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 S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine 1935 - 1945

War Zones of the S-Boats

English Channel 1944

Since the British escorts had increased not only in numbers but also in qualification and one prerequisit - air-reconnaissance - was not given, the F.d.S. (FKpt. Petersen) had to rely on electronic support means (Funkaufklärung) almost exclusively in order to operate his boats.

In the west the 2., 4., 5., 6., 8., and 9. SFltl with a total of 46 ready-for-action boats attacked the British convoys along the English south and east coasts from the bases Ijmuiden, Rotterdam, and Cherbourg. 

During the first week of January bad weather kept the boats in their harbours. During the night 05./06.01.1944 the 5. SFltl conducted a torpedo attack against a reported convoy. "S 100" fired at a steamer of estimated 3000 BRT and observed a detonation, "S 143" sank an auxiliary of 3000 BRT,  "S 142" sank a freighter of 2000 BRT, "S 138" sank the trawler "Wallasea". "S 141" reported the sinking of a freighter of 1500 BRT and of a tanker of 3000 BRT. It was the British freighter "Underwood" (1990 BRT). In total 23 torpedoes were fired most of which went wrong. Besides of the "Underwood" were sunk: The Swedish freighter "Solstad" (1408 BRT) by "S 143" and the British motorship "Polperro" (403 BRT) by "S 136"/"S 84".

On 20./21. 01.1944 the first operation of the flotillas stationed in 
Holland was conducted after a long period of bad weather. A combined minelaying and torpedo operation had been p
lanned . While the 4. and 9. SFltl based at Rotterdam could lay their mines as planned the three flotillas based at Ijmuiden broke off their operation due to fog.

Some of the operations carried out in spite of the bad weather in January were without great success. On 20.01.1944 the returning boats were attacked by Beaufighters, on "S 142" one man was slightly wounded. During the night 30./31.01.1944 "S 142" sank the British trawler "Pine" and the trawler "Emerald" (806 BRT).

Early February the 9. SFltl transferred from Vlissingen to Dunkerque, were it arrived on 13.02.1944 to co-operate from there with the 5. SFltl. On 04.02.1944 the SKL ordered the transfer of one SFltl to the Finnish Bay. However, the 6. SFltl could not leave harbour earlier than 06.02.1944 and arrived at Kiel one evening later. "S 128" and "S 135" stayed at Rotterdam where they were retrofitted with 40-mm guns.

The new 40-mm-gun - Picture: PK-Foto

Because of the weather and the light moon-nights further operations were not conducted any earlier than mid February 1944. In spite of the strong enemy defences the F.d.S. saw still better chances for success along the English eastcoast. Because of a possible landing of the Allies on the Iberian peninsula he had let the harbours of  Bordeaux, Arcachon, Bayonne, and Saint-Jean-de-Luz be prepared as possible bases. A transfer to these harbours was however never performed. The  2. and 8. SFltl stayed at Ijmuiden and the 4. SFltl at Rotterdam. Since 4. SFltl was retrofitted with the new charged engines only 12 ready-for-action boats were available.

On 12./13.02.1944 the 12 boats layed mines on the northern British convoy routes, during this action "S 99" and "S 65" of the 8. SFltl could sink the British trawler "Cap D'Antifer". 

On 14./15.02.1944 the mining operation was repeated, but this time only by the 2. SFltl. The 8. SFltl as a battle group was to get into fights with the MGBs with the aim to capture one of the boats, in order to obtainr material that could give information about the British convoy routes. Close to Ijmuiden the returning boats of the 2. SFltl bumped into the three MTB-groups that had been lurking there. The flares fired by the pickets rendered advantages to the German boats during the gun-fights but the MTBs could disappear in spite of having taken many hits. "S 89" as leading boat was so severely damaged that it had to be towed in, one man had been severely wounded; "S 98" was not ready for action too, she had one man killed in action. Also the 8. SFltl found a MGB-group, could achieve many hits but not conquer a boat. "S 99" and "S 133" were also damaged, on "S 133" one man was killed in action. 

On 22.02.1944 in a fight with a British destroyer "S 128" and "S 94" collided. Both boats had to be given up, the crews were taken up by other boats. During the night 24./25.02.1944 the 8. SFltl sank the British freighter "Philipp M." (2085 BRT).  On 28.02.1944 "S 142" and "S 136" collided and had to be reported not-ready-for-action. 

Bad visibility in the west  in almost all operations prevented  the detection of convoys. Storm kept the boats in the harbours for days. On 11.03.1944 the 5. and the 9. SFltl with 11 boats transferred to Brest. The sting attacks ("Stichansätze") went into empty sea areas because of lack of air surveillance. On the march back after a ineffective operation on 20.03.1944 "S 146" and "S 84 collided and shortly thereafter "S 143" and "S 139" collided also. Another operation of the 5. and the 9. SFltl on 22.03.1944 was broken off because of decreasing visibility.

In Holland the situation was even worse. Bad visibility and storm prevented all operations until end of March. During the night 23./24.03.1944 the 2. SFltl had left the harbour of  Ijmuiden with six, the  4. SFltl the harbour of Hoek van Holland with three, and the 8. SFltl the harbour of Ijmuiden with seven boats, in order to operate against a southbound convoy. Bad visibility forced them to return. On transit to the homeport "S 65" and "S 85" from the 8. SFltl collided. During the night  25./26.03.1944 the boats were operationg against the enemy again. But as in four other operations the boats were driven off by destroyers or they did not find the convoys. 

The Allied now took more and more the offensive rôle. A total of 385 Marauders (B 26) of the USAF attacked the basis Ijmuiden in several waves on 26.03.1944, without being able to penetrate the S-boat- und the mine-bunkers, but the newly built bunkers and the supply buildings took severe damages. "S 93" and "S 129", which were both outside the bunker, were sunk. In front of the bunker-entrance a lighter sank, so that entering and leaving the bunker could only be performed at high water for a longer period.

During the first week of April there was no S-boat weather, therefore, the boats remained in harbours. On 11.04. "S 168" (Oblt.z.S. Dau), "S 173" (ObStrm. Pape), and "S 177" (Lt.z.S. Boseniuk) joined as reinforcements for the 9., 4. and 2. SFltl.

On 12.04.1944 the 5. SFltl performed an ineffective operation off Portland Bill. On 13.04.1944 the 4. and the 8. SFltl were to lay mines at Smith's Knoll but had to return due to poor visibility.

During the night 18./19.04.1944  the 8. SFltl laid mines. In a fight with MGBs and a British destroyer "S 64" got a direct hit into the starbord torpedo tube and in the double-mounted MG amidships. "S 133" got a hit into the CO's stateroom and a direct hit of the protection shield of the aft gun. On both boats there five men were slightly wounded. In the 5. SFltl, which had also laid mines, one man was killed in action on "S 141" in a fight with British guards, one man was severely wounded. The 9. SFltl could lay its mines without interference.

During the next no results were achieved, the minelying and torpedo operations had to be postponed or abandoned due bad weather. On 22.04.1944 "S 167" from the 5. SFltl took a hit in a fight with British guards. One man was severely and two men were slightly wounded. During a sting attack ("Stichansatz") of the 5. SFltl against a convoy "S 100" (ObStrm. Borkenhagen) succeeded in sinking the Netherlands navy tug "Roode Zee". The boats were taken under fire several times by guards and on "S 138" and "S 136" one man was severely and two men were slightly wounded. The 9. SFltl had a fight with guards, on "S 145" one man was severely and two men were slightly wounded by a 40-mm-hit. On the march back they were attacked by aircraft without suffering any damages.

Maintenance of the new Flak Engine-MaintenanceWartung
Pictures: PK-Fotos

Group West ordered F.d.S. to conduct reconnaissance in the Channel because of an expected landing. In the course of that "S 147" (Lt.z.S. Theenhausen) was lost by a direct artillery-hit on 26.04.1944. 13 men were killed-in-action and three men were wounded, one man was taken POW.

On 27.04.1944 the 5. SFltl with boats "S 136" (Kptlt. Jürgensmeyer), "S 138" (Oblt.z.S. Stohwasser, "S 140" (Oblt.z.S. Goetschke), "S 142" (Oblt.z.S. Ahrens), S 100" (ObStrm. Borkenhagen), and "S 143" (Oblt.z.S. Schmölzer) and the 9. SFltl with  "S 150" (Oblt.z.S. Behr), "S 130" (Oblt.z.S. Rabe), and "S 145" (Oblt.z.S. Schirren) were ordered to attack a convoi which had been reported by own reconaissance. The pair "S 136" - "S 138" bumped into two destroyers one of which was sunk by a common hit of both S-boats in accordance with a report of "S 136" (this sinking is not confirmed by British documents). The pair "S 100" and "S 143" sank a freighter of 1500 BRT and shot a tanker to fire. Out of an escorted American unit which was axidently discovered, the pair "S 150" - "S 130" sank "LST 507" (approx. 4000 ts), "S 150" sank "LST 531" (approx. 3000 ts), "S 145" achieved a torpedo-hit on "LST 289" which, however, could enter harbour on own power. 197 American seamen and 441 GIs were killed-in-action. The defence-fire of the guard-ships was so ineffective that all S-boats could enter the harbour undamaged.

During the night 12./13.05.1944 "S 141" (Oblt.z.S. Sobottka) was lost in a fight with guard ships by a direct hit of the French destroyer escort "La Combatante". Six men survived and 20 men were killed-in-action, among them Lt.z.S. Klaus Dönitz, the eldest son af the O.B.d.M.. 

In the following time several minelaying operations were conducted which partly were broken off because of bad weather or enemy contacts. During the night 20.05.1944 "S 87" (Oblt.z.S. Rathenow) was damaged severely in an attack by British Swordfishes and could not be kept floating. Three men were killed-in-action and nine men werde wounded, one man was missed-in-action. 

During the night 23./ 24.05.1944 "S 100" was damaged by bombs while returning to harbour. One seaman was severely wounded.

End of May the 5. and the 9. SFltl were stationed at Cherbourg, the 4. SFltl at Boulogne, the 2. SFltl at Ostend, the 8. SFltl had been transferred back to GErmany to be retrofitted with new engines.

On the 03.06.1944 under cover of 447 fighters 543 four-engined bombers threw 1580 ts bombs on German coastal batteries, bases, and docks in the Pas de Calais. Ressulting in severe damages in the harbours of Boulogne and Calais. The S-boats were laying protected in their bunkers. By a hit to a door of the bunker "S 172" and "S 174" were blocked for a certain time.

On 05.06.1944 the Allied landing in the Normandy took place. Therefore, on 02.06. the first ships of the invasion fleet had left the distant English harbours. Bad weather was the reason for the units at sea to be turned around or stopped, but on 05.06.1944 at 04.15 local time, with better weather in sight, General Eisenhower gave his final „O.K., we’ll go!“  

More than 4.000 landing-vessels with soldiers and equipment of five infantry divisions, escorted by more than 900 warships, among them six battleships, 23 cruisers, and 105 destroyers, headed towards the French coast. More than 200 minesweepers cleared eight swept channels  through the German minefields. The Coastal Forces screenedd the flanks and laid mines in front of Cherbourg and Le Havre. The Supreme Command West (OK West) as well as the Navy Group Leader West  (Marinegruppenleitung West; Adm Krancke) had not received a forecast of the weather improvement and considered the activities in the Channel to be a fake-landing, in order to distract from a landing at a different place.

Therefore, on orders of the Group West, still mines were laid  in front of beaches suited for a landing between Le Havre and the Scheldt estuary. The S-boats were laying at Cherbourg (5. and 9. SFltl), at Boulogne (4. SFltl), at Oostend (2. SFltl), and at Ijmuiden (8. SFltl). 

The boats of the 5. and the 9. SFltl were ordered on 06.06.1944 at 03.00 local time to advance against the enemy from Cherbourg to the northwest and northeast, they broke off the action at dawn without having sighted anything. The 4. SFltl carried out reconnaissance from Boulogne, reported a destroyer and returned into the bunker in the morning of the 06.06.1944 without further sighting reports.

Not earlier than at 14.00 local time of the invasion day the Group West had gained a better view of the situation. The Allied had made available 1213 units for this invasion, among them seven battleships, 2 monitors, 23 cruisers,  80 fleet destroyers and 25 destroyers escort, 63 frigates and 71 corvettes. Besides of numerous transport vessels 4126 landing vessels were deployed. 

During the night 06./07.06.1944 all boats available in the West were deployed. The 2. SFltl (Korv.Kapt. Opdenhoff) conducted a reconnaissance advance from Ostend  with five boats without sighting targets. The 8. SFltl (Korv.Kapt. Zymalkowski) reconnoited from Ijmuiden with four boats, also without results. The 4. SFltl (Korv.Kapt. Fimmen) left harbour  to carry out reconnaissance with eight boats, it was subject to several air attacks, however, without taking damages. After a short fight with a destroyer the flotilla entered Boulogne harbour. The 5. SFltl (Korv.Kapt. Klug) with its six boats during a battle with British destroyers run into a minefiled and lost "S 139" (Kptlt. Dietrich), 22 men were killed-in-action, four men became POWs among them the CO. The 9.SFltl (Korv.Kapt. v. Mirbach) operated partly together with the 5. SFltl. The 9. SFltl sank "LCI 105", the 5. SFltl sank the British "LCT 875". During a common attack against three big targets "S 140" (Oblt.z.S. Bongertz) took a hit from a mine. Besides of the CO 14 men were killed-in-action, eight men could be rescued. The boat  was lost.

Since at Group West still a big undertaking at a different place wa thought of, it was continued to lay "Blitz-Sperren" during the night 07./08.06.1944. The 8. SFltl stayed at Ijmuiden, the 4. SFltl was sailing from Boulogne to Le Havre in order to fight the invasion fleet, the 2. SFltl was sailing from Ostend to Boulogne.  

During the same night the boats of the 5. and the 9. SFltl coming from the west took advantage of a enemy minefield to fire at a supply unit and the screening forces . The 5. SFltl reported a hit on a cruiser and a destroyer; sunk was the US fleet-destroyer „Meredith“. In fight with MGBs the CO and two men were slightly and three men were severely wounded on "S 84" caused by a direct artillery hit. On "S 142" the middle engine was damaged, "S 138" got a hit under the waterline. The 9. SFltl sank the landing vessels "LCT 376" and "LCT 314". In a battle with MGBs two engines were unserviceable on "S 145", on "S 168" all three. The other four boats sank "LCT 105" and "LCT 875". On "S 130" two men were killed-in-action, on the other boats there were four men were wounded. "S 144", "S 168", and "S 145" had to be reported not-ready-for-action. The 8. SFltl had to stay in harbour in Holland due to bad weather.

S-Boats in the Channel - Picture: PK-Foto

In the morning of the 08.06.1944 there were a total of 19 boats available for action in the Channel: In the 2. SFltl (Boulogne) four, in the 4. SFltl (Le Havre) seven, in the 5. SFltl (Cherbourg) five, in the 9. SFltl (Cherbourg) three boats. Therefore, the 8. SFltl  with four boats was transferred to Ostend.  

During the night 08./09.06.1944 all boats were in action again. The 2. SFltl had to break off its operation because of poor weather conditions. The 8. SFltl carried out reconnaissance but sighted only an aircraft. The 4. SFltl was forced to return to harbour  with its mines on board because of an enemy contact. The 5. and the 9. SFltl could lay their mines as planned in spite of fire from destroyers. The 9. SFltl reported the sinking of two landingships of  4600 BRT each.  On the boats there two men were wounded.

During the night 09./10.06.1944 the boats had the same orders. The 5. and the 9. SFltl, however, were stuck in an escort circle off Cape Barfleur, while the 4. SFltl could lay mines on the convoy route and was involved in fights with destroyers. "S 188" reported a toprdo hit on a ferry of 5000 BRT. "S 172" and "S 187" reported hits on two freighters of 2000 BRT each. "S 190" and "S 180" transfered from Vlissingen to Boulogne with the 8. SFltl. In so doing "S 190" took a mine hit, which caused no harm to her personnel and no leakage. But the boat had to be docked, that is why the unit went to Rotterdam. The 2. SFltl reported the sinking of two freighters of  900 and 1500 BRT respectively and entered the harbour of  Le Havre.

S 188 (Oblt.z.S. Karcher) is checked out for damages after a battle with Canadian corvettes on 10.06.1944 auf Schäden untersucht. The boat was sunk on 14.06.1944 in Le Havre by bombs.

Picture: Archives Volker Groth

Since the supply of torpedoes in Le Havre was not suffcient for two S-flotillas and one T-flotilla, there were only 13 torpedoes available for the next operations of the 2. SFltl. The 4. S-Fltl still had a full load. Therefore, the boats had to sail to Boulogne for torpedo-replenishment.

In the morning of the 10.06.1944 23 B-24 "Liberator"-bombers dropped 67 ts of bombs on the F.d.S.-base at St. Wimereux without hitting the F.d.S.-bunker. 

During the night 10./11.06.1944 the 5. and the 9. SFltl could break through on the supply traffic from the west (Cherbourg). The 5. SFltl sank "MTB 448"in a fight with destroyers and MTBs. "S 136" (Kptlt. Jürgensmeyer) was lost, CO and 18 men were killed-in-action, three men became POWs. The flotilla sailed to support the 9. SFltl off Cape Barfleur and torpedoed the British destroyer "Halsted", which could enter Portsmouth but never came back to sea. The 9. SFltl broke through on a convoy under the coast, all torpedoes went wrong. Shortly thereafter it sank a Phoenix-Caisson (for the construction of artificial harbours off the landing areas "Omaha" and "Gold"), the American tug "Partridge", the British tug "Sesame", and the landingship "LST 538". Off Cherbourg the flotilla was attacked by bombers. "S 130" was damaged severely by fragments and had to be reported not-ready-for-action. The CO and four men were wounded. "S 146" and "S 144" sailed to Le Havre. The 4. SFltl laid mines and then entered Boulogne. The 2. SFltl laid its mines as planned and could close up on the reinforcement traffic. "S 177" (Lt.z.S. Boseniuk) and "S 178" (Oblt.z.S. Braune) sank the ammunition steamer "Dungrange" (621 BRT), the British motorship "Ashanti" (534 BRT) loaded with gasoline barrels, and the freighter "Brackenfield" (657 BRT), which was carrying ammunition and gasoline barrels. The 8. SFltl was attacked twice by aircraft during its reconnessance without suffering any damage.

The Allied reconnaissance, however, reported the mined areas immediately on the basis of intercepted radio transmissions, so that these could be avoided or swept clean. That also applied for later mining operations. Since the other maritime forces (destroyers and submarines) had been destroyed or repulsed, only the S-boats and the T-boats were left to fight against the landing forces.

For the night 11./12. 06.1944 the same operational profile was inforce, however, with support of the 4. Artillery-Bearer-flotilla. The 5. SFltl and the 9. SFltl with a total of six boats attacked a unit of warships and "S 138" (Oblt.z.S. Stohwasser) achieved a hit on the American destroyer "Nelson". The ship could be towed to Portsmouth. The boats "S 146" and "S 144" belonging to the 9. SFltl operated without success from Le Havre.The 8. SFltl again conducted reconnaissance from Ostend with sighting of an enemy vessel. Off Le Havre the 2. SFltl came into a fight with Canadian MTBs and a destroyer escort and "S 181" took a hit on the rear of the bridge. One man was killed in action and one man was wounded. When returning to harbour "S 179" and "S 181" were damaged by a mine detonation in an own "Blitzsperre". The 4. SFltl got into an aircraft attack and later into a fight with destroyers, without suffering damages from both. In a battle with MTBs "S 171" (Kptlt. Wiencke) sank the British "MBG 17" by artillery.

During the night 12./13.06.1944 the flotillas were to attack the supply traffic from the west and the east. The 5. and the 9. SFltl supported by artillery-bearers were involved in a fight with screening forces but did not find the supply traffic which had been called off south of the Isle of Whight during the nights because of the losses encountered previously. "S 138" was hit, one man was wounded, the boat burst to flames but could be kept floating. The boats entered Le Havre. Also the 2. and the 4. SFltl had no chance to attack and returned to Boulogne and Le Havre respectively.  On her way back to harbour "S 169" from the 4. SFltl suffered a minehit but could enter harbour. Since the order by Group West to return to Boulogne and Le Havre respectively was intercepted by the Allies, British fighterbombers were patroling off Boulogne and attacked the returning boats. "S 178" (Oblt.z.S. Braune) suffered a direct hit and sank, CO and 16 men were killed-in-action. All boats took hits. On "S 179" (Oblt.z.S. Neugebauer) all engines became inserviceable and the boat burst in flames. After an attempt by "S 181" (Oblt.z.S. Schlenck) to tow the boat, she sank two nautical miles off Boulogne. 13 men were killed-in-action. "S 189" (Ob.Strm. Sczesny) burst in flames and was sunk during the next attack. 13 men were killed-in-action, eight men could be rescued by "S 181". Besides of the 42 killed-in-action 20 men were wounded.

During the night 13./14.06.1944 the boats were again to attack the landing fleet, the 5. and the 9. SFltl were to sail to Cherbourg afterwards because of the concentration of boats on Le Havre. Wind from northwest with force seven forced the boats of the 4., 5., and 9. SFltl to call off the operation and to return to Le Havre. The radio traffic was intercepted and decifered and the Allied attacked the boats in the evening of the 14.06.1944 by 221 Lancaster-bombera escorted by fighters and Mosquitos. 14 S-boats ("S 84", "S 100",  "S 138", "S 142", "S 143", "S 144", "S 146", "S 150", "S 169", "S 171", "S 172", "S 173", "S 187", "S 188")  and three of the four torpedoboats in harbour were sunk, only "S 167" escaped by leaving harbour. During the raid 18 men were killed-in-actioin, amoung them the Commander of the 5. SFltl (KptLt Johannsen), furthermore there were 25 men wounded amoung them the Commander of the 9. SFltl (KptLt v. Mirbach) and four COs.  

   Kapt z.S. Petersen    499. Bearer of the Oackleaves       KptLt v. Mirbach       500. Bearer of the Oakleaves

During the following night another raid was conducted against Boulogne. While nine minesweepers, to pickets and three minesweeper-tenders sank, the 2. SFltl could leave harbour in time before the S-boat-bunker was penetrated by bombs and thus remained without damages worth mentioning. 

The raids of these two nights had weakened the navy in the Channel considerably, of the 31 S-boats at the outset of the invasion in the four flotillas only 13 remained operational:

Oostend 8. SFltl  3 boats S 83, S127, S 133
Boulogne 2. SFltl 4. SFltl  4 boats 2 boats  S176, S 180, S 181, S 182    S174, S 175
Le Havre 9. SFltl  1 boat S 167
Cherbourg 9. SFltl 3 boats S 130, S 145, S 168

Therefore the boats of the 2. and the 4. SFltl were combined under command of the Commander 2. SFltl and the personnel of the 5. SFltl was sent to the homeland for a new formation. To avoid another concentration on Le Havre and since Boulogne was under continous attack by the Allied airforces, Dieppe was activated as an additional base. The 6. SFltl had been requested for as reinforcement from the Baltic and the 8. SFltl was to be filled up with new boats.

With the few operational boats it was attempted from Cherbourg to penetrate the ring of escorts during the following two nights.  

On 17.06.1944 the 9. SFltl obtained the order to supply the "fortress" Cherbourg, which had been encircled in the meantime, with amunition from St. Malo.

On 18.06.1944 the 2. SFltl with "S 174", "S 175", "S 178", "S 180", "S 181", and "S 190" sailed from Boulogne to Le Havre. During the same night the 9. SFltl with "S 130", "S 145", "S 168", and the defective boat "S 112" sailed from Cherbourg to St. Malo.

During the night 22./23.06.1944 "S 130", "S 145", and "S 168" transported ammunition and 24 army officers to Cherbourg. The 8. SFltl sailed from Ostend to Boulogne and suffered dammages on all boats from bomb fragments, on "S 83" there two men were wounded and the boat had to be docked. The 2. SFltl was underway with mines when it got into a fight with destroyers. "S 190" (Kptlt. Wendler) got several 10,2-cm-hits and had to be given up. The crew could be rescued. Three men were wounded, one man was missed-in-action.

During the night 24./25.06.1944 the 2. SFltl could lay its mines in spite of a fight with two destroyers. "S 175" got a direct 12-cm-hit on the bridge, two men were killed-in-action, one man was wounded. On the way back "S 181" got a 40-mm-hit during a fight with MGBs, by which one man was wounded. "S 130" and "S 168" sailed from St. Malo to Alderney, "S 112" and "S 145" were left behind. The 8. SFltl sailed to Le Havre.

  On 26.06.1944 the 6. SFltl (KptLt Obermaier) with the boats "S 39", "S 76", "S 90", "S 91", "S 114", "S 132", and "S 135" arrived at Ijmuiden. It was transferred to Le Havre in early July.  

In attempting, to break through from Alderney to Dieppe "S 130", "S 145", and "S 168" from the 9. SFltl got into a fight with destroyers during the night 26./27.06.1944. "S 145" (Ob.Strm. Seifert) got a hit in compartments V and VI and sailed back to Alderney with only one engine. The other boats arrived at Dieppe. "S 145" arrived at St. Malo on the 27.06.1944.

During the night 27./28.06.1944 a sortie of the 2. and 8. SFltl into the Seine-bight was without result. During the night 28./ 29.06.1944 the boats of the 2. SFltl laid mines, the 8. SFltl operated as covering force. The action was not observed.

During th night 03./04.07.1944 the 8. SFltl left harbour with three boats to lay mines. Also this action became known by the Allies prematurely so that a group of MGBs was directed against them. They succeeded in shaking off their enemies and to lay their mines after an air attack before they could enter Dieppe unharmed. The 2. SFltl was at sea also, the 1. group came under fire of MGBs by which "S 181" took hits, one man was killed-in-action, one man was wounded. The 2. group laid their mines and then bumped into two Bitish frigates, a salvo with five torpedoes went wrong. But the boats returned unharmed to their bunker at Le Havre. 


Leaving one of the Bunkers along the Channel-Coast - Picture: PK-Foto

During the night 04./05.07.1944 the transfer of "S 112" and "S 145" to Brest succeeded, on their route they rescued 57 men from a burning picket.

During the night 05./06.07.1944 the 6. SFltl sailed from Boulogne to Le Havre. It went through a fight with destroyers and MGBs. When entering harbour the S-boat-bunker was blown-up by an explosion of 41 torpedoes which had been stored there. The boats were unharmed. Seven men lost their lives.

During the night 07./08.07.1944 the 2. and the 9. SFltl were on torpedo operation in the Seine-bight. In a fight with destroyers and MGBs the 2. SFltl obtained a hit on the British frigate "Trollope", which could be sat aground but never came back to sea again.

The weather impeded or prevented S-boat-operations during the next days until mid of Juli 1944. There were some fights with destroyers and MGBs which ended without results worth mentioning. In these days there was one man wounded on "S 168" and one man severely wounded on "S 135". In spite of the arrival of the torpedoes T 5 „Zaunkönig“ no successes were to be noted. The torpedoes were distracted from the destroyers and from other bigger units by the propeller noises of the MTBs and MGBs without hitting the boats even at a depth-setting of 3 m, their speed of 24 knots was insuffient to hit vessels turning away.

S-Boat on Attack-Course - Picture: PK-Foto

Since no results could be noted against the landing fleet F.d.S. started again to attack the convoy traffic south and east of England. Already during the night 26./27.07.1944 the 6. SFltl (Kptlt. Matzen) succeeded off Dungeness to close up to a convoy. "S 97" (Ob.Strm. Waldhausen) and "S 114" (Oblt.z.S. Hemmer) sank the freighters "Fort Perrot" (7171 BRT) and "Empire Beatrice" ( 7046 BRT) with two FAT. "S 90" and "S 91" fired several torpedoes at destroyers without obtaining hits. In a fight with MGBs "S 90" got a hit in a fuel tank. One man was severely and four men were slightly wounded.

During the same night the 2. SFltl conducted a sortie in the Seine-bight against the landing units. It bumbed into the escorts and after a ramming with "MTB 430" in a fight with British MTBs and a British frigate "S 182" had to be scuttled. 17 men became POWs, eight men were killed-in-action among them the CO.  "MTB 412" rammed the wreck of "MTB 430" and had also to be given up.

During the night 30./31.07.1944 the 6. SFltl with three boats left Dieppe for a "Stichansatz" against an eastbound convoy. "S 97" (Ob.Strm. Waldhausen), "S 114" (Kptlt. Hemmer), and "S 91" (Kptlt. Nolte) fired six FAT on the convoy and reported four hits on three freighters at 3000 to 4000 BRT each. They sank the British freighter "Samwake" (7219 BRT) and the British freighters "Fort Dearborn" (7160 BRT), "Fort Kaskaskia" (7187 BRT), and "Ocean Courier" (7178 BRT).

During the night 31.07./01.08. 1944 the boats of the 2. and the 6. SFltl attacked British destroyers and MTBs. All "Zaunkönigs" fired detonated prematurely. In a fight with British MTBs "S 132" got a hit into the starboard-engine, three men were wounded. 

 During the same night 53 Lancaster-bombers and 5 Mosquitos conducted a raid against the S-boats at Le Havre, by which three boats outside the bunker were damaged, "S 132" was out of action for 14 days. One man was killed-in-action. 

On 01.08.1944 from the four flotillas operating in the west still 22 boats were available, of which 10 were ready-for-action. During the night  01./02.08.1944 the 1. group of the 6. SFltl sailed from Dieppe to Le Havre. The planned co-ordinated attack of small fighting assets and S-boats for the next day was hindered by a raid of 54 Lancaster-bombers. "S 39" and "S 114" were sunk in the harbour, "S 91" and "S 97" were damaged.  

The operation of small fighting assets during the night 02./03.08.1944 took place anyhow. The 2. SFltl with "S 176", "S 180" , "S 174", and "S 181" conducted a sortie during which had three encounters with enemy MGBs and a bigger unit as result. "S 180" got hits after the two outer engines wnet unserviceable and "S 176" and "S 174" collided during avoiding movements. On "S 176" the forecastle above the waterline was crushed. On "S 181" a shell had penetrated the "scull-bridge" (Panzerkalotte). However, all boats could enter harbour. Three slightly and four severely wounded men (among them the CO "S 180") were delivered ashore.

During the same night the boats "S 195" (Lt.z.S. Kehder), "S 196" (Oblt.z.S. Rathenow), and "S 197" (Lt.z.S. Fanger) entered Ijmuiden as reinforcement for the 8. SFltl.

During the nights 04./05.08. and 05./06.08.1944 "Dackel"-operations were conducted by the 2. and the 6. SFltl. All shots went wrong. During this operation "S 97" had a torpedo-hit  in the forecastle. The torpedo did not detonate, so that all boats could enter harbour.

On 09.08.1944 the 2. SFltl left harbour with two boats. It was involved in a fight with destroyers. After missfires it was attacked by fighterbombers. On "S 174" and "S 181" four men were severely and three men were slightly wounded. Both boats had to be reported not-ready-for-action because of the damages suffered. Also "S 177", "S 180", and "S 79" fired "Dackels" without successes.

During the night 11./12.08.1944 the 8. and the10. SFltl sailed from Ijmuiden to Ostend. Due to bad visibility several operations of the other flotillas had to be called off. Also due to bad visibility the common operation of the 2., 6., and 8. SFltl during the night 12./13.08.1944 had to be called off. The 10. SFltl conducted a minelaying operation off Orfordness, "S 191", "S 184", and "S 183" had to take several hits and one man was killed-in-action and one man was severely wounded.

Until the 18.08.1944 on orders of the OB.d.M. (Supreme Commander of the Navy) a total of 91 "Dackel" had to be fired (long distance torpedoes put together of two G 7A running straight at 9 knots speed, which conducted search patterns at the end of the reach). Verified are three sinking successes – the old cruiser „Frobisher“, the minesweeper „Vestal“, the frighter "Iddesleigh" (5205 BRT), and the workshop ship „Albatros“.

On 15.08.1944 the 8. SFltl was transferred to Boulogne. During the same night the 10. SFltl with six boats laid mines north of Margate.  

In the meantime the Alliied had landed in southern France on 15.08.1944. The land front came closer and closer. At this point in time the west-flotillas 2., 6., 8., 9., and 10. SFltl had a total of 33 boats available of which only 18 were fully ready-for-action, four other boats were ready for sea but not fully operational. The 9. SFltl had to write off the boats "S 112" and "S 145" laying at Brest for repairs. 

During the night 19./20.08.1944 four boats of the 10. SFltl sailed from Borkum via Ostend to Boulogne. They were attacked by the aircraft and suffered damages and had three men killed-in-action among them the CO "S 185" (StbsObStrm Adam) and several men were wounded.

  During the night 20./21.08.1944 the 8. and the 10. SFltl with a total of eight boats were to attack an eastbound convoy. They were attacked immediately by aircraft but could enter the harbours of Dieppe and Boulogne with only slight damages. The 2. SFltl was to attack with five boats an eastbound convoy south of Hastings during the same night. They came into fights with three British destroyers north of Cape d’Antifer. On their way back they were attacked by aircraft but the boats could enter Le Havre without damages.

During the next nights either bad weather prevailed or there were conducted ineffective attempts to attack enemy units. Again minelaying and torpedo operations were conducted alternatingly. In the course of which it came to fights between attackers and defenderes again and again. The 6. SFltl lost the severely hit and burning "S 91" by scuttlingost during one of these nightly fights with a British destroyer escort and a British frigate on 25.08.1944. Another attack, which was to be conducted by the 8. SFltl with four boats against a convoy west of Beachy Head also went wrong. The boats were taken under fire by a British destroyer escort, "S 701" had to take several hits and burst to flames. "S 196" collided with the burning "S 701". Both boats could enter Dieppe. The other two boats, "S 195" and "S 197", continued the sortie but did not find a convoy. They got into a fight with the MGBs but returned to Dieppe undamaged.

The pair "S 174", "S 177" could not get back to Le Havre due to strong escorting forces and got into a fight of the 8. Artillerieträger-Flotilla with a French destroyer escort and three MTBs, and a British frigate with three MTBs, and a British frigate with three  US PT-boats off Cape d’Antifer. "S 177" fired two tropedoes against the destroyer and fished 80 survivors of the   artillery-bearers out of the water. "S 174" towed the unmanoeuverable "AF 109" with 40 survivors to Fécamp.  

During the night 29./30.08.1944 the 2. SFltl left Le Havre as last unit, mined the harbour entrance and retreated to Boulogne. The withdrawal of the flotillas was hempered by attacks of destroyers, MGBs, and aircraft. "S 196" under command of  KKpt Zymalkowski achieved a hit on the bridge of destroyer escort „Cattistock“, which made her artillery command centre unserviceable and killed the CO.  

During the night 04./05.09.1944 Boulogne was given up. This time the 10. SFltl was the last unit to leave the harbour after it had mined the harbour entrance. During the withdrawal southeast of Dover the boats came under fire of British coastal artillery. "S 184" left the formation. "S 191", "S 186", and "S 192" continued to Hook van Holland and Rotterdam and on through the channels to Amsterdam. Having moored there the leading boat got to know that "S 183" had entered Ostend with the crew of "S 184" on board. "S 184" had taken a severe hit and could not be kept afloat. The boat therefore had been scuttled.

During the same night the 8. SFltl sailed from Ostend to Ijmuiden. Because of the heavy sea state the flotilla entered Hook van Holland in the early morning.

On 06.09.1944 after giving up of all harbours in northern France and Belgium the F.d.S. was subordinated the Navy Command North (Marinekommando Nord). The 2. and the 6. SFltl transferred back to the homeland, the 2. SFltl sailed to Wilhelmshaven for shipyard maintenance, the  6. SFltl was to turn over its old boats to the S-boats-school-division. Thus the number of available boats in the west was again decreased very much. The 8. SFltl was at Ijmuiden with five ready-for-action boats, the 10. SFltl with five boats at Amsterdam, the 9. SFltl with three boats at Delfzijl. The 4. SFltl got the order to direct three boats from Wilhelmshaven and two boats from Flensburg to Wesermünde where one boat already was laying.

The 8. SFltl laid mines in the Western Scheldt during the nights 08./09. and 09./10.09.1944. An attempt of the 10 SFltl with five boats to conduct an attack against a convoy off Cromer in the evening of the 12.09.1944 failed due to bad weather. A minelaying operation of the 8. SFltl from Rotterdam mounted into laying the mines unprimed since they were jumping out of the rails and endangered the boats due to bad weather. Both flotillas were bombed on their way back to their bases without any damages to be noted.  

Until the 16.09.1944 bad weather prevailed so that no operations were possible. During the night 16./17.09. three groups of three boats each were to operate against a convoy off Cromer under command of the Commander 9. SFltl (KKpt v. Mirbach). The 3. group ("S 185", "S 191", and "S 186") returned to harbour because of a rudder-failure on "S 185", the 1. group ("S 175", "S 168", and "S 192") laid mines on the convoy route, the 2. group ("S 200", "S 701", and "S 183") laid mines off Haisborough. Since both groups were taken under fire by destroyers and they did not sighten the convoy they returned to harbour.  

Command Speaker Engine-Petty Officer Helmsman and Radio-Man
Pictures: PK-Foto

For the night 16./17.09.1944 the 9. SFltl under command of "S 198" (KptLt Knapp) had been ordered the supply of Dunkerk by four boats. Because of the bad supply situation of the goods to be transported the undertaking was postponed by 24 hours. At 16.17 local time the report about an Allied airborne landing at Arnheim was hitting like a bomb. All transports from and to Germany were stopped. Since the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht believed that as a result of that the re-occupation of Holland had been started, on the 18.09.1944 the destruction of all docks of Amsterdam and Rotterdam was ordered. The F.d.S. reported to the Admiral Netherlands, that the S-boat-operations from Holland had been ended.

In the evening of the 18.09.1944 two groups of the 10. SFltl left Hook van Holland and Vlissingen, each boat was loaded with 8 ts of ammunition and supply goods. The boats "S 186" and "S 185" as well as "S 198" and "S 199" could escape the destroyers chasing them and entered Dunkirk in the night to the 19.09.1944. After unloading they left the same night. "S 198" and "S 199" had the Commander of the 22. Infanterie-Division and some officers of his staff as well as four severely wounded men on board. They arrived the bunker of Hook van Holland in the morning. Also the other two boats arrived at their bases without damages.  

To distract attention from these boats the Commander 10. SFltl with three boats had left harbour. As was derived from a B-Dienstmeldung (communication intercept report) all three boats were stopped by the British frigate "Stayner" with "MTB 724" and "MTB 728", "S 183" was shot to fire and sank, "S 200" and "S 702" collided running away and were scuttled. The Commander 10. SFltl (Kptlt. Müller, K.), two COs and 45 men were taken POWs. New Commander of the flotilla became Kptlt. Bludau.

During the night to the 20.09.1944 the F.d.S. transferred from Scheveningen to Den Helder. 

Villa Sandhage in Hoge Weg 18, Scheveningen, headquarters of F.d.S.  1942 until 1944 - Picture: M. S. Laarman

Villa Sandhage, headquarters of F.d.S., to the left of it the Officers-Club 1942 until 1944 - Picture: M. S. Laarman

Remains of the user instruction of the telephone-system found during renovations in Villa Sandhage 1999 - Picture: M. S. Laarman

Early October 1944 the strength and readininess for action of the S-boats in Holland had reached its absolute minimum. The 4. SFltl at Ijmuiden had available the boats "S 202", "S 201", and "S 219", the 10. SFltl "S 185" and "S 186" at Ijmuiden and "S 191" and "S 192" at Rotterdam, the 8. SFltl at Rotterdam had "S 198" and "S 199" at its disposal, totally 9 boats.  

During the first week of October the 9. SFltl (Kptlt. v. Mirbach) with the boats "S 130", "S 167", "S 168", "S 175W, "S 206", and "S 207" arrived at Rotterdam. Bad weather had prevented the boats from leaving harbours or had forced the flotillas to break off their operations prematurely until that date. During the night 07./08.10.1944 the 9. SFltl returned to harbour on a first sortie due to bad visibility. When it left harbour again it was taken under fire by German pickets and had to suffered from hits.

Bad weather prevented further operations. Not earlier than 10.10.1944 a first minelaying operation of all three flotillas with 13 boats off the island Walcheren could be conducted.  

On the 19.10.1944 the 4. SFltl got the order to transfer home via the inland waterways. Aim was to be retrofitted at Swinemünde with subsequent transfer to Norway together with tender "Hermann von Wissmann". The transfer of the flotilla with boats "S 201", "S 202", "S 203", "S 204", "S 205", "S 219", "S 220", and "S 703" decreased the number of available S-boats at the western front drastically.

Again bad weather prevented all operations until the end of the month. Not earlier than the 31.10.1944 mines were laid on the Thames-Scheldt-route and north of Dunkirk by the 8., 9., and 10. SFltl. At the outset of the British operation "Infatuate", the landing on the island Walcheren in the Scheldt estuary and the elimination of the coastal artillery stationed there, the flotillas got the order on the 01.11.1944 to conduct forcible reconnaissance with torpedo operations against all valuable targets. The 8. SFltl had five boats, the 9. SFltl four, and the 10. SFltl three ready for action boats.  

In the 10. SFltl one boat had an engine failure, so that the folotilla returned to harbour soon. In the 8. SFltl "S 198" got a rudder failure and was dismissed in company with "S 197", so that only three boats were left. In the 9. SFltl "S 168" because of water in the middle engine was falling out. Only the 9. SFltl had the chance to fire. During the first attack against numerous shadows no hits were obtained. During the second attack the motor tankship „Rio Bravo“ (1141 BRT) was hit. During the third attack with the last three torpedoes against an unit anchored on Nieuport-roads the navy trawler "Colsay" was sunk.  

During the night 02./03.11.1944 the three foltillas were in operation again. In a fight with British MGBs the 40-mm-gun on "S 185" due to a barrel burst got unserviceable. The torpedo attacks remained without verified results. In a second operation of the 9. SFltl no targets could be detected. Therefore the operation was cancelled. 

Due to bad weather from 04. until 14.11.1944 no operations were conducted. On the 15.11.1944 the 8. SFltl could lay mines in the Humber estuary unharmed. "S 198" fell out because of engine failure, "S 197" had to note a rudder failure, on "S 194" the bearings of the port-engine had to be exchanged. On "S 198" the lid of the starboard torpedotube was damaged by the impact of breaking seas. 

The 9. SFltl had the order to mine the Wieling channel. Due to a fight with two British frigates and MGBs the mining was hindered. On "S 168" a fire in the forecastle developed by a direct hit. But the boat could return to its base.

S-Boats with Course towards the Convoy-Routes - Picture: PK-Foto

 Until the end of the month November no operations were conducted due to bad weather. Not earlier than in the night 29./30. 11.1944 the three flotillas left their harbours again. The 8. SFltl was to attack an eastbound convoy with five boats with torpedoes. Three T-5A and seven FAT were fire against a column of steamers. In spite of observed detonations no successes could be noted since the escorts took the boats under fire. All boats returned with slight damages from fragments.  

The 9. SFltl laid mines in accordance with its orders with four boats after an engine failure on "S 167". Also the 10. SFltl had carried out the order to lay mines with three boats successfully in spite of bumping into frigates two times, because of an engine failure on "S 191" no torpedo had been fired.   

In December 1944 the weather situation was so infavourable that the boats could not conduct any operations throughout the first half of the month. On the 12.12.1944 the 2. and the 6. SFltl got the order to transfer from Wilhelmshaven to Holland.

In the afternoon of the 15.12.1944 a raid by 17 Lancaster-bombers against the base Ijmuiden occurred. Two bombs penetrated the roof of the bunker and "S 168" was destroyed. "S 193" was  confined by rubble. "S 195" was damaged so severely that she had to be towed to Emden. "S 702" and four more boats were so severely damaged that the whole flotilla had to be reported not-ready-for-action. During these raids 13 men were killed-in-action and five men were wounded. The total supply organisation of the base was down.

On the 17.12.1944 the directive was issued by the SKL to strengthen the S-boat-force in the area Holland. Therefore, the F.d.S. odered the 4. SFltl, to transfer from Southern Norway initially into the German Bight and than to Holland. It had been ordered thereto on the 16.10.1944 and had arrived at Kristiansand on the 09.11.1949. In the evening of the 10.11.1944 the sailing to Egersund was started. Off Mandal "S 203" was rammed by an own small minesweeper in bad visibility and had to be scuttled after crew and the most important equipment had been taken over by "S 205" which was damaged during this activity. "S 205" had to return to Kristiansand due to bad weather where it was docked.  

The 2. SFltl (KKpt Opdenhoff) and the 6. SFltl (KptLt Matzen) entered Den Helder and Rotterdam respectively on the 19.12.1944. During the night 19./20.12.1944 the 9. SFltl augmented by two boats of the 10. SFltl laid a minefield which, however, was placed besides of the route due to a navigational error.

On the 22.12.1944 the mining of the convoy route Thames Estuary - Antwerp was conducted by six boats of the 6. SFltl, seven boats of the 9. SFltl, and five boats of the 8. SFltl, the 2. SFltl with six boats was to attack a westbound convoy. The British pickets lurking off Hoek van Holland took the boats immediately under fire when leaving harbour whereby a mine was shot in peaces on "S 211" and a mine fell out of its carriage and blocked the other mines on "S 222". The pickets could be shaken off and the mines could be laid as ordered. One pair of the 10. SFltl, which was operating with the 9. SFltl was caught by a British patrol and taken under fire. "S 185" and "S 192" were sunk. While from "S 192" nobody survived, six men of "S 185" were killed-in-action, among them the CO, 22 men became POWs. On 24.12.1944 the British freight steamer "Empire Path" with 6.140 BRT sank on one of the two minefields.  

On the 25.12.1944 the boats stayed in their bases. On the 26.12.1944 the 5. SFltl from the Baltic entered Kiel then sailed through the K.W.-Kanal to Wilhelmshaven in order to have remaining shipyard-jobs to be done to achieve readiness for action for the boats. On their way "S 132" hit a wreck and had to enter Cuxhaven.  

On the 29.12.1944 16 Lancaster-bombers attacked the S-boat-bunker at Rotterdam with extreme heavy bombs ("Tallboys"). "S 207" and "S 167" were slightly damaged. Two men were severely and one man was slightly wounded.

At the change of the years 1944/45 the flotillas in the west were organised as follows:  

2. SFltl S 74, S 177, S 180, S 181, S 209, S 210, S 221; S 176 in the shipyard at Wilhelmshaven
4. SFltl S 202, S 204, S 205, S 703; S 219 aKB at Rotterdam, S 201 aKB in Norway; S 220 aKB at Wilhelmshaven
6. SFltl S 211, S 212, S 222, S 223, S 704, S 705; S 706 aKB at Wilhelmshaven
8. SFltl S 194, S 196, S 197, S 701; S 198 confined in bunker at Ijmuiden; S 195 aKB at Emden
9. SFltl S 130, S 168, S 175, S 206; S 167 und S 207 aKB at Rotterdam; S 112 aKB at St. Peter Port
5. SFlt S 48, S 67, S 85, S 92, S 98, S 110; S 127 with remaining works at Wilhelmshaven; S 132 aKB at Wilhelmshaven
10 SFltl S 191; S 186 aKB at Wilhelmshaven; S 215 und S 224 under EKK-trials

aKB = außer Kriegsbereitschaft (not ready for action)

The balance of the year 1944 was devastating: 19 merchant ships with a total of 67.111 BRT, one old cruiser,  one frigate, four navy trawlers, three navy tugs, one MGB, one minesweeper, nine landingsvessels, and one Phoenix-Caisson had been sunk, two destroyers had been torpedoed and did not come back to sea.

 The own losses were:  174 killed-in-action, 38 severely and 69 slightly wounded men,  53 POWs, and one missed-in-action. 

43 boats were lost: "S 139" and "S 140" by mine hits; "S 91", "S 136", "S 147", "S 183", "S 184", "S 185", "S 190", "S 192", "S 193", and "S 200" by or after artillery hits; "S 39", "S 84", "S 87", "S 93", "S 100", "S 114", "S 129", "S 137", "S 138", "S 142", "S 143", "S 144", "S 146", "S 150", "S 169", "S 171", "S 172", "S 173", "S 178", "S 179", "S 187", "S 188", "S 189", and "S 198" by bombs or aircraft weapons; "S 94", "S 128", "S 182", "S 193", "S 203", and "S 702" by collisions. "S 14" sank supposedly 1944 in the Channel as a fast tug.