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S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine 1935 - 1945

Loss of "S 38"

Newspaperclip of November 1940 - Clip: Archives Maik Freund

'On 20.11.1940 te boat "S 38" of the 1. SFltl was lost in the English Channel. The boat under command of Oblt.z.S. Dethlefsen had advanced from Rotterdam to east of Lowestoft together with the boats "S 54" and "S 57" when they comming from the light horizon encountered three British destroyers at 02.58 hours. The boats scattered with maximum speed.

The destroyers opened fire and the boats lost contact to eachother. When the flotilla-commander, Kptlt. Kemnade, embarked in "S 56" requested their situation report at 03.05 hours, only "S 57" answered. Since he saw no chance for an attack against the destroyers he ordered to march back. The own air recconnaissance did not find a trace of "S 38" after daybreak and the fate of the boat was uncertain until in the afternoon Radio Daventry reportet that a German S-Boat had been destroyed and survivors had been rescued.

Destroyer "HMS Campbell" had rammed the boat at it stern und had then shot the immovable boat to pieces from close range together with the destroyers "HMS Garth" and "HMS Holderness". On "S 38" there were many wounded, five men were killed in action (StrmMt. Tillmann, MaschMt. Dölz, FunkObGefr. Kühn, AschObGefr. Stöcker und MaschGefr. Zimmermann). 

"HMS Holderness" -Destroyer Escort of the Hunt-Class - Picture from the Archives

A boarding team from "HMS Holderness" under command af Lt. Rudland boarded the boat. In order not to surrender the boat to the enemies Oblt.z.S. Dethlefsen had already given orders to install and to ignite the selfdestruction explosives. He explained in perfect English and calmly to Lt. Rudland that the boat would be blown up in a few minutes and that it was advisible to evacuate the boat. This advice was followed by the British without trying to capture secret things or any equipment. Oblt.z.S. Dethlefsen ordered his men to leave the boat, which shortly thereafter blew up and sank in position 52o28'N, 002o10'E. Thus he saved the lives of both British and German sailors. 18 men from "S 38" became P.O.W.s, among them the CO and MaschObGefr. Freund, The newspaper clip, the pictures, and documents on this page are from his heritage .

 

Masch.ObGefr. Erwin Freund (†) had sailed on the boats "S 11" and "S 19". He suffered heavy burnings (70 %) and was fished out of the water by the British. He was imprisoned in a P.O.W.-Camp in England and finally shipped to a Canadian camp. There he stayed until the end of the war.

MaschObGefr. Freund - Picture: Archives Maik Freund

Postcard from MaschObGefr. Freund from the P.O.W.-Camp to his father - Picture: Archives Maik Freund

MaschObGefr. Freund as a P.O.W. - Picture: Archives Maik Freund

"S 11" in the year 1939 - Picture: Archives Maik Freund

"S 19" in the year 1939 - Picture: Archives Maik Freund

MaschObGefr. Freund had taken part in a maneouvre as a crew-member of "S 19" about which the  Berliner Ilustrirte Zeitung wrote the article below.