World War Two Daily: April 7, 1940: Fleets At Sea

Sunday, May 22, 2016

April 7, 1940: Fleets At Sea

Sunday 7 April 1940

7 April 1940 Weserubung
Wehrmacht troops departing on the morning of 7 April 1940. Photo: Polfoto / Ullstein.

Operation Weserubung: Things get in motion on 7 April 1940, with the bulk of the fleet sailing. It is a standard Wehrmacht everything-that-can-float-goes operation, including school squadrons and unarmed trawlers and tugs.

The Kriegsmarine has tight control over the entire operation, which is divided into two commands: Marine Group Command East and Marine Group Command West, divided at the Skagerrak. Vice Admiral Lütjens covers the entire operation with the pocket battleships Scharnhorst (Kpt.z.S. Hoffmann) and Gneisenau (Kpt.z.S. Netzbandt). Gneisenau and Scharnhorst are scheduled to proceed from the operation into the Atlantic to raid merchant shipping.

The covering forces are divided up as follows:
  1. Warship Group 1 (Narvik): Commodore Bonte with the destroyers Wilhelm Heidkamp, Georg Thiele, Wolfgang Zenker,  Bernd von Arnim, Erich Giese , Erich Koellner , Diether von Roeder, Hans Lüdemann, Hermann Künne and Anton Schmitt.
  2. Warship Group 2 (Trondheim): Kpt.z.S. Heye on the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and the destroyers Paul Jacobi, Theodor Riedel, Bruno Heinemann and Friedrich Eckoldt .
  3. Warship Group 3 (Bergen): Rear Admiral Schmundt with the light cruisers Köln (Kpt.zS Kratzenberg) and Konigsberg (Kpt . Z . S. Ruhfus), the artillery training ship Bremse (FKpt. Förschner), the torpedo boats Leopard and Wolf, speedboat Begleitschiff Carl Peters with the S - boats S 19 , S 21 , S 22 , S 23 and S 24 and the auxiliary ships ship 9 / Koblenz and ship 18 / Old country. When approaching Stavanger, S 19 and S 21 collide, with the former heavily damaged.
  4. Warship Group 4 (Kristiansand South and Arendal): Kpt.z.S. Rieve on the light cruiser Karlsruhe, with the T - boats Luchs , Griffin, Eagle and speedboat Begleitschiff Tsingtao and S - boats S 9 , S 14 , S 16 , S 30 , S 31 , S 32 , S 33rd.
  5. Warship Group 5 (Oslo): Rear Admiral Kummetz with the heavy cruisers Blücher (Kpt.zS Woldag) and Lutzow (Kpt.zS Thiele), the light cruiser Emden (Kpt.zS Lange), the T - boats Albatross, Condor and Gull, the 1st Minesweeper Group (Kptlt. Forstmann) with R 17, R 18, R 19, R 20, R 21, R 22, R 23, R 24 and whale boats 7 and 8.
  6. Warship Group 6 (Egersund): KKpt Thoma (Captain of the 2nd Minesweeping flotilla) with the Minesweeping boats M 1 , M 2 , M 9 and M13.
  7. Warship Group 7 (Nyborg and Korsor): Kpt.z.S. Kleikamp on the battleship Schleswig - Holstein and the experimental boats Claus von Bevern, Nautilus, Pelikan, van Campinas (4541 BRT) and Cordoba (4611 BRT), 2 tugs and the B.S.O. - School Flotilla (FKpt . Dannenberg) with 6 trawlers.
  8. Warship Group 8 (Copenhagen): KKpt Schröder on the minelayer Hansestadt Danzig and the icebreaker Stettin, passing through the Belt of boats of 13 Vp. flotilla (Kptlt Fischer).
  9. Warship Group 9 (Middelfart and Beltbrücke): Kpt z p Leissner (FdV East) on the steamer Rugard (1358 BRT) , and the M - boats M 157, Otto Braun, Arkona, the R - boats R 6 and R 7, the outposts boats V 102 and V 103, the submarine hunter UJ 172 and the Navy tugs Passat and Monsoon.
  10. Warship Group 10 (Esbjerg and Nordby on Fanoe): Commodore Ruge (FdM West) with leading boat Queen Louise (F 6) , the M - boats M 4 , M 20 , M 84 , M 102 , the 12th Minensuchflottille (KKpt Marguth) M 1201 M 1202 M 1203 M 1204 M 1205 M 1206 M 1207 M 1208 (large trawlers) and the 2nd Räumbootflottille (KKpt . von Kamptz) with R 25 , R 26 , R 27 , R 28, R 29, R 30, R 31 and R 32.
  11. Warship Group 11 (Tyborön, the Limfjord): KKpt Berger (head of the 4th Minesweeping Flotilla) with M 61, M 89, M 110, M 111, M 134 and M 136 and the 3rd Minesweeping Flotilla directed from the escort ship (previously Kptlt Sexton) Groeben, with the R-boats R 33, R 34, R 35, R 36, R 37, R 38, R 39, R 40th

In Danish waters, there is coverage from the old Battleship Silesia (Kpt.z.S. Horstmann), which has sailed from Kiel.

U-boat coverage also is heavy. The Submarine Group (management of individual boats is handled directly by B.d.U. Rear Admiral Doenitz):

  • 1 (West Fjord): U-25, U-46, U-51, ​​U-64, U-65
  • 2 (Trondheim): U-30, U-34
  • 3 (Bergen): U-9, U-14, U-56, U-60, U-62
  • 4 (Stavanger): U-1, U-4
  • 5 (East Shetland): U-47, U-48, U-49, U-50, U-52, U-37 (later)
  • 6 ( Pentland Firth): U-13 , U-19 , U-57, U-58 , U-59
  • 8 (Lindesnes): U-2 , U-3 , U-5 , U-6
  • 9 (Shetland Orkney): U-7, U-10

The U-boat operation turns into a failure with few successes due to torpedo failures. It is not yet understood that northern waters (higher latitudes) cause problems with torpedo depth control and their magnetic exploding processes. Operation Weserubung at least exposes the problem so that it can be corrected.

The transports carry three divisions, including the elite 3rd Mountain Division. There are three divisions allocated for a second wave.

Air support is provided by 500 transport planes, over 300 bombers and 100 fighters. The success of Luftwaffe coverage hinges upon quickly taking forward airfields in northern Denmark and Norway (Stavanger, for instance, is a major air base).

Battle of the Atlantic: The British are fairly clueless about the entire operation (except for some guesswork) until a British reconnaissance Hudson of 220 Squadron spots the German fleet (part of Marine Group 1) heading north at 13:25. Part of the fleet is in action already, to conduct Operation Wilfred, the mining of the Norwegian territorial waters.

However, once the Kriegsmarine fleet movement is seen, the Royal Navy springs into action. The problem, though, is that it misreads the situation as a massive attempt by the Kriegsmarine to sail into the Atlantic, not invade Norway. The British Fleet thus heads in the wrong direction, and the Home Fleet also feels it has more time than it does to intercept the Kriegsmarine ships. It leaves late in the day, not realizing that instead of heading towards them, the German ships will turn north and head away from them.
  • Scapa Flow: At 21:15, Admiral Forbes, Commander-in-chief of the Home Fleet, sails from Scapa Flow with the battleships Rodney and Valiant, the battlecruiser Repulse, cruisers Sheffield and Penelope, and destroyers Somali, Matabele, Mashona, Bedouin, Punjabi, Eskimo, Kimberley, Kelvin, Kashmir and Jupiter. They are followed later by the French French cruiser Emile Bertin (Rear Admiral. Derrien) and the destroyers Maillé-Brézé and Tartu.
  • Rosyth: Vice Admiral Edward Collins of the 1st Cruiser Squadron leaves in the afternoon with the cruisers Arethusa, Galatea and the destroyers Codrington, Griffin, Electra and Escapade. Several of the ships have been on convoy duty. Polish ships Blyskawica, Burza and Grom also sortie.
Among the effects of the British intelligence failure is that Collins at Rosyth disembarks the expeditionary troops that were allocated for Norway so that he can engage in this "sea battle." This makes the British unable to quickly land troops in response to the Wehrmacht landings.

Some convoys are recalled, as their escorts are needed and they will be denuded of protection, including HN 24 and ON 25. Admiral Layton, in command of ON 25, sends the cruisers Manchester, Southampton and the destroyers Janus, Javelin, Grenade and Eclipse to support the Home Fleet.

British submarines HMS Shark and Seawolf depart from Harwich to patrol off the Dutch coast. HMS Clyde and Thistle depart from Scapa Flow to patrol off Norway.

Convoy SL 27 departs from Freetown for Liverpool.

European Air Operations: Luftwaffe patrols have increased over the Western front, perhaps to divert attention away from Scandinavia. The RAF reports downing five Bf 109s.

A flight of Bf 109s encounters RAF fighters over the North Sea and downs two RAF planes, losing one of their own.

During the afternoon, after the sighting by the Hudson, the RAF sends 12 Blenheims and 24 Wellingtons to attack the German fleet heading to Norway, but they make no hits.

US Navy: While the British and German fleets are on a collision course, the only US Navy activity is an attempt by destroyer USS Twiggs to tow the Norwegian freighter Spind off of some rocks about six miles from Cape San Antonio. However, it fails, while salvage tug Warbler comes along and manages the job.

Separately, USS J. Fred Talbott leaves the Panama Canal Zone on a humanitarian mission. It has a rendezvous at sea with Japanese passenger liner Arimasan Maru to help a passenger in trouble. The destroyer transfers its medical officer to the Japanese ship and then returns to base.

Poland: The Hans Frank government expels all foreigners, including the International Red Cross.

China: The Japanese puppet government in Nanking announces conscription of all men 19 and older. It will begin in the new year.

French Homefront: A wreck is discovered at Rouen from the 1790s, with high hopes that it is a pirate ship. However, nothing of value is found inside.

American Homefront: Jimmy Demaret wins the 7th Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.

7 April 1940 Nazi war aims British propaganda
A British propaganda poster showing Nazi conquests of the future. Dr. Goebbels dismisses it as an "obvious English fabrication."

April 1940

April 1, 1940: Weserubung is a Go
April 2, 1940: British Subs On Alert
April 3, 1940: Churchill Consolidates Power
April 4, 1940: Missed the Bus
April 5, 1940: Mig-1 First Flight
April 6, 1940: Troops Sailing to Norway
April 7, 1940: Fleets At Sea
April 8, 1940: HMS Glowworm and Admiral Hipper
April 9, 1940: Invasion of Norway
April 10, 1940: First Battle of Narvik
April 11, 1940: Britain Takes the Faroes
April 12, 1940: Germans Consolidate in Norway
April 13, 1940: 2d Battle of Narvik
April 14, 1940: Battle of Dombås
April 15, 1940: British in Norway
April 16, 1940: Germans Cut Norway in Half
April 17, 1940: Trondheim the Target
April 18, 1940: Norway Declares War
April 19, 1940: Dombås Battle Ends
April 20, 1940: Germans Advancing in Norway
April 21, 1940: First US Military Casualty
April 22, 1940: First British Military Contact with Germans
April 23, 1940: British Retreating in Norway
April 24, 1940: British Bombard Narvik
April 25, 1940: Norwegian Air Battles
April 26, 1940: Norwegian Gold
April 27, 1940: Allies to Evacuate Norway
April 28, 1940: Prepared Piano
April 29, 1940: British at Bodo
April 30, 1940: Clacton-on-Sea Heinkel


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