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  S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine - Norway 1944 - 1945

 

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S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine 1935 - 1945

War-Zones of the S-Boats

Norway 1944 - 1945

 

Several requests by the Supreme Navy Command (Marineoberkommando = MOK) Norway, to dispatch S-boats to northern Norway to protect the big units (October 1943 and September 1944) and to defend against landings at Petsamo/Finland were not met by SKL because torpedoes as main weapon could not be emplyed there with chance for success.  

On 08.10.1944 Dönitz ordered the immediate transfer of eight boats into the area of Admiral Polar Coast (Admiral Polarküste). On 10.10.1944 the 4. SFltl (Kptlt. Fimmen) with eight boats - "S 201", "S 202", "S 203", "S 204", "S 205", "S 219", "S 220", and "S 703" - commenced the march back from Holland to Kiel. There the boats were overhauled and received a stronger artillery armament. 

Thereafter the 4. SFltl with tender "Hermann von Wissmann" transferred via Frederikshavn and Kristiansand to the north. Bad weather forced the S-boats to turn around off Lindesnes. In so doing "S 203" collided with the small minesweeper R 220.  All initiated trials to rescue the boat went wrong because of the bad weather. S 201, S 203, S 205 and S 703 were damaged when they went alongside in order to rescue the crew and to save secret documents and finally S 203 had to be abandoned and was blown up. *)

Boat of Type S 38 of the 4. SFltl in Norway - Picture: Roger Albrigtsen

The MOK Norway had in the meantime requested a second flotilla for anti-submarine warfare. Therefore, the 4. SFltl remained initially in the area of Admiral Wastcoast (Admiral Westküste). Upon arrival of the 1. School-Fltl it was to transfer to the polar area.

The 1. S-Schul-Fltl at Stavanger November 1944 - Picture: Archives Johan Aakre

Without the 1. School-Fltl having arrived, the 4. SFltl was ordered to return to the western front after the outset of the offensive of the Ardennes where it arrived on 28.12.1944 without S 201, which after a grounding was left in Bergen, an without S 220, which had collided with a pier and had to stay at Kiel.

S 201 after its grounding in Egersund ares - Pictures: Archives johan Aakre

The 1. School-Fltl carried out escort operations based upon Egersund until the end of the war.

 During the last days of war the 8. Fltl (Kptlt. Zymalkowski) with the boats "S 195", "S 302", "S 303" and "S 706" was ordered there as reinforcement.  "S 196" (Oblt.z.S. Rathenow) was laying in Gelting Bight, "S 197" (Oblt.z.S. Fanger) and "S 701" (Oblt.z.S. Toermer) were laying aKB at Den Helder.

On the day of the German capitulation both flotillas were laying at Egersund.

K.S.V. - S 10, S 11, S 13, S 15, S 16 - in Ofotfjord 1944 - Picture: Archives Förderverein

 

The fast Submarine-Chaser-Group consisting of "S 10", "S 11", "S 13", "S 15", and "0S 16" was stationed at Bergen in 1944/45. Its berth was in a small fjord (in navy jargon: Westwärtsfjord - Westward Bight) in vicinity of the town.

" S 14" in the harbour of Bergen - ( Picture: Archives E. Skjold)

 

 On 29.03.1945 the little laid up Norwegian passenger ship "Kommandøren" (543 BRT, built 1891) was sunk in the harbour of Bergen by a torpedo hit. 

The small Norwegian passenger steamer "Kommandøren" after stranding in February 1945

(Picture: Statsarkivet Bergen - Norsk Bjergningskompani)

 

We found a link:

According to that the torpedo was fired by "S 13" - according to official sources by a failure operation during training - according to inoffical version by accident by a drunken crewmember.

The real story was reported to the author by the last commanding officer of "S 13", ObLt. z.S. d.R. Ludwig Unger:

The then Lt. z.S. Unger was laying in the lazaret at Bergen, the boat lay under command of his deputy, an Obersteuermann (Senior Chief Petty Officer), the name of whom Herr Unger has forgotten, in the "Westwärts-Bucht", when he received the order to come to the bunker of the Admiral Westcoast Norway, Adm. Otto "Ikke" von Schrader, in order to carry out a transport of personnel. 

Since the crew partly was on shore-leave the Ob.Stm. had to find substitutes from other boats. As a torpeoman a soldier from the torpedocontrol shop came on board who was fresh from the torpedo-school and totally inexperienced.

The boat moored at the operations bunker in  Holmen at the berthing Bergenhus with her bow outward. When the Ob.Stm. asked the torpedoman wheter the torpedo department was ready for sea he got the answer :"Aye, aye, Herr Obersteuermann!", at the same time the torpedoman pulled out the safety pin and slammed the firing key. Thus the torpedo was fired and hit the steamer "Kommandøren" laying at Søndre Nykirkekai in about 300 m distance which sank immediately. Within seconds only the chimney and the mast tops were to be seen. The guard onbord able-bodied seaman Alf H. Larsen was killed.

The pitiful accident was in deed neither caused by a drunken sailor nor by a training accident, but by the overeagerness of an inexperienced torpedoman, a freshman, who had not only mixed up "ready for sea" and "ready for action" (torpedodoors opened, firing airbottles filled up, and detonators installed in the warheads) but also pulled the safety pin and operated the firing key without thinking about posible consequences.

The Journal of the Norwegian Insurance Company Statens Krigskaskoforsikring af 1945 speaks about an explosion hapened on 29.03.1945 and caused the small ferry to sink. The reason for the explosion is not mentioned.

 

The five S-Boats - S 10, S 11, S 13, S 15 and S 16 and their complenments were after the kapitulation in the beginning interned in Bergen. Shortly thereafter they had to turn over their boats to the Norwegians and the crews moved into a former worker-camp for the building of the fortification of Bergen. Since all vessels of the Kriegsmarine were assembled at Wilhelmshaven by the Allied in order to divide them up the boats were returned to the crews. These sailed them back to Wilhelmshaven in early August 1945, for the transfer a British officer embarked in the leading boat.

*) Gröner and Fock are writing about this, that S 203 was scuttled but later on brought up and repaired. Gröner is reporting the sinking of S 203 on 21.03.1945 northwest of Texel due to bombing an a hit by a mine in position 53.04 N 004.47 E. This account i most unlikely since the prevailing depth of the water in the scuttling-position off southern Norway would not have permitted a bringing up during the winter 1944/45.