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S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine 1935 - 1945

War-Zones of the S-Boats

 

Mediterranean Sea 1941 - 1942

The war at sea in the Mediterranean Sea took an unfavourable course for the Axis-Powers. Since the captured Jugoslavian warships (four destroyers, two submarines, six S-boats, one minelayer, and six minesweepers) had been claimed by Italy, the German Naval Warfare Leadership (Seekriegführung) saw only one way, to transfer vessels to the Mediterranean Sea, which could be transferred via the rivers and channels. Otherwise only submarines could get into the Mediterranean Sea via the Strait of Gibraltar.

SKL (Seekriegsleitung = Naval Warfare Command) informed the OKW  (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht = Supreme Command of the Armed Forces) on 05.08.1941 about its intention to transfer one flotilla S-boats and one flottilla  fast minesweepers in accordance with the "Führerweisung" (Directive by the Leader) after the end of the Baltic Sea operations to the Mediterranean Sea. The amount of time needed for shipyard overhaul, passage from Rotterdam via Rhein, Rhine-Rhône-Canal and Rhône to La Spezia was estimated with 2 ½ to 3 months. Chosen were the 3. SFltl (Kptlt. Kemnade) and the 6. R-flotilla. Decisive for the choise of the 3. S-Flotilla was the size of the boats of type "S 30", since for the locks of the Rhine-Rhône-Channel were too short and too narrow (38,5 x 5,05 m) for other types of boats. The 3. SFltl was to serve for the "direct and indirect protection of the transport lane Sicily/Tripolis and operations along the Northafrican coast". 

With a sortie of "S 54" and "S 33" from  von Windau the 3. SFltl ended its operations in the Baltic Sea during the night 22./23.09.1941. The two boats transferred together with tender "Adolf Lüderitz" to Swinemünde. The other boats of the flotilla transferred after escorting battleship "Tirpitz" and the heavy cruiser "Admiral Scheer" to Wilhelmshaven, where the flotilla with tender moored on 28.09.1941. 

The French state leader (Marschall Petain) consented with the transfer of the S- and the R-flotilla to the Mediterranean Sea and so the first group with "S 33" (Oblt.z.S. Karl-Heinz Stolzenburg), "S 31" (Llt.z.S. Heinz Haag), "S 34" (Oblt.z.S. Erwin Lüders), "S 61" (Oblt.z.S. Axel von Gernet), and S "35" (Lt.z.S. Horst Weber) transferred to Rotterdam, were it moored on 08.10.1941 in the S-boat-bunker. On 09.10.1941 the transfer of  the boats "S 61", "S 31", and "S 35"  up the river Rhine began. On 12.10.1941 the boats secured at Mannheim, on 14.10.1941 Strasbourg was reached. There the tanks in the rear of the boats were emptied and the collision-spaces were flooded so that the boats were nose-heavy in order to get the propellers through the channels undamaged. 

Black Boats for the Transfer to the Mediterranean Sea - Picture: Archives Förderverein

With this Lowwater only Punting helps - Picture: Archives Förderverein

French Liason-Officer - Picture: Archives Förderverein

All are wearing "civilian" Dress - Picture: Archives Förderverein

She does not look like a Man of War -Picture: Archives Förderverein

The first five Boat in a Lock - Picture: Archives Förderverein

Transfer on the Rhône-River - Picture: Archives R. Krokowski

On 14.11.1941 the first boats arrived at Port St. Louis and got through the sea-locks into the Mediterranean Sea. "S 33" and "S 34" followed with a delay of two days. The first boats entered La Spezia on 18.10.1941 where they came into a dock for a week.

 

Installation of the Torpedotubes at La Spazia - Picture: Archives R. Krokowski

Precise Installation of the Tubes is necessary - Picture: Archives R. Krokowski

Officers of the 3. SFltl 1941 with italian Officers at La Spezia, from left: Oblt.z.S. Lüders, Lt.z.S. Haag, Oblt.z.S. Stolzenburg, Lt.z.S. Weber, Kptlt. Kemnade (civilian), Oblt.z.S. von Gernet und Oblt.z.S. (Ing.) Bielitzer - Picture: Archives Oblt.z.S. a.D. Backhaus

 

 On 21.11.1941 Tenente der Vascello (Kptlt.) reported with his two assistants, Sotto Tenentes Mario Barone (son of Adm. Barone) and de Tomasi. The three officers co-operated distinctly with the flotilla in preparation of the later S-boat-bases at Augusta and Porto Empedocle.

On 28.11.1941 they transferred to Gaeta. Bad weather stopped them there for two days. Then the boats were transferred to Augusta on the eastcoast of Sicily were they arrived on 01.12.1941. Augusta was a warship harbour of the Italian navy, which should serve as base for the boats. 

How much value Italy saw in the dispatching of German S-boats to the Mediterranean, can be seen in the fact, that the Italian King, Victor Emanuel III., visited the 3. SFltl already on 03.12.1941 and inspected the assembled crews of the boats.

The Italian King visiting the 3. SFltl - Picture from Kemnade: "Die Afrikaflottille"

 

"S 59" and an unknown S-boat at Augusta 1942 - Picture: Archives 5. SGschw

The operation of the 3. SFltl with five boats during the night 12./13.12.1941 was directed against Malta, which was a permanent threat for the supply transport to Northafrica. The air reconaissance had reported cruisers and destroyers in the harbour of La Valetta. The operation of the folotilla was without results since the British units did not leave harbour.

 

During the next night another resultless operation with four boats was conducted against Malta, no targets came into sight. Since it appeared the no ships were entering or leaving harbour at night the commander 3. SFltl proposed to lay mines off La Valetta. During the night 16./17.12.1941 a minebarrier consisting was laid by "S 33", "S 35", "S 61", and "S 31", carrying three TMA, one UMA and four blasting-buoys and one ripping-buoy each, outside the harbour. After three days of heavy weather the flotilla laid a joining barrier during the night 21./22.12.1941, in the night thereafter another one and in the night 25./26.12.1941 with two boats (one boat of the original three boats had to return due to engine failure) another one.

During the night to 19.12.1941 an operation had to be broken off because of bad weather. The second mineoperation followed in the night 21./22.12.1941. A joining barrier was laid, during the next night a further one. In the course of this four mines exploded shortly after laying them, what caused a heavy anti-aircraft-firing on the island, since it was believed that it were bombs having been dropped. During the night 25./26.1941 only two boats, "S 34" and "S 61" were layingnine TMA of which again two mines exploded. "S 35" had returned early because of engine problems.

On 14.01.1942 the 3. SFltl left harbour with five boats in order to lay another minebarrier off Malta. The Luftwaffe was to fly distracting attacks, what however, did not happen. Since the mine's rolling back and forth on deck because of the heavy seastate constituted a danger for the boats, they were also dropped without the distracting aircraft action. 13 minutes after the last mine was dropped the first exploded, shortly thereafter the next one and in toto nine of the 24 dropped mines exploded.

Since the Sperrwaffenamt at OKM did not find an explanation for that, the TMAs were no lnger used for the time being.

 

"S 31" in an  Italian Harbour - Picture: Archives R. Krokoswski

"S 35" in the Mediterranean - Picture: Archives R. Krokoswski

 During the night 18./19.01.1942 the 3. SFltl was directed against a convoy from Alexandria to Malta. The flotilla run past the convoy and due to coming up bad weather they returned without successes to Augusta.   

On 05.02.1942 the second group with  "S 54" (Oblt.z.S. Claus-Degenhardt Schmidt), "S 57" (Lt.z.S. Günther Erdmann), and"S 59" ( Oblt.z.S. Albert Müller) arrived at Augusta because they could only start the last leg on 10.01.1942 and had entered La Spezia on 15.01.1942 to be rearmed and made ready for action. The flotilla now had the folowing boats to its disposal:

Boat Rank Name Marking
S 31 Lt.z.S. Heinz Haag Flying Fish
S 33 Oblt.tz.S. Karl-Heinz Stolzenburg Sea Snake
S 34 Lt.z.S. Horst Weber ?
S 35 Lt.z.S. Erwin Lüders Sea Horse
S 54 Oblt.z.S. Claus-Degenhart Schmidt Deapwater Fish
S 56 Oblt.z.S. Siegfried Wuppermann Shark
S 57 Oblt.z.S. Günther Erdmann Delphin
S 58 Lt.z.S. Eberhard Geiger Sawfish
S 59 Oblt.z.S. Albert Müller Sea Lion
S 61 Oblt.z.S. Axel von Gernet Mermaid

 

To better be able to guard the Strait of Sicily, the 3. SFltl transferred to Porto Empedocle at the southern coast of Sicily on 06.02.1942. 

From here an operation against a convoy having been reported by the air reconnaissance was conducted during the night 05./06.02.1942. The boats did not see an enemy and bad weather forced them to return. They entered Augusta in the morning of the 07.02. partly with sea damages.

On 20.02.1942 the flotilla transferrred to Porto Empedocle again. Bad weather prevented operations in spite of the air reconnaissance reporting enemy contacts. Not earlier than in the night  05./06.03.1942 the flotilla could conduct an operation against the coast of Tunesia, however, without sighting of enemies.

 

Camouflaged S-boats in Porto Empedocle herbour (Picture from: Kemnade: Die Afrika Flottille)

During the nights between the 15.03. and the 28.04.1942 the 3. SFltl laid minebarriers MT 6 through MT 18. Again and again explosions of mines occurred. The in the meantime granted use of mines type TMA were banned again. Only UMB-mines (40 kg TNT insted of 215 kg) and rovermines type C (FMC) were to be used.Then bad weather enforced a break for the flotilla.

During the night 06./07.05.1942 an additional minebarrier was laid by "S 31", "S 34", and "S 61". After laying the mines the boats bumped into a British motorlaunch (ML 130), which was fought down in four artilley-runs, although it was armed with a 76-mm-gun and two 20-mm-machineguns. The boats captured charts and secret material and took over the CO, the first lieutenant, and nine other crewmembers. Five men were wounded. On the German side there was one slightly wounded man on "S 31".

Ineffectively camouflaged S-boats seen from the air - Picture: Archives H. Haag

Masch.ObGefr. Krokowski - Picture: Archives R. Krokowski

In the nights 07./08.05. and 08./09.05.1942 the boats mined the harbour entrance of La Valetta again. In the second night they were disturbed by two trawlers entering harbour, they did, however, not attack them because their orders were to lay the barriers unobserved.

In the afternoon of 09.05.1942 the air reconnaissance reported a cruiser or a destroyer heading for Malta. The boats "S 56", "S 54", "S 58", and "S 57" left harbour, to attack the enemy. "S 61", "S 31", and "S 34" had orders to lay their mines directly into the harbour entrance. They were disturbed several times, so that they laid their mines just before morning light. 

Immediately after laying the mines "S 31" run into a mine. "S 61" went alongside and rescued the crew, thereamong the commanding officer, Lt.z.S. Haag, the flotilladoctor, MarStArzt Dr.Mehnen and the assistant of the liason-officer, Sotto Tenente de Tomasi. Killed in action were: Obermaschinist Helmut Ley, ObMaschMt Herbert Kluger, MaschMt Erich Mosig, MaschMt Hans Krienke, MaschObGefr Werner Quetscher, MaschGefr Heinz Stefhan, MaschGefr Helmut Schmieder and SperrMechGefr Heinz Rösel. Obermaschinist Karl Göldenitz onboard for on-the-job-training died because of his woundings. 

In the afternoon of the 09.05. the air recconnaissance reported a destroyer or cruiser with cours for Malta. Boats " 56", "S 54", "S 58" und "S 57" under guidance of Obltl.z.S. Wuppermann went to sea, in order to intercept the ship, while the boats loaded with mines, "S 61", "S 31" and "S 34" had order to drop their mines directly into the harbour entrance. They were disturbed a number of times so that they could lay their mines only against morning. 

The supposed "cruiser" (fast minelayer "Welshman") was attacked by "S 34" and "S 61" with four torpedoes which all went wrong. The second group had since they did not find the cruiser attacked two patrol vessels, out of which one brought in fire. 

Flying Fish as Insignia of "S 31" - Picture: Archive Heinz Haag

After a three-day break "S 35" and "S 34" left harbour for another minelaying operation on 13.05.1942. They came into the beams of searchlights ashore, were, however, not detected and could lay their mines. 

During the night 16./17.05.1942 "S 59", "S 34", "S 58", and "S 35" again laid a mine barrier close to the coast. Also they came into the beams of the searchlights and were fired at. "S 34" (Oblt.z.S. Schulz) took a direct hit in the engine room. The guide "S 59" laid a fogscreen for the damaged boat and went alongside to rescue the crew among them one severly and three slightly wounded, thereamong Sotto Tenente Barone. 

"S 34" was blown up, because of the continuous fire from land the sinking of the boat could not be observed. The next day the drifting wreck was sunk by a bomb.

 

 

Wreck of "S 34" at a depth of 41 m off La Valetta/Malta - Pictures: Adolf Gutmüller

After 24 mining operations with 557 mines, 308 explosive and 108 tear buoys the 3. SFltl got the order on 18.05.1942 not to conduct any more mining operations but to prepare for the transfer to Northafrica. In the area off La Valetta in May 1942 four British vessels were lost (submarine "Olympus", tug C.308, drifter "Eddy" and tug "St. Angelo"). The result was the withdrawal of all British naval units from Malta, since a safe approach could not be guaranteed, the bomb attacks by Luftwaffe against ships in the harbour also contributed to that.

 

The 3. SFltl in a new Base - Picture: Archives R. Krokowski

Decoration by an Italian Admiral - Picture: Archives D. Krokowski

From the 21. to the 27.05. the 3. SFltl transferred with the boats "S 54", "S 56", "S 57", "S 58", and "S 59" on 21.05.1942 from Augusta via Navarino (22.05.), Suda (23. - 26.05.) and Ras-el-Hillal (27.05.) including repair- and refuelling-stops to Derna. The with the support of army engineers the newly built base had a torpedo and an ammunition bunker, a torpedo control station, a fuel store, and workshops.

A first operation as escort unit of a fake landing at Tobruk was broken off after one hour. On 28.05.1942 a second operation as escort unit af a landing at Tobruk was conducted. This operation was also broken off.

End May/early June the boats "S 60", "S 55", "S 30", and "S 36" arrived at Derna. Wiuth that nine ready for action boats were available. During the night 03./04.06.1942 the 3. SFltl attacked with four boats a freighter and an escort. While all torpedoes fired againt the freighter went wrong the escort "Cocker" was hit and sunk. Four other advances during the following nights were without results and also an attack of "S 54" on two ships in the harbour of Tobruk were without result. During operations on 09. and 10.06. no enemies came in sight.  

S-Boat of the 3. Flotilla off Derna - Picture: Archives Heinz Haag

On 12.06.1942 the air reconnaissance reported two strongly escorted convoys from Gibraltar and Alexandria respectively to Malta. Both convoys were fought by the Luftwaffe. The convoy coming from Alaexandria (11 freighters) turned around when an Italian Battle Group closed. Out of the Convoy coming from Gibraltar (Operation Harpoon; five freighters and one tanker) only two ship arrived at Malta. On the mines the 3. SFltl had laid the Polish destroyer escort "Kujawiak" and the transport ship  "Orari" (10.350 BRT) sank, the British destroyer "Matchless",  the British destroyer escort "Badsworth" and the British minesweeper "Hebe" were damaged. On the barriers the guard ship "Trusty Star" had sunk on 10.06.1942, on  the guard ship "Justified" sank on 16.06.1942. 

The 3. SFltl left Derna on 14.06. with six boats operating in two groups against a convoy coming from Alexandria (Operation "Vigorous". During the attacks "S 58" was bombed by a Ju-88, however, without being hit. In the middle of a run the convoy was lightened by flares so that the boats were clearly to be seen. British escorts opened fire from which the boats could withdraw by laying a fog screen. While the 1. group was struggling with destroyers, the 2. group was more lucky. "S 56" (Oblt.z.S. Wuppermann) could achieve a torpedo hit on the British cruiser "Newcastle". 

Oblt.z.S. Wuppermann with the Knight's Cross - Picture: Archives R. Krokowski 

 

A  torpedo of "S 55" (Oblt.z.S. Weber) sank the British destroyer "Hasty". All torpedoes fired by the other boats went wrong. Oblt.z.S. Wuppermann reported that the FuMB-equipment installed for trials was suited outstandingly to detect and escape destroyers.

On 20.06.1942 after the fall of Tobruk the flotilla left Derna with six boats to escort the 6. R-flotilla north of Cape Azzaz. In the early hours of the 21.06.1942 "S 56" and "S 58" sank three minor British landing craft and rescued the survivors. Shortly thereafter a picket, a tug, and two further landing craft came in sight. The tug "Alaisia" was shot to fire by "S 54", the picket "Parktown" defended itself with her 5,7-cm-gun anda 2-cm-quadruplet fiercely but was shot to fire, the survivors jumped over board. "S 58" took four hits, the CO (Oblt.z.S. Geiger) was killed in action, seven men were partly severely wounded, two main engines fell out. "S 54" went alongside and gave over Oblt.z.S. Backhaus as new CO. "S 56" took accommpanied by "S 36" the wounded with maximum speed to the sick bay at Derna. On their way there to "S 36" was unintentionally taken under fire by two Me-109, two men were wounded.

The other boats had in the meantime captured and sunk further escape vehicles, one LCT (LCT 150), three small tugs (JTA 1, JTA 7 und JTA 14), five LCMs (LCM 110, LCM 113, LCM 114, LCM 145, LCM 146 und LCM 148), one LCP LCP 64), one LCA (LCA 193), six LCSs (LCS 4, LCS 6, LCS 15, LCS 18, LCS 19 und LCS 20), and one drifter ("Highland Queen"). 

During the following days the boats safeguarded the German support traffic to Tobruk. On 02.07.1942 "S 54", "S 56", and "S 59" entered Marsa Matruh, which had fallen in German hands on 29.06.1942. On 04.07.1942 also "S 61", "S 60", and "S 33" arrived. 

 

Boat of Typs S 30 in an African Harbour (Pictuere: Archives R. Mundt)

Friedliche Stille in Marsa Matruh - Bild: Archiv R. Krokowski

Bombenschäden in Marsa Matruh - Foto: Archiv R. Krokowski

Low-Flying Aircraft attacking the Harbour of Marsa Matruh - Picture: Archives R. Krokowski

"S61" is handing over Ammunition at Marsa Matruh before Transfer to the Dockyard - Picture: Archives R. Krokowski

During the night 04./05.07.1942 an advance with six boats against Alexandria was conducted without result.

On 06.07.1942 a British air attack against Marsa Matruh was conducted, during which "S 61" (Oblt.z.S. von Gernet) was damaged by much debris. One man was killed and the CO slightly wounded.

On 07.07.1942 "S 56" and "S 57" transferred to Palermo for engine overhaul in the shipyard. On 10.07.1942 also "S 59" had to go to Palermo for engine overhaul, the damaged "S 61" went with it for repairs. "S 35" was on en route to Marsa Matruh.

On 10.07.1942 "S 56" and "S 54" transferred to Palermo for motor-overhaul in the shipyard. On 10.07 also "S 59" had to go to Palermao for motor-overhaul also, the damaged "S 61" accompanied it for repairs. "S 35" was en route to Marsa Matruh.

On 11.07.1942 eight "Albacore"-aircraft attacked the harbour once more, causing a fire on the German freighter "Brook". On 12.07.1944 the harbour came under fire by four British destroyers escort, causing the sinking of the Italian freighter "Sturia" outside the harbour. "S 33" and "S 60" left harbour  immediably and could rescue the total crew, 47 men. 

On 18.07.1942 "S 55", "S 33", and "S 60" were sailing a reconnaissance stripe, British destroyers came in sight but turned away. Soon thereafter they came in sight again and opened fire against the harbour. The attacking S-boats were immediatedly taken under fire. "S 60" fired two torpedoes which did not hit. On the march back the boats were attacked by "Albacore"-aircraft. On "S 33" two men were wounded.

On 18.07.1942 "S 55", "S 33" and "S 60" performed a recconnaissance sortie, with their FuMB they obtained radar-emissions; two British destroyers came in sight but turned away. Soon thereafter they came in sight again and opened fire on the harbour. The attacking boats were taken under fire immediately. "S 60" fired two torpedoes, which did not hit, but resulted in the destroyers to quit the firing at the harbour. On their way back the boats were attacked by "Albacore" aircraft. On "S 33" two men were wounded.  

On 19.07.1942 the patroling S-boats "S 55", "S 33", and "S 60" detected radar-emissions with their FuMB-equipment. Two British destroyers escort came in sight, which detracted the boats while a British unit of two light cruisers ("Dido" and "Euryalus") and four destroyers ("Jervis", "Javelin", Pakenham", and "Paladin") fired at the harbour of Marsa Matruh. During the fight with destroyers escort "Aldenham" and "Dulverton" "S 60" got a hit and could go no faster than 9 knots. With the FuMO-equipment (radar) already requested in December 1940 this destractive maneouvre would not have suscceeded.

In the time following the S-Boats had to safeguard a number of convoys of small craft which were carrying supports for the Rommel-Army. From such a convoy of three navy ferry boats "MFP 348" was set at fire by an aircraft attack, it was sat on the beach and burned out. During a furhter attack a British aircraft was shot down and teh pilot was rescued, "MFP 351" was damaged and had to be sat on the beach. Only "MFP 349" overcame the attack.

 

On 11.08.1942, when it became known that a strongly escorted convoy of 13 freighters and one tanker was underway to Malta and was expected in the Strait of Sicily in the night to the 13.08.1942 the 3. SFltl was wide spread, the flotilla-commander was at the German Navy Command Italy and Oblt.z.S. Wuppermann was acting as commander of  the flotilla:

Marsa Matruh S 33 and S 55
Suda Bucht S 35 and S 36 under training
Augusta S 58, S 59, S 30 (not manned)
Palermo S 56, S 57, S 60, and S 61 under shipyard repairs

The convoy was guarded by the three cruisers "Nigeria", "Kenya", and "Manchester", the anti-air-cruiser "Cairo", six destroyers and five destroyers escort. Distant support was provided by "Force H", the battle-ships ""Nelson" and "Rodney", the carriers "Victorious", "Indomitable", "Eagle", and "Furious", the cruisers "Phoebe", "Sirius", and "Charybdis" and 13 destroyers. 

35 Spitfire started from carrier "Furious" for Malta. The carrier sailed back to Gibraltar. The carrier "Eagle" was sunk by "U 73", StuKas had damaged the darrier "Indomitable" with three bombs so that flying operations wre not possible. Italian torpedo-aircraft torpedoes destroyer "Foresight", dwhich had to be given up. Cruisers "Cairo", "Nigeria", and "Kenya" were torpedoed by Italian submarines. "Cairo" had to be given up later. The freighters "Empire Hope" (12.688 BRT) and "Glenorchy" (8982 BRT) were damaged by bombs. "Empire Hope" was finally sunk by an Italian submarine. 

On 12.08.1942 "S 58", "S 59", and "S 30" (with a lumped together crew) transferred from Augusta to Porto Emedocle, "S 35" and "S 36" transferred there also from Suda-Bay. "S 33" and "S 55" transferred from Mersa Matruh to Suda-Bay. 

On 13.08. Italian and German S-boats attacked a convoy: "MS 16" aund "MS 22" torpedoed cruiser "Manchester", which had to be given up later. Of the German S-Boats "S 35" stayed in harbour becaus of engine failure. "S 58"/"S 59" detected at 00.30 Uhr suth of Cape Bon four cruisers. Under the approach the boats were suddenly illuminated brightly and immediately taken under fire. "S 58" (i.V. Oblt.z.S. Wuppermann) took a hit in department III. Two sailors were seriously and two others were lightly wounded. After emergency repair of the damaged rudder she could escape in a fog curtain. "S 59" could before she was pushed away by a destroyer torpedo a freighter of about 8000 BRT (probably the "Glenorchy" 8982 BRT). "S 36"  (Oblt.z.S. Brauns) missed a destroyer, "S 30" lost contact to the guide, reported a hit on a tanker and in a second run a hit on a freighter of 15.000 BRT, which burst in flames. "MAS 554" and "MAS 557" achieved torpedo-hits. The British motorship "Wairangi" (12.436 BRT) and the American freighters "Santa Eliza" ((379 BRT) and "Almeria Lykes " (7723 BRT) sank and motorship "Rochester Castle" (7795 BRT) escaped damaged. 

The British operation  "Pedestal" suffered with that heavy losses however the aim support of the island Malta was reached because in the afternoon of the 13.08. two freighters and later the damaged tanker "Ohio" .entered harbour and a day later another freighter.

At high Speed in the Mediterranean - Picture: Archives R. Krokowski

The covering force was formed by the three cruisers "Nigeria", "Kenya", and "Manchester", the anti-air-cruiser "Cairo", six destroyers and five destroyers escort. Distant support was performed by "Force H", the battleships "Nelson" and "Rodney", the carriers "Victorious", "Indomitable", "Eagle", and "Furious", the cruisers "Phoebe", "Sirius", and "Charybdis" and 13 destroyers. 

35 Spitfires started from the carrier "Furious" for Malta. The carrier returned to Gibraltar. The carrier "Eagle" was sunk by "U 73", StuKas had damaged the carrier "Indomitable" with three bombs so that air operations were impossible. Italian torpeo aircraft torpedoed the destroyer "Foresight", which had to be given up. The cruisers "Cairo", "Nigeria", and "Kenya" were torpedoed by Italian submarines; "Cairo" had to be given up later. The freighters "Empire Hope" (12.688 BRT) and "Glenorchy" (8982 BRT) were damaged by bombs. "Empire Hope" was finally sunk by an Italian submarine. 

On 12.08.1942 "S 58", "S 59" und "S 30" (with a gathered together crew) transferred from Augusta to Porto Empedocle. Also "S 35" und "S 36" from Suda-Bay. "S 33" and "S 55" transferred from Marsa Matruh to Suda-Bay. 

On 13.08. Italian and German S-Boats attacked a convoy (Operation "Pedestal"): "MS 16" and "MS 22" torpedoed the cruiser "Manchester", which had to be given up later. Of the German S-Boats "S 35" staed in harbour because of engine failure. "S 58"/"S 59" detected at 00.30 south of Cape Bon four cruisers. During the approach the boats were suddenly illuminated brightly and immediately taken under fire. "S 58" (i.V. Oblt.z.S. Wuppermann) took a hit in compartment III. Two sailors were severely and two others lightly wounded. After emergency-repair of the damaged rudder the boat could escape by laying a fog screen. "S 59" could torpedo a freighter of  about 8000 BRT (probaly "Glenorchy" 8982 BRT) before she was pushed away by a destroyer. "S 36"  (Oblt.z.S. Brauns) missed a destroyer. "S 30" lost contact to the guide but reported a hit on a tanker and after a second run a hit on a freighter of 15000 BRT, which burst in fire. "MAS 554" and "MAS 557" achieved torpedo-hits. Sunken were the British motorship "Wairangi" (12.436 BRT) and the American freighters "Santa Eliza" ((379 BRT) and "Almeria Lykes " (7723 BRT) and the motorship "Rochester Castle" (7795 BRT) escaped damaged. 

Whereas Operation "Pedestal" suffered heavy losses,  the aim, support of the island Malta, however,was reached, because in the afternoon of the 13.08. threee freighters arrived, later the damaged tanker "Ohio" and on the next day a further freighter in the harbour.

During the night to the 14.08.1942 an advance was undertaken into the Strait of Sicily by "S 35" and "S 59", but no vehicles came in sight. Thereafter the order arrived to return to Marsa Matruh. 

On 30.08. the acting flotilla-commander, Oblt.z.S. Wuppermann, got the order to transit with boats "S 33", S 55", "S 36", and "S 61" from Suda Bay to Mersa Matruh, where they arrived on 01.09.1942. From there the three boats sotied into the mouth of the Rosette, which had to be broken off because of bad weather. The boats laying at Augusta were to follow to Mersa Matruh. One week later the order was given, to transfer back to Sicily  Suda-Bay. At Suda-Bay also boats "S 54" and "S 59" were laying. On 10.09.1942 the boats entered Augusta harbour. 

From 12. to 14.09.1942 the six boats and the flotilla-staff transferred to Porto Empedocle, to make space for the 7. SFltl.

 

Transfer of the Flotilla to Porto Empedocle - Picture: Archives R. Krokowski

Sailing into the Wake of the Leading Boat - Picture: Archives R. Krokowski

During the night 02./03.11.1942 the 3. SFltl left harbour with seven boats to lay mines off Malta. They were detected early by radar and came under fire, such that they could lay their mine only further out than planned. In the following nights the same happened, therefore, the mining of this sea area was quitted.

On 22.09.1942 Kptlt. Kamnade took command of the 3. SFltl again.  The boats were commanded per 01.10.1942  as follows:

Boat Commanding Officer
S 30 Oblt.z.S. Günther Schulz
S 33 Oblt.z.s. Günther Brauns
S 35 Oblt.z.S. Erwin Lüders
S 36 Oblt.z.S. Horst Wweber
S 54 Oblt.z.S. Claus-Degenhardt Schmidt
S 55 Reserveboot
S 56 Oblt.z.S. Siegfried Wuppermann
S 57 Oblt.z.S. Günther Erdmann
S 58 Reserveboot
S 59 Oblt.z.S. Albert Müller
S 60 Oblt.z.S. Heinz Haag
S 61 Oblt.z.S. Axel von Gernet

Because of many changes of personnel until end of October harbour based training as well as single-boat-training and flotilla-training at sea took place.

On 12.10. the folotilla got order to leave harbour with all boats to search for shot down German pilots. All boats failed shortly after leaving harbour since big layers of muslings had grown in the exhaust-pipes.

From 04. to 07.11.1942 the air reconnaissance reported massive Allied ship concentrations in the western Mediterranean. The 3. SFltl transferred to Trapani on 09.11., to be able to intercept the enemy as far west as possible. When it became known that landings had taken place at Oran und Algiers the flotilla stayed in harbour, since the landing areas were outside their operational area. 

On 11.11.1942 "S 30", "S 35", "S 56", "S 57", and "S 60" transferred to La Goulette/Tunesia. "S 59" arrived two dasy later with a Navy-Communications-Group on board. The flotilla moved into the temporary base Bizerta, leaving "S 54" and "S 59" behind. 

From Bizerta an attack was conducted on 16.11.1942 with "S 60", "S 35", "S 56", and "S 57" against a convoy which did not come in sight. Because of bad weather the flotilla entered harbour in the morning. On 17.11.1942 an Italian motorsailer reached Bizerta with provisions, fuel, and torpedoes for the 3. SFltl. Also the base personnel arrived at the base Bizerta from Marsa Matruh with four captured lorries and brought with them a torpedo control station.

On 24.11.1942 the first bomb attack of the Allies on Bizerta took place and reduced the town to rubble. Every night a flock stayed at sea to safeguard the coastal area, the other boats were in readiness. During the night to 30.11. the British minelayer "Maxman" laid 156 unnoticed off Cani. 

During the night 01/02.12.1942 the flotilla left Bizerta harbour to meet a convoy screened by Italian destroyers. The convoy was nearly wiped out by "Force Q" (cruisers "Aurora", "Sirius", and "Argonaut" and the destroyers "Quentin" and "Quiberon") when the boats met it. On 02.12.1942 it succeeded to bring a convoy safely to Bizerta. On the approach to harbour the German freighter "Menes" run into a minefield and sank. "S 59" rescued 33 men, "S 57" fished five men up. More than 300 men died. 

On 08.12.1942 the boats went alongside the French units in harbour, lowered the flags and took their crews on board. 

On 13.12.1942 "S 58", "S 57", "S 60", and "S 33" were to protect a fast convoy from Trapani to Tripolis. The convoy were attacked from the air and the motorship "Foscolo" took an airborne torpedo and sank. The boats rescued 50 Italians and 31 Germans from the sea of flames.

On 13.12.1942 "S 59" transferred to the shipyard at Palermo for engine overhaul. "S 54" accompanied her to Porto Empedocle. The foltilla transferred to Ferryville.

The 7. SFltl (Kptlt. Trummer) was formed on 01.04.1942 at Swinemünde. It obtained the tender "Estonia" and the tender "Hecht" as well as the schoolboats "S 18" and "S 20", in July "S 19", "S 21", "S 22", and "S 24" joined.  Because of their measurements only the boats having been built in the Netherlands "S 151" - "S 158" could be taken into consideration for the transfer via Rhine, Rhine-Rhône-Canal and Rhône. For that purpose the boats were camouflaged as air safety boats and got among other things a dummy funnel. 

Boats of Type S 151 en Route to the Mediterranean - Picture: Unknown

Boats ofr 7. SFltl in a Lock - Picture: Archives H. Kloetzke

"S 155" in a Lock of Rhein-Rhône-Channel - Picture Archives H. Kloetzke

Die Besatzungen trugen für die zwei-tägige Fahrt durch den unbesetzten Teil von Frankreich Zivil und auf jedem Boot fuhren Verbindungsoffiziere der Petainregierung mit. Am 08.10.1942 erreichten die Boote das Mittelmeer. Sie wurden in La Spezia einsatzklar gemacht. Nach Fertigstellung mussten sie einen Ausbildungsabschnitt durchlaufen. Am 01.12.1942 waren sie materiell kriegsbereit und verlegten nach Augusta, wo sie am 15.12.1942 eintrafen.

"S 155" firing Exercise-Torpedo - Picture: Archives H. Kloetzke

7. S-Flottille during Exercises - Picture: Archives H. Kloetzke

"S 156" at Augusta - Picture: Archives H. Kloetzke 

 

 

On 10.09.1942 with "S 151" - "S 156" the transfer started, "S 157" and "S 158" were to follow later.  For the two-day-transit through the unoccupied France the crews were wearing civilian clothes and on each boat a liason officer of the Petain-govenment was embarked. On 08.10.1942 the boats arrived in the Mediterranean Sea. They were made ready for action at La Spezia. Upon completion they had to undergo a training phase. On  01.12.1942 they were materially ready for action and transferred to Augusta, were they arrived on 15.12.1942.

With that the German S-boat force in the Mediterranean was raised as follows:

3. SFlt (Kptlt. Kemnade) 7. SFlt (Kptlt.Trummer)
S 30 Oblt.z.S. Schulz, G. S 151 Oblt.z.S. Holzapfel
S 33 Oblt.z.S. Brauns S 152 ObFhnr.z.S. Heye
S 35 Oblt.z.S. Lüders S 153 Lt.z.S. Rautenberg
S 36 Oblt.z.S. Weber S 154 ObFhnr.z.S. Kelm
S 54 Oblt.z.S. Schmidt S 155 Kptlt. Babbel
S 55 Spareboat without CO S 156 Oblt.z.S. Thomsen
S 56 Oblt.z.S. Wuppermann S 157 Oblt.z.S. Merkel
S 57 Oblt.z.S. Erdmann S 158 Oblt.z.S. Schulze-Jena
S 58 Spareboat without CO  
S 59 Oblt.z.S. Müller, A.
S 60 Oblt.z.S. Haag
S 61 Oblt.z.S. von Gernet

The 3. SFltl in the night to 17.12.1942 laid a mine-barrier off Cape de Garde with six boats. During the next night four boats laid mines In Bône-Bight. A third barrier was laid in the night to 30.12.1942 south of the second barrier. 

In the night of New Year's Eve the flotilla had to turn around with their mines on board due to bad weather. 

The year 1942 had only brought few successes: One freighter of 8982 BRT; one  Navy-trawler, one motorlaunch, and one patrolboat were sunk. During the seizure of  Tobruk were sunk or captured: one LCT, three tugs, five LCMs, one LCP, one LCA, six LCSs, and one drifter.

The own losses were: six men killed in action, eight severely wounded, nine slightly wounded, and the boats "S 31" lost by mine hit and "S 34" by scuttling after hits by artillery.