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Old 16th August 2010, 21:58
Jochen Prien Jochen Prien is online now
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Luftwaffe claims for British shipping in November 1940

Gentlemen,

in November 1940 the Luftwaffe reverted to attacks on the British coastal shipping in the Channel; JG 53 was frequently employed on escort sorties for the Ju 87 that were detailed to attack convoys and single ships in the Thames estuary and off the southern and southeastern coast of the UK.

It is a well known fact that Luftwaffe claims against allied shipping were often wildly exaggerated, one of the first good examples during the BoB period being the attacks on the convoy CW-08 PEEWIT in early August 1940.

My question concerns four days in November 1940 when parts of JG 53 were active as escort for Ju 87 units attacking British shipping in the Thames Estuary:

November 1st - at 15.30 hrs. Stukas attacked 18 ships in the Thames Estuary claiming to have sunk five totalling 20.000 BRT.

November 7th - at 13.40 hrs. Ju 87 claimed to have scored hits on four freight ships south of Southend; in five attacks on this day a total of 30 to 40.000 BRT of shipping was claimed to have been sunk.

November 8th - at 17.30 hrs. Stukas claimed to have severely damaged two heavy cruisers east of Southend and to have sunk a merchant ship, damaging another.

November 11th - at 13.20 hrs. two coastal convoys were attacked by Ju 87 off Margate and in the Thames Estuary; the overall claims fpr the day were for five ships totalling 37.000 BRT sunk and three more with 13.000 BRT damaged.

Now, there can be no doubt that these claims were by far exaggerated -but what were the true results of these attacks ? I would be very grateful for any detailed information.

Regards

Jochen Prien
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Old 16th August 2010, 22:27
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Re: Luftwaffe claims for British shipping in November 1940

Possible help on this website or in this book.

I've used the book in the past as our local reference library had a copy.
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Old 16th August 2010, 23:24
Andy Saunders Andy Saunders is offline
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Re: Luftwaffe claims for British shipping in November 1940

Merchant Shipping Losses

Nov 1:

Steamship Letchworth (1,317 tons) west of Oaze Buoy - sunk by aircraft.

Nov 7:

Steamship Astrologer (1,673 tons) 51degrees 32 min N, 01degrees 06min E

Nov 8:

Nothing

Nov 11:

Nothing

The above from a cursory look through the loss tables. I need to have another look, but that seems to be all that is listed in 'British Vessels Lost at Sea 1939-45'.
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Old 17th August 2010, 08:06
robert robert is offline
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Re: Luftwaffe claims for British shipping in November 1940

Hi,

according to this page: http://www.naval-history.net/xDKWW2-4011-24NOV01.htm

November 1:
"Patrol sloop PINTAIL, escorting convoy FS.323 with destroyers WATCHMAN and VERDUN, was badly damaged by German bombing in the Thames Estuary. Her commanding officer Lt Cdr T. H. Hill-Walker, Sub Lt E. C. Hopkins RNVR, eight ratings were killed. Three ratings were wounded.
British steamer LETCHWORTH (1317grt), in convoy FS.22, was sunk by German bombing one cable west by north of Oaze Buoy and one cable south, southwest of Mouse Light Vessel.

One crewman was killed on the British steamer.
Minesweeping trawler TILBURYNESS (279grt, T/Skipper W. S. Hawes RNR) was sunk by German bombing near East Oaze Buoy in the Thames Estuary.

Ten ratings were lost. Anti-aircraft ship ROYAL EAGLE and tug SALVO rescued the survivors.
British drifter TORBAY II (83grt) was sunk by German bombing off Downs".

Robert

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Old 17th August 2010, 08:17
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Re: Luftwaffe claims for British shipping in November 1940

Hi,

as for 7th November it has:
"
German bombers attacked convoy FS.28 in Barrow Deep.

British steamer ASTROLOGER (1673grt) was sunk by German bombing in 51‑32N, 01‑06E.

The entire crew of the steamer was rescued.

Steamer ASTROLOGER was beached on the 7th, but was wrecked in a gale on the 15th.

British steamer DAGO II (1993grt) was damaged by German bombing in 51‑32N, 01‑09E.

British steamer MEDEE (2163grt) was damaged by German bombing 51‑10N, 01‑12E."

Robert
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Old 17th August 2010, 10:37
Jochen Prien Jochen Prien is online now
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Re: Luftwaffe claims for British shipping in November 1940

Dear Nick, Andy and Robert,

many thanks for your quick help on and off board. Your findings confirm that in all four cases here in question the Luftwaffe's claims were widely exaggerated both with respect to the number of ships sank or hit and their respective size. Even under the tense situation of attacking the ships while under fire from their a/a defenses and at least on some occasions harrassed by British fighters, the sheer degree of overclaiming seems quite incomprehensible. ( Yet the same would happen over and over again ).

While the Propaganda jumped on such figures the Navy bore a healthy mistrust against Luftwaffe claims as can be seen from the way these reports were handled / commented on in the War Diary of the Navy High Command ( KTB der Seekreigsleitung ). It would be interesting to know if and to what degree these claims were later checked and corrected on the German side.

Anyway, as usual you have been most helpful. Many thanks again.

Regards

Jochen Prien
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Old 17th August 2010, 12:32
Andy Saunders Andy Saunders is offline
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Re: Luftwaffe claims for British shipping in November 1940

Jochen

Although not so wildly over-claimed in terms of numbers of ships sunk, the Kriegsmarine on the night of 7/8 August 1940 claimed three vessels of CW9 Peewit sunk by the E-Boats of 1.S-Flottille when, in fact, it seems likely they had sunk only two. That said, a third vessel was sunk although the official explanation was that this was through collision whilst avoiding attack, although there is some contradictory evidence that might indicate it was torpedoed. Either way, the 1.S-Flottille claimed 17,000 BRT sunk whereas the actual tonnage of the three small vessels was 2,587.

I did not look for or include the Luftwaffe claims for shipping they had sunk during the later attacks on CW9 Peewit in my recent book "Convoy Peewit" but if you have them, Jochen, I'd be interested - especially if there was a large element of overclaiming. Of course, we know the actual losses of British shipping during attacks aimed against CW9 although, in fact, some of the merchant and RN vessels etc that were sunk or damaged were not officially part of CW9, anyway.
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Old 17th August 2010, 12:44
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Re: Luftwaffe claims for British shipping in November 1940

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jochen Prien View Post
... the Luftwaffe's claims were widely exaggerated both with respect to the number of ships sunk or hit and their respective size. ...

Jochen Prien
From years of reading, it seems that airmen's estimates of the sizes reports ships were hardly ever accurate. This seems to apply to reconnaissance crews and to anti-shipping strikes. Naval aviators seem no better than land-based ones either and all countries are as bad.
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Old 18th August 2010, 01:56
Martin Gleeson Martin Gleeson is offline
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Re: Luftwaffe claims for British shipping in November 1940

Hallo Jurgen and all,
.
Checking further into the two sources provided by Andy and Robert one can find more Royal Navy and civilian vessels lost or damaged in the coastal waters off southern and SE England within the range of Ju 87s and Bf 109s. It should be noted that many other vessels were sunk or damaged on these four days, either by air attack or mines (many probably air-dropped), but in areas beyond the range of the above aircraft. It seems from the entries below that other types of German bombers were involved in these attacks and may have sunk or damaged some of the vessels. Unfortunately I have no further information. So although the claims were exaggerated there was some basis in them for every day.
.
Most of the following comes from the very useful Naval History website and supported in part by the British Vessels Lost at Sea 1939-45 book. As far as I can tell Jurgen Rohwer's excellent naval website, www.wlb-stuttgart.de , seems to point to He 115s causing the loss of the steamer ASTROLOGER.
.
November 1, 1940.
Patrol sloop PINTAIL, escorting convoy FS.323 with destroyers WATCHMAN and VERDUN, was badly damaged by German bombing in the Thames Estuary. Her commanding officer Lt Cdr T. H. Hill-Walker, Sub Lt E. C. Hopkins RNVR, eight ratings were killed. Three ratings were wounded.
Sloop PINTAIL was under repair at London until mid February.
British steamer LETCHWORTH (1317grt), in convoy FS.22, was sunk by German bombing one cable west by north of Oaze Buoy and one cable south, southwest of Mouse Light Vessel.
One crewman was killed on the British steamer.
Minesweeping trawler TILBURYNESS (279grt, T/Skipper W. S. Hawes RNR) was sunk by German bombing near East Oaze Buoy in the Thames Estuary.
Ten ratings were lost. Anti-aircraft ship ROYAL EAGLE and tug SALVO rescued the survivors.
Auxiliary anti-aircraft ship ROYAL EAGLE (T/Lt Cdr E. F. A. Farrow RNR) shot down a bomber during these air raids in the Thames Estuary.
British drifter TORBAY II (83grt) was sunk by German bombing off Downs. (This auxiliary patrol vessel was apparently sunk off Dover).
.
November 7th.
.
German bombers attacked convoy FS.28 in Barrow Deep.
British steamer ASTROLOGER (1673grt) was sunk by German bombing in 51-32N, 01-06E.
The entire crew of the steamer was rescued.
Steamer ASTROLOGER was beached on the 7th, but was wrecked in a gale on the 15th.
British steamer DAGO II (1993grt) was damaged by German bombing in 51-32N, 01-09E.
British steamer MEDEE (2163grt) was damaged by German bombing 51-10N, 01-12E.
Sloop EGRET shot down a Ju.88. Sloop EGRET sustained some casualties from a near miss.
.
November 8th.
.
Convoy FN.329 departed Southend, escorted by destroyers WINCHESTER and EGLINTON and patrol sloop SHELDRAKE. Destroyer WINCHESTER and sloop SHELDRAKE were detached on the 9th. Destroyers CATTISTOCK and WALLACE joined on the 9th.
German bombers attacked convoy FN.329 on the 8th.
Escort ship/destroyer WINCHESTER (Lt Cdr S. E. Crewe Read) shot down two Ju.87 bombers in air raids on the Thames Estuary.
Escort ship/destroyer WINCHESTER struck a mine one mile northeast of Swin Light Vessel and had to anchor to make emergency repairs. While anchored, she was damaged by near misses, but had no casualties.
Escort ship/destroyer WINCHESTER was under repair at London until 6 June.
Dutch steamer AGAMEMNON (1930grt) was sunk seven cables 222° from Swin Light Vessel.
Two crew were lost on the Dutch steamer.
British steamer FIREGLOW (1261grt) was damaged by German bombing southwest of Swin Buoy in the Thames Estuary.
British steamer EWELL (1350grt) was damaged by German bombing in 51-43N, 01-23E.
British steamer CATFORD (1568grt) was damaged by German bombing southwest of Swin Buoy in the Thames Estuary. The convoy arrived at Methil on the 10th.
.
November 11th.
.
German bombers attacked convoys FN.332 and FS.333.
British steamers CORSEA (2764grt), CORDUFF (2345grt), and COLONEL CROMPTON (1495grt) in a convoy were damaged by German bombing in Barrow Deep off Middlesborough.
Escorting escort vessel VIVIEN (Lt Cdr F. H. Beattie) shot down one Junkers bomber, sloop LONDONDERRY (Cdr J. S. Dalison) shot down another Junkers bomber, tug ST MELLONS (T/Lt H. L. Forster DSC RNR) shot down a Messerschmidt.
British steamer PITWINES (932grt) was damaged by German bombing north east of Yarmouth.
.
Hope this helps, regards,
Martin Gleeson.
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