|S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine - Adriatic Sea 1943 - 1945|
S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine 1935 - 1945
War-Zones of the S-Boats
Adriatic Sea 1943 - 1945
After the capitulation of Italy on 09.09.1943 was a great number of ships and boats fallen into German hands. First was considered to commission all Italian S-boats, but then it was decided only to make use the MAS-boats but not of the smaller and even more troublesom MAS-boats. Decommissioning of some already commissioned MAS-boats was ordered. The six MAS-boats taken in the western Mediterranean and the three boats taken in the Aegaen Sea were assigned to the 24. SFltl.
On 08.09.1943 the armistice between Italy and the Allies was signed. "S 54" and "S 61" were in Tarento. They and the Navy barge "F 478" got free withdrawal and mined the harbourentrance with the Italians making notice of that. On these mines sank on 10.09.1943 the British minelayer "Abdiel".
The three boats run into an Italian auxiliary mine-lugger, the crew was sent into the lifeboat and the boat was blown up. At a meeting with the Italian cruiser "Scipione Africano" did this take no notice of the boats, which had precautionarily blown up "F 478" and taken the crew on board. Both S-boats came in the Bight of Valona into a mine-netbarrier, could, however, free themselves without taking any damage and sailed to Ragusa. In so doing run "S 54" onto a mine but remained undamaged.
On 11.09.1943 "S 54" fired two torpedoes on a modern yacht off Ancona, the torpedoes hit amidships but did not detonate. "S 61" fired a torpedo which sunk, as was becoming evident, the Italian Admirality-Yacht "Aurora". Towards morning of the 12.09.1943 captured "S 54" with 10 hands under command of Kptlt. Winkler the Italian motorvessel "Leopardi" (4572 BRT) with 1500 Italian soldiers on board, little later was the Italian freighter "Saubasia" (1590 BRT) taken as prize by "S 61". In the afternoon "S 54" stopped the Italian steamer "Pontinia" (715 BRT) about 30 nm south of Venice, the closing destroyer "Quintino Sella" was sunk with two torpedoes, the "Pontinia" was taken with two hands of "S 54" as prize and left behind to rescue survivors. "S 54" called by radio "S 30" and "S 33" from Pola to help, which could not leave harbour because the Italians held them back.
"S 30" and "S 33" at Pola - Picture: From the heritage of Oblt.z.S. a.D. Backhaus
"S 54" and "Leopardi" entered Venice. The naval ensign was veiled and the uniforms of the sailers was made unrecognizable so that the Venicians thought that an Italian unit had entered harbour.
"S 54" (Oblt.z.S. Schmidt) in front of the Doge's Pallace (Picture: Archives R. Mundt)
To hours later also "S 61" entered harbour with the two prizes. Both boats were completely out of fuel, water, and provisions. " S 61" had one torpedo left and "S 54" was shot empty. Under threatening with a Stuka-attack and an attack of tanks standing by got Oblt.z.S. Schmidt together with the generalconsul and the railway authorized representative the capitulation of the Navy Commander in Chief Northadriatic Sea and the Chief of the navy station Venice. In Venice were about 10.000 man Italian Navy, the Italian destroyer "Sebenico", the Italian torpedoboat "Audace", two Italian S-boats, eight auxiliaries, and 30 merchant ships. The commanding officer "S 54", Oblt.z.S. Schmidt, had thereby accomplished the most remarkable deed of a S-boats commanding officer of WW II. He was awarded the German Cross in Gold together with Bootsmann Blömker, Seaman No. 1 of "S 61", who had commanded the boat in absence of a commanding officer. On 22.12.1943 Oblt.z.S. Schmidt was awarded the Knight's Cross.
"S 61" (OBtsm Blömker) in front of Piazza St. Marco, Venice, on 11.09.1943 (Picture: From Conelly/Krakow: Schnellboot in action)
"S 30" and "S 33" had after the amistice of Italy with the Allies made the boats provisionally clear for sea and for battle. When "S 54" asked for help the 11.09.1943 could they leave harbour after a while, they had threatend the Italians with air attacks, so that they finally opened the harbour barriers. When the boats did not find the pair they entered harbour again. On 14.09.1943 they sailed up to the harbour barriers of Venice. Upon occupation of the city Pola by the 71. Infantery-Division the boats escorted the support traffic and supported the army in fighting partisans. Thus fell one man on 22.09.1943 and to men were wounded.
The 24. SFltl was formed in the Aegaen Sea on 01.11.1943. Commander became Kptlt. Meyer, H.J. The first boats joining had been built 1936 - 1938 by Lürssen for the Yuguslavian Navy. They had been taken by the Italian Navy on 17.04.1941 in Tiwat and been commissioned as boats of the type MS.
Allocated were originally:
"S 511" had deserted to the German side on 19.09.1943. On 04.12.1943 is was attacked by seven Beaufighter-aircraft off Makronisi.Since it had to take heavy hits, is was sat on shore. There it was destroyed. Two men fell.
During the night 08./09.01.1944 "S 55" and "S 36" operated from Cattaro againt the partisan-traffic. They captured two motorsailers loaded with fuel and ammunition between the islands Hvar and Brac. The boats were blewn up, after the crews had been taken on board. At daybreak the boats took the harbour of the island Vis under fire. The partisans fired back, however, without hitting.
During the night 09./10.01.1944 "S 55" and "S 36" were in action again. They took the harbour of Komiza on the island Vis under fire. They stopped a motorsailer, which carried weapons, ammunition, and provisions. It was taken as prize and escorted to Velalucca. On entering the bight the boats were attacked by British fighterbombers. On "S 55" the port engine fell out by fragment, on "S 36" fell two men. Shortly thereafter a whole fighterbombersquadron attacked, the motorsailer caught fire, the load exploded. In the afternoon the boats were attacked again by two waves of British fighterbombers. "S 55" (Oblt.z.S. Weber) took hits and burst in flames, the sparetorpedoes exploded, the boat was no longer to keep and sunk. "S 36" took over the crews of "S 55" and of the motorsailer and entered Cataro in the evening. Thereafter it had to go to the shipyard at Pola.
The 11 boats of the 3. and 7. SFltl had been stopped by extreme low waters on river Po during their transit from the western Mediterranean to the Adriatic Sea. Only after finishing the necessary dredging at Piacenzia the transit could be continued.
In February 1944 no sorties could be carried out because of the low figures of S-boats, an escort-order could not be carried out because of bad weather. The first six boats of the 24. SFltl arrived at Venice end of February. The 11 boats of the 3. and 7. SFltl from the western Mediterranean arrived on 07.03.1944 at Venice, where they first had to be put together again.
In the night 15./16.03.1944 transited "S 36" and "S 61" with the Fltl-commander on board from Pola to Cattaro and made a sortie in the folowing night into the sea-area between the islands Mljet, Lagosta and Glavat, during which a motor fishingboat was sunk by artillery.
In April four sorties with two to three boats took place ("S 30", "S 33" and "S 36"). No enemies were sighted.
On 14.04.1944 were from the boats taken during their construction, "S 622" and "S 624", just before their commissioning destroyed by an American air-attack on Monfalcone, "S 623" and "S 626" were damaged heavily.
"S 626" after bombhit in Monfalcone (Picture from: Dallies-Labourdette)
On 14.04.1944 only "S 30" was ready for action. The boats of the 7. SFltl were stil not put together, the boats of the 24. SFltl suffered from permanent enginedisturbances. "S 54" was stil in Saloniki. On 22.04.1944 "S 54" (Oblt.z.S. Schmidt) run on transit to Cattaro off Kap Leukas on a mine. The aft part of the boats was torn of, the boat remained however floating and was tugged in. Three men fell and five were wounded. The boat went into the shipyard at Salamis.
In May 1944 "S 30", "S 36" and "S 61" made some sorties, during which they succeeded on 11.05.1944 to sink a coastal motorferry. Attempts to escort a group of the 12. R-Fltl through the Stait of Otranto failed, since the boats run into British destroyers again and again, which opened fire immediately.
The first completed boats of the 7. SFltl - "S 153", "S 155", "S 156", "S 157", and "S 1582 - entered Split.
"S 155" in a harbor of the Adriatic Sea (Picture: Archives Eric-Jan Bakker)
During the night 31.05./01.06.1944 they could sink three motorcutters, one coaster, and one small tanker off the island Lissa in artillery fights. The survivors (159 uniformed British, Kroats, Serbs, and Italians, one US Lightning-pilot, 37 women and five children) were taken on board.
In the folowing night they sunk two fully occupied and one empty motorcutters in gun battle, the survivors (77 partisans, to Britsh paratroopers, 50 women and 24 childeren) were fished out of the water.
"S 158" replenishing torpedoes - (Picture: Archives Heinz Kloetzke)
During a sortie on 11./12.06.1944 "S 156", "S 155", "S 153", and "S 157" run by surprise into the two British destroyers HMS "Blackmore" and "HMS Eggesford", which immediately opened fire. "S 153" (Oblt.z.S. Rautenberg) was shot to pieces by one destroyer and sank off the island Hvar with the mayority of the crew. 10 men were rescued by HMS "Eggesford".
On 24.06.1944 "S 157" and "S 154" escorted the old Jugoslavian torpedoboat "T 7". Off the island Cocoglari the unit was attacked by thre British MTBs. Two torpedoes failed. "T 7" was shot to fire. Since the British MTBs were in artillery superior to the German boats, they could escape undamaged. "S 157" and "S 154" saved 21 men, among them 11 wounded.
Since 01.07.1944 were the Italian lootboats "S 621" (ObFhnr.z.S. Rolow *)), "S 627" (ObStrm. Jahraus *)), "S 628" (Lt.z.S. Overwaul), and "S 629" (Lt.z.S. Müller, E.G.) ready for sea in Grado, the boats damaged on 14.04.1944 by air-attack "S 623" and "S 626" were not yet repaired and the boats "S 6012, "S 602", and "S 604" were in Saloniki.
Due to the Allied advance in Italy and due to the retreat from the Balkan was the operational area of the S-boats narrowed more and more, the Allied naval forces were supported by RAF and USAF, so that all retreaval convoys of the German side were attacked. The S-boats assigned as escorts could not really fend off the attacks by British naval forces. On 06. and 11.07.1944 British commandotroops had landed on the islands Hvar and Brac and forced the Germans to surrender.
S-boats of Type S 151 in the Adriatic Sea - (Picture: from Connelly/Krakow: Schnellboot in Action)
On 24.07.1944 the boats of the 7. SFltl escorted a convoy. When the S-boats pushed away the British MTBs, the MTBs fired torpedoes on the German S-boats. In avoiding the torpedoes "S 155" rammed "S 154". During a gun battle with the MTBs took "MTB 372" hits, explosions and smoke development were to be observed. The boat was later sunk by British fighterbombers. "S 154" had to be declared out of action (aKB).
On 26.07.1944 "S 151" (Lt.z.S. Pankow) was damaged severely by artillery hits, the motorship "Vega" escorted by her, was lost. On "S 151 fell five men and 5 men were wounded.
"S 151" at Venice - (Picture: Archives Heinz Kloetzke)
On 09.08.1944 was the pair "S 623" and "S 626" attacked by three fighterbombers. Both boats were hit several times. On "S 623" fell three men, there were one severely and five light wounded, one man died from his wounds, on "S 626" were two men severely and six men slightly wounded.
On 19.08.1944 the 3. SFltl run into a gun battle with British navel forces. In its course was "S 57" (Oblt.z.S. Buschmann) so heavily damaged that it had to be blown up. Two men fell, nine men were wounded. On "S 30" fell one man and on both "S 58" and "S 69" was one man wounded.
On 01.09.1944 took Kptlt. Müller, A. command of the 3. SFltl. On 13.10.1944 were the 3. and the 7. SFltl were merged, the two commanders Kptlt. Müller, A. and Kptlt. Trummer were transferred. The privious 3. SFltl became the 1. Group of the new flotilla (Oblt.z.S. Backhaus) with the boats "S 30", "S 36", "S 58", "S 60", and "S 66", the previous 7. SFltl became the 2. Group (Oblt.z.S. Buschmann) with "S 151", "S 152", "S 154", "S 155", "S 156", "S 157", and "S 158". The privious 24. SFltl became on 25.10.1944 the 3. Group (Oblt.z.S. Bollenhagen) with "S 621", "S 623", "S 626", "S 627", "S 628", and "S 629" (ex "MS 76") in addition on 04.12.1944 "S 630" (ex "MS 75").
Inspection by F.d.S. at Venice - (Picture: Archives Heinz Kloetzke)
"S 33" in Venice 1944 - Picture: Archives Thomas Bethke
Seamen from "S 33" on leave at Venice 1944 - Picture: Archives Thomas Bethke
"S 33" at Monfalcone 1944 - Picture: Archives Thomas Bethke
In October 1944 the 1. Group dof the 3. SFltl undertook two sorties agains ship traffic off Ancona, without sighting of targets. An offensive action with eight boats, the torpedoboot "TA 40", and the submarinechasers "UJ 202" and "UJ 208" on 10. /11.10.1944 against the docks of Zapuntello on the island Molat and against the radio- and signalstation Punta Banastra were carried out as planned. The equipment was destroyed, the torpedoes fired into the harbour did not detonate besides of one. The 1. Group destroyed a newly built cementpier in the Bight of Punta Luccina. "S 626" got off Zapuntella a 4-cm-hit in its forecastle under the waterline and was tugged in by "UJ 202".
On 18.10.1944 the 24. SFltl was ordered to bring Sprengboote (Linsen) into action in the Adriatic Sea. It got "S 630" (ex "MS 75") assigned to it for that purpose. "S 626", "S 630", and "S 629" launched the Linsen undiscovered. On 20.10.1944 the order to bring a naval commando unit (Marineeinsatzkommando = MEK) to Lissa postponed because the equipment had not arrived. When the equipment arrived prevented bad weather the operation. Also a furhter sortie of a MEK againsts a pipeline and a bridge at Fano on 23.10.1944 was cancelled because of the weather. On 25.10.1944 the boats transited to Grado, "S 630" transited to Venice.
During the first days of the year 1945 the Bora blew, so that the boats had to stay in harbour. During the night 04./05.01.1945 "S 33", "S 60", "S 58", and S 61 carried out a sortie towards the island Molat. In the Bregulie-Bight they run into a guard, which was sunk by "S 332 with a torpedo. It was the Harbour-Defence Motor Launch "HDML 1163". Thereafter the boats advanced towards the harbour of Porto Nuccina. " S 61" fired two torpedoes into the empty harbour. However, they were caught in a net barrier and caused no damage.
During the night 09./10.01.1945 another MEK-operation took place for the 1. Group. "S 58" and "S 61" were sent back dur to enginge failure. The order of the MEK, the blowing up of two street and one railway bridges as well as one railway track across the river Tenna could be carried out. The 3. Group had also a MEK-operation. "S 621" had to be dismissed to Pola because of an unoperational engine. The MEK was landed and a reconnaissance stripe was executed towards the Pettini-islands. No tagets came into sight.
During the night 10./11.01.1945 the 1. Group left harbour to continue the MEK-action of the previous day. Under ways "S 60", "S 33", and "S 58" stranded at the coast of the island Unie due to a compas failure. Immediately initiated trials to tow the boats of the coast by "S 30" failed. During the night 11./12.01.1945 tried two Navy barges to tow the boats but also without success. In the evening arrived the tug "Chirone", but returned immediately, in order to be back to Pola in the early morning as ordered.
In the evening of the 15.01.1945 "Chirone" came again, the trail to tow "S 58", which was laying most favourable for a rescue, failed and the recovery of the boats was broken off. In the morning of the 16.01.1945 appeared a group of British MGBs and MTBs and took the mishaps under fire. One MTB fired a torpedo on "S 33" which detonated 5 m from "S 33" on the cliffs. The boat was damaged severely. By 5,7-cm-hits the boat burst to flames, the torpedoes remained on board exploded and detroyed the boat. "S 60" and "S 58" took also many artillery-hits, there were three wounded. In that night the boats were blown up. With that there were only three boats left from the former 3. SFltl.
During the night 18./19.01.1945 three boats from the 1. Group and five boats from the 2. Group carrier out a sortie into the Zara-Canal. In so doing they run into gun fights with British guards, "S 30", "S 151", and "S 152" were several times hit by von 20-mm and 40-mm-bullets. On "S 152" one man was heavily wounded.
Boats of the 7. SFltl in the Adriatic Sea - (Picture: Archives Foerderverein)
On 19.01.1945 British fighterbombers in two waves attacked the boats remained in Pola, litle later happened an attack by 13 American Mustangs. On 21.01.1945 folowed a new attack by British fighterbombers. "S 154" was hit so heavily, that repairs were not worthwhile. During the attack there was only one slightly wounded man on "S 626".
During the 22./23.01.1945 "S 30", "S 36", and "S 61" laid mines in the channel between Molat and Sestrugno.
After that until the end of the month no operations could take place because of bad weather or fuelshortage. During the first half of February there were no actions of the 2. and the 3. Group because of fuelshortage. The 1. Group tried during the night 04./05.02.1945 to carry out a minelaying operation, but run into gun battle with two groups of British MGBs. The unprimed mines went over board by a hit on "S 36", "S 33" and "S 61" laid their mines unprimde, since this group also had the order to cover the torpedoboats "TA 41" and "TA 45". The boats run again into a gun battle with MGBs, but could keep them away from the torpedoboats.
During the night 05./06.02.1945 the boats went to sea again und run into a gun battle with British MGBs. In the course of this collided "S 36" and "S 61". They were repaired provisionally and were no longer usable for larger actions.
On 07.02.1945 was Pola attacked by 30 British bombers. On 13.02.1945 attacked fourengined US bombers town and arsenal Pola. On 21.02. and 23.02.1945 was Pola once more target of bombattacks, in the course of that was the Mine Weapon Command (Sperrwaffenkommando) destroyed, so that no mines could be loaded any more.
The shipyard area of Monfalcone was after a heavy bombattack on 16.03.1945 no longer to be used, so that no repairs could be carried out any more.
IDuring the last weeks of the war the boats left harbour only sporadic if the fuelsituation permitted. War diaries were no longer written. Successes were not achieved.
On 30.04.1945 blew Lt.z.S. Müller, E.G. his boat "S 629" up.
On 01.05.1945 arrived the 2. Newzealand Division together with Tito's partisan army Monfalcone. On this day " "S 157" (Oblt. Liebhold) came under motar fire west of Triest and sunk. In this action fell three men. ObStrm. Elksneit scuttled his boat "S 623" at Triest.
IDuring the night 01./02.05.1945 Tito's partisans occupied Triest, Goerz, the peninsula Istria with Pola. There were still the boats: "S 30" (Lt.z.S. Svoboda), "S 36" (Lt.z.S. Jarminowski), "S 61" (Oblt.z.S. Hardtke), "S 151" (Lt.z.S. Greiner), "S 152" (ObStrm. Mensch), "S 155" ( Oblt.z.S. Heckel) und "S 156" (Lt.z.S. Marxen).
"S 30", "S 36", "S 61", "S 151", "S 152", "S 155", and "S 156" at Ancona (Picture from: Dallies-Labourdette)
These seven boats went under command of the Division Commander (Kptlt. Wuppermann) and the Commander of the 3. SFltl (Kptlt. Schulz) with all flotillapersonnel to Ancona to surrender to the Royal Navy. The boat were towed to La Valetta/Malta and sinked in vecinity of the island.
S 157 in La Valetta/Malta Harbour, in the background boat with code "D" - Picture: Archives Ashley Gowing
S 61 in La Valetta/Malta Harbour - Picture: Archives Ashley Gowing
S 61 and S 157 in La Valetta/Malta Harbour - Picture: Archives Ashley Gowing
S 61 being towed by MTB 670 in La Valetta/Malta Harbour - Picture: Archives Ashley Gowing
The left over boats from the 3. Group were laying in more or less useable condition in the shipyard and fell there into the hands of the 8. British Army. "S 630" served until its decommissioning on 18.05.1949 under her old designation "MS 75" in the Italian Navy. On 06.07.1949 she had to be delivered to the UdSSR.
Members of the staff and the crews of the boats of the 1. S-Boyt-Division were taken prisoners of war and transportet to Egypt where they staied some years.
POWs of the 3. SFltl in POW-Camp - Picture: Archives Thomas Bethke
Christmascard from the POW-Camp - Arkives: Thomas Bethke
*) According to the KTB of the FdS was "S 621" under command of OFhr.z.S. Rolow, the KTB of the 24. S-Fl states that StOStrm. Maniel is commanding officer, "S 627" according top the KTB of the F.d.S. was under command of OStrm. Jahraus, whereas the KTB of the 24. S-Fl states StOStrm. Kaufhold as commanding officer.