JW51B 14 ships left on the 22nd escorted by six destroyers, a minesweeper and four smaller vessels under the command of Capt St. Sherbrooke in "Onslow". Adm Burnett with "Jamaica" and "Sheffield" joined the convoy south west of Bear Island on the 29th to provide close cover through the Barents Sea. By now "Tirpitz", pocket battleship "Lutzow", heavy cruiser "Admiral Hipper", light cruisers "Koln" and "Nurnberg" and a number of 5in and 5.
The Admiralty assumed they were for attacks on Russian convoys. In fact, they were in Norway because Hitler feared invasion. Early on the 31st , New Year's Eve, the British ships were in four groups The main convoy 1 with five remaining 4in or 4. Some of the escort and merchantmen had been scattered by gales and never regained the convoy. Northeast of the convoy, detached minesweeper "Bramble" 2 was searching for missing ships.
Adm Burnett's two 6in cruisers 3 covered to the north. Further north still a straggling merchant ship and escorting trawler 4 tried to reach the convoy. Capt Sherbrooke planned to use the same tactics as Adm Vian in the Second Battle of Sirte and head for the enemy while the convoy turned away under smoke. Unfortunately for the British, Adm Kummetz divided his force in two  and planned to attack from astern on both sides - "Hipper"  and three destroyers in the north and "Lutzow"  with the other three in the south. On the 31st around The convoy later turned as planned, but south towards "Lutzow" .
Then "Onslow", Orwell" and Obedient" sighted Hipper"  and held her off until, at Sherbrooke RN was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry.
Meanwhile, Adm Burnett's cruisers 3 , following a radar contact, had diverted north towards the straggler and escort 4. They only headed towards the action around Lutzow  had alr eady come up on the convoy from the south but did not join battle until She was driven off by the remaining destroyers. By now "Jamaica" and "Sheffield" 3 had arrived on the scene. By midday the German ships were withdrawing with the two cruisers in pursuit. Contact was shortly lost. None of the merchantmen were more than lightly damaged and all 14 reached Kola on the 3rd January. Return convoy RA51 left Kola on the 30th December.
After being supported part of the way by "Jamaica" and "Sheffield", the 14 merchant ships were safely delivered to Loch Ewe on the 11th January. When Hitler learnt that his big ships had been driven off by light cruisers and destroyers he flew into a rage and ordered them all paid off. The paying-off order was revoked. Midget Submarine attack on "Tirpitz" - Nearly a year ea rlier an unsuccessful attack had been made on battleship "Tirpitz" using Chariot human torpedoes.
Now it was the turn of midget submarines - the X-craft each with two 2-ton saddle charges. Six left for northern Norway towed by 'S' or 'T' class submarines. Two were lost on passage, but on the 20th off Altenfiord, "X-5", "X-6" and "X-7" set out to attack "Tirpitz" and "X" for the "Scharnhorst". Both dropped their charges under or near the battleship before they sank and some of their crews escaped.
German Heavy Cruisers 1939–45
She was out of action for six months. English Channel Actions - Cruiser "Charybdis", accompanied by two fleet and four 'Hunt' class destroyers, sailed from Plymouth to intercept a German blockade runner off the coast of Brittany in Operation 'Tunnel'.
Early in the morning of the 23rd, the force was surprised by a group of torpedo boats. Battle in the Bay of Biscay - Eleven G erman destroyers and torpedo boats sortied into the Bay of Biscay to bring in the blockade-runner "Alsterufer". She was sunk by a Czech Liberator of RAF Coastal Command on the 27th, and next day, the 28th, as the German warships returned to base they were intercepted by 6in cruisers "Glasgow" and "Enterprise".
Although outnumbered and out-gunned they sank 5. Adm Fraser with "Duke of York" went right through to Russia for the first time before returning to Iceland. Convoy JW55B , also with 19 ships, sailed for Russia on the 20th. Early next morning JW55B was 50 miles south of Bear Island, the weather stormy, as the Germans headed north to intercept. Meanwhile Adm Fraser 2 was miles away to the southwest and Adm Burnett's cruisers 1 were approaching the convoy from the east. They played no part in the battle. First contact by group 1 was just before Adm Burnett anticipated this move and instead of shadowing, carried on towards the convoy.
In the next 20min "Scharnhorst" was h it and "Norfolk" badly damaged by 11in shells. The German ship now headed south away from the convoy as Adm Burnett shadowed by radar. At this time, Adm Fraser 2 was now to the south-southwest and in a position to cut off her retreat. He made radar contact soon after Fifty minutes later at , "Belfast" 1 illuminated "Scharnhorst" with starshell and Adm Burnett's cruisers 1 engaged from one side and "Duke of York" and "Jamaica" 2 from the other.
Hard hit, especially by the battleship's 14in shells, the German ship's main armament was eventually silenced. Finally the cruisers and accompanying destroyers fired torpedoes, 10 or 11 of which struck home, and soon after Only 36 men could be rescued. Now only "Tirpitz" remained as a potential big-ship threat to the Russian convoys. On the 29th JW55B reached Kola safely. The second return half - RA55B of eight ships - left Russia on the last day of the year and got in on 8th January. Fleet Air Arm attack on "Tirpitz" - The da mage inflicted by midget submarines on "Tirpitz" in September was nearly repaired and the Admiralty decided to launch a Fleet Air Arm attack.
On the 30th March, Adm Fraser left Scapa Flow with battleships "Duke of York" and "Anson", fleet carriers "Victorious" and the old "Furious", escort carriers "Emperor", "Fencer", "Pursuer" and "Searcher", cruisers and destroyers, split into two forces, and headed north, partly to cover JW By the 2nd the two forces had joined up miles off Altenfiord and early next morning on the 3rd , two waves each of 20 Barracuda bombers with fighter cover surprised "Tirpitz" at anchor.
A total of 14 hits were made, but the damage was not serious. However, the battleship was out of action for another three months. Home Fleet was back in Scapa on the 6th. A similar operation was attempted later in the month, but bad weather prevented any attacks. Instead a German convoy was found in the area and three ships sunk. The weather again saved Tirpitz from two sorties in May , but the fleet and escort carrier aircraft did manage to sink several more merchant ships at these and other times during the month.
English Channel Actions - Two surf ace actions took place in the English Channel off the coast of Brittany, both involving Canadian destroyers. Early that morning they ran into German torpedo boats "T", "T" and "T" on a minelaying mission. Then on the 29th, "Haida" and sister ship "Athabaskan" were covering Allied minelaying, when they were surprised by the surviving "T" and repaired "T". The surviving "T" hit a mine but got into port. Normandy Invasion - Attempts by German light forces to interfere with invasion shipping had little effect and they suffered heavy losses. Destroyer "ZH-1" ex-Dutch was damaged by "Tartar", then torpedoed and sunk by "Ashanti", and "Z" driven ashore by the Canadian "Haida" and "Huron" and later blown up.
FAA attack on "Tirpitz" - Barra cuda torpedo bombers from Home Fleet carriers "Formidable", "Indefatigable" and "Furious" attempted to hit "Tirpitz" in Altenfiord on the 17th , but failed, partly because of defensive smokescreens. Home Fleet, under the command of Adm Moore, sailed in two groups, partly to cover the convoy but mainly to launch further FAA attacks on "Tirpitz" in Altenfiord. Between the 22nd and 29th, three strikes were made, but in two of them the German ship was obscured by smoke; and although a hit was obtained on the 24th, the bomb failed to explode. Flying in difficult conditions from Russian bases near Archangel on the 15th, the Lancasters managed to get one hit in spite of the usual smokescreens.
Partly because of the damage, the battleship was moved south to Tromso. After several hits and near misses by bombs weighing over 5 tons, she turned turtle trapping nearly 1, men inside. German Heavy Warships - The end of the remaining German big ships was in sight. Only two pocket battleships, two heavy and three light cruisers remained, and most of these would survive only a few more weeks.
A few days later pocket battleship "Lutzow" was al so put out of action at Swinemunde. When Germany surrendered, just three cruisers survived. A dozen or so big destroyers also remained afloat. Norwegian Campaign 8th - Royal Navy destroyers laid minefields, real and simluated off the Norwegian coast, including near Bodo. JUNE Normandy Invasion - Attempts by German light forces to interfere with invasion shipping had little effect and they suffered heavy losses. German destroyer Georg Thiele Maritime Quest , click to enlarge. With the Soviet Army advancing across the Oder, the ship was destroyed in place to prevent the Soviets capturing anything useful.
The wreck was dismantled and scrapped in — The World War I era Pre-dreadnought battleships Schlesien and Schleswig-Holstein were used mainly as training ships, although they also participated in several military operations, with the latter bearing the distinction of firing the opening shots of WWII. Hannover was decommissioned in and struck from the naval register in Plans to convert her into a radio-controlled target ship for aircraft was canceled because of the outbreak of war in Three O-class battlecruisers were ordered in , but with the start of the war the same year there were not enough resources to build the ships.
The term " light cruiser " is a shortening of the phrase "light armoured cruiser ". Light cruisers were defined under the Washington Naval Treaty by gun caliber. Light cruiser describes a small ship that was armoured in the same way as an armoured cruiser. In other words, like standard cruisers, light cruisers possessed a protective belt and a protective deck.
Prior to this, smaller cruisers tended to be of the protected cruiser model and possessed only an armoured deck. The Kriegsmarine light cruisers were as follows:. Never completed: three M-class cruisers. Captured in the Netherlands Both being on the stocks and building continued for the Kriegsmarine. In addition, the former Kaiserliche Marine light cruiser Niobe was captured by Germans on 11 September after the capitulation of Italy. During the war, some merchant ships were converted into " auxiliary cruisers " and nine were used as commerce raiders sailing under false flags to avoid detection, and operated in all oceans with considerable effect.
Each had as well an administrative label more commonly used, e. The auxiliary cruisers were:.
Early classes were unstable, wet in heavy weather, suffered from engine problems and had short range. Some problems were solved with the evolution of later designs, but further developments were curtailed by the war and, ultimately, by Germany's defeat. In the first year of World War II, they were used mainly to sow offensive minefields in shipping lanes close to the British coast.
These vessels evolved through the s from small vessels, relying almost entirely on torpedoes, to what were effectively small destroyers with mines, torpedoes and guns. Two classes of fleet torpedo boats were planned, but not built, in the s. The E-boats were fast attack craft with torpedo tubes. Over boats of this type were built for the Kriegsmarine. Thousands of smaller warships and auxiliaries served in the Kriegsmarine, including minelayers , minesweepers , mine transports, netlayers, floating AA and torpedo batteries, command ships, decoy ships small merchantmen with hidden weaponry , gunboats , monitors, escorts, patrol boats, sub-chasers, landing craft, landing support ships, training ships, test ships, torpedo recovery boats, dispatch boats, aviso, fishery protection ships, survey ships, harbor defense boats, target ships and their radio control vessels, motor explosive boats, weather ships, tankers, colliers, tenders, supply ships, tugs, barges, icebreakers, hospital and accommodation ships, floating cranes and docks, and many others.
The Kriegsmarine employed hundreds of auxiliary Vorpostenboote during the war, mostly civilian ships that were drafted and fitted with military equipment, for use in coastal operations. At the outbreak of war, the Kriegsmarine had a relatively small fleet of 57 submarines U-boats. Types XXI and XXIII , the " Elektroboot ", would have negated much of the Allied anti-submarine tactics and technology, but only a few of this new type of U-boat became ready for combat at the end of the war.
Post-war, they became the prototypes for modern submarines, in particular, the Soviet Whiskey class. The remaining U-boats were either surrendered to the Allies or scuttled by their own crews at the end of the war. The military campaigns in Europe yielded a large number of captured vessels, many of which were under construction. Few of the incomplete ships of destroyer size or above were completed, but many smaller warships and auxiliaries were completed and commissioned into Kriegsmarine during the war.
Additionally many captured or confisticated foreign civilian ships merchantmen, fishing boats, tugboats etc. Raeder held the post until falling out with Hitler after the German failure in the Battle of the Barents Sea. Subordinate to these were regional, squadron and temporary flotilla commands. Regional commands covered significant naval regions and were themselves sub-divided, as necessary. They were commanded by a Generaladmiral or an Admiral. The Kriegsmarine used a form of encoding called Gradnetzmeldeverfahren to denote regions on a map.
Each squadron organized by type of ship also had a command structure with its own Flag Officer. Major naval operations were commanded by a Flottenchef. The Flottenchef controlled a flotilla and organized its actions during the operation.
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The commands were, by their nature, temporary. The Kriegsmarine' s ship design bureau, known as the Marineamt , was administered by officers with experience in sea duty but not in ship design, while the naval architects who did the actual design work had only a theoretical understanding of design requirements. As a result the German surface fleet was plagued by design flaws throughout the war.
Communication was undertaken using an eight-rotor system of Enigma encoding. The Luftwaffe had a near-complete monopoly on all German military aviation, including naval aviation, a major source of ongoing interservice rivalry with the Kriegsmarine. Catapult-launched spotter planes like Arado Ar twin-float seaplanes were manned by the so-called Bordfliegergruppen "shipboard flying group".
The coastal batteries of the Kriegsmarine were stationed on the German coasts. With the conquering and occupation of other countries coastal artillery was stationed along the coasts of these countries, especially in France and Norway as part of the Atlantic Wall. The Kriegsmarine also manned the Seetakt sea radars on the coasts. In September amphibious units unsuccessfully tried to capture the strategic island Suursaari in the Gulf of Finland from Germany's former ally Finland Operation Tanne Ost.
With the Invasion of Normandy in June and the Soviet advance from the summer of the Kriegsmarine started to form regiments and divisions for the battles on land with superfluous personnel. With the loss of naval bases because of the Allied advance more and more navy personnel were available for the ground troops of the Kriegsmarine. About 40 regiments were raised and from January on six divisions. Half of the regiments were absorbed by the divisions. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.
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