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  S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine - Channel 1943

 

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S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine 1935 - 1945

War-Zones of the S-Boats

English Channel 1943

 

In toto more than 90 S-Boats were availble to  F.d.S. on 01.01.1943. On the Westfront were stationed: The 2 . SFltl (Kptlt. Feldt) at Ijmuiden with six boats, "S 62" aKB at Amsterdam, "S 67" aKB at Swinemünde with Schulflottille and "S 89" aKB at Kiel; the 4. SFltl (Kptlt. Bätge) at Rotterdam with four boats, "S 109" and "S 110" aKB in the Wilton-shipyard for installation of the new kalotten-bridge, "S 63" aKB at Wilhelmshaven and "S 42", "S 88" and "S 120" aKB at Kiel; the 5. SFltl (Kptlt. Klug) at Cherbourg with four boats, "S 77" and "S 112" aKB at Wilhelmshaven, "S 90" aKB at Kiel; the 6. SFltl (Kptlt. Obermaier) at Ijmuiden with five boats, "S 74" and "S 75" aKB at Rotterdam, "S 91" aKB at Kiel, "S 79" unmanned with Schulflottille at Swinemünde.

The 1. SFltl (Kptlt. Birnbacher) was in the Black Sea, the 3.  SFltl (Kptlt. Kemnade) and the 7. SFltl (Kptltl. Trummer) in the Mediterranean and the 8. SFltl (Kptlt. Zymalkowski) in Northnorway. Of the 90 boats of the S-Boats-Force only 54 were ready for action (KB).   

The three flotillas stationed in the Netherlands only carried out a few successful attacks because of the strong defences. On 05.01.1943 the 2., 4., and 6. SFltl with a total of 14 boats left harbour to attack a convoy off Cromer. The 5. SFltl left harbour to operate in the Lyme Bay. In heavy weather with hail showers "S 116" and "S 82" collided, the commander 5. SFltl broke the operation off and returned to Cherbourg. "S 116" entered with difficulties St. Peter Port/Guernsey.  In the 6. SFltl collided"S 76" and "S 119" in a snow shower, both had to go into a dock upon returning to Ijmuiden.  The other flotillas also had to return without success, since no enemies came in sight. 

During a common sortie of 2. SFltl ("S 29", "S 62", "S 70", "S 80", "S 83" "S 86", "S 104") and 6. SFltl  ("S 39", "S 71", "S 113") against a southgoing convoi in the night 08./ 09.01.1943 "S 104" had to take a minehit, by which the foreship up to the bridge was torn off and FkObGefr Hans Heß was killed in action and to men were badly and to men were lightly wounded. "S 113" went alongside of the avarist and took over the crew. The two part of the boat had to be blown up.

 On the following days the weather was so bad, that no sorties could be performed. Only "S 39" and " 113" were ordered to search for survivors of a JU 88 shot down, whitout any result.

During a common mineoperation of 2. SFltl ("S 29", "S 62", "S 70", "S 80", "S 83"), 4. SFltl ("S 48", "S 78", "S 87", "S 88", "S 109", "S 110", "S 117")  and 6. SFltl ("S 39", "S 71", "S 74", "S 75", "S 91", "S 113", "S 119") at bouys 59 to 62 in the night 18./19.01.1943 "S 110" wass dismissed early because of a wegen severe wounding of a soldier. On the way back "S 109" was damaged severely by a minehit. The forship up to the radioroom was torn off. The gunner of the bow-gun was missed in action, there were some lightly wounded men. "S 78" and "S 87" went alongside the avarist and towed her over the stern until to tugs took over. The boat was tugged to the Droogdock-Shipyard, there it was repaired poorly and than towed through the chanals to Travemünde. After the repairs at Schlichting she was employed as school-boat.

 A mining-operation planned for the 23.01. had to be cancelled because of the light cloudless fullmoon-night. 

On 24.01.1943 the 5. SFltl transferred from Cherbourg to Boulogne with four boats for the planned miningaction "Xanthippe". 

The 2. SFltl with five, the 4. and the 6. SFltl with six boats each were directed towards a covoy, which however did not come in sight., so that the boats entered harbour on 25.01. without results. Boats "S 113", "S 71, "S 74" and "S 75" were hunted by the destroyers escort "Windsor" and "Mendip" gejagt whithout taking any damages.  

Similar turned a sortie against a convoy out in the night 26./27.01.1943. The convoy did not come in sight and the boats came back to their bases without enemy-contacts.

On 24.01.1943 the three flotillas stationed in the Netherlands were ordered to attack a convoy which did not come in sight, so that the boats returned without results. The 5. SFltl carried out a mining operation from Boulogne.

Until mid of February there were no S-boat-operations due to the weather. 

In the afternoon of the 17.02.1943 the 2. SFltl ("S 83", "S 86", "S 89"), , the 4. SFltl ("S 78", "S 87", "S 117", "S 120") and the 6. SFltl ("S 39", "S 71", "S 74", "S 75", "S 76", "S 91", "S 114", "S 119") left harbour to lay mines in the northern exit of the Haisborough Gap and off Sheringham. In the evening a "Albacore" attacked the 2. SFltl with five bombs in a serial-dropping. On one of the boats a man was wounded by a barrel-detonation. Just before midnight a British destroyer reported S-boat-contacts. Destroyer ""Montrose" and destroyer escort "Garth" as well as a MGB-group were ordered into a lurking-position, since an attack on a convoy was assumed. The pair "S 76"/"S 39"/"S 71" run into destroyer escofrt "Garth" which opened fire immediately. "S 71" (Oblt.z.S. Suhr) became a hit in the engineroom with a fire develloping and was lost. Of the complement of 26 seven men were rescued by the British and became prisoners of war. The othe 19 men were killed in action: Oblt.z.S. Rüdiger Suhr (Kommandant), Lt (Ing.) Helmut Otto (2. Flottillen-Ingenieur), ObMasch. Ernst Tober (L.M.), MaschObMt Freitag, MaschMt Reer, FkMt (ROA) Kronke, MatrHptGefr Lissowski, FkObGefr x, FkObGefr Hohmann, MatrObGefr Naujoks, MatrObGefr Nieckwieciek, MatrObGefr Kolbe, MatrObGefr Arps, MechObGefr (T) Zgolik, MaschObGefr Meier, MaschObgefr Schilling, MatrGefr Kracik, Matr Lengert. The other boats dropped their mines as planned. Search and rescue actions of the German side from the air and on the sea were without results.

On the 20.02.1943 the 5. SFltl with "S 77", "S 65" and "S 65" was transferring back from Le Havre to Cherbourg.

A sortie of the flotilla with "S 77", S 65", "S 85" and "S 68" during the night to the 26.02.1943 against a convoy consisting of 20 merchant ships and five destroyers at Start Point which had been reported by the recconnaissance went into emptiness. The boats entered St. Peter Port/Guernsey on 27.02.1943.

In the evening the flotilla left harbour for a sortie against Lyme Bay. "S 77" (Oblt.z.S. Müller, act. Flotilla-Commander) was run  on a rock at St. Peter Port/Guernsey and had to be sat on ground in the harbour. The other four boats left harbour again and bumped into a convoy off Berry Head. "S 65" sank a guard with a torpedo. "S 85" (Oblt.z.S. Kolbe) sank a freighter of 2000 BRT and a tanker of same sice as well as in a second run a  landing ship tank ("LCT 381") and entered it. Thus 11 men were taken POW. The ship was sunk by a torpedo of "S 65". The 2. group reported sinking of an escort by "S 68". "S 68" and "S 81" also reported sinking a freighter. In reality the British motorship "Modavia" (4858 BRT), the LCT and the British trawler "Lord Hailsham" and the Norwegian trawler "Harstad" were sunk.

On 28.02.1943 the flotillas were directed against a southbound convoy, which however was not found. The 5. SFltl left Cherbourg to attack a westbound convoy. also that convoy was not found, so that the boats entered harbour again without any results. On 02.03.1943 "S 121" and "S 90" joined the flotilla coming from Boulogne.

In the evening of the 02.03.1943 operated the 2. SFltl with four, the 6. and the 4. SFltl with seven boats each against a sousthbound covoy. At 23.30 the Commander 2.SFltl reported that he because of poor visibility had to turn around 9 nm from his attack-position. Thereupon called F.d.S. all flotillas back. In the turn about, "S 78"rammed the boat before him, "S 117". Both boats had to go to a shipyard for repairs for two months.

During a sortie of the 5. SFltl with "S 90", "S 65", "S 85", "S 68", "S 81" and "S 121" on 04.03.1943 against a convoy the boats had to scuffle with the Polish destroyer escort "Krakowiak" biut did not find the convoy. As mostly the boats were under permanent radar surveillance. On the way back "S 68" and "S 85" run aground and were so seriously damaged that they had to go to Cherbourg for repairs.

In the night 04./05.03.1943 the 4. and the 6. SFltl were directed against a southbound convoy east of Lowestoft. The 2. SFltl were to operate in the sea ares off Great Yarmouth with four boats. At 01.15  "S 70" (Oblt.z.S. Klose) run into a drifting mine. One of the spare-torpedoes exploded adn the boat sank. Five men (MaschObMt. Gerhard Wille, MaschObGef. Günter Ullrich, MaschGefr. Konrad Wahl, MaschGefr. Erich Hauke and MechGefr. Rolf Bruder) sank with the boat, the remainder of the crew could be rescued by "S 29" among them three seriously and two light wounded. The other boats entered Ijmuiden in the early morning. 

On the way back to Ijmuiden one pair of the 6. Fltl came into daylight and was attacked by British Spitfires in two waves. "S 74" took serious damages, "S 75" burned out and had to be blown up. 14 killed in action, eight seriously and seven slightly wounded men were to be mourned. Own fighter protection was not available although requested. Also in the following time there were no enemy contact reports by the Luftwaffe. "S 74" requested assistance by tugs and reported that the waterlevel in the boat was increasing. Therupon the Commander 6. SFltl left harbour with three boats. "S 75" was already sunken, killed in action were ObMasch. Kurt Schlüter, ObMt. Günther, MaschObMt. Richter, MaschMt. Peters und MachMt. Träger, MatrObGefr. Glas, MatrObGefr. Moll, MatrObGefr. Schade, FkObGefr. Beck, MechObGefr. Glas, MatrGefr. Zimmermann and MaschGefr. Frohloff. 13 men were rescued among them four seriously and thre lightly wounded and the commanding officer, Oblt.z.S. Wolfgang Hörning. On "S 74" were killed in action the commanding officer, Kptlt. Herbert Witt, MechObGefr. Höller und MatrGefr. Birk. Four men were seriously and four men were lightly wounded.

After these losses the westflotillas had available 17 boats clear for action. Damaged or otherwise aKB were 20 boats. The 4. SFltl had to take a big personnel-bleeding in March 1943. On 01.03. KorvKpt. Lützow without any S-boat-experience took over the flotilla, the most expirienced COs Kptlt. Götz Frhr. von Mirbach ("S 48") became Commander of the new 9. SFltl on 15.03. and Kptlt. Hans-Jürgen Meyer became Commadner 11. SFltl. (Italian MAS-boats) in the Black Sea.

On 07.03.1943 the three Holland-Flotillas left harbour to attack a southbound convoy reported north of Cromer. The assault resulted without success. One pair of the 6. SFltl were pushed away by "MGB 20" and "MGB 21" together with destroyer "Mackay". During the hunt for the S-boats develloping "S 119" and his pair-guide "S 114" collided, whereby "S 119" was damaged so seriously that it had to be given up after all crew had been rescued by  "S 114".

On 09.03.1943 the 5. SFltl transferred to Cherbourg. Thereby collided "S 81" and "S 90" and suffered serious damages. When the flotilla secured in SBB Cherbourg it had no intact boat available.

Because of the light nights with full-moon the boat stayed in harbbour the next days.

On 07./08.03.1943 the so called tactical variant "FuMB-Lauer" (Radar lurking) was executed for the first time. The 2. and the 6. SFltl were to carry out the normal "Stichansatz" upon availability of an enemy contact report and the 4. SFltl was to lurk remote from the convoy route and only attack upon availablity of FuMB-detection (Radar) by the boats equipped with radar. Because of a move of the convoy routes it only came to an attack by the 6. SFltl. It was, however, pushed away by escorting destroyers. During the chasing of the S-Boats it came to a collission of boats "S 119" and "S 114", by which "S 119" was so severely damaged that it had to be abandoned, after the entire crew had been saved by "S 114".

 On 13.03.1943 Gruppe West (Group West) ordered following the suggestion of F.d.S., the division of all ready for action boats in three groups equally strong, in order to be prepared for an imminent invasion. 

In the following night the 2. SFltl with "S 92", "S 76",m "S 29", "S 86" and "S 83" carried out a mining operation north of Cromer without any interference during which 26 UMB were laid. On this barrier sank on 14.03.1943 the British trawler "Morovia" (306 BRT). 28 men of the crew were rescued. On 19.03. sank on this barrier the British Freighter "Glendalough" (869 BRT).

The 4. SFltl transferred to Boulogne on 14.03.1943, followed by a pair of the 6. SFltl and "S 87". The other pair of the 6. SFltl transferred on to Cherbourg next day.

After "S 73", "S 78", "S 124", "S 125", "S 126" and "S 134" hab been sold to Spain F.d.S. drew attention to the castrophal situation the S-boat-force was in in the Channel area and requested transfer of the 8. SFltl back into the battlefield. 

On thh same day the torpedo-replenishment ship "Anna Rehder" sailed into the Tender "Carl Peters" laying at the pier with two S-boats alongside. O.B.d.M. wanted to transfer the boats to the Mediterranean but the Leader thought their presence in Northern Norway to be essential, therefore, they stayed there.

On the 24.03. a alarm-signal was arriving F.d.S. which sat the boats in a immediate readiness because of a bigger number of craft closing the coast which was cancelled when it became clear that it were aircraft. 

In the evening of the same day "S 110", "S 84" and " 122" transferred from Hoek van Holland to Ostende. Together with "S 112" they sailed on to Boulogne.

For the night 28./29.03.1943 a common attack by the 4. SFltl with "S 48", "S 88", "S 122", "S 110", "S 87" and "S 63" from Hoek van Holland and the 6. SFltl with "S 92", "S 29", "S 83", "S 86", "S 91", "S 94" and "S 89" fom Ijmuiden on  convoy FS.1074 was planned. The 4. SFltl were hunted several times by destroyers "Windsor" and "Blencathra" and broke off the operation. Before arrival at the attack position one group of the 2. SFltl bumped into two MGBs. A dog fight at short distance develloped, "MGB 333" rammed the already seriously damaged "S 29" . All the manning of the bridge besides of Seaman No. 1, BtsmMt. Josef Ziegelmeier, fell aut. The CO (OLt zS  Lemm) and six men were killed in action (MaschObMt. Rudolf Leandrin, StrmMt. X., MaschMt. Hans Litz, MechObGefr. Lothar Scheibe, MatrGefr. Alois Müller, FkGefr. Heinz Hinrichs), besides of that there were four severely wounded. Only towards morning the boat, the radio equipment of which was unserviceable, returning slowly under command of BtsmMt. Ziegelmeier was found by the other boats. Since own air support was not available the boat  was blown up.  BtsmMt. Ziegelmeier was decorated with Deutsche Kreuz in Gold (German Cross in Gold).

On 26.03.1943 the 2. SFltl with boats "S 29", "S 86", "S 89", "S 92" and "S 94" transitteded from Ostende to Ijmuiden.

For the night 28./29.03.1943 a joint attack againt a convoy was planned. Before arriving at the attack-postion a group af the 2. SFltl run into two MGBs. During the fighting the commanding officer of "S 29" (OLt zS  Lemm) and six men (MaschObMt Rudolf Leandrin, StrmMt X, MaschMt Hans Litz, MechObGefr, Lothar Scheibe, MatrGefr Alois Müller, FkGefr Heinz Hinrichs) were killed in action, there were also four men seriously wounded. Only in the morning the slowly sailing boat commanded by the Seaman No. 1 (BtsmMaat. Josef Ziegelmeier) was found by the other boats. At the same time the message was received directing the boats to return to harbour because of possible MGB-attacks. Since own fighter-support was not available due to the bad weather the boat was scuttled. BtsmMaat. Ziegelmeier was decorated with Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (German Cross in Gold).  

In the night to the 04.04.1943 the 5. SFltl with "S 90", "S 84", "S 116", "S 112", "S 65", "S 81" and "S 121" left Cherbourg to mine an area west of Eddystone with 14 LMF. Since the boats had been detected by radar, a convoy which was to pass the area was stopped. Against morning the flotilla entered St. Peter Port.

During the next night the flotilla was to attack convoy "Cloak" which had been reported by air-recconnaissance west of Needles Point. "S 65" had to return because of engine-damage, the other boats did not find the convoy. They were taken under fire without detecting the opponent. Towards morning the boats ntered Cherbourg again.

While the 5. SFltl performed these actions the flotillas based in the Netherlands stayed in harbours at winds of up to 10 Bf.

In the night 09./10.04.1943 the 5. SFltl with "S 90", "S 121", "S 112", "S 65", "S 116", "S 82", "S 81" and "S 84 performed a sortie, again "S 65" had engineproblems so that it was dismissed together with "S 84". Two Swordfishes flew over the unit which stopped in order not to give away its presence by the waves produced. Because of these delays F.d.S. called the flotilla back. 

On the 11.04.1943 the flotilla operated again against a convoy which hab been reported by the recconnaisssance between Eddistone Rock and Start Point, again without sighting of the convoy. "S 90" fired on a guard but missed.

In the evening of the 13.04.1943 a convoy of 13 freighters, two tankers, to destroyers and four guards was reported at Lyme Bay. The flotilla left harbour, "S 84" was dismissed with engine problems. The pairs "S 81"/"S 82", "S 90"/"S 121", "S 112"/"S 65" detected convoy PW.323, destroyers escort "Glaisdale" and "Eskdale", manned by Norwegians, three British and two Norwegian trawlers. "S 121" (Oblt.z.S. Klocke) sank the British freighter "Stanlake" ( 1742 BRT), "S 82" (Oblt.z.S. Dietrich) reported the sinking of of a freighter of 4000 BRT, the sinking of a destroyer by "S 90" could not be confirmed. "S 65" (Oblt.z.S. Swoboda) and "S 112" (Kptlt. Müller) succeeded in sinking destroyer "Eskdale" with one torpedo each. 

In te same night the 2. and theie 4. SFltl with a total of 15 boats could carry out a common minelaying action which had been postponed several times. In the course therof the 4. SFltl could sink the British trawler "Adonis". In the fight "S 83" got a 40mm-hit.  

On 14./15.04.1943 the flotillas carried out a common mining operation once more during which the 4. SFltl could sink a guard. 

Thereafter the light nights did no longer permit offensive operations from the bases in the Netherlands. The F.d.S. had the 2. SFltl to transfer to Ostende on 30.04.1943 and the 4. and 6. SFltl to St. Boulogne. 

On 01.05.1943 the 4. and the 6. SFltl mined an area east of Basurelle-Bank in order to close a gap in a German defensiv barrier. 

Until 05.05.1943 bad weather dominated again. In the eving the 2., 4. and 6. SFltl could transit from Ostende resp. Boulogne to Cherbourg while the 5. SFltl with six boats laid 32 mines off St. Catherine's Point. All boats returned to Cherbourg in the early morning.

In teh following time the weather did not permit any S-boat-operations, also when on the 13.05.1943 convoy "Range" was detected by radio-surveillance no action was possible.

On 21.05.1943 F.d.S. transferred his staff to Wimereux, in order to co-ordinate the planned actions from there. However, they were made impossible by the weather.

Not before the 24.05.1943 all four flotillas with a total of 19 boats could perform a common mine-operation. But again the enemy detected the boats and had a convoy to sail into Lyme Bay. Three destroyers from Porthmouth searched for the boats in vain. The 5. SFltl was attacked by aircraft on their way back but was without damage.

In the night to 29.05.1943 another mining-operation of the four flotillas with again 19 boats turned out similarly. In fights boats "S 65", "S 82" and "S 116" got light hits without without breakdowns. The 4. SFltl was attacked by aircraft and taken under fire by coastal artillery. In early morning all boats entered Cherbourg. The boats observed that there had been an exchange of fire  between British destroyers and MGBs.

In the night  to 31.05.1943 the four flotillas with 19 boats could lay 26 UMB and 48 LMF east of Berry Head and east of Start Point. On the German side the impression arose that  the British could measure up the mining-action precisely and that sweeping action was started immediately after the mining.

on 12.06.1943 the 5. SFltl with "S 81", "S 82", "S 65"", "S 112", "S 90" and "S 121" plu three boats of the 4. SFltl laid 26 UMB east of Berry Head.  

 In toto were until this point in time mining-actions with 321 mines and 84 anti-sweeping devices had been performed, which made the British bussy for some time. Loss of ships on these barriers did not occur.

Thereafter the 2. and the 6. SFltl transferred back to Ijmuiden via Ostende, in order to operate from there againsst the Thames estuary, the 4. SFltl stayed at St. Peter Port, the 5. SFltl at Cherbourg, that was how the stronger defences in the Channel were to be broken up.

On 17.06.1943 "S 80" and "S 86" were attacked surprisingly by an aircraft with a bomb and aircraft-weapon off the harbourentrance of Ostende. Neither the lookouts nor the FuMB-equipment had given a warning because the equipment was unserviceable. There were no damages resulting to the boats.

On the march from Boulogne to Hook van Holland on the 20.06.1943 "S 90" was also attacked from the air. The commanding officer, Oblt.z.S. Stohwasser, and seven men were wounded. To engine fell out and the boat made water.

The 4. SFltl with "S 120", "S 63", "S 117" and "S 48" had stayed at St. Peter Port and performed a diversionary action in the night to the 27.06. while the 5. SFltl with "S 81", "S 116", "S 112", "S 65" and "S 121" laid 26 UMB off Portland Bil. In the night to the 30.06. the 4. SFltl laid 22 UMB east of Start.

During the first half of July no S-boat actions were carried out because of the long and light nights, strong winds and BRitish minebarriers in front of Ostende and St. Peter Port. On 15.07. dominated fresh winds in the Channel and strong winds in the eastern end from southwest to west.

Not before the 17.07. the mine-situation had cleared so far that "S 117" and "S 63" could transfer from St. Peter Port to Cherbourg and on the next day "S 84" and "S 121"  of the 5. as well as "S 63" of the 4. SFltl to St. Peter Port.

On 22.07.1943 F.d.S. received a message from SKl that it had to be calculated with enemy landings in the Channel area with main emphasis at the coast of Dunkirk. Therupon a corresponding sea area was systematicly searched by the 2. SFltl and 6. SFltl with "S 39", "S 74", "S 86" and "S 80" on 23.07. without recognizing according ship-trafic. 

  In the night to 25.07.1943 boats "S 77" (Oblt.z.S. Josef Ludwig ) and "S 68" wanted to transit from Boulogne to Ostende. North of Dunkirk they were attacked by British MGBs. In the dogfight both MGs on "S 77" became unserviceable and a main-enginge fell out. A torpedo exploded and the boat burned and made much water. Since it was not to keep, the boat was scuttled. After the scuttling four men (MaschMt. Walter Jörgensen, FkObGefr. Werner Herrde, MaschObGefr. Ernst Rühmann und MatrObGefr. Karl Mauderer) were rescued by the British, 12 men in a rubber boat in th next morning. Killed in actin were:The commanding officer, Oblt.z.S. Josef Ludwig, BtsmMt . Josef Ziegelmeier, MaschMt. Fritz Kraatz, FkObGefr. D., MatrGefr. Werner Scheibe, MaschGefr. Fritz Winkler und five other soldiers. 

The pair-guide, commanding officer of "S 68" (Oblt.z.S. Helmuth Moritzen), had without taking part in the fighting and without transmitting an enemy-contact-report continued his voyage. Assistence of the boats laying in readiness at Ostende was therefore not possible. Replacement and court martial for the commanding officer were the consequences. 

Boats of the 4. SFltl leaving SBB Rotterdam - Picture: Archives Förderverein 

During a bomb attack against Kiel on 25.07.1943 two boats belonging to the 8. SFltl, "S 44" (Oblt.z.S. Joachim Quistorp) and "S 66" (Oblt.z.S. Horst Schuur), were destroyed. Thereafter the flotilla only had three boats available.

After a phase of thick fog it was only on 31.07.1943 that four boats could search for the ominous red-and-white buoys, of which prisoners had reported. The search was without result.

In another bomb attack against Kiel by the USAF in the morning of the 29.07.1943 boats "S 135" and "S 137" only commissioned on 06.07.1943 were heavily damaged in the Kriegsmarine Shipyard. "S 137" was tugged to Lürssen, where it was found out, that a repair would not pay out, therefor the boat was broken up.

On the march from Hoek van Holland to Boulogne "S 88" run into a mine on 27.07.1943 but could be towed in to Dunkirk. n.

During the night 03./04.08.1943 the boats of the 2. ("S 80", "S 86", "S 83", "S 94" and "S 89") and 6. SFltl ("S 39" and"S 74") succeeded in a fast attack (Opration "Schützenfest") against a patrol reported off Orfordness to sink the trawler "Red Gauntlet" by "S 86" (Oblt.z.S. Hans-Joachim Wrampe).

In the night 07./08.08.1943 the 4. SFltl ("S 88", m"S 110", "S 117", "S 120") and the 5. SFltl ("S 84", "S 121", "S 136") transitted from St. Peter Port to Brest and on 11.08.1943 to L’Abervrach. During airattacks by fighters and fighterbombers outside the harbour on 11.08.1943 "S 121" sank. Killed in action were: The commanding officer Oblt.z.S. Klocke, MaschObMt N., StrmMt Pries, MatrObGefr Dobryzew, MatrObGefr F., MatrObGefr Rogosen, FkObGefr Lübbert, FkObGefr Maste, FkObGefr X., MechObGefr Pachur, MaschObGefr Schiffel, MaschObGefr Störk). 

On "S 110" the Flotilla-commander 4. SFltl (KKpt. Lützow) and the commanding officer (Obltl.z.S. Graser) were lightly wounded. During a second attack "S 117" took hits in the forecastle and in the engine room, one man was killed in action, three men were wounded. One attacker was shot down by the boat's artillelry. All boats besides of "S 110" were aut of war-readiness (aKB). That caused that these two flotillas did not perform any actions in the following weeks. 

On 16.08.1943 came a new - this time from ObWest - report about an imminent Allied landing.  F.d.S. ordered for his boats immediate readyness, it was ordered in case of urgent need to fall back upon the boats sold to Spain, which were on transit to Bordeaux.

In the meantime it had proven that two of the boats damaged on 11.08.1943 had to go back to a German shipyard for repairs.

From 24.08. until 01.09.1943 "S 100", "S 138" and "S 140" transitted from Hook van Holland to Cherbourg joining the 5. SFltl. 

In the night to 25.08.1943 the 2. SFltl with "S 92", "S 86", "S 80", "S 83", "S 94" and "S 89" performed a distraction-sortie for a mining operation by 2., 8. and 10. R-Fltl at buoy V in the area between Calais and Ramsgate. 

On 27.08.1943 a mining action ("Leimrute") had to be postponed because of the weather. Also for the remainder of the month the weaqther did not permit any S-boat-actions.

  On 30.08.1943 the staff of F.d.S. moved its commandpost from Wimereux to Scheveningen.

In September the flotillas were filled up again, now all boats had an armoured bridge and the 4-cm-gun had been installed at large scale. The boats of the 5. SFltl had got the new MB 511 engines with 2.500 PS, permitting a march speed of 35 knots. 

On 01.09.1943 operation "Leimrute" finally could be executed. 13 boats of the 6. and the 2. SFltl laid 70 UMB in a British barrier. The 2. SFltl had to lay its mines at a speed of 20 knots, the last ones at 30 knots, since British MGBs were closing them. 

On 02.09.1943 sortied nine boats of teh 4. and the 5, SFltl against Lyme Bay whithout result. On the following day four boats of the 6. SFltl performed close support for "T 26", which had come into a net barrier and performed close support for a mining operation of  "T 26'" and "T 27" east of Basurelle-Bank in the following night. In the evening the 4. and the 5. SFltl advanced against a convoy of five freighters and three guards off the British southern coast, which, however, they did not find. On their way back they were taken under fire by a destroyer and were under continuous air attacks. The returned to harbour undamaged.

On 04.09.1943 the 6. Sfltl operated with six boats,  "S 114" had been released due to enginedamage, from Boulogne into the narrow straits of the channel against target obtained by recconnaissance, however, no targets came in sight and the advance went into empty space.

On 05.09.1943 the 2. SFltl with "S 92","S 83", "S 94","S 89", "S 98", "S 80" and "S 86" comming back from a surveilance were attacked by bombers and a group of MGBs. "S 94" had to be declared aKB and transferred together with "S 80" to Ostende. On the march the boats were again attacked by aircraft but suffered no damaged. An advance of the 6. SFltl with four boats against four destroyers detected had to be cancelled because of the high seastate.

 In the night to the 07.09.1943 the 5. SFltl with "S 84", "S 100", "S 136", "S 138" "S 140" and the 4. SFltl with "S 48", "S 63", "S 110", and "S 117" transferred from St. Peter Port to Cherbourg rsp. to Le Havre. Also on this march the boats were attacked by British aircraft, however, without taking damages. 

The 2., 4., 6., and 8. SFltl were transferred to the Hoofden-bases for a mining offensive planned for 20. 09.1943.

Since the nights became longer, the 2. and the 6. SFltl transferred to Ijmuiden, the 4. SFltl (KKpt Lützow) went to Rotterdam and was reinforced there from the 12.09.1943 by the newly formed 8. SFltl . The 5. SFltl remained at Cherbourg. 

The 8. SFltl (KKpt Zymalkowski) had in the meantime ended the time in shipyards and boats "S 68", "S 69," and "S 127" were on th march from Kiel to the west. "S 64" and "S 93" were following shortly after.

Due to the weather all S-boat-actions were resting between 13. and 16.09., on 19.09.1943 "S 84" and "S 138" performed FuMG-testing off Cherbourg.

The mining-offensive had to be postponed to the 24.09.1943 because of the weather. The operation "Probestück" foresaw the contamination of the area between Ship Wash Sand and Long Sand with LMBs, which in the meantime had been fitted with the new ignition device MA II, providing the capability to switch the mines to safe thus making minesweeping more difficult. The 2. SFlt with "S 62", "S 67", "S 80", "S 83", "S 86", "S 89", "S 92", and "S 98" and 6. SFltl with "S 39", "S 74", "S 76", "S 79", "S 90", "S 91", "S 97", and "S 114" were to mine the convoy-route between Harwich and Colchester, the 4. SFltl with "S 63", "S 87", "S 88", "S 96", "S 99", "S 110", "S 117", and "S 122" and the 8. SFltl with "S 64", "S 65", "S 68", "S 69", "S 93", and "S 127"  the area between Harwich and Orfordness. 

Because of an engine-failure "S 87" had to return. "S 90" was damaged seriously by a collision with "S 39". She had to be supported by "S 39" and"S 74" and was towed in to Hook van Holland.

The 4. SFltl was ripped apart because of their running into a British MGB-group. "S 96" sank the French navy-trawler "Franc Tireur" (314 BRT) and collided in the fighting with British MGBs with "ML 145" (73 t), which was so badly damaged that she sank. "S 96" was also so badly damaged that it had to be scuttled. On "S 96" (Olt.z.S.  Sander) was killed in action: OLtzS Wilhelm Ritter von Georg (CO-trainee), ObStmMt. Jost, FkMt. Heinrich Uhlmann, MatrHptGefr. Hermann Berg, MatrObGefr. Engelbrecht Well, MatrObGefr. Otto Lehr, MatrObGefr. Heinrich Lords, MatrObGefr. Bruno Mauk, MatrObGefr. Ludwig Hartmann, FkObGefr. Hubert Jansen, MaschObGef. Alfons Albert, Maschgefr. Heinz Sannow. 16 men of the crew became prisoners of war.

"S 68" got a hit by artillery which caused damage to both outer engines. "S 39" had an engine-failure and transitted back to Ijmuiden accompanied by  "S 74". When mooring at   Ijmuiden "S 79" lost the starboard-propeller, so that she was aKB.

 The minebarriers laid had no effects since the laying boats had been under radar-coverage continuously.   

The first torpedo operation of the 2., 4., 6., and 8. SFltl took place in the night 24./25.10.1943. The British defence had strengthened continuously such that the employed 32 boats under guidance of F.d.S. who was embarked in the 2. SFltl in the so called "Stichansatz" only could sink the trawler "William Stephen" by "S 74". 

A periode of bad weather keept the boats in harbours. Only the 5. SFltl performed a supporting action for the 5. R-Fltl west of Etables during the night to the 30. 09.1943 from Le Havre. 

On 07./08.10.1943 the mining actions of the S-boats were continued (Operation "Gesellenprüfung"). The bad weather prevented enemy contacts. On some ot the boats inexplicable explosions in the crankshaft-cases happened. At midnight the boats of the 2. SFltl, which had laid to barriers off Hearty Knoll (37 LMB), were detected by a destroyer and taken under fire. The 4. SFltl laid 44 LMB between buoys 54 A and 54 B and returned unmolested to Ijmuiden. The 8. SFltl, which had sailed close support entered Hoek van Holland at 6 o'clock, half an hour later the 6. SFltl entered Ijmuiden, after having laid 40 UMB in the area east of Great Yarmouth.

On 10.10.1943 Luftwaffe discontinued co-operation in the minewarfare since according to an order of the Leader attack on cities had to be carried out with priority. F.d.S. therefore came back to the old procedures to carry out alternating minelaying and torpedo operations. 

In the evening of 23.10.1943 the 5. SFltl performed a close-support-operation for motorship "Münsterland", which was accompanied by the 2. MS-Fltl and the 7.VP-Fltl. In the same evening the 2. SFltl with eight, the 4. SFltl with eight, the 6. SFltl with five and the 8. SFltl with six boats were directing a northbound convoy. F.d.S. himself, embarked in the guide of 2. SFltl, was commanding this operation. The strengthening wind enforced to break off the operation, all boats returned to their bases. Many of the boats had seadamages especially in the radiorooms so that the UK-equipment became unserviceable.

On 24.10.1943 the 5. SFltl transferred from Cherbourg to Boulogne with nine boats, however only seven arrived there since "S 141" had an enginebreakdown and sailed back to Cherbourg accompanied by "S 100". 

The next torpedo action of the 2., 4., 6., and 8. SFltl took place on 24./25.10.1943. The Chief of Staff of F.d.S., Korv.Kapt. Heinrich Erdmann, was in command of this action embarked in "S 94". Target was a northbound convoy from the Thames. At 20.30 F.d.S. transmitted to the boats: "Ungewöhnlich starke MGB- und Seenottätigkeit." ("Unusuable strong MGB- and rescue activities"). All the boats had been detected by British destroyers. One British destroyed replorted sinking of a German S-boat. Thereupon F.d.S. ordered at 02.10 all boats to return. A message by "S 110" was received that "S 88" had been sunk by MGBs in the vecinity of North Hinder.

At 07.30 the 6. SFltl returned without "S 116". The boat had run aground at Egmond, it came only free again at next high water and entered Ijmuiden in the afternoon. The 4. SFltl when returning missed two boats. 

British bombers returning from an action had reported the boats, so that the advancing boats were receiving a hot reception. The convoy was guarded by destroyers "Campbell", "Mackay", and "Worcester" and the destroyers escort "Eglinton" and "Pytchley". Additionally "MgB 609", "MGB 610", "MGB 607", "MGB 603", "MBG 315", and "MGB 327", "ML 250" and ML 517" and also "MTB 439" and MTB 442" joined. 

"S 79" of the 6. SFltl fired to torpedo-misfires, "S 80" got two 40mm-hits and "S 74" (Kptlt. Witt)  sank the trawler "William Stephen" (235 BRT). The boat fished up four survivors. "S 91" reported several 40-mm-hits on a MGB. The 2. SFltl was pushed away by destroyers and the boats were then envolved in dog fights with "MGB 603" and "MGB 607".

The 4. SFltl had marched in formation to 12 nm off the convoy and then slitted up in two groups. The first group, "S 88", "S 62", "S 110", and "S 117" commanded by the Fltl-Commander, Korv.Kapt. Lützow, the second group commanded by Kptlt. Causemann on "S 120". 

The first group came into a battle with destroyer "Worcester". "S 88" (St.Ob.Strm. Räbiger)  was hit seriously an was burning from stem to stern. She sank after an explosion of a torpedo-airtank. That caused the Flotilla-Commander 4. SFltl (KKpt. Lützow), the CO "S 88", ObStrm. Räbiger, BtsmMaat. Hubert Eigner (Seem. Nr.1), MatrObGefr. Franz Kiedrowski, and FkObGefr. Josef N. to be killed in action.

"S 63" (Lt.z.S. Howaldt) was when trying to assist "S 88", although she had been severely hit herself, rammed by"MGB 607" and as a consequence scuttled. Killed in action were MechObGefr. Kurt Oestmann and Matr. Fritz Großmann. "S 65" and "S 69" rescued 23 shipwrecked persons, therof 17 of "S 63". 19 survivors of "S 88" were fished out of the water by "MGB 603" and became prisoners of war.

  "S 87", S 120", "S 120", "S 74", "S 68", "S 69", and "S 127" had to be reported unready for combat (aKB) because of the battle damages suffered. 

From the action narrative of the CO of "MGB 607" it is known that the MGBs were equipped with hydrophones and radar. The tactics employed were to lay stopped and watch the hydrophones. Upon accoustic detection radar was switched on at short range and supported by radar data the S-boats were attacked with all guns that could be brought to bear. The S-boats were surpriced by this sudden attack.

Last leaving harbour of "S 63" - Picture: Collection A. Hullmann

On 28.10.1943 "S 100" and "S 114" of the 5. SFltl were combat ready (KB) again and sailed from Cherbourg to Boulogne. In so doing "S 110" run aground off Antifer in thick fog. Also "S 114" touched the ground lightly and then sailed to Le Havre. The tugs called could not tug "S 110" free, the boat fell toatlly dry ar low water and had tobe camouflaged. The crew disembarked. On the 29.10.1943 again there was thcik fog. Around lunch-time "S 110" could be tugged free. Since she had not taken damages both boats transferred to boulogne on 31.10.1943 where they arrived the next day. 

On 01.11.1943 the 2., the 4., the 6., and the 8. SFltl with 23 boats left harbour for a mining actio, but had to return because of visibility of less than 500 m. Also next day was fog. 

On 03.11.1943 the 5. SFltl bumped into a convoy, "S 141" and "S 112" had the chance to fire but all torpedoes failed. "S 141" got a 40-mm-hit in the engine room but could enter harbour safely. "S 100" sank the British fishing steamer "Foam Quen" (811 BRT) and "S 138" sank the British freighter "Storea" (1967 BRT). "S 136" reported the sinking of the British freighter "Dona Isabel" (1179 BRT). "S 138" and "S 142" reported misses.

The same day three boats of the 4. and the 8. SFltl perrformed sailing exerccises in Hoofden, in the course of it "S 120" rammed the flok-leader's boat "S 110". "S 110" had water damage and the boat was out of action for a longer time.

The 4. SFltl already turned around on their way out to lay mines because of an explosion in the crankshaft-case on "S 48". Because of an explosion in the crankshaft-case on "S 79" of the 6. SFltl the boat on her way out also returned to harbour.

The 6. and the 8. SFltl turned around after laying their mines because of bad weather. Because of an explosion in the crankshaft-case on "S 114" and an engine-failure on "S 116" the 6. SFltl came into the early morning light. It was attacked by six Beaufighters. "S 74" got a hit and had to be scuttled. Besides of one man, MatrObGerf Heinrichs, killed in action all crewmember could be rescued. Two other boats - "S 116" und "S 91" - were lightly damaged. 

During the night 04./05.11.1943 a common minelaying operation of the four flotillas was conducted off Cromer. On the march back the first group of the 2. SFltl bumped into a destroyer patrol and sighted a northbound convoy behind them. The British steamers "Firelight" (2841 BRT) - sunk by "S 80" and "S 89" - and "British Progress" (4581 BRT) - hit by "S 62" -, towed in but never back at sea again - were victims to the torpedo attack in which for the first time the area-search torpedoes FAT were used. 

The second group was taken on by two destroyer groups. In total there were eight destroyers in action because of the falling out of the MGBs, three at the convoy, three on patrol, and two in area search. 

Because of an engine failure the second group of the 6. SFltl came into the morning twilight. It was attacked by six Beaufighters. "S 74" took hits and had to be given up. Besides of three dead bodies all crew could be saved. Two boats - "S 116" and "S 91" - suffered lighter damages.

On 18.11.1943 the first four boats - "S 130", "S 144", "S 145", and "S 146" - of the newly formed 9. SFltl (Kptlt. v. Mirbach) arrived at Rotterdam. The heavy winter gales, however, prevented all further operations for the remainder of the month.

For the remainder of the month bad weather kept the boats in their harbours. 

On 01.12.1943 the 5. SFltl received order to perform a "Stichansatz" with nine boats against a convoy detected by the recconnaissance southeast of Selsey Bill.  "S 139" had an engine failure and had to return. The other boats were molested by British destroyers and could not achieve any hits at the convoy ships. Only "S 142 (Oblt.z.S. Ahrens) could sink trawler "Avanturine" (296 BRT).

An attempt to perform a "Stichansatz" with nine boats against a convoy on 03.12.1943 had to be broken off due to bad weather.

On 15.12.1943 attempted the 2. and the 8. SFltl with 13 boats to perform a mine action, because of upcoming fog the operation had to be broken off.

In the early morning of the 24.12.1943 the 5. SFltl attempted to attack a  convoy. The advancing boats were detected early by enemy radar and were involved in battles with destroyers. "S 140" fired a torpedo against a destroyer in vain. "S 112" was hit several times by artillery. All boats came back to Cherbourg although "S 138" and "S 84" had to struggle with engine failures.

The balance of the year 1943 was unsatisfactorily: There had been sunk 26 ships with a total of 44.585 BRT,  in 1942 it had been 91 ships with a total of 214.885 BRT. This was a direct outcome of the strengthened and co-ordinated defence of the British. The F.d.S. talked of a crisis of the S-Boat-Force.

 The own losses were:  84 killed in action, 15 severely wounded, 19 slightly wounded, 37 POWs, 1 missed in action. 15 boats were lost: "S 104" and "S 70" by mine hits, "S 71", "S 77", "S 63", and "S 88" by/after artillery hits, "S 75", "S 44", "S 66", "S 74", "S 56", and "S 121" by bomb hits, "S 119", "S 29", and "S 96" by collision. In addition there was a loss of six boats by sale to Spain: "S 73", "S 78", "S 124", "S 125", "S 126", and "S 134".