German Battleship Scharnhorst

Scharnhorst 1

(German Battleship, 1939) Tied to a mooring buoy in Wilhelmshaven Harbor, circa 1939, as men in a boat push off from her bow. Note anchors, ship’s badges on her bow and on the boat, and paired cables running down from her starboard bow chock. In mid-1939, Scharnhorst’s bow was greatly modified from the configuration seen here.

Copied from the contemporary German photo album Meine Kriegserinnerungen auf Schlachtschiff Scharnhorst, page 15. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

The German Battleship Scharnhorst was the lead ship of her class which included just one other ship, the Gneisenau. She was laid down in June 1935, launched in October 1936, and commissioned in January of 1939. Her January 1939 sea trials identified a design flaw in the bow which caused flooding in the bow and forward gun turret during heavy seas. In response, within a few months of commissioning, Scharnhorst went back to the dockyard for six months of refit including the fitting of an “Atlantic bow.”

In November of 1939, the German Naval War Staff  (Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine or OKM) sent Scharnhorst on her first operation along with her sister ship Gneisenau, with whom she operated throughout the majority of her career.

Scharnhorst‘s first operation was a sortie into the North Atlantic between Iceland and the Faroe Islands where she sank the British axillary cruiser HMS Rawalpindi. (You can read my account of this battle here.) This mission was intended to take British pressure off of the Admiral Graf Spee operating in the South Atlantic and was conducted prior to major training.

After her return to Wilhelmshaven for minor repairs from splinter damage resulting from her first mission, Scharnhorst spent the winter of 1939-40 in the Baltic Sea for gunnery training. This proved to be a longer training session than normal since heavy ice kept Scharnhorst trapped in the Baltic until February 1940.

Scharnhorst then went on to participate in Operation Weserübung, the invasion of Denmark and Norway. In April 1940 in the North Sea, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau faced off against the British battlecruiser HMS Renown. Scharnhorst suffered from malfunctions while Gneisenau took two direct hits and both ships used their superior speed to escape back to Kiel for repairs. In June, the two ships returned to the North Sea to disrupt British supply lines to Norway. The sister ships faced off against and sank the British carrier HMS Glorious and her two destroyer escorts. This action is notable since Scharnhorst achieved one of the longest range naval gunfire hits in history at a range of ~25,000 meters. Scharnhorst was damaged enough during the encounter to need temporary repairs prior to returning to Germany and survived numerous attacks from the RAF over the two weeks it took her to return to Kiel where her repairs required six months dock time.

Scharnhorst then participated in Operation Berlin which involved convoy raiding in the Atlantic with her sister ship. This action encompassed two separate raids lasting throughout early 1941 under the command of Admiral Günther Lütjens, who later commanded the Bismarck on her fateful voyage, and ultimately resulted in both ships being in port undergoing repairs when the Bismarck left for the North Atlantic.

In early 1942, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Prinz Eugen all took part in Operation Cerberus, also known as the Channel Dash, where the three ships fled back to their home ports from France through the English Channel. Damaged from several mines during this action, the Scharnhorst spent four months in Kiel being repaired.

Finally, Scharnhorst went to Norway in early 1943 to join in the raids on Allied convoys to the Soviet Union. In December 1943, she led a raid against a convoy and was sunk in the Battle of the North Cape. Collected below are photographs of the Scharnhorst during her launch and commissioning.

German Chancellor Adolf Hitler (left). On the christening platform, as the battleship Scharnhorst is launched at Wilhelmshaven, Germany, 3 October 1936. Among those also on the platform, just to the right of Hitler, are General Werner von Blomberg and Admiral Erich Raeder.


Scharnhorst (German Battleship, 1939-1943). Ceremony on the ship’s after deck, with the Nazi-era naval ensign flying at the stern, circa early 1939. This may be the ship’s commissioning ceremony on 7 January 1939. Note snow on shore in the distance, stern anchor, and decoration on the ship.

[Images courtesy of the Department of the Navy – Naval History & Heritage Command.]


RAF Fighter Command Battle of Britain Photos


captured German pilot

A captured German bomber crewman drinks from a British soldier’s water bottle after baling out of his aircraft, 30 August 1940. (Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum).

2 Polish pilots receiving instruction on aircraft controls 27 August 1940

Two airmen of the Polish Air Force Depot at RAF Blackpool receive instruction on the controls of an aircraft during ground training at Squires Gate aerodrome, 27 August 1940. (Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum).

SPitifres of 610 squadron in formation 24 July 1940

Supermarine Spitfires (Mark I) of No. 610 Squadron RAF fly in formation, 24 July 1940.

(Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum).

British fighter doctrine at the time specified that fighters were to fly in groups of three which the RAF named a “vic”. Unfortunately, this made the system of having a wing-man watching your back difficult to emulate and it was only later in the war that the British adopted the successful “finger four” formation of the Luftwaffe.

Peter Townsend

 Squadron Leader Peter Townsend chats with groundcrew sitting on his Hawker Hurricane at Wick, Scotland.

(Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum).

German BF 109 crashed

Locals watch as troops and police inspect a German Messerschmitt Bf 109 which crash-landed in a field near Lewes, Sussex. The pilot, Unteroffizier Leo Zaunbrecher, was captured.

RAF airman examines captured Heinkel HE 111

An RAF airman examines the cockpit of a captured German Heinkel He 111, 2 October 1940.

(Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum).

Sgt Furst greeted by squadron mascot

Sergeant Bohumil Furst of No. 310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron is greeted by the Squadron mascot on returning to RAF Duxford after a mission, 7 September 1940.

(Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum).


Screaming, Shouting, Weeping – aka the Family Is Your Client

Screaming, Shouting, Weeping – aka the Family Is Your Client

A multi-part conversation with Cannon Executive Chairman Phil Buchanan


Charles McCain

A few people scream. Others shout. Several weep. Has a calamity just occurred? No. This is the semi-annual meeting of the Jones family. Not their real name but a real family comprised of a patriarch, his third wife, six children, two sons-in-law, and a poodle.

I attended these meetings because I was the trust officer assigned to the account. The patriarch controlled all the money and he presided over these meetings—such as they were—which he held in the living room of his beach-front condo in South Florida. Despite my suggestion of different of “best practices” for such gatherings, he employed a format of his own which created anxiety and ill-feeling rather than harmony

After I spent thirty minutes giving a summary of his portfolio, the patriarch told each child and his third wife how much money they were going to get when he died. The amounts were not equal and they would change from family meeting to family meeting. That was the exact point at which the aforementioned screaming and weeping began as the beneficiaries argued over how much they were to receive. (One of his sons and one of his daughters pleaded for more money with such heart-wrenching performances they could have been Emmy-award winning actors).

I would dismiss myself to the far end of the room and look out over the calming waters of the Atlantic Ocean, hoping to become invisible. After being subjected to an hour of various arguments by his children over the inadequacy of the sum they were to receive upon his departure for Elysian Fields, the patriarch would bring the meeting to a close with this ritual phrase: “let’s not wash the family linen in front of our trust officer from the bank.”

Since I had been attending these meetings for several years, I had come to feel more like their laundryman than their trust officer since they washed and re-washed the family linen in front of me so often. Indeed, I had come to know everything about the family, much of which I neither needed nor wanted to know.

After hearing me tell this story, Phil Buchanan, Cannon’s Executive Chairman, remarked, “Well, I can’t recommend this method as a ‘best practice!’  Nonetheless, if you are an FA, you need to know all the relevant facts and emotional cross-currents about the families of your clients.” Phil suggested FAs gather this information in a planned way rather than taking notes in the middle of a family battle.

A key priority for every FA is getting to know the partners of her clients. Why? “As your clients ease into retirement, spouses or partners who heretofore have been silent in the typical advisor-client relationship will now come onto the stage,” said Phil.  “They helped build this jointly owned nest-egg and now they quite rightly want a say in how the accumulated money will be spent.”

Phil went onto say that the “silent partner” is often the female spouse or partner. Statistically, women live longer than men so women will eventually control a large portion of a family’s wealth. Said Phil, “traditionally in the wealth management business, a woman’s voice is often not heard as clearly or given the weight of what a male says. A wise FA will ensure he or she knows and understands both the female and male partners in a relationship. This isn’t a question of ‘political correctness.’ It’s just good business practice.”

Phil concluded by pointing out that FAs really need to understand that the definition of ‘family’ itself has changed dramatically. The mental picture many    have had of the classic ‘American family’ is a married heterosexual couple living together with their children. Yet according to the US Census Bureau, this classic ‘traditional family’ comprises only 19% of families in America. *

Said Phil, “Family Guy is one of the most popular sitcoms in the US yet even this most ‘politically incorrect’ of shows which pokes fun at American society features a working Dad, stay at home Mom and three kids. Is the show often hilarious? Yes. Representative of real-life family structures in the US? Not even close.”

To learn more about this topic, register for our Certified Wealth Strategist program of study.

Copyright ©2017 Cannon Financial Institute – All Rights Reserved

Subscribe to Cannon Insights at


Contributing Writer: Subject Matter Expert Charles McCain


COMMENT FROM CHARLES McCAIN: Cannon Financial Institute is the “gold standard” for wealth management training, development and consulting. I worked at the firm for many years and my colleagues were the most talented people I have ever worked with.  Last year the firm sought me out to write articles for them which I started doing in January of  2016. After a hiatus of nine years, I am pleased to report that my colleagues continue to be the most talented people I have ever worked with and it is a pleasure to be working with them again.  I take them directly from the Cannon website and the links work.  I will posting the articles I write for them on my blog after they appear on Cannon’s website.