Air Attack Königsberg Capsizes After Pounding by Norwegians & RAF

 

Reichsmarine/ Kriegsmarine light cruiser Konigsberg

Konigsberg Visiting Gdynia, Poland, circa 1935. Note the offset arrangement of her after 15cm triple gun turrets. (US Navy History and Heritage Command).

 

The Königsberg on fire and sinking.

[Images courtesy of the US Navy History and Heritage Command]

9 April 1940, during the German invasion of Norway, Norwegian coastal artillery located on the approaches to Bergen fired effectively on Konigsberg and caused major damage to the ship which almost sank. On 10 April 1940, Royal Navy dive bombers of the Fleet Air Arm sank the ship.

 

Artwork by Adolf Bock, 1941, published in a book on the German Navy published by Erich Klinghammer, Berlin, during World War II. It depicts the light cruisers Köln and Königsberg landing troops at Bergen, Norway, on 9 April 1940. (USNA)

 

German damage control crews labored through the night, but the damage from the guns of the Norwegian fort had been grievous. Nonetheless, the ship was afloat–but not for long.

Approximately 0700 on 10 April 1940, sixteen Skua dive bombers of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm located Konigsberg in Bergen Harbor. German AA crews were exhausted and thought the British planes were German. The first British bomb hit knocked out electric power to the AA guns. Thus, before the Germans were fully alert a half dozen or more 500-pound armour piercing bombs had hit the Konigsberg.

With fires spreading out of control and water pouring into the ship from holes opened in the sides, the Kommandant ordered the crew to abandon ship, and the Konigsberg rolled over and sank. This was the first sinking of a major warship by aerial attack to occur. Many more would come. (Source: The German Invasion of Norway April 1940 by Geirr H Haarr)

 

While the British and French had long been urged by then First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill to block Swedish iron ore shipments to Nazi Germany through Norwegian territorial waters, hand-wringing on behalf of the French and the British delayed this action. (The French Minister of War refused to speak to the Prime Minister who would avoid being in the same room with him if possible. Their respective mistresses also hated each other. This ill feeling caused delays in decision making as you might imagine).

 

+Halftone reproduction of a photograph taken while the ship was transiting the Kiel Canal, about 1935.
 

 

Moored in a German harbor, circa 1936. Note the ship’s crest on her bow, and what appear to be old torpedo boats tied up in the right distance.

 

When British ships were finally ordered out to lay mines in the sea lanes used to transport the ore and to capture the ice free port of Narvik, they ran into German forces who were staging a surprise invasion of Norway including the occupation of Narvik. Germans got to Narvik before the British by taking incredible chances in terrible sea conditions and managing to find the fjord which led to Narvik. Ten German destroyers carrying troops navigated in pitch dark down the Narvik fjord and put the troops ashore.

Captain Warburton-Lee, RN, VC.
Early that morning, while the exhausted German sailors were sleeping and their guard-ship not very alert, British destroyers under the Command of Captain B.A.W. Washburton-Lee, VC, skipped in and sank three destroyers and damaged more.
Their commander was killed in the action and posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for valour in Great Britain. Several days later the battleship HMS Warspite went down the fjord with numerous destroyers protecting her and her big guns hit the remaining German destroyers and blew them out of the water.

King Haakon VII and Crown Prince Olav seeking shelter on the outskirts of Molde during a German bombing raid on the city in April 1940.
While the invasion of Norway by the Germans was success, they failed in to accomplish one of their key objectives which was capturing the King. The Germans were looking everywhere for the King and Crown Prince (the Queen had died in 1938) and had been bombing any town or village they were rumored to be in.
On 1 May 1940, a British cruiser took them and leaders of Parliament from the small coastal town of Molde to a temporary capitol in  Tromsø.  King Haakon VII and the crown prince took refuge in a small cabin in the nearby woods.By the end of May, the Germans had attacked France and both France and Great Britain began to withdraw their forces. On 7 June 1940, the Royal Family and government ministers boarded HMS Devonshire and were spirited away to England. The King had been a Danish Prince elected King of Norway. He was an uncle to England’s King George VI.
Königsberg on her visit to Britain in 1934; she is flying the British White Ensign and firing a salute. (US Navy History and Heritage Command)
 

+Vertical aerial photograph, probably taken while the ship was under attack by British aircraft at Bergen, Norway, on 9 April 1940. Note the prominent swastika identification markings on her deck, fore, and aft. This was used in most German Navy ships to prevent them from being attacked by their own airforce.
Being attacked by your own planes was a constant problem particularly in the European theater. Pilots saw what they wanted to see. No matter what recognition devices ships employed their own planes attacked them.

Veteran Royal Navy Battleship Malaya at Sea World War Two

Battleships HMS Barham, HMS Malaya and aircraft carrier HMS Argus at sea circa 1935.  (US Navy Archive)

Both HMS Barham and HMS Malaya were Queen Elizabeth class battleships built during World War One. Neither received significant modification between the wars and were past their design life when World War Two came. They were both old and slow. HMS Barham was sunk in the Mediterranean while HMS Malaya spent much of the war escorting Allied troop convoys. Under specific instructions from the Admiralty, all troop convoys, many from America, had to be escorted by a battleship plus a heavy close escort force.

The Cunard liners, RMS Queen Elizabeth and RMS Queen Mary were exempt from this because of their speed. When accepted into service as troop transports, their designation was changed to HMT/S (His Majesty’s Transport ship)

HMS Malaya, in spite of not being reconstructed like several of her sisters including HMS Warspite, still performed yeoman service in the war. Her engines were not in great condition and she could not make more than 20 knots which limited her from staying with a battle fleet. In the Med, she often feel far behind HMS Warspite, flagship of C-in-C Mediterranean.

ON BOARD THE CRUISER HMS HERMIONE OPERATING WITH HMS MALAYA AND DESTROYERS OF FORCE H. 10 TO 13 FEBRUARY 1942, AT SEA IN THE ATLANTIC. (A 7493) HMS MALAYA at sea. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205141570

 

HMS MALAYA LEAVING NEW YORK HARBOUR AFTER REFITTING IN AMERICA UNDER FACILITIES AFFORDED BY THE US GOVERNMENT. (A 5435) Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205139658

After being hit by a German torpedo in March of 1941, HMS Malaya spent four months in dry dock in New York being repaired. She was scrapped in 1948 after long and honourable service.

ON BOARD HMS MALAYA. OCTOBER 1941. (A 5692) Seamen replacing the guard rails after a Fairey Swordfish sea plane had been catapulted from the deck of HMS MALAYA. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205139902

 

Fairy Swordfish torpedo bombers were rugged planes in spite of their fragile look. A handful of them were made as amphibious planes and used for shot spotting during battle or reconnaissance. Once landed in the water, the plane would position itself so that its home ship only had to slow down but not stop to when a tow rope was thrown to the crew. They attached this to a special fitting and a crane lifted them out of the water.

ON BOARD HMS MALAYA. OCTOBER 1941. (A 5693) After a reconnaissance flight the Fairey Swordfish sea plane returns to HMS MALAYA and is hoisted in board. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205139903

 

ON BOARD HMS MALAYA. OCTOBER 1941. (A 5691) A Fairey Swordfish sea plane catapulted from the deck of HMS MALAYA. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205139901

 

ON BOARD HMS MALAYA. OCTOBER 1941. (A 5695) Sunday morning Divisions on board HMS MALAYA. The Captain, Captain C Coppinger, DSC, RN, inspecting a division on the quarterdeck. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205139904

Battleship HMS Rodney at War

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1417) Royal Marines remove old paint from the X gun turret on board HMS RODNEY before repainting. Another of the triple 16 inch gun turrets can be seen beyond the men. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185114

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1426) On board HMS RODNEY ‘Boys’ receiving instruction on how to ‘heave the lead’. The lead weighs 10 to 14 pounds and the picture shows a Boy standing in the ‘chains’ about to heave the lead. Going in and out of harbour a Leadman is always in the chains taking soundings which he calls out to the bridge. The Forth railway bridge can be seen in the distance. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185116

 

MEN OF THE HMS RODNEY KEEP FIGHTING FIT. 20 JANUARY 1943, MERS-EL-KEBIR, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 14364) A game of deck hockey during the dog watches on board HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205147536

 

GUNNERS KEEP UP TO THE MARK ON BOARD THE BATTLESHIP RODNEY. MARCH 1943, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 15733) A gunnery spotting table rigged up on the forecastle on board HMS RODNEY. A model ship and model splashes are used to indicate to the gunnery control officer high up in the director control tower, the accuracy of his ‘fire’. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149007

 

SENDING UP THE HEAVY SHELLS ON BOARD THE BATTLESHIP RODNEY. MARCH 1943, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 15737) In a 16′ shell ammunition room on board HMS RODNEY a sailor revolves a shell into the hoist while an empty shell container returns to position to fetch another shell from the tray. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205148757

 

MIDSHIPMEN TRAINING ON THE BATTLESHIP RODNEY. MARCH 1943, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 15736) Midshipmen being trained in rifle drill on the forecastle on board HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205148756

In Constant Battle Royal Navy Town Class Light Cruisers

 

HMS EDINBURGH (Town class cruiser) HMS HERMIONE (Dido class cruiser) HMS EURYALUS (Dido class cruiser) steaming in line abreast whilst they escort a convoy (Operation HALBERD – convoy not visible).

Two men stained with fuel oil taking a breath of fresh air on on Town Class cruiser HMS Manchester flight deck, after being rescued from below deck. Both of them are wearing life preservers. Manchester had been damaged by an aerial torpedo but was not sunk. Photo by Imperial War Museum)

HMS Liverpool at speed February 1942 (photo courtesy Imperial War Museum)

All ten Town class cruisers were light cruisers, built to constraints of London Naval Treaty of 1930. This laudable but misguided treaty hurt the Royal Navy and the US Navy since the Japanese Navy and Kriegsmarine cheated outrageously and lied about the displacement of their “treaty cruisers.”

The two forward 6-inch gun turrets of the Town class cruiser HMS SHEFFIELD after she had opened fire and sunk the German tanker FRIEDERICH BREME in the North Atlantic. (Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum).

 

HM King George VI, wearing the uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet, inspecting personnel from Glasgows crew at Scapa Flow as part of a four-day visit to the Home Fleet. Her two forward 6 inch gun turrets can be seen in the background. (Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

 

Cruisers HMS Glasgow (C21), left, and USS Quincy (CA-71), right, during the bombardment of Cherbourg in support of the advancing Allied troops. (Official Royal Navy photograph courtesy of Imperial War Museum)


HMS Sheffield, a Southampton class cruiser, was built by Vickers Armstrong , on the Tyne, and completed in 1937. Ice forming on a 20-inch signal projector on the cruiser HMS SHEFFIELD whilst she is helping to escort an Arctic convoy to Russia. (photograph courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

 

 

Britain and Iceland Fight Cod War

Many years back the British and the Icelanders had a bun fight over international fishing rights and how much cod the British could catch and where they could fish. Each side had its own interpretations. Icelandic Coast Guard vessels would close British trawlers and try and cut their trawl nets.  British frigates would interpose themselves in a game of cat and mouse.

 

THE COD WAR: THE ROYAL NAVY ON FISHERY PROTECTION DUTIES OFF THE COAST OF ICELAND 1975 – 1976 (CT 227) In a near miss, the Icelandic gunboat ODINN passes withing feet of the Royal Navy frigate HMS SCYLLA off Iceland. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205191178
THE COD WAR: THE ROYAL NAVY ON FISHERY PROTECTION DUTIES OFF THE COAST OF ICELAND 1972 – 1976 (CT 226) The Icelandic gunboat TYR ploughs past the Royal Navy frigate HMS SCYLLA off Iceland. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205191177
THE COD WAR: THE ROYAL NAVY ON FISHERY PROTECTION DUTIES OFF THE COAST OF ICELAND 1972 – 1976 (CT 236) The Icelandic gunboat ODINN passes within feet of the Roy al Navy frigate HMS SCYLLA. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205191185
THE COD WAR: THE ROYAL NAVY ON FISHERY PROTECTION DUTIES OFF THE COAST OF ICELAND 1972 – 1976 (CT 234) The Icelandic gunboat ODINN ploughs through the seas off Iceland alongside the Royal Navy frigate HMS SCYLLA. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205191183
THE COD WAR: THE ROYAL NAVY ON FISHERY PROTECTION DUTIES OFF THE COAST OF ICELAND 1972 – 1976 (CT 232) The Icelandic gunboat TYR comes dangerously close to the Royal Navy frigate HMS SCYLLA off Iceland. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205191182

ROYAL NAVY ADVANCED COASTAL FORCES BASE CORSICA

 

THE NAVY AT BASTIA. 1 JUNE 1944, ADVANCED COASTAL FORCES BASE, BASTIA, CORSICA (A 24231) Some of the men and the craft at the Bastia base. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205156154

 

THE NAVY AT BASTIA. 1 JUNE 1944, ADVANCED COASTAL FORCES BASE, BASTIA, CORSICA (A 24229) View of the advanced coastal forces base at Bastia. MGB’s in the foreground. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205156152

 

THE NAVY AT BASTIA. 1 JUNE 1944, ADVANCED COASTAL FORCES BASE, BASTIA, CORSICA (A 24230) View of the advanced coastal forces base at Bastia. MGB’s in the foreground. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205156153
THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 24228) View of the advanced coastal forces base at Bastia, Corsica with MGBs , including MGB 658, in the foreground. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205119869

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 26456) MGB 646 on its way to Skiathos, Greece, with the escort carrier HMS STALKER in the background. After its liberation Skiathos was used as an advanced base for the assault on Salonika. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205119920

 

 

British Troops In Hell at Dunkirk

 

DUNKIRK 1940 (MH 5848) British troops disembarking from a destroyer at Dover after their return from the Dunkirk beaches, June 1940. Copyright: © IWM. 
DUNKIRK AND THE RETREAT FROM FRANCE 1940 (C 1720) Ships off the beaches at Dunkirk, c.3 June 1940. Smoke billows from burning oil storage tanks. Copyright: © IWM.

 

DUNKIRK AND THE RETREAT FROM FRANCE 1940 (C 1717) A Hudson of RAF Coastal Command patrols over Dunkirk, as oil storage tanks burn fiercely in the background, c. 3 June 1940. Copyright: © IWM.

 

Soldiers from the British Expeditionary Force fire at low flying German aircraft during the Dunkirk evacuation. (PHOTO COURTESY OF AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL) This photo is in the public domain and getty images cannot claim as one of their pictures.

 

 

THE EVACUATION FROM DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 73187) A hospital ship carrying wounded soldiers away from Dunkirk. In the background can be seen columns of smoke and flames from fires burning in the bomb and shell shattered port. Copyright: © IWM.

 

THE FALL OF FRANCE IN 1940: GERMAN OFFICIAL COLOUR PHOTOGRAPHS OF DUNKIRK IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE BRITISH EVACUATION (COL 289) German forces arrive in Dunkirk after the completion of the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force earlier in the day. Clearing the blocked road into Dunkirk. Under the direction of their German captors, French troops push away an immobilised British Universal Carrier tracked vehicle. Copyright: © IWM.

 

THE FALL OF FRANCE IN 1940: GERMAN OFFICIAL COLOUR PHOTOGRAPHS OF DUNKIRK IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE BRITISH EVACUATION (COL 288) German forces arrive in Dunkirk. The sea front at Dunkirk photographed immediately after the completion of the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force earlier in the day. Vehicles and troops of the German mobile assault unit Motorensturm 13, drawn up on the sea front at Dunkirk near one of the unit’s light anti-tank guns. Copyright: © IWM.

 

DUNKIRK AND THE RETREAT FROM FRANCE 1940 (HU 104614) A woman from the Mechanised Transport Corps (MTC) hands out tea to troops evacuated from Dunkirk at a railway station in the UK, 31 May 1940. Copyright: © IWM.

Dunkirk, France. 1940-05-28. Troops of the British Expeditionary Force lined up on the beach awaiting the arrival of the British Evacuation fleet.

 

DUNKIRK AND THE RETREAT FROM FRANCE 1940 (HU 104604) A paddle steamer, seen from the deck of another vessel, reaches safety at an east coast port during the evacuation from Dunkirk, 2 June 1940. Copyright: © IWM. 

 

DUNKIRK AND THE RETREAT FROM FRANCE 1940 (HU 104607) Some of the ‘little ships’ used during the evacuation of Dunkirk being towed back along the River Thames past Tower Bridge, 9 June 1940. Copyright: © IWM. 

 

Featured Image: As oil storage tanks burn in the distance, a trawler crowded with troops heads from Dunkirk back to England, June 1940. Imperial War Museum