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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.

 

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 Warshipgroup 3 (Objective: Occupation of Bergen harbour) "S 18" and "S 20" collided. The two boats were towed by "S 19" and "S 22" to short before List were they were taken over by tugs. "S 19" and "S 22" sailed with high speed northward and met Warshipgroup 3 in time for the attack on Bergen.

 In the attack on Bergen only three S-boats were involved, "S 19", "S 21" and "S 22", the whereabouts of "S 24" and when she joined the force again is not known so far.

These three boats took over army landing forces from the bigger units which were landed near Kvarmen in Byfjord close to the coastal battery. Thereafter they took over troops from the bigger units again and sat them ashore directly in Bergen. After barely five hours of operation Bergen and the coastal batteries in the area were in German hands. 

In the morning of the 09.04.1940 a total of 60 ships were at Bergen thereamong 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.

 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.

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" a killed in action was to be mourned. 

The flotilla was reinforced on 09.04.1940 by "S 23" (Oblt.z.S. Christiansen) and "S 25" (Oblt.z.S. Hermann Büchting).

From 16. to 21.04.1940 "S 21" was changing propellers and shafts in a Norwegian shipyard.

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 with the Norwegian torpedoboat "Sael" in Hardangerfjord, which had opened fire on the boats "S 23" and "S 25" eröffnete. "S 23" hit the boat with a torpedo which caused it to sink. Seven survivors were rescued.

On an almost daily basis the S-boats transported troops from Stavanger to Bergen, on 18./19.04. five boats were involved therein, "S 19", "S 22", "S23", "S 24" and "S 25". 

On 25.04.1940 the 1. SFltl with the boats "S 25", "S 20", "S 21", "S 22", and "S 24" 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". One S-boat vent alongside, "M 1" vent alongside the German freighter "Afrika" and a second S-boat vent alongside the little fjormotorship "Eidtfjord". The Norwegians had opened the floodvalves of "Afrika" and the steamer with its valuable load of about 10.000 tons of iron ore could not be held. Machinegunning from the houses also directed against German soldiers swimming in the water was answered by "M 1" with her two 10,5-cm guns and soon all houses were on fire with exception of the church in the middle of town which had been spared.

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

Whereas the documentation writes about several wounded and one killed in action, OFhnr.z.S. Spickerbom, the pictures from the heritage of the former Lt.z.S. Künzel show a minimum of five graves.

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

The operations continued to be varied: On 29.04. "S 10", "S 12", "S 19" and "S 22" escorted the valuable fast supplyships "Alstertor" and "Alsterufer" from Bergen to Stavanger and on their way back they transported further soldiers to Bergen. 

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. the boats "S10" and "S 12" having arrived at Norway were to cover the grounded ship to avoid further attacks on it.

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.

During May 1940 the operations were directed against the area north of Bergen. On 10.05. "S 10" brought up the steamship "Ibis" in the Sognefjord. On 13.05. "S 12" (Oblt.z.s. v. Mirbach) took the Norwegian steamship "Bera and the Danish ballaster "Keyserinde Dagmar" as prises. The minelayers "Gor" and "Vale", on which parts of the crews remained, were entered in Midtgulen and taken into posession. Also was the Norwegian fishery steamship "Kvam" taken as prise and brought to Bergen.

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

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

 

"S 16" on Måløy 1941 - (Picture: Archives E. Skjold)

2. SFltl (Kptlt. Petersen)

The 2. S-Flotilla with the boats "S 9", "S 14", "S 162, "S 30", "S 31", "S 32" and "S 33" was detailed to warshipsgroup (Kriegsschiffgruppe) 4. Target was the occupation of the city of Kristiansand. abgestellt. 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.  

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

S-Boats of the 2. SFllt packed with Army-Soldiers off Kristiansand 1940 - (Picture: Archives H. Kloetzke)

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 escort duties for minelaying operations. 

 

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

 

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

 

The Fjord is fuld af 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.

"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 belgium coast.