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S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine 1935 - 1945

War-Zones of the S-Boats

Norway-Campaign 1940 (Weserübung)

The 1. and the 2. SFltl took part in „Weserübung“, the occupation of Norway on 09.04.1940 teil. The 1. SFltl was assigned to warship group (Kriegsschiffgruppe) 3, the 2. SFltl to warship group (Kriegsschiffgruppe) 4.

Warship-Group 3 under command of Konteradmiral Schmundt, Commander of the Reconnaissance Forces (Berfehlshaber der Aufklärungsstreitkräfte), consisted ot the light cruisers "Köln" (Kapt.z.S.  Kratzenberg) and " Königsberg " (Kapt.z.S. Ruhfuß), the artilleryschoolship "Bremse", the torpedoboats "Leopard" and "Wolf" and the s-boat-tender "Carl Peters".

Warship-Group 4 under command of Kapt.z.S. Rieve (commanding officer "Karlsruhe") consisted of  the light cruiser "Karlsruhe", the torpedoboats "Luchs", "Seeadler", and "Greif" and the s-boat-tender "Tsingtau". The Leader of the Torpedoboats (Führer der Torpdoboote - F.d.T.), Kapt.z.S. Bütow, had embarked himself on torpedoboat "Luchs". 

 

1. SFltl (Kptlt. Birnbacher)

The 1. SFltl left Helgoland in the early morninghours of the 08.04.1940 with the boats"S 18" (Oblt.z.S. Schultze-Jena), "S 19" (Lt.z.S. Detlefsen) , "S 20" (Lz.S. Wuppermann), "S 21" (Ltl.z.S. Klug), "S 22" (Lt.z.S. Grund) and "S 24" (Oblt.z.S. Fimmen) to march independently to Norway. 

During the march to the rendezvouz point of warship-group 3 (objective: occupation of Bergen harbour) "S 18" and "S 20" collided. The two boats were towed by "S 19" and "S 21" southward until tugs took over and towed them to List. "S 19" and "S 21" sailed northward at high speed and met warship-group 3 at 21.40, in time for the attack against Bergen. One hour later "S 19" and "S 21" collided. "Wolf" assisted "S 19" until landing at Bømmelfjord. 

Therefore, only three boats "S 21, "S 22" and "S 23" were imployed in the occupation. They embarked landing troops,  which were landed under the batteries of Kvarnen in the Byfjord, from the big units. Thereafter they again embarked troops which were landed directly in Bergen harbour. After barely five hours of operation Bergen and the coastal batteries in the area were in German hands. "S 19" could march to Bergen alone and came into a resultless fight with the Norwegian minelayer "Tyr" when passing the island Skorpo. Another resultless fighting "S 19" together with "S 22" and "S 24" coming back from Bergen was performed with "Tyr" off the island Lerøya.

In the morning of the 09.04.1940 a total of 60 ships were laying at Bergen among them the German freighter "Theresa L.M. Russ" as well as 11 Norwegian, 13 Danish, 16 Swedish, 10 Finnish and 9 Estonian ships. "S 24" went alongside the Norwegian minelayer "Uller" and occupied her.  

The flotilla was reinforced by "S 12" (Kptlt. Günther Hosemann), "S 23" (Oblt.z.S. Christiansen)  and "S 25" (Oblt.z.S. Georg Christiansen) on 09.04.1940. On 10.04.1940 the heavily damaged "S 19" arrived at Bergen.

S-Boat of 1. SFltl in Norwegian Waters - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

Upon conclusion of  "Weserübung" the 1. SFltl was operationg based on Bergen under the command of the Admiral Westcoast (Admiral Westküste - Adm v. Schrader). It controlled the area between Sogne- and Hardanger-Fjord and landed army troups in remote areas.

 

"Carl-Peters", "S 19", and "S 24" at Bergen 12.04.1940 - Picture: Archives E. Skjold

On 12.04.1940 an air-attack was performed against the boats in harbour, causing damages to all boats besides of "S 19" and on "S 24" one man was killed in action. 

By running aground on 16.04.1940 "S 21" damaged propellers and shafts, so that it had to be repaired by a shipyard at Begen until 21.04.1940.

The S-boats were deployed to reconnoitre and clean the fjords. In so doing it came to an exchange of fire on 18.04.1940 in Hardangerfjord with the Norwegian torpedoboat "Sæl" , which had opened fire on "S 23" and "S 25". "S 23" hit the boat with a torpedo which caused it to sink. Seven survivors were rescued.

0n 19.04.1940 four boats of the flotilla transported a company of army-soldiers to Bergen.

  On 20.04.1940 the 1. SFltl with "S 19", "S 22", "S 23", "S 24" and "S 25" together with "Bremse", "Schiff 18" and "Schiff 221" advanced against the improvized naval base at Uskedal at the entrance of Hardangerfjord. The Norwegian minelayer "Tyr" was captured by " Schiff 18" and the torpedoboat "Stegg" was sunk by "Bremse". "S 23" was damaged during the fighting. "S 22" was attacked by Skua aircraft of FAA 800 and 801 without being damaged.

On 22.04.1940 "S 10" (Oblt.z.S. Obermeier) and "S 12" (Oblt.z.S. Frhr. von Mirbach) transitted from Kiel to Kristiansand.

On 24.04.1940 the two boats on march to the Elbe estuary from where they had to guard a convoy to Stavanger in the Skagerrak a short encounter with the French destroyers  „L' Indomptable“, „Le Malin“, and „Le Triomphant“.

On 25.04.1940 the 1. SFltl with "S 25", "S 19", "S 21", "S 22", and "S 23" forced its way into the inner Hardangerfjord together with minesweeper "M 1", they arrived at Ulvik roads at about 07:30 hours. At the pier lay the Norwegian motorship "San Miguel". "S 21" vent alongside her, "S 23" vent alongside the German freighter "Afrika". The Norwegians had opened the flood valves of "Afrika" and the steamer with its valuable load of about 10.000 tons of iron ore could not be held. "S 19" had boarded the little Norwegian steamer "Eidtfjord".

Machinegunning by Norwegian infantry from the houses against the boats and also directed against German soldiers swimming in the water was answered by "M 1" with her two 10,5-cm guns and soon all 53 houses were on fire with exception of the church in the middle of town which had been spared. The flotilla commander,  Kptlt. Birnbacher, the commanding officers "S 21" (Oblt.z.S. Klug) and "S 25" (Oblt.z.S. Büchting) and itotally nine men were wounded. ObFhnr.z.S. Heribert Spickenborn embarked for training and three soldier were killed in action. "S 21" was commanded back to Bergen by the floitilla commander, "S 25" by Lt.z.S. Künzel.  

The town of Ulvik burning - Picture: Archives K.F. Künzel

Burial of the Killed-in-Action from the Fighting at Ulvik - Picture: Archives K.F. Künzel

Whereas the documentation writes about several wounded and two killed in action, among them ObFhnr.z.S. Spickerbom, the pictures from the heritage of the former Lt.z.S. Künzel show four graves.

"S 12" brings up the Norwegian SS "Bera" on 13.05.1940 off Svelgenf  - Picture: Archives E. Skjold

On 27. and 28.04.1940 "S 10" and "S 12" were escorting the fast supply-ships „Alstertor“ and „Alsterufer“ from the  Elbe estuary to Stavanger.

On 09.04.1940 the German Steamship "Butt" had been captured by the British In Sognefjord and came back in German hands as "Webburn" on 28.04.1940.

On 29.04. "S 10", "S 12", "S 19" and "S 22" escorted the supply-ships "Alstertor" and "Alsterufer" from Bergen to Stavanger and on their way back they transported further soldiers to Bergen. 

On 01.05.1940 "S 10", "S 12" und"S 19" transported troops and material from Stavanger to Bergen.

 

 Am 02.05. sollten „S 22“, „S 23“ und „S 25“ ein U-Boot jagen, das den deutschen Dampfer „Cläre Hugo Stinnes I“ durch Torpedo- und Artillerieangriff auf die Felsen getrieben hatte. Die Jagd auf das Boot (es handelte sich um HMS „Trident“) blieb aber erfolglos.  

On 02.05. "S 22", "S 23" and "S 25" were to hunt a submarine which had driven the German steamship "Cläre Hugo STinnes I" by torpedo- and artillerieattacks on the rocks. The hunt for the submarine (it was HMS "Trident") was  without result.

On 03. and 04.05. "S10" and "S 12" having arrived at Norway were to cover the grounded ship to prevent her from further attacks.

On 04.05.1940 "S 19", "S 22", "S 23", and "S 25" performed a reconnaissance action into Sognefjord. No enemy vessels were sighted..

On 06./07.05. "S 22" and "S 23" escorted a mysterious ship , that sailed under the indicator "Schiff 57" from Stavager to Bergen. In reality it was the auxilliary cruiser "Schiff 21/Widder" leaving for an operation.

On 08.05.1940 "S 10" brought up steamship "Ibis" in the Sognefjord. "S 24" escorted the picket "Rigel" employed as troop transporter and "S 19" escorted "Uranus". "S 25" embarked GEnMaj Engelbrelcht and transported him to Balholmen. 

On 09.05.1940 "S 10", "S 19", and "S 24" escorted the steamer "Ibis" from Sognefjord to Bergen.

On 10.05.1940 another northward advance of "S 10", "S 12", "S 21", "S 22", "S 24", and "S 25" without any events was performed.

On 11.05.1940 "S 12", "S 21", "S 22", "S 24", and "S 25" performed an advance into Sognefjord without any events, while "S 10" and "S 19" escorted six Swedish and Danish freighters from Bergen to Stavanger.

On 12. and 13.05.1940 the boats together with "M 1" perdormed an advance into Nordfjord. There the Norwegian minelayers "Gor" (268 ts) and "Vale" (238 ts) were captured.  "S 12" (Olt.z.S v. Mirbach) took the Norwegian steamship "Bera" (771 BRT) as prize in Sørgulenfjord off Svelgen. "M 1" and "S 12" captured the trawler "Kvam" and sent  her with two men as prize-commando to Bergen.

Moorings at Bergen- Picture: Archives K.F. Künzel

 

On 14.05.1940 "S 12" and "S 24" escorted a convoy from Bergen to Stavanger.

On 16. and 17.05.1940 "S 10", "S 12", "S 19", "S 22", "S 23", and "S 24" escorted  the Norwegian steamer "Skagerrak" from Stavanger to the Elbe estuary and entered Cuxhaven on compleation.

On  18.05.1940 with the transit from Cuxhaven to Wilhelmshaven the employment in Norway had come to an end for the 1. SFltl.

 

 

2. SFltl (Kptlt. Petersen)

The 2. S-Flotilla with the boats "S 9" (Oblt.z.S. Obermaier), "S 14"(Oblt.z.S. Kecke), "S 16" (Oblt.z.S. Müller, K.), "S 30" (Oblt.z.S. Zimmermann), "S 31" (Oblt.z.S. Opdenhoff), "S 32"  (Oblt.z.S. Koscky), and "S 33" (Oblt.z.S. Babbel) was detailed to warshipsgroup (Kriegsschiffgruppe) 4. Objective was occupation of the city of Kristiansand. "S 13" was in the Shipyard at Wilhelmshaven.

 When the group was taken under hefty fire by the coastal batteries the boats took over troops already in the outer fjord and  broke through with high speed into the fjord to land the troops in Kristiansand. The landings of troops were supported by toprpedoboats while the big units took the coastal batteries under fire.  

On 09.04.1940 um 06.25 Uhr the force i the order cruiser "Karlsruhe", torpedoboats "Luchs" and "Seeadler", "Tsingtau", "S 30, "S 31", "S 32" started the run. Shortly after the force had passed  the entrance of the Kristiansandfjord the coastal batteries of Odderøy opened fire against the cruiser. The torpedoboats left ists wake and fired back.  I the fog "S 30" and "S 31" took over army soldiers from the torpedoboats and broke with high speed under covering fire of the bigger units through into the fjord. Four hours after start of the operation also the other boats , "S 9", "S 14", "S 16", and "S 33" joined the force, so that the other army soldiers could be embarked and brought ashore. 

At 11.10. German bombers attacked the battereis of  the fortress  Odderøya an. ARound lunchtime the navy artilllery-men having been brought ashore had occupierd the fortress and the setting ashore of the Infantry Regiment 310 in the harbour began. The S-boats took the soldier on board from "Karlslruhe" at anchor and sat them ashore in the inner harbour. There was the small destroyer "Gyller" (later Torpedoboot "Löwe") occupied by "S 30" and "S 31"  without fighting.

Light Cruiser "Karlsruhe" and S-Boat of the 2. SFltl off Kristiansand - (Picture: Archives H. Kloetzke)

"S 31" and "S 32" of the 2. SFltl packed with Army-Soldiers off Kristiansand 1940 - (Picture: Archives H. Kloetzke)

In the inner harbour submarines "B-2" and "B-5" (je 409 t) were captured. "S 32" and "S 33" sailed into the Topdalsfjord, a sidearm of the Kristiansandfjord, with prize-commandos to the navy base Marviken situated there and occupied the base and the guard boats "Kvik", "Blink", and "Lyn" (45 t each), former torpedoboats without torpedotubes,  as well as the pickets "Hval IV" and "Hval VI" and the guard boats "William Barents" and "Lyngdal". The sistership of "Gyller", destroyer "Odin" (later torpedoboat "Panther") fell into the hands of "S 32" and "S 33" without fight. The interned German submarine "U 21", which had run aground south off Mandal laying in the harbour, was freed.

S-Boat of 2. SFltl in Norway - Picture: Archives O. Erlandsson

T-Boats and S-Boats of 2. SFltl at Kristiansand 1940 - Picture: Archives E. Skjold

 

S-Boat on Cleaning Mission goes alongside of a Norwegian Ship - Picture: Archives Benjamin Flämig

 

"S 14" on Patrouille in a Norwegian Fjord - Picture: Archives S. Thaler

"S 14" at a Norwegian Jetty - Picture: Archives S. Thaler

 

The Fjord is full of Ships - Picture: Archives Benjamin Fläming

 

During the night 08./09.05.1940 it was involved in an encouter with a battle group consisting of a cruiser and seven destroyers." S 31" (OLt. z.S. Opdenhoff) could hit the British destroyer “Kelly” with a torpedo. The commanding officer was awarded the first knight's cross of the S-Boat-Force. "S 33" rammed a destroyer twice, suffered damage itself, could , however, be brought back to Wilhelmshaven safely. 

On 19,.04.1940 the boats "S10" and "S 12" having been transferred to the 2. SFltl on short notice are arriving at Kristiansand.

"Karlsruhe" left Kristiansand the same evening together with the three torpedoboats and was torpeoed little later than an hour by the British submarine "Truant". She was so severely damaged that she had to be sunk with two torpedoes by "Greif".

On completion of "Weserübung" the 2. SFltl was originally subordinated the CinC Defence East (Befehlshaber Sicherung der Ostsee - VAdm Mootz). It was, however, soon detailed to Kommando West and had to take over anti submarine warfare tasks and escort duties for minelaying operations. 

The S-boats and "Tsingtau" were the only warships at Kristiansand. Because of the bad readiness of the old Maybach-boats ("S 9", "S 14", and "S 16") they could fulfill their objectives only i a limited way. Because of the bad weather they had to stay in harbour on 11. and 12.04.1940. On 13.04.1940 all available boats of the flotilla were performing anti-submarine warfare off Kristiansand.

The fact, that theboats due to their high own noises and missing detection capabilities were absolutely badly suitable for anti-submarine warfare, did not leed to the insight in the higher naval staffs that the boats could notobtain successes and it had been better to task them with other objectives.

On 24. and 25.04.1940 the three boats "S 31", "S 32", and "S 33" escorted the fast sipplyships "Palime" and "Pelikan" from Stavanger to the Elbe estuary and on 28. and 29.04.1940 from the Elbe estuary to Stavanger.

On 30.04.1940 Oblt.z.S. Obermaier commissioned "S 34" and operated together with "S 13" and "S 31" as escorts for a convoy from Wilhelmshaven to Stavanger on 06. and 07.05.1940. 

On  03. and 04.05.1940 "S 31", "S 32", and "S 33" again escorted "Palime" and "Pelikan" on a voyafe from Stavanger to Cuxhaven.

In the night 08./09.05.1940 the 1. group of the 2. SFltl, "S 30", "S 32", and "S 33", were en route as escort for a convoy to Esbjerg and the 2. group, "S 31", "S 34", were on march from Stavanger southward. "S 31" and "S 34" came into a fight with a battle group consisting of a cruiser an seven destroyers. "S 31" (OLt. z.S. Opdenhoff) could torpedo teh Britsh destroyer “Kelly”. The commanding officer was awarded the first knight's cross (Ritterkereuz) of the S-boat-forces. "S 33" rammed the destroyer two times and took heavy damages, but could be brought safely to The shipyard art Wilhelmshaven with it's destroyed underwater-forecastle. The repairs lasted until August 1940..

"S 12" brings up the Norwegian SS "Bera" on 13.05.1940 in Svelgen  - Picture: Archives E. Skjold

Boats of the 2. SFltl at Stavanger - Picture: Archives Johan Aakre

Three boats of type S 30 of 2. SFltl at Stavanger - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

On 19.05.1940 the nine boats of the 1. SFltl and the 2. SFltl together with Tender "Tanga" proceeded to Borkum, in order to be available for action off the Netherlands and the Belgian coast.

 

Fast Anti-Submarine Chacer Group (Schnelle U-Jagd-Gruppe)

Already since 29.04. until 22.07.1940 boats "S 8", "S 9", "S 14", "S 15", and "S 16" had been reconstructed for "Schnelle U-Jags-Gruppe", probably also "S 7", and since 01.08.1940 "S 14", "S 15", and "S 16" were at Bergen with the Coastal Defence Unit (Küstensicherungs Verband) of KKpt Bartels under Admiral Western Cpoat Norway (Admiral Norwegische Westküste). '"S 8" and "S 9" followed on 05.08.1940, probably also "S 7". Data about their employment in this function are not available. "S 9" was turned over to the torpedo test center (Torpedoversuchsanstalt  - TVA) Eckernförde on 05.04.1941 as a test vehicle and became US war-loot in 1945. "S 8" was laying as a hulk at Eckernförde at the end of war. The employment of "S 7" and "S 8" from 1941 to 1945 is not clear. Both became part of the British war-loot in 1945.

 

Boat Date of handover to  ASW-Group Date of Handover New Employment New Designator
S 7 1940 ? - - -
S 8 Sep 1940 - - -
S 9 Aug 1940 05.04.1941  Testboatt TVA -
S 14 Aug. 1940 Apr. 1941 KSV V 5509
S 15 Aug. 1940 Apr. 1941 KSV V 5511
S 16 Aug. 1940 Apr. 1941 KSV V 5512

 

Boat of Schnelle U-Jagd-Gruppe 1940/41 - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

Coast Defence Unit (Küstensicherungsverband [KSV])

With the dissolving of Schnelle U-Jagd-Gruppe in 1941 "S 14" through "S 16" were  re-classified as pickets and were detached to 55. V-Fltl and remained stationed at Bergen. Boats "S 10", "S 11", "S 12", and "S 13" were re-classified as pickets in March rsp. April 1942 and were also detached to 55. V-Fltl. Data about their employment in this function are not available. 1944 the boats were handed over from 55. to 51. V-Fltl and got their old designators "S 10", "S 11",m "S 13", "S 15", and "S 16" back.

Boat of Küstensicherungsverband - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

"S 16" on the Rocks off Måløy 1941 - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

K.S.V. - S 10, S 11, S 13, S 15, S 16 - at Åstveitvågen close to Bergen 1944 - Picture: Archives Förderverein

 

Boat Date of Detachment to UJ-Gruppe Date of Detachment to KSV Designation in KSV
S 10 - 16.03.1942 V 5507
S 11 - 20.03.1942 V 5508
S 12 - 01.04.1942 V 5504
S 13 - 25.03.1942 V 5510
S 14 Aug. 1940 Apr. 1941 V 5509
S 15 Aug. 1940 Apr. 1941 V 5511
S 16 Aug. 1940 Apr. 1941 V 5512

 From the available documentation about Schnelle U-Jagd-Gruppe and Küstensicherungsverband Western Coast Norway it cannot be determined who the commanding officers of the boats were. It is just to ascertain that Oblt.z.S. von Dülong was CO of "S 15" from April to May 1941 and Oblt.z.S. Hüsig was CO in Schnelle U-Jagd-Gruppe from July 1940 until April 1941. Furhtermore do we know from his written report that Oblt.z.S.d.Res. Ludwig Unger was commanding offier og "S 13" until end of WW II, commanding officer of "S 15" wqas Lt.z.S.d.Res. Rapp. Mr. Unger also reported that the boats belonged to 51. V-Fltl.

The 6. SFltl transitted on 28.09.1941 with Begleitschiff "Tanga" and the boats "S 18", "S 20", "S 22", and "S 36" during flotilla-exercises from Saßnitz via Helsigør, Kopenhagen, and Frederikshavn to Kristiansand, before it returned to Saßnitz via Helsingør and Kopenhagen on 11.10.1941.

 

Begleitschiff "Tanga" and "S 36" at Helsingør 1941 - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

Begleitschiff "Tanga" 1941 at Helsingør - Picture: Archives E. Skjold

 

Begleitschiff "Tanga", "S 18", "S 20", "S 22", and "S 36" at Kristiansand - Picture: Archives E. Skold