They succeeded in shaking off their enemies and to lay their mines northwest of Cape d'Antifer after an air attack and before they could enter Dieppe unharmed. The 2. SFltl was at sea also, the 1. group with "S 177", "S 180", and "S 181" came under fire of MGBs and of an own picket by which "S 181" took hits, MaschMt, Bernhard Häring was killed-in-action, one man was wounded. The 2. group with "S 175", "S 174", and "S 167" laid their mines and then bumped into the Bitish frigates WStayner" and "Thornborough", a salvo with five torpedoes went wrong. The boats were taken under fire imediately but the boats returned unharmed to their bunker at Le Havre.  

On 29.06.1944 F.d.S. had available the following units at the Westfront:

St. Malo 5. SFltl:  S 112 ready to sail
9. SFltl: S 145 aKB
Le Havre 2. SFltl: S 174, S 177, S 180, S 181 KB
8. SFltl: S 83, S 127, S 133 KB
9. SFltl: S 167 KB, S 175 aKB
Dieppe 9. SFltl: S 130 ready to sailt, S 168 KB
Vlissingen 2. SFltl: S 176, S 182 KB
Amsterdam 6. SFltl: S 39, S 114 KB
Rotterdam 6. SFltl: S 76, S 90, S 97, S 132, S 135 KB
Ijmuiden 6. SFltl: S 91 aKB

The 2. SFltl left harbour again with mines, but came shortly after leaving harbour in a fight with the Canadian "MTB 459", "MTB 464", and "MTB 464" and the frigate "Trollope".

 

   

Leaving one of the Bunkers along the Channel-Coast - Picture: PK-Foto

During the night 04./05.07.1944 the 9. SFltl was to transfer from Dieppe to Brest. Because of engine breakdown on "S 83" and "S 127", that came not to be. In the following night the transfer of "S 112" and "S 145" to Brest succeeded, on their route they rescued 57 men from the burning picket "V 715".

In the late evening of the 05.06.1944 "S 83" was to transfer from Dieppe to Boulogne together with air safety boat "Fl.Bt. 512". In course of that they had to stand through several air attacks. "FlBt. 512" got a bombhit. "S 83" took over the survivors and the secret objects and scuttled the boat. On "S 83" two men were wounded and the 40mm- and 20mm-guns were unserviceable.

During the night 05./06.07.1944 the 6. SFltl transferred from Boulogne to Le Havre under command of the commander of the 8. SFltl (Korv.Kapt. Zymalkowski) together with boats "S 176" and "S 182" of the 2. SFltl and "S 168" of the 9. SFltl from Boulogne to Le Havre. They had order from Group West to seek tropedo attacks on destroyers, which F.d.S. had doubts about.

The 2. SFltl was also at sea with "S 177", "S 181", "S 180, and "S 167" plus "S 175" of the 9. SFltl. It came into fight with destroyers, frigates and MGBs. Four torpedosalvoes went wrong. While entereing harbour the middle part of the R-boat-bunker was blown up by expolsion of the 41 torpedoes stored there. The boats stayed unharmed. Seven men were killed: Kaptlt. (Ing.) Kurt Weiß,  OFhnr.z.S. Franz Gant, MaschObMt. Hans Schmidt, KraftfObMt. Karl-Heinz Steffen, KraftfObGefr. Willi Zahn, VerwHptGefr. Kurt Saewe, and Mt. B. of the 2. SFltl.

During the night 07./08.07.1944 was the 2. SFltl with two groups, "S 176", "S 177", "S 182", and "S 181" on torpedo operations in the Seine bight. In a fight with detroyers and MGBs the 1. group of the 2. SFltl achieved a hit on the British frigate "Trollope", which could be taken in tow of destroyer escort "Stevenstone" and be sat aground but never came back to sea again.

Also the 2. group came into fights with destroyers soon after leaving harbour. The torpedoes fired missed ther targets. The detroyers escort "Cattistsock" and "La Combatante" and the firgate "Thornborough" were in the beginning not to shake of, but when a group af MTBs closed, it was taken under fire. The MTBs changed course towards the S-boats and one MTB was shot together at a range of 100 m by a boat with a 20mm-quadrouplet and burst in flames. The pack-leader rammed the MTB at high speed. The S-Boats distracted in a screen of fog and entered Le Havre in the early morning. All boats had damages, one seaman was seriously and two others lightly wounded.

On the 08.07.1944 the 2. SFltl with six boats and the 6. SFltl with three boats left Le Havre for a minelaying-operation. The weather forced both flotillas to return. The 9. SFltl with "S 175", "S 168", and " S 167" left Dieppe and bumped soon after leaving harbour int a group of minesweepers. The torpedoes fired went wrong. The flotilla entered harbour again in the early morning. 

The weather impeded or prevented S-boat-operations during the next days until mid of Juli 1944. There were some fights with destroyers and MGBs which ended without results worth mentioning. 

On the 15.07.1944 the 2. SFltl with "S 180", "S 177", "S 174", and "S 182" and the 6. SFltl with "S 132", "S 90", and "S 135" left Le Havre. The 2. SFltl was involved in fights with Canadian MTBs, also the 6. SFltl fought with the Canadian "MTB 459", "MTB 466", and "MTB 464" and all boats had damages by hits when entereing harbour. Also the 9. SFltl with "S 175", "S 168", and "S 167" had dog fights with MTBs. "S 168" got a hit on the shield of teh 40mm-gun. One man was wounded. On "S 138" was on man seriously wounded.

S-Boat on Attack-Course - Picture: PK-Foto

Since no results could be noted against the landing fleet, F.d.S. started again to attack the convoy traffic south and east of England. Already during the night 26./27.07.1944 the 6. SFltl (Kptlt. Matzen) succeeded off Dungeness to close up to a convoy. "S 97" (ObStrm. Waldhausen) and "S 114" (Oblt.z.S. Hemmer) sank the freighters "Fort Perrot" (7171 BRT) and "Empire Beatrice" ( 7046 BRT) with two FAT. "S 90" and "S 91" fired several torpedoes at destroyers without obtaining hits. In a fight with MGBs "S 90" got a hit in a fuel tank. One man was severely and four men were slightly wounded.  

During the same night the 2. SFltl conducted a sortie in the Seine-bight against the landing units. It bumbed into the escorts and after a ramming with "MTB 430" in a fight with British MTBs and a British frigate "S 182" had to be scuttled. Killed in action were: The commanding officer, Kptlt. Kurt Pinger, StObMasch. Wilhelm Nehren (L.M.), MaschObMt. Heinrich Meyer, MaschObMt. Putz, MaschObGefr. Bockanekt, MaschObGefr. Kurt Mühlmann, MaschObGefr. Paul Kuppgisch. 17 men became POWs, eight men were killed-in-action among them the CO.  "MTB 412" rammed the wreck of "MTB 430" and had also to be given up.

During the night 30./31.07.1944 the 6. SFltl with three boats left Dieppe for a "Stichansatz" against an eastbound convoy. "S 97" (Ob.Strm. Waldhausen), "S 114" (Kptlt. Hemmer), and "S 91" (Kptlt. Nolte) fired six FAT on the convoy and reported four hits on three freighters at 3000 to 4000 BRT each. They sank the British freighter "Samwake" (7219 BRT) and the British freighters "Fort Dearborn" (7160 BRT), "Fort Kaskaskia" (7187 BRT), and "Ocean Courier" (7178 BRT).

During the night 31.07./01.08. 1944 the boats of the 2. and the 6. SFltl attacked British destroyers and MTBs. All "Zaunkönigs" fired detonated prematurely. In a fight with British MTBs "S 132" got a hit into the starboard-engine, three men were wounded. 

  During the same night 53 Lancaster-bombers and 5 Mosquitos conducted a raid against the S-boats at Le Havre, by which three boats outside the bunker were damaged, "S 132" was out of action for 14 days. One man was killed-in-action. 

On 01.08.1944 from the four flotillas operating in the west still 22 boats were available, of which 10 were ready-for-action. During the night  01./02.08.1944 the 1. group of the 6. SFltl sailed from Dieppe to Le Havre. The planned co-ordinated attack of small fighting assets and S-boats for the next day was hindered by a raid of 54 Lancaster-bombers. "S 39" and "S 114" were sunk in the harbour, "S 91" and "S 97" were damaged.  

The operation of small fighting assets during the night 02./03.08.1944 took place anyhow. The 2. SFltl with "S 176", "S 180" , "S 174", and "S 181" conducted a sortie during which had three encounters with enemy MGBs and a bigger unit as result. "S 180" got hits after the two outer engines wnet unserviceable and "S 176" and "S 174" collided during avoiding movements. On "S 176" the forecastle above the waterline was crushed. On "S 181" a shell had penetrated the "scull-bridge" (Panzerkalotte). However, all boats could enter harbour. Three slightly and four severely wounded men (among them the CO "S 180") were delivered ashore.

During the same night the boats "S 195" (Lt.z.S. Kehder), "S 196" (Oblt.z.S. Rathenow), and "S 197" (Lt.z.S. Fanger) entered Ijmuiden as reinforcement for the 8. SFltl.

During the nights 04./05.08. and 05./06.08.1944 "Dackel"-operations were conducted by the 2. and the 6. SFltl. All shots went wrong. During this operation "S 97" had a torpedo-hit  in the forecastle. The torpedo did not detonate, so that all boats could enter harbour.

On 09.08.1944 the 2. SFltl left harbour with two boats. It was involved in a fight with destroyers. After missfires it was attacked by fighterbombers. On "S 174" and "S 181" four men were severely and three men were slightly wounded. Both boats had to be reported not-ready-for-action because of the damages suffered. Also "S 177", "S 180", and "S 79" fired "Dackels" without successes.

During the night 11./12.08.1944 the 8. and the10. SFltl sailed from Ijmuiden to Ostend. Due to bad visibility several operations of the other flotillas had to be called off. Also due to bad visibility the common operation of the 2., 6., and 8. SFltl during the night 12./13.08.1944 had to be called off. The 10. SFltl conducted a minelaying operation off Orfordness, "S 191", "S 184", and "S 183" had to take several hits and one man was killed-in-action and one man was severely wounded.

Until the 18.08.1944 on orders of the OB.d.M. (Supreme Commander of the Navy) a total of 91 "Dackel" had to be fired (long distance torpedoes put together of two G 7A running straight at 9 knots speed, which conducted search patterns at the end of the reach). Verified are three sinking successes – the old cruiser „Frobisher“, the minesweeper „Vestal“, the frighter "Iddesleigh" (5205 BRT), and the workshop ship „Albatros“.

On 15.08.1944 the 8. SFltl was transferred to Boulogne. During the same night the 10. SFltl with six boats laid mines north of Margate.  

In the meantime the Alliied had landed in southern France on 15.08.1944. The land front came closer and closer. At this point in time the west-flotillas 2., 6., 8., 9., and 10. SFltl had a total of 33 boats available of which only 18 were fully ready-for-action, four other boats were ready for sea but not fully operational. The 9. SFltl had to write off the boats "S 112" and "S 145" laying at Brest for repairs. 

During the night 19./20.08.1944 four boats of the 10. SFltl sailed from Borkum via Ostend to Boulogne. They were attacked by the aircraft and suffered damages and had three men killed-in-action among them the CO "S 185" (StbsObStrm Adam) and several men were wounded.

  During the night 20./21.08.1944 the 8. and the 10. SFltl with a total of eight boats were to attack an eastbound convoy. They were attacked immediately by aircraft but could enter the harbours of Dieppe and Boulogne with only slight damages. The 2. SFltl was to attack with five boats an eastbound convoy south of Hastings during the same night. They came into fights with three British destroyers north of Cape d’Antifer. On their way back they were attacked by aircraft but the boats could enter Le Havre without damages.

During the next nights either bad weather prevailed or there were conducted ineffective attempts to attack enemy units. Again minelaying and torpedo operations were conducted alternatingly. In the course of which it came to fights between attackers and defenderes again and again. The 6. SFltl lost the severely hit and burning "S 91" by scuttlingost during one of these nightly fights with a British destroyer escort and a British frigate on 25.08.1944. Another attack, which was to be conducted by the 8. SFltl with four boats against a convoy west of Beachy Head also went wrong. The boats were taken under fire by a British destroyer escort, "S 701" had to take several hits and burst to flames. "S 196" collided with the burning "S 701". Both boats could enter Dieppe. The other two boats, "S 195" and "S 197", continued the sortie but did not find a convoy. They got into a fight with the MGBs but returned to Dieppe undamaged.

The pair "S 174", "S 177" could not get back to Le Havre due to strong escorting forces and got into a fight of the 8. Artillerieträger-Flotilla with a French destroyer escort and three MTBs, and a British frigate with three MTBs, and a British frigate with three  US PT-boats off Cape d’Antifer. "S 177" fired two tropedoes against the destroyer and fished 80 survivors of the   artillery-bearers out of the water. "S 174" towed the unmanoeuverable "AF 109" with 40 survivors to Fécamp.  

  During the night 29./30.08.1944 the last vessels of Kriegsmarine, nine R-boats, six artillery-carriers, one navy fish logger, one war fish cutter, one submarine chacer, and a tug, left Le Havre and transferred with close support of the 8. SFltl to Fécamp. When the unit was attacked by frigate "Retalick" and destroyer escort "Cattistock", "S 196" achieved under command of Korv.Kapt Zymalkowski hits on the bridge of "Cattistock" which made the artillery-command-center unserviceable and killed the CO.

The 1. group of 2. SFltl left Le Havre as last unit, mined the harbour entrance and retreated to Boulogne. The 2. group with "S 176", "S 180", and "S 181" transitted hempered by attacks of destroyers, MGBs, and aircraft from Dieppe to Boulogne. On "S 180" one man was wounded in an air attack, of the 8. SFltl "S 195" was damaged .

The two boyts remaining at Brest, "S 145" and "S 112", tried in vain to reach the Cannal Islands. On "S 145" the port enginge was destroyed by material defect. The boats were subordinated Seekommandant (Sea Commander) Bretagne. The six flotillas employed in the west contained 34 boats of which sever were not combat ready (aKB).

During the night 04./05.09.1944 Boulogne was evacuated. This time the 10. SFlt with "S 191", "S 184", "S 183", "S 185", "S 192", and "S 186" was the last unit to leave the harbour after it had mined the harbour entrance. During the withdrawal the boats came under fire of British coastal artillery southeast of Dover. "S 184" left the formation seriously damaged. "S 191", "S 186", and "S 192" continued to Hook van Holland and Rotterdam and on through the channels to Amsterdam. Having moored there the leading boat got to know that "S 183" had entered Ostend with the crew of "S 184" on board. "S 184" had taken a serious hit. StrmMt.  Karl Helsing was killed. The boat could not be kept afloat and was therefore scuttled.

During the same night the 8. SFltl sailed from Ostend to Ijmuiden. Because of the heavy sea state the flotilla entered Hook van Holland in the early morning.

On 06.09.1944 after evacuating all harbours in northern France and Belgium the F.d.S. was subordinated the Navy Command North (Marinekommando Nord). The 2. and the 6. SFltl transferred back to the homeland, the 2. SFltl sailed to Wilhelmshaven for shipyard maintenance, the  6. SFltl was to turn over its old boats to the S-boats-school-division. Thus the number of available boats in the west was again decreased very much. The 8. SFltl was at Ijmuiden with five combat ready boats, the 10. SFltl with five boats at Amsterdam, the 9. SFltl with three combat ready boats at Delfzijl. The 4. SFltl got the order to direct three boats from Wilhelmshaven and two boats from Flensburg to Wesermünde where one boat was laying already.  

The 8. SFltl laid 24 bottom-mines in the Western Scheldt during the nights 08./09. and again 24 in the night 09./10.09.1944. 

An attempt of the 10. SFltl with five boats to conduct an attack against a convoy off Cromer in the evening of the 12.09.1944 failed due to bad weather. A minelaying operation of the 8. SFltl from Rotterdam mounted into laying the mines unprimed since they were jumping out of the rails and endangered the boats due to bad weather. Both flotillas were bombed on their way back to their bases without any damages to be noted.  

Until the 16.09.1944 bad weather prevailed so that no further operations were possible. During the night 16./17.09. three groups of three boats each were to operate against a convoy off Cromer under command of the Commander 9. SFltl (KKpt v. Mirbach). The 3. group ("S 185", "S 191", and "S 186") returned to harbour because of a rudder-failure on "S 185", the 1. group ("S 175", "S 168", and "S 192") laid mines on the convoy route, the 2. group ("S 200", "S 701", and "S 183") laid mines off Haisborough. Since both groups were taken under fire by destroyers and they did not sighten the convoy they returned to harbour.  

Radio-Operator Engine-Petty Officer Helmsman and Radio-Man
Pictures: PK-Foto

For the night 16./17.09.1944 the 9. SFltl under command of "S 198" (KptLt Knapp) had been ordered by F.d.S. to supply Dunkirk with four boats. Because of the bad supply situation of the goods to be transported the undertaking was postponed by 24 hours. At 16.17 local time the report about an Allied airborne landing at Arnheim was received. All transports from and to Germany were stopped. Since the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht believed that as a result of that the re-occupation of Holland had been started, on the 18.09.1944 the destruction of all docks of Amsterdam and Rotterdam was ordered. The F.d.S. reported to the Admiral Netherlands, that the S-boat-operations from Holland had been ended.

In the evening of the 18.09.1944 the 1. group of the 10. SFltl with "S 186" and "S 185" left Hook van Holland, the 2. group with  "S 198" and "S 199" left Vlissingen, each boat was loaded with 8 ts of ammunition and supply goods. The boats "S 186" and "S 185" as well as "S 198" and "S 199" could escape the destroyers chasing them and entered Dunkirk in the night to the 19.09.1944. After unloading they left the same night. "S 198" and "S 199" had the Commander of the 22. Infanterie-Division and some officers of his staff as well as four seriously wounded men on board. They arrived the bunker of Hook van Holland in the morning. Also the other two boats arrived at their bases without damages.  

To distract attention from these boats the Commander 10. SFltl (Kptlt. Karl Müller) with three boats had left harbour. As was derived from a B-Dienstmeldung (communication intercept report) all three boats were stopped by the British frigate "Stayner" with "MTB 724" and "MTB 728". "S 183" (Oblt.z.S. Klaus-Ulrich Hardtke) was shot to fire and sank, killed in action were: Fhnr. (Ing.) Triebs, ObMasch. Petzold (L.M.), SKad. Sommerfeld, ObMaschMt. Merker, Gefr. (T) Werner Decker.

 "S 200" (Lt.z.S.d.Res. Alfred Kellinghusen) und "S 702" (Oblt.z.S. Hilmar Blum) kollidierten im Ablaufen und wurden selbstversenkt.  Der Chef 10. SFltl (Kptlt. Müller, K.), zwei Kommandanten und 45 Mann wurden gefangen genommen. Neuer Flottillenchef wurde Kptlt. Bludau.  

"S 200" and "S 702" collided when retreating from the the battle field and had to be scuttled. On "S 200"were killed: The CO and four more soldiers, on "S 702" were killed MaschMt. Ernst Zimolong, MatrObGEfr. von Hammerstein, MechObGefr. (T) Hans Dennewitz, MaschObGefr.Herbert Ludwig and a  PK-special leader. The commander 10. SFltl (Kptlt. Müller, K.), two COs and 45 men were taken POWs. New Commander of the flotilla became Kptlt. Bludau.

During the night to the 20.09.1944 the F.d.S. transferred from Scheveningen to Den Helder. 

Villa Sandhage in Hoge Weg 18, Scheveningen, headquarters of F.d.S.  1942 until 1944 - Picture: M. S. Laarman

Villa Sandhage, headquarters of F.d.S., to the left of it the Officers-Club 1942 until 1944 - Picture: M. S. Laarman

Remains of the user instruction of the telephone-system found during renovations in Villa Sandhage 1999 - Picture: M. S. Laarman

Early October 1944 the strength and readininess for action of the S-boats in Holland had reached its absolute minimum. The 4. SFltl at Ijmuiden had available the combart reacy boats "S 202", "S 201", and "S 219", the 10. SFltl "S 185" and "S 186" at Ijmuiden and "S 191" and "S 192" at Rotterdam, the 8. SFltl at Rotterdam had "S 198" and "S 199" at its disposal, in total nine boats.  

During the first week of October the 9. SFltl (Kptlt. v. Mirbach) with the boats "S 130", "S 167", "S 168", "S 175W, "S 206", and "S 207" arrived at Rotterdam. Bad weather had prevented the boats from leaving harbours or had forced the flotillas to break off their operations prematurely until that date. During the night 07./08.10.1944 the 9. SFltl returned to harbour on a first sortie due to bad visibility. When it left harbour again it was taken under fire by German pickets and had to take hits.

Bad weather prevented further operations. Not earlier than 10.10.1944 a first minelaying operation of all three flotillas with 13 boats could be conducted off the island Walcheren. There 56 mines were laid. Enemy losses on these barriers did not occur.

On the 19.10.1944 the 4. SFltl got the order to transfer home via the inland waterways. Aim was to be retrofitted at Swinemünde with subsequent transfer to Norway together with tender "Hermann von Wissmann". The transfer of the flotilla with boats "S 201", "S 202", "S 203", "S 204", "S 205", "S 219", "S 220", and "S 703" decreased the number of available S-boats at the western front drastically.  

Again bad weather prevented all operations until the 29.10.1944. During the night 29./30.10.1944 the 8. aand the 10. SFltl had to break of a minelaying operation because of bright moonshine. 

On the 31.10.1944 the 9. SFltl with five boats left Hoek van Holland  with mines, the 8. SFltl with four boats and the 10. SFltl with three boats from Ijmuiden. They were to lay mines on the Thames-Scheldt-route and north of Dunkirk.  The 9. SFltl had to break of the undertaking because of poor visibility. The 8. SFltl laisd 20 mines and the 10. SFltl laid 15. The 10. SFltl was taken under fire by destoyer escort "Stevenstone" but slipped away undamaged. On these barriers sank on 05.11.1944 landing ship tank "LCT 457 (600 ts) and on 07.11.1944 landing ship tank "LST 420" (2750 ts).

At the outset of the British operation "Infatuate", the landing on the island Walcheren in the Scheldt estuary and the elimination of the coastal artillery stationed there, the flotillas got order on 01.11.1944 to conduct armed reconnaissance with torpedo operations against all valuable targets. The 8. SFltl had available "S 194", "S 195", "S 197", "S 198", and "S 199", the 9. SFltl "S 175", "S 167", "S 168", and "S 207", and the 10. SFltl  "S 185", "S 186", and "S 192" a total of 12 combat ready (KB) boats.

In the 10. SFltl one boat had an engine failure, so that the folotilla returned to harbour soon. In the 8. SFltl "S 198" got a rudder failure and was dismissed in company with "S 197", so that only three boats were left. In the 9. SFltl "S 168" because of water in the middle engine was falling out. Only the 9. SFltl had the chance to fire. During the first attack against numerous shadows no hits were obtained. During the second attack the motor tankship „Rio Bravo“ (1141 BRT) was hit. During the third attack with the last three torpedoes against an unit anchored on Nieuport-roads the navy trawler "Colsay" was sunk.  

During the night 02./03.11.1944 the three foltillas were in operation again. In a fight with British MGBs the 40-mm-gun on "S 185" due to a barrel burst got unserviceable. The torpedo attacks remained without verified results. In a second operation of the 9. SFltl no targets could be detected. Therefore the operation was cancelled. 

Due to bad weather from 04. until 14.11.1944 no operations were conducted. On the 15.11.1944 the 8. SFltl could lay mines in the Humber estuary unharmed. "S 198" fell out because of engine failure, "S 197" had to note a rudder failure, on "S 194" the bearings of the port-engine had to be exchanged. On "S 198" the lid of the starboard torpedotube was damaged by the impact of breaking seas. 

The 9. SFltl had the order to mine the Wieling channel. Due to a fight with two British frigates and MGBs the mining was hindered. On "S 168" a fire in the forecastle developed by a direct hit. But the boat could return to its base.

S-Boats on Course to the Convoy-Routes - Picture: PK-Foto

Until the end of the month November no operations were conducted due to bad weather. Not earlier than in the night 29./30. 11.1944 the three flotillas left their harbours again. The 8. SFltl was to attack an eastbound convoy with five boats with torpedoes. Three T-5A and seven FAT were fire against a column of steamers. In spite of observed detonations no successes could be noted since the escorts took the boats under fire. All boats returned with slight damages from fragments.

The 9. SFltl after engine failure on "S 167" laid mines in accordance with its orders with four boats. Also the 10. SFltl with three boats had carried out the order to lay mines successfully in spite of bumping into frigates two times, because of an engine failure on "S 191" no torpedo had been fired. 

In December 1944 the weather situation was so infavourable that the boats could not conduct any operations throughout the first half of the month. On the 12.12.1944 the 2. and the 6. SFltl got the order to transfer from Wilhelmshaven to Holland.

In the afternoon of the 15.12.1944 a raid by 17 Lancaster-bombers against the base Ijmuiden occurred. Two Talboy-bombs penetrated the roof of the bunker and "S 198" (Kptlt. Walter Knapp) was destroyed. Of his crew were killed in action: ObStm. Gerhard Lamm, ObMasch. Albert Ramke, ObMaschMt. Willi Granse, ObMaschMt. Reinhold Findeisen, ObMaschMt. Kunibert Gärtner, Masch ObGefr. Günter Schmidt, MaschObGefr. Karl Renftle, FkObGefr. Sigismund-Adolf Felberg, MaschGefr. Gerhard Deckert und MatrGefr. Rudolf Nitsche. "S 195" was damaged so seriously that she had to be towed to Emden. Killed in action were: MatrGefr. Heinz Fabricius.  "S 702" and four more boats were so seriously damaged that the whole flotilla had to be reported not-combat ready (aKB). On "S 701" MaschObGefr. Willi Wöstmann was killed in action. Five men were wounded. The total supply organisation of the base was down. "S 193" was  confined by rubble in her bunker-box and MatrObGefr. Erwin Jänchen was killed. 

The boat was laying aKB in the bunker until it was destroyed by a further bombing on 08.02.1945.

In the 10. SFltl one boat had an engine failure so that the flotilla had to return soon. In the 8. SFltl "S 197" had rudder failure and was dismissed accompanied by "S 198-2, so that only three boats were left. In the 9. SFltl "S 168" fell out due to water in the middle engien. Only the 9. SFltl came in a position to fire. In the first run against numerous shadows no hits were achieved. In a second run motortanker „Rio Bravo“ (1141 BRT) was hit. In a third run with the last three torpedoes against a unit anchored on Nieport roads navy trawler „Colsay“ was sunk. On the march back the boats had to get through a fight with British MGBs before entering Hoek van Holland. 

During the night 02./03.11.1944 the three flotillas were in action again. The 10. SFltl was attacked from the air soon after leaving harbour and had than continuously a contact aircraft. In a fight with British MGBs the 40mm-gun on "S 185" became inserviceable due to a barrel burst. Targets worth a torpedo did not come in sight and so the boats entered harbour again in the early morning with almost empty fuel tanks.

The 9. SFltl fired two torpedo salvos over the Raan-Sand, three torpedoes went on the sand, one detonation was to be heard, confirmed results could not be reported. But it was reported that in the Wielinger fairway four big units lay at anchors among them a battle ship. In reality battle ship "Warspire" and the monitors "Erebus" and "Roberts" were laying there. 

The 8. SFltl was at sea with four boats. A destroyer was fired at with torpedoes without result. MGBs could be shaken of. Short after midnight the order came to fight the big units in the Wielinger fairway. They did , however, not find targets and fired 12 torpedoes against shadows without any success.

After the 9.SFltl had been loaded up with torpedoes again the boats left harbour again for a next action. Because of poor visibility no targets could be observed in the Wielinger fairway. Therefore, the action was broken of.    

Because of worsening weather no sorties were performed in the time from 04. to 10.11.1944. 

With the capitulation of the Army on Walcheren on 07.11.1944 the way to the harbour of Antwerp was free for the Allied.

On 11.11.1944 the 9. and the 10. SFltl were to lay mines in the Wielinger fairway and the 10. SFltl to carry out armed reconnaissance of Flandres. Because of bad weather these actions were not performed.

Not before the 15.11.1944 the 8. SFltl lay mines unbothered off the Humber estuary. "S 197" was fallen out because of engine breakdown. "S 198" had a rudder breakdown, on "S 192 the bearings of the backbord engine had to be changed. Om "S 198" the lid of the starbord torpedo tube was damaged due to sea blow. On the barrier laid the Netherlands motorship "Saparoea" (6668 BRT) was damaged but could reach harbour.

The 9. SFltl had order to lay mines in teh Wielinger straits. In the target area the flotilla splitted up in two groups. By fights with British MGBs the mining was prevented Teh 2. group was taken under fire by frigates "Ratalick" and "Thornborough". On "S 168" a fire developed in teh forecastle as concequence of a hit. The boat could return to its harvour.  

 

Tallboy-Impacts around Haringshaven Ijmuiden - Picture: Archives Bunkermuseum Ijmuiden

    

"S 193" as Wreck in the Ruins of SBB Ijmuiden - Picture: Archives Bunkermuseum Ijmuiden

"S 193" as Wreck in the Ruins of SBB Ijmuiden - Picture: Archives Bunkermuseum Ijmuiden

On the 17.12.1944 the directive was issued by the SKL to strengthen the S-boat-force in the area Netherlands. Therefore, the F.d.S. odered the 4. SFltl, to transfer from Southern Norway initially into the German Bight and than to the Netherlands. It had been ordered to Norway only on the 16.10.1944 and had arrived at Kristiansand on the 09.11.1949. In the evening of the 10.11.1944 they started the transfer to Egersund. Off Mandal "S 203" was rammed by an own small minesweeper in bad visibility and had to be scuttled after crew and the most important equipment had been taken over by "S 205" which was damaged during this activity. "S 205" had to return to Kristiansand due to bad weather where it was docked. On the same day the 2. and the 6. SFltl got orders to transfer from Wilhelmshaven rsp. Heligoland to Holland.

The 2. SFltl (KKpt. Opdenhoff) and the 6. SFltl (KptLt. Matzen) entered Den Helder rsp. Rotterdam on the 19.12.1944. The 6. SFltl in two groups (1. group with "S 211", "S222", and "S 705", 2. group with "S 211", "S 704", and "S 233") and augmented by the 9. SFltl with "S 130", "S 167", "S 185", "S 192", "S 168", "S 175", and "S 207" left harbour in order to lay mines in the night to the 20.12.1944. The British guards lurking off Hoek van Holland took the boats directly after  leaving harbour under fire destroying a mine on "S 211" and causing a mine on "S 222" to fall of its base thus blocking the other mines. The guards could be shaken of and the mines were laid as ordered on the convoy-route Thames-Scheldt. A pack of the 10. SFltl, co-operating with the 9. SFltl, was taken under fire by a British patrol consisting of destroyer "Walpole", frigates "Torrington" and "Curzon", and sloop "Kittiwake". "S 185" and "S 192" were sunk. While from "S 192" nobody survived, were the CO, Oblt.z.S. Klaus-Degenhard Schmidt, MarObAssArzt d.Res. Dr. Friedrich Klefehn (Flottillenarzt), ObStrm. Hans Wibbeling, MaschObMt. Werner Missbach, MaschObMt. Willi Schlotzhauer, BtsmMt. Herbert Nikolai, MatrObGefr. Johann Rohmann and MaschObGefr. Heinrich Kroner" from "S 185" killed, 22 men became POWs. On the 24.12.1944 sank on one of the two barriers the British freighter „Empire Path“ (6.140 BRT). A list of the killed in action of "S 192" is not available at WASt at Berlin. 

On 23.12.1944 a German reconnaissance aircraft searched in vain for the boats. The other boats of the flotilla stayed in harbour because of fog.

In the evening of the Am 24.12.1944 visibility improved and S-boats left harbour for a large-scale operation; the 2. SFltl (5 boats), the 6. S-Fltl (6 boats) and the 9. SFltl (6 boats) laid mines off the Scheldt estuary; while the 8. SFltl (6 boats) left Ijmuiden for a torpedo operation without sighting worthwile targets. A shelling by the British Sloop "Shearwater" (L39) caused no damages to the boats.   

On the 25.12.1944 the boats stayed in their bases. On the 26.12.1944 the 5. SFltl from the Baltic entered Kiel then sailed through the K.W.-Kanal to Wilhelmshaven in order to have remaining shipyard-jobs to be done to achieve readiness for action for the boats. On their way "S 132" hit a wreck and had to enter Cuxhaven.  

On the 29.12.1944 16 Lancaster-bombers attacked the S-boat-bunker at Rotterdam with extreme heavy bombs ("Tallboys"). "S 207" and "S 167" were slightly damaged. Two men were severely and one man was slightly wounded.

At the change of the years 1944/45 the flotillas in the west were organised as follows:  

2. SFltl S 174, S 177, S 180, S 181, S 209, S 210, S 221; S 176 in the shipyard at Wilhelmshaven
4. SFltl S 202, S 204, S 205, S 703; S 219 aKB at Rotterdam, S 201 aKB in Norway; S 220 aKB at Wilhelmshaven
6. SFltl S 211, S 212, S 222, S 223, S 704, S 705; S 706 aKB at Wilhelmshaven
8. SFltl S 194, S 196, S 197, S 701; S 198 confined in bunker at Ijmuiden; S 195 aKB at Emden
9. SFltl S 130, S 168, S 175, S 206; S 167 und S 207 aKB at Rotterdam; S 112 aKB at St. Peter Port
5. SFlt S 48, S 67, S 85, S 92, S 98, S 110; S 127 with remaining works at Wilhelmshaven; S 132 aKB at Wilhelmshaven
10 SFltl S 191; S 186 aKB at Wilhelmshaven; S 215 und S 224 under EKK-trials

aKB = außer Kriegsbereitschaft (not combat ready)

The balance of the year 1944 was devastating: 19 merchant ships with a total of 67.111 BRT, one old cruiser,  one frigate, four navy trawlers, three navy tugs, one MGB, one minesweeper, nine landingsvessels, and one Phoenix-caisson had been sunk, two destroyers had been torpedoed and did not come back to sea.

 The own losses were:  174 killed-in-action, 38 severely and 69 slightly wounded men,  53 POWs, and one missed-in-action. 

43 boats were lost: "S 139" and "S 140" by mine hits; "S 91", "S 136", "S 147", "S 183", "S 184", "S 185", "S 190", "S 192", and "S 200" by or after artillery hits; "S 39", "S 84", "S 87", "S 93", "S 100", "S 114", "S 129", "S 137", "S 138", "S 142", "S 143", "S 144", "S 146", "S 150", "S 169", "S 171", "S 172", "S 173", "S 178", "S 179", "S 187", "S 188", "S 189", "S 193", and "S 198" by bombs or aircraft weapons; "S 94", "S 128", "S 182", "S 193", "S 203", and "S 702" by collisions. "S 14" sank supposedly 1944 in the Channel as a fast tug.