|S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine - Russia 1941|
S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine 1935 - 1945
The War-Zones of the S-Boats
Russia Campaign 1941 (Unternehmen Barbarossa)
The four flotillas planned for Operation Barbarossa (Russlandfeldzug) on 20.06.1941 were composed as follows:
Commander: Kptltl.Heinz Birnbacher
FloIng: Kptlt. (Ing) Hermann Glebsattel
Commander: Korv.Kapt. Rudolf Petersen
FloIng: Kptlt. (Ing) Wilhelm Gördes
Commander: Kptlt. Friedrich Kemnade
FloIng: Kptlt. (Ing) Johannes Martin Döpner
Commander: Kptlt. Bernd Klug
FloIng: Kptlt. (Ing) Otto Sander
Unternehmen Barbarossa minebarriers had to be laid to prevent Soviet units
to break out from the Baltic. The S-boats from 1., 2. and 3. SFltl were to
protect the minelaying vessels. With three boats of the 1. and two boats
of the 2. SFltl the 5. SFltl was formed under command of the commanding
officer "S 28" (Kptlt. Klug).
Only immediate before the commencement of the attack on 22.06.1941 the flotillas took up their starting positions:
1. SFltl (Kptlt. Birnbacher) with six boats and tender „Carl Peters“ in
the Porkala-Cliffs off Helsinki with the mining-ship-group „Kobra“ and
half of the 5. Räumbootsflotilla (5. RFltl).
2. SFltl (KKpt Petersen)with eight boats and tender „Tsingtau“ in the
Abo-skerries off Turku with the mining-ship-group "Nord" and the
other half of the 5. RFltl.
"Tsingtau" and Boats of 2. SFltl in the Abo-Skerries (Picture from: Bürger - Schnellboote vor)
3. SFltl (Kptlt Kemnade) with 10 boats in Pillau with 3 mining-ships and
the 15. Minesweeperflotilla (15. MSFltl). Tender „Adolf Lüderitz“
stayed at Swinemünde because of the air threat.
with Camouflage Painting at Saßnitz - Picture: Archives H. Haag
5. SFltl (Kptlt. Klug) with 5 boats in Gotenhafen (Gdingen) with the 5.
6. SFltl (Kptlt Obermaier) still under training was together with the battleships
„Schlesien“ and „Schleswig-Holstein“ in Korsør to secure Sound
and Belt against Sovjet attempts to break through.
"S 54" in Camouflage-Painting - Picture: Archives Förderverein
CinC of the Torpedoboats (Führer
der Torpedoboote (F.d.T.), Kpt.z.S. Bütow) was to command the operations
of the boats in the Gulf of Finland from Helsinki.
Between the 18. and the 21.06.1941 already the first 1.500 mines and 1.800 explosive buoys had been laid between Memel and Øland.
the 6. SFltl in setting up since 01.03.1941 under Kptlt. Albrecht
Obermeier transferred with boats "S 30" (Oblt.z.S. Gerhard Meyering),
"S 33 (Lt.z.S. Walter Bosse), "S 36" (ObStrm. d.Res. August
Licht), and "S 56" (Lt.z.S. Heinz Nolte) and tender "Tanga"
to Helsingø r/Denmark.
Tender "Tanga" at Helsingør June 1941 - Picture: Archives Förderverein
On 22.06.1941 further barriers were laid. The groups "Kobra" and "Nord" laid two barriers under escort by the 1. and 2. SFltl respectively in the estuary of the Golf of Finland. The other units mined the Moonsound and the Soelosound. The 3. SFltl mined the harbour-entrances of Libau, the 5. SFltl the Irbenstraits. On their way back the Letuvian steamship "Gaisma" (3077 BRT) was sunk by torpedoes of "S 59" and "S 60". The Soviet trawler „Šuka“ (316 BRT) was sunk by explosives. The Estoian steamer „Estonia“ (1181 BRT) was brought up by the 5. SFltl and Lt.z.S. Wrampe was sat over as leader of the boardding team (later she was rebuilt and used as tender). Furthermore the Estoian freighter "Liisa" (782 BRT) was sunk by "S 106", the soviet picket "M-238" was sunk by two torpedoes of "S 44" (Oblt.z.S. Opdenhoff).
"S 103" on 22.06.1941 in Finnland - Picture: Archives Karl Friedrich Künzel
During the same night a Soviet unit (one cruiser and three destroyers) sailed into the barrier „Apolda“ in front of the Golf of Finland. Destroyer „Gnevnyj“ sank, destroyer „Gordyj“ was heavily damaged, the foreship of the cruiser „Maksim Gorkij“ was torn off. The third destroyer only suffered light damages and was able to escort the cruiser into harbour.
On 23.06.1941 the 3. SFltl sailed from Pillau to Memel in order to refuel. In the afternoon "S 59", and"S 31" with "S 45" ( 2. Sfltl) each loaded with six TMB left harbour in order to lay them in the Irbenstraits. The other seven boats performed recconnaissance off the Kurland coast. After one hour "S 58" turned around because of engine failure. The pack "S60" (Oblt.z.S. Wuppermann) and "S 35" (Lt.z.S. Weber) run after an encounter with a Soviet submarine and some torpedo-firings that missed into another Soviet submarine and a Soviet torpedoboat which they fought with their last torpedoes, however, without success. They closed the submarine and fired at it with 20mm-guns dropped depth charges and trew handgranades at it. The submarine offered bitter resistence to them but finally with a further depth charge and a hit of a handgranade on its tower it was made unfit for fighting and was brought to sink. 20 survivors were rescued. On "S 35" there were four wounded men.
On 24.06.1941 13 S-boats of the 2. and the 5. SFltl under command of "S 28" (Kptlt. Klug) closed a gap in the minebarrier off Takhona.
In the following night the 3. SFltl operated against a reported unit between Libau and Windau. But the unit did not come in sight. A sighted freighter was attacked with torpedoes, "S 54" and "S 34" each fired one torpedo, "S 45" and "S 61" each fired two. Four detonations were observed. The Letuvian freighter "Lidazza" was hit. Under violent firing of coastal batteries the boats disappeared.
In the night 26./27.06.1941 the 2. SFltl operated as covering force for the minelaying action "D 2" by minelayer "Brummer" north of Moonsund. On the march back the boats "S 43"/"S 106" were lost in a Soviet minefield north of Dagø. Killed in action on "S 43" were: Strm. (ROA) Herbert Schreiber (Seem. Nr. 1), FkMt. Heinz Slanski, MaschObGefr. Thoms, MatrGefr. Alfred Gonschorowski, MatrGefr. Willi Ringel, MatrGefr. Heinrich Saib, FkGefr. Kurt Amberg, FkGefr. Hans Stanisch, MechGefr. Peter Hasselbrock, MaschGefr. Anton Holland, and MaschGefr. Hans Kraft. Killed in action on "S 106" were: ObMasch. Richard Witte (L.M.), MatrGefr. Werner Reutlinger, MechGefr. Willi Turnike, MaschGefr. Franz Pirker, MaschGefr. Friedrich Schwarze, MaschGefr. Alfred Töpfer, MaschGefr. Jakob Vornfell, and MaschGefr. Ludwig Wagner. Among the five wounded on the two boats was also the commanding officer of "S 43" (Oblt.z.S. Feld).
Boat with Camouflage-Paintig at High Speed in the Baltic Sea - Picture: Archives M. Scheer
On 30.06.1941 Libau was taken, so that the 3. SFltl with tender „Adolf Lüderitz“ was able to move to Libau on 04.07.1941. Since there were no mines to their disposal the boats undertook assault operations against Soviet shipping. On 10.07.1941 during an attack of the 1. SFltl on a Soviet convoy three misfirings happend, during another attack on a second convoy 13 misfirings occurred. The ships could take avoiding courses due to the lightnes. The same happened on 14.07.1941.
the time to follow the
S-boats took over the escorting of own reinforcement
trafic. In so doing the Soviet boat „TKA 71“ was shot on fire, The
ex-Lethuanian Icebreaker „Lacplesis“ and the Soviet destroyer
„Smelyj“ were sunk.
Four S-Boats an Supply-Ship at Riga - Picture: Archives H. Frank
08.08.1941 the mining operations were reassumed. The boats took again the
escort role. On 15.08.1941 the 1.
SFltl sank the Soviet minesweeper „No. 41“. In the minefileds sank the
Soviet transport ship „Vodnik“, der Lithuanian freighter „Utena“,
and the Soviet minesweeper „T-202 Buj“. On 18.06.1941 " S
58" sank the Soviet minesweeper „No.
80“. On 24.08.1941 the Soviet
destroyer "Engels", the minesweepers „T-209 Knecht“ and
„T-214 Bugel“, the Estonian steamship „Eestirand“ (4444 BRT), and
the Soviet navy tanker „No. 11“ (16.809 BRT), sank in a minefiled. The
latter took 600 soldiers from the Reval garrison which had been on their
way to Kronstadt with her to the ground of the sea.
S-Boat at HighSpeed in the Baltic - Picture from: Bürger - Schnellboote vor
27.08.1941 Kptlt. Birnbacher gave over command of the 1. SFltl to the
commanding officer of "S 60", Oblt.z.S. Wuppermann, in order to
prepare the ordered transfer of the flotilla to the Black Sea at Swinemünde.
the night 27./ 28.08.1941 the
Soviets evacuated Reval. The ships run into the minefileds and suffered
harsh losses. Also contributed the Luftwaffe to the decimation of the
ships. Five destroyers, to patrol-boats, two submarines, three
minesweepers, some tugs and smaller vessels sank and also the training
vessel „Leningradsovet“, the maintenace ship „ Serp i Molot“
as well as 24 transport ships (44.093 BRT). Heavily damaged were
flotillacommandship „Minsk“ as well as two destroyers.
3. SFltl took part in the capturing of the Baltic islands. The 2. and the
3. SFltl carried out escort operations for the so called
„Baltenflotte“, which was gathered to prevent the Soviet Baltic Fleet
from breaking through from Kronstadt to Sweden.
S-boat alongside "Carl Peters" at Turku - Picture: Archives Ola Erlandsson
S-Boats at Turku - Picture: Archives Karl Friedrich Künzel
On 24.09.1941 the 3. SFltl received orders to return to Swinemünde, were it arrived on 26.09.1941, to prepare for the transfer to the Mediterranean. The 2. SFltl was dismissed on 01.10.1941 in order to transfer back to the western front after a short overhaul period.Only the 1. SFltl remained in Finland, to escort convoys and to carry out assaults against the Soviet traffic from and to Hangö. Also after evacuation of Hangö on the 26.10.1941 the flotilla stayed in Finland, to cover minelaying operations. Only when icing of the Golf of Finland threatened the flotilla was dismissed and returned home on 24.11.1941 because bad weather did not permit an earlier transfer.
Pre-Action Briefing of the 1. SFltl in a Finnish Fjord - Picture from: Bürger - Schnellboote vor
Tender "Adolf Lüderitz" and four boats of the 3. SFltl in Finnland 1941 - Picture: Archives E. Skjold