On the sinking of Schnellboot S 71 in the night of 17 to 18 February 1943 and the fate of her crew.

by Jaap Plokker | Katwijk, March 2022

Newspaper clipping reporting the sinking of the S 71 and the rescue of the survivors.

Table of contents

  • Foreword
  • ‘Schnellboote’
  • ‘Schnellboote’ in the Netherlands
  • S 38 class
  • Schnellboot S 71
  • 17/18 February 1943: mine laying operation between Sheringham and Lowestoft
  • Crewmembers of the S 71 washed ashore on the beach in Holland
  • The trajectory of the corpses
  • Postscript
  • Accountability
    – Key literature
    – Footnotes
    – Illustrations
  • Annex – Perished crew Schnellboot S 71

Foreword

On 27 August 2021 I received an e-mail from Rinus Noort from Noordwijk with a request. He had a police report on a German Kriegsmarine man who had washed ashore at Noordwijk on 9 April 1943, in which the number of his ‘Erkennungsmarke’ was given, but not his name. Rinus also told me that the German in question had been transported from Noordwijk to the ‘Groene Kerkje’ in Oegstgeest on 22 April 1943 to be buried in the German cemetery there. If I could help him to find out the identity of this unknown German.

On the basis of the ‘EM’ number and a list of Germans reburied, first at Oegstgeest and later at Ysselsteyn, I came to the conclusion that the German unknown to Rinus could well have been Eberhard Kronke. When Rinus mailed me that Eberhard Kronke was not the only one, but within 24 hours no less than four Germans of the Kriegsmarine were washed ashore on the beach of Noordwijk, Rinus’ request of 27 August turned into an interesting case: Was there a connection between these four washed up corpses and if so, what had happened in the North Sea? An essential condition to be able to proceed with this was that we received the ‘Gräberkarteikarten’ of the identified Germans. For this purpose I contacted Danny Hoek and within one day I received a reply. The three identified Germans, including Eberhard Kronke, belonged to the 6. Schnellbootsflotille and were killed on 18 February 1943. During the investigation Danny Hoek also supplied the ‘Gräberkarteikarten’ of two crew members of the 6. Schnellbootsflotille.
With these data I could get to work, with interim input from Rinus when he discovered something. The result was an acquaintance on my part with the German ‘Schnellboote’ and a reconstruction of the events on 17 and 18 February 1943 which ultimately led to the sinking of Schnellboot S 71. Three members of the crew of this ship were washed up on the beach at Noordwijk on the 9th of April 1943, as were the two Germans found on the beach at Zandvoort in April.

Historical research is not only an extremely interesting activity for the individual amateur historian, but it gains an extra meaningful dimension when the findings are shared with others. It therefore goes without saying that the knowledge of the events surrounding the S 71 and her crew should not be limited to Rinus Noort, Danny Hoek and the undersigned, but should also be available to other interested parties. The result is this monograph. It is a conscious choice not only to reconstruct the events surrounding the S 71, but to place them in the general context of the Second World War, with the emphasis on the role of the German ‘Schnellboote’.

Jaap Plokker

Katwijk, March 2022

Felled by a ‘pom-pom’

In April 1943, six corpses of German soldiers of the Kriegsmarine were washed up on the beaches of Noordwijk and Zandvoort within a period of a few days. After identification of five of them it appeared that they belonged to the 6. Schnellbootsflottille. What had happened on the North Sea?

In the Treaty of Versailles, drawn up after the First World War, all kinds of provisions were included to prevent the build-up of a strong German armed force in the future. For example, the German Kriegsmarine was bound by all kinds of restrictions regarding the size of the fleet and the construction of battleships. The Germans decided to build a war fleet, albeit without large battleships, but with warships that would be formidable opponents because of their special characteristics. An example of this was the ‘Schnellboot’.

‘Schnellboote’

The decision to purchase the first “Schnellboot” was made in 1929. The starting point for the design was the luxurious and fast yacht Oheka II, built in 1927 by the Lürssen shipyard in Bremen. After the construction of the S 1, the fleet was not only extended, but the type was also constantly modernised. The original wooden hull remained faithful. In the course of the Second World War, boats with a length of 35 metres came into service. The “Schnellboot” lived up to its name, because the later types had a maximum speed of about 40 knots under favourable conditions. Because of this characteristic they were particularly suitable for fast attack operations against enemy ships, especially cargo ships. They were equipped with torpedoes, but could also be used to lay mines in enemy waters and to drop depth charges. In addition, cannons were placed on board, for both horizontal and vertical fire. The German Schnellboot was a formidable weapon of the German Kriegsmarine in the Second World War.(1)

Schnellboote' of the 4. Schnellbootsflottille leave the port of Rotterdam.

‘Schnellboote’ in the Netherlands

During the Second World War, the German Kriegsmarine stationed ‘Schnellboote’ in seaports from the north of Norway to Brittany in the occupied territories. The ‘Schnellboote’ were divided into a number of flotillas. The flotillas changed their station regularly.(2)

In January 1943, three flotillas were stationed in the Netherlands: the 2. and 6. Schnellbootsflottille in IJmuiden and the 4. Schnellbootsflottille in Rotterdam. The home base of the latter was the ‘Schnellbootbunker’ in the Waalhaven. In IJmuiden, the Germans built ‘Schnellbootbunker I’ at the head end of the Haringhaven. During the war a larger and more protective shelter for the Schnellbootsflottillen was begun at the beginning of the Haringhaven, but was never completed.(3)

Aerial photograph of the head end of the Haringhaven in IJmuiden with 'Schnellbootbunker I'. In early 1943, this was the home base of the 2. and 6. Schnellbootsflottille. Damage and bomb craters resulting from allied bombing of the bunker are clearly visible.

.

From IJmuiden and Rotterdam the ships, often working together, carried out nightly operations off the English coast of East Anglia. Convoys of allied cargo ships, mostly loaded with coal, sailed from the Firth of Forth in Scotland to London and vice versa along this part of the North Sea that was infested with banks and minefields. Navigation routes between these obstacles were marked out with buoys. The ‘Schnellboote’ were warned in advance when a convoy of cargo ships would pass this coastal strip. When the conditions were right, no rough sea and a dark night, they went out to sink ships with torpedoes. With a draught of 1.70 m, their room to manoeuvre in this part of the North Sea was much greater than that of the deep-sea, slow-moving cargo ships, which often only had a channel a few hundred metres wide at their disposal in this coastal area.

They were also regularly sent out with the task of dropping sea mines in the shipping lanes along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast, often accompanied by so-called spring buoys to slow down the sweeping of the mines. The ‘Schnellboote’ were also used for anti-submarine warfare and for this purpose were equipped with depth charges. In the area between the Netherlands and Brittany, the so-called “Westraum”, “Schnellboote” were rarely sent out for this task.(4)
Schnellboote’ were also stationed in Ostend. With those from IJmuiden and Rotterdam, the English east coast from Cromer to the Thames estuary was their main area of operation. For the ‘Schnellboote’ stationed in the Low Countries, the focus was mainly on the convoy route between Cromer and Orford Ness. The flotillas stationed in Boulogne and Cherbourg were responsible for the English Channel and the south coast.(5)

For the curved Norfolk coastline between Cromer and Lowestoft south of Great Yarmouth, the North Sea was littered with banks.

All convoys between Scotland and London and vice versa had to pass this part of the North Sea and were repeatedly ‘treated’ to torpedoes from the German ‘Schnellboote’ which liked to hunt for ‘game’ in this area.

S 38 class

In 1927 the Lürssen shipyard in Bremen built the “Oheka II” for the Jewish German-American investment banker Otto Hermann Kahn. The 22.5 metre yacht reached an impressive speed of 34 knots for that time thanks to the light weight and the model of the hull, combined with the three-motor propulsion. When Lürssen was commissioned to build the first “Schnellboot” in 1929, the model for its design was the Oheka II. In 1930 the first “Schnellboot”, S 1, was put into service. In accordance with the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles on fast boats, the armament was light and there was no torpedo launcher on board, although it was considered during construction that it could be installed when necessary. During the thirties about 20 “Schnellboote” of different types were built. As the thirties progressed, the possibility of using these ships as torpedo boats became less and less secretive.
In 1940, the S 26 came into service. The hull of this ship, which was still made of wood, was to serve as a model for all the types built later. Until then, the two torpedo launch tubes had been installed above deck, but in the S 26 they were integrated into a raised foredeck on either side of the bow. Further visible improvements, which were made during the Second World War, mainly concerned the armament and the superstructure, which had to offer more and more protection against, for instance, Allied air attacks.

A Schnellboot of the S 38 class at speed.

Model of a Schnellboot of the S 38 class with armoured bridge, the "Kalottenbrücke", torpedo launch tubes installed on both sides of the bow and the three pieces of artillery: on the forecastle, amidships and on the quarterdeck.

An improved version of the S 26 class was the S 38 class. These ‘Schnellboote’ had an armoured bridge, a so-called ‘Kalottenbrücke’. The construction of the S 38 started in 1940. Many of the ‘Schnellboote’ built during the Second World War were of the S 38 class, including the S 71. The three diesel engines gave the ship a maximum speed of about 40 knots. The armament consisted of two torpedo launch tubes, three small calibre guns and machine guns. On departure, each launching tube contained a torpedo, ready to be fired. There was a possibility to carry two extra torpedoes. Especially for a planned attack on a convoy, this was used eagerly. Furthermore, the ship was equipped to lay sea mines on the afterdeck. One could carry six. During the war years, the armament of the ‘Schnellboote’ showed many variations. As a rule, three guns were placed on board: a 20 mm and a 40 mm gun at the bow and stern respectively, and a 20 mm multi-loop gun amidships, behind the bridge. They were mainly meant for air defence. There were also 7.62 mm machine guns on board to defend against attacking aircraft. For a confrontation with enemy warships, the ‘Schnellboot’ was far too lightly armed. Her speed, and the surprise and escape possibilities this offered, were the ultimate weapons of the ‘Schnellboot’. A light hull and ditto armament were the consequences. The wooden hull in particular offered the crew little protection against enemy fire. Modifications to the bridge during the war were intended to provide more protection for the steering and commanding officer.(6)

Oberleutnant zur See Rüdiger Suhr
from 1 August 1942 commander of Schnellboot S 71

The ‘Schnellboot’ S 71 was of the S 38 class. The keel was laid on 22 September 1941 at the Lürssen Werft in Bremen. The launching took place on 4 December 1941 after which the S 71 was put into service on 11 January 1942 and was added to the 6. Schnellbootsflottille, the flotilla to which she would be assigned throughout her active career. The 6. Schnellbootsflottille changed home ports regularly between January 1942 and February 1943, and during this period roamed the ports of call on the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, from Svolvaer on the Lofoten in northern Norway to Ostend in Belgium. From 22 September 1942, the 6. Schnellbootsflottille was stationed at IJmuiden.

On 1 August 1942, command of the S 71 was transferred to the then twenty-four-year-old Oberleutnant zur See Rüdiger Suhr.(7)

17/18 February 1943: minelaying action between Sheringham and Lowestoft

Around half past four in the afternoon of Wednesday 17 February 1943, 15 “Schnellboote” of the 2. Schnellbootsflottillle left their bases in IJmuiden and Rotterdam to lay mines in the passage along the Haisborough Sands, between Lowestoft and Sheringham.(8)

A British “Fairey Albacore” discovered the 2. Schnellbootsfottille near the Haisborough Sands north of Great Yarmouth on the evening of 17 February 1943 at ten minutes to eight thirty and made the first attack on the minelaying “Schnellboote”.

At 20.19 hours the 2nd Flotilla was discovered and attacked by a ‘Fairey Albacore’, a single-engined biplane equipped for reconnaissance and bombing and torpedo attacks. The ‘Albacore’s’ were mainly deployed on the English east coast and the English Channel to protect the coastal convoys of freighters.(9)

Apparently the ‘Fairey Albacore’, which had not achieved any significant success with its attack, had alerted the Royal Navy, because the British ‘destroyers’ HMS ‘Montrose’ and HMS ‘Garth’, supplemented by a few British fast boats, MGBs(10), steamed towards the spot where the German flotillas had been spotted. Expecting the Germans to attack a convoy on its way from Harwich to Great Yarmouth, they took up positions where they could both protect the convoy and expect the German ‘Schnellboote’. At 23.39 hours one of the destroyers reported the first (radio) contact with the Schnellboote. What happened from that moment on is not entirely clear, as there are various interpretations. The most plausible is that on 18 February 1943 around 00.50 hours, as a result of a light grenade fired by HMS ‘Montrose’, the German ‘Schnellboote’ S 39, S 71 and S 76 became visible in front of HMS ‘Garth’. The S 71 sailed as the middle of the trio in line. While HMS ‘Garth’ fired at them with a ‘pom-pom’, the Germans tried to get away, zigzagging. Shells fired from HMS ‘Garth’ hit the S 71, which then caught fire and came to a standstill. The S 39 and S 76 managed to escape.

As HMS ‘Garth’ approached the burning S 71, a group of survivors were seen standing on the afterdeck, as far away from the flames as possible, and they expressed a wish to be taken off board. From HMS ‘Garth’ a sloop was launched, which sailed in the direction of the S 71. At about 10 metres from the quarterdeck one of the British, in his best German, told the six crew members of the S 71 to throw away their weapons, jump into the water and swim to the sloop. One German made an attempt and swam to the dinghy. When he was taken on board and it was made clear to him that he had nothing to fear, he shouted to his five remaining buddies to follow his example. They too jumped into the sea and swam to their rescue. One of them had the ship’s dog of the S 71 with him. A seventh German, who had jumped into the water earlier, was also picked up by the sloop. Meanwhile on board of the S 71 ammunition began to explode and the British, fearing that the fuel tanks would also explode, ran away as fast as possible.

HMS ‘Montrose’

HMS ‘Garth’

The single-barreled 'QF 2-pounder', nicknamed 'pom-pom', installed on the bow of HMS 'Garth' to combat 'Schnellboote'. Possibly the S 71 was set on fire with this gun.

Three blindfolded sailors of the S 71 are disembarked by the military police in Harwich harbour on the HMS 'Garth'.

The seriously injured crew member of the S 71 left the HMS 'Garth' in Harwich by fire card.

The seven survivors of the S 71 disappeared into captivity. Here, one of them is led off board HMS 'Garth' blindfolded by British military police.

At 02.00 hours the rescue operation was completed and HMS ‘Garth’ had taken on board seven people on board, including one seriously injured person, and the ship’s dog. The German survivors reported that they had left eleven dead and two critically wounded, including two officers, on board the S 71. In daylight, British ships inspected the place where the S 71 had sunk and found a large oil slick, some wooden wreckage, including a piece of the bow, and a German flag. The flag was fished out of the water and taken with them.

The seven survivors of the S 71 were brought into Harwich by HMS Garth, handed over to the authorities and remained in captivity for the rest of the war. The dog was adopted by the crew of HMS Garth and continued his life in British captivity aboard the destroyer named ‘Schnapps’.

According to another version, it was a projectile from HMS ‘Montrose’ that struck the S 71 in the engine room, causing a fire and the ship to be lost. The final blow was then dealt by HMS ‘Garth’, which rammed the burning wooden hull of the S 71, after which she sank. For this interpretation of the events in the night of 17 to 18 February 1943, no further concrete evidence has been found.

It is unanimously agreed that the S 71 went down in flames. The wreck lies in position 52o 26’N/ 02o, 05’E on the seabed; ca. 22 km east of Lowestoft.

Crew members of HMS 'Garth' shortly after the sinking of the S 71 with their adopted Schnellboat dog, who continued his life on board the destroyer under the name 'Schnapps'. Third from left, with beard, Duncan Campbell. He is said to have operated the pom-pom that fired the S 71's fatal shells.

Unaware of what exactly had happened to the S 71, the other ‘Schnellboote’ laid the mines and returned to their home port early in the morning of Thursday 18 February 1943. When the S 71 still had not returned to IJmuiden by daylight, planes were sent out to search for the missing ‘Schnellboot’. They could find nothing. Later that day, the “Führer der Schnellboote” Rudolf Jasper Petersen personally ordered seventeen “Schnellboote” of the flotillas stationed in the Netherlands to search for the S 71 and possible survivors. They, too, returned home empty-handed. Petersen’s action earned him a reprimand from his superior Generaladmiral Wilhelm Marschall, commander of Marinegruppe West. Schnellboote’ were there to fight, not rescue boats.

The Germans were thus unaware that seven of the twenty-six crew members had been rescued by the British and had disappeared into captivity. Nineteen crew members of the S 71 did not survive. The Germans who went down with the S 71 were: Commander Obertleutnant zur See Rüdiger Suhr, Leutnant Helmut Otto, ObMach. Ernst Tober, MachObMt. Freitag, MaschMt. Reer, ObMt. Eberhard Kronke, MatrHptGefr. Willi Lissowski, FkObGefr. ?, FkObGefr. Hohmann, MatrObGefr. Arthur Arps, MatrObGefr. Kolbe, MatrObGefr. Naujoks, MatrObGefr. Paul Niechwiejczyk, MechObGefr. Zgolik, MachObGefr. Meier, MaschObGefr. Schilling, MatrGefr. Kracik and Matr. Lengert.(11)

A group photo on board HMS 'Garth' with 'Schnapss' as well.

Crew members of the S 71 washed up on the Dutch beach

On 9 April 1943, three bodies were washed up on the beach in Noordwijk, and another on 10 April. The bodies were decomposed, but the clothing indicated that they were German soldiers of the Kriegsmarine. On three of the four corpses the Erkennungsmarke (EM) was found, which made identification possible.

On 9 April 1943, the body of twenty-six-year-old Matrose Obergefreiter Arthur Arps was found on the Noordwijk beach at kilometre marker 77, near the current golf course. The corpse was taken by order of the Germans to Duindammerslag and, for the time being, laid to rest in the dunes.
That same day, at kilometre marker 81, near the Wantveld, the corpse of the 25-year-old Matrose Hauptgefreiter Willi Lissowski was found on the beach. Just like Arthur Arps he was dressed in a uniform of the Kriegsmarine, but Lissowski was also wearing a life jacket. Both bodies were placed in the coffin on the spot by beachcomber den Hollander and taken to the General Cemetery in Noordwijk. Also on April 9th, 1943, the commander of the ‘Grenzaufsichtstelle’ informed the beach master den Hollander that a body had washed ashore before the Zuidboulevard of Noordwijk, at kilometre marker 83. Accompanied by the police, the beach warden and his staff went to the designated spot and found the decomposing body of a German non-commissioned officer of the Kriegsmarine. The body was placed in a coffin on the spot and transferred to the General Cemetery in the North Quarter. An EM was found on the body, which later enabled the identification of the corpse as 20-year old Obermaat Eberhard Kronke. Saturday morning 10 April 1943 the Noordwijke police received a message from the Ortskommandant in Noordwijkerhout that another corpse had washed ashore, this time on the beach in front of radio station ‘Nora’, near Langevelderslag. This time it appeared to be a soldier of the Kriegsmarine. No Erkennungmarke or other identifying marks were found on the decomposed body, so identification was not possible and the corpse was registered as that of ‘an unknown German naval soldier’. This body was also encased on the spot and taken to the General Cemetery at the Oude Zeeweg in Noordwijk.
The three identified Germans turned out to be among the crew of the ‘Schnellboot’ S 71 sunk off the English east coast near Lowestoft in the night of 17 to 18 February 1943 by the British ‘destroyer’ HMS ‘Garth’.
In view of the condition of the corpse, the place and the time of the unidentified German Kriegsmarine man’s beaching at ‘Nora’, it is obvious to assume that he, too, belonged to the crew of the S 71.
On 22 April 12943 the four corpses of German soldiers belonging to the Kriegsmarine found on the beach at Noordwijk on 9 and 10 April were transferred from Noordwijk to the ‘Deutsche Kriegerfriedhof’ near the ‘Groene Kerkje’ in Oegstgeest, where they were buried on 23 April 1943. On 10 and 12 May 1948 they were reburied at the German military cemetery in Ysselsteyn (Limb.). The three identified Germans lie there, side by side, in the graves with numbers CV-10-226 through 228. In grave CV-10-229 lies the body of the unknown Kriegsmarine soldier who washed ashore on the beach of Noordwijk in front of radio station ‘Nora’ on 10 April 1943 and who most probably also belonged to the crew of the S 71.(12)
On 8 or 15 April 1943, two corpses washed ashore on the beach of Zandvoort. After identification they turned out to be the following German soldiers of the Kriegsmarine: the nineteen year old Matrose Hauptgefreiter Wilhelm Galeman and the twenty-one year old Matrose Gefreiter Paul Niechwiejczyk. (13) Both Germans were also among the crew of the S 71.

Galeman and Niechwiejczyk were buried on 21 April 1943 in the Kriegsmarine section of the cemetery ‘Westduin’ in The Hague. These two ‘Matrosen’ were also transferred to the German military cemetery at Ysselsteyn and reburied there on 8 October 1948 in the graves numbered BK-7-168 and 169. Nineteen German soldiers died as a result of the sinking of the S 71. Of them, five were identifiable and washed up on the beaches of Noordwijk and Zandvoort in April 1943. Of the remaining fourteen crew members no grave is known. It is possible that more people on board of the S 71 were washed up on the Dutch coast. First of all we think of the German of the Kriegsmarine who was found on the beach near radio station ‘Nora’ on 10 April 1943.

In the Kriegsmarine section of Cemetery ‘Westduin’ in The Hague, one unidentifiable German was buried in March and April 1943, namely on 1 April 1943, in grave no. 89. It was a sailor who washed ashore at Monster on 31 March 1943. Considering the date and place this body was washed ashore and the date and place the crewmembers of the S 71 was washed ashore at Noordwijk on 9 April, it cannot be ruled out that this was also a seafarer of the S 71. The unknown ‘Matrose’, buried at ‘Westduin’ in grave 89, was reburied on 8 October 1948 at the German military cemetery at Ysselsteyn in grave BK-7-163. There were no indications that early April 1943 on the beaches of Scheveningen, Wassenaar and Katwijk also remains were found that could belong to the crew of the S 71.(14)

Front and back of a so-called Gräberkarte by Eberhard Kronke.

Rough sketch of the upper and lower currents in the southern part of the North Sea. The wreck of the S 71 is located in position 52o 26’N/ 02o, 05’E , approximately 22 km east of Lowestoft. It is likely that the crew members of the S 71 who drowned in the night of 17 to 18 February 1943 near the black spot ended up on the Dutch coast roughly along the route of the blue arrows, but their bodies may also have followed the route of the red arrows.

The grave maps sometimes provide essential information about the death of the person concerned.

The trajectory of the mortal remains

It is an intriguing question which route the mortal remains of the Germans who drowned near Lowestoft in the night of 17 to 18 February 1943 took through the North Sea before they washed ashore on the beaches of Noordwijk and Zandvoort in April 1943. Too many changing factors make it impossible to chart the course of a mortal remains of a drowned person with certainty. The ebb and flow of the tide causes varying currents. The result is a counterclockwise sea current in the southern North Sea, along the coast of England to the south and along that of the mainland to the north. Sustained strong winds from a certain direction can influence the sea current. There is both an upper and a lower current at the surface of the sea, which do not necessarily go in the same direction.

Therefore, it is very important for the trajectory that is followed where the body is in the water column. That varies. After drowning, the body sinks to the bottom. As a result of the decomposition process, gases are formed in the body that first make it float. Slowly, the body rises to the surface of the sea. The speed of this vertical movement depends on the decomposition process and the associated formation of gases. This happens faster in warm water than in cold conditions. The mortal remains eventually reach the surface of the sea, remain afloat for a while before sinking back down and continuing to float in the water indefinitely. In the southern North Sea, mortal remains are therefore always at play in changing sea currents, depending on their geographical location and in the water column.

The main direction of the residual current in the southern part of the North Sea is, as we saw, anticlockwise. This means that a drowning person on the mainland coast should wash up north of the place of drowning. Countless are the examples where the opposite is the case.
The time between drowning and being washed ashore also provides an indication. As a rule of thumb, a corpse, calculated over long distances, is carried with the sea currents an average of 10 km per day. This too is not a certainty. There are examples where a body has travelled less per day. A body can, for example, also be temporarily held up by an obstacle. In short, with the greatest possible reservations, the trajectory of the body of a drowning person through the North Sea can be reconstructed.(15)

Taking into account all the aforementioned uncertainties, we are assuming for the time being that the bodies of the drowned crew members of the S 71 were first carried southwards with the sea current, crossed the North Sea with the undertow at the height of the county of Suffolk and then ended up on the Dutch coast and were washed up on the beaches mentioned. A second option is that the mortal remains were carried further south with the residual current, crossed the North Sea near the Thames Estuary in the direction of Belgium and were then carried further north. Given the length of time between drowning and being washed ashore, the latter possibility must be seriously taken into account.

art of the police report that was drawn up in response to the beaching of Willi Lissowski and Arthur Arps in Noordwijk on 9 April 1943.

An aerial photograph of IJmuiden harbour taken after the Second World War with Schnellbootbunker II in the middle, which was never finished by the Germans. Schnellbootbunker I, at the head end of the Haringhaven, had already been largely demolished.

The S 204 of the S 100 class, belonging to the 4. Schnellbootsflottille stationed in Rotterdam, after the German surrender in the port of Felixtowe on 13 May 1945.

Postscript

The writing of this monograph would not have been possible without the cooperation and input of Danny Hoek and Rinus Noort. Especially the part about the fate of the crew of the S 71 is based on documents provided by Danny (Gräberkarteikarten) and Rinus (documents from the Noordwijk police archive). I would also like to thank Gert Overeem, senior GGP Nautical, Team Maritime Police Bureau Vermiste Personen Noordzee, for his information regarding persons who drowned at sea and Lars Steenbeek, depot and collection manager of the Historical Archive Westland, for the documentation he provided regarding an unidentified German of the Kriegsmarine who was washed ashore on 31 March 1943 at Monster.

Accountability

Literature

– Baart, Jac. J., Schnellboote, operations from Holland, Flanders and France 1940-1945. Lanasta Publishing, Emmen, 2006.

Footnotes

  1. Baart, Jac. J., Schnellboote, operations from Holland, Flanders and France 1940-1945. Lanasta Publishing, Odoorn, 2006, pp. 11-15. .https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schnellboot ;https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schnellbootverb%C3%A4nde_der_Reichs-_und_Kriegsmarine https://www.yachtforums.com/threads/oheka-ii-by-lurseen-yachts-22-5m-built-1927.146/
  2. Baart, Jac. J., Schnellboote , o.c., pp. 238-240.https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schnellbootverb%C3%A4nde_der_Reichs-_und_Kriegsmarine
  3. Baart, Jac. J., Schnellboote , o.c., pp. 246-251.https://www.hitlersatlantikwall.nl/fotos/nederland/festung-ijmuiden/schnellboot-bunker/de-schnellbootbunker/
  4. Baart, Jac. J., Schnellboote , o.c., pp. 17-18, 232-236. Spring buoys’ are also referred to in literature as ‘Sprengboyen’. http://www.s-boot.net/englisch/sboats-km-channel43.html
  5. Baart, Jac. J., Schnellboote , o.c., pp. 19-166. http://www.s-boot.net/englisch/sboats-km-channel42.html ; http://www.s-boot.net/englisch/sboats-km-channel43.html.
  6. Experts distinguish between an S 38 and an S 38b class. The distinction is particularly visible on the bridges’. Baart, Jac. J., Schnellboote , o.c., pp. 51 (foto), 62, 78, 225-237. http://www.s-boot.net/englisch/sboats-kriegsmarine-types.html ;http://shipbucket.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=10315 ; https://wiki.warthunder.com/S-38 ;https://wiki.warthunder.com/S-38b.
  7. R. Suhr: geb. 09-07-1918, missing 18-02-1943.
    https://www.historisches-marinearchiv.de/projekte/s_boote/lebenslauf_boot.php?where_value=64 https://www.historisches- marinearchiv.de/projekte/s_boote/lebenslauf_kommandant.php?where_value=204 .

  8. HMA (historisches-marinearchiv.de/projekte/s_boote/ausgabe.php?where_value=1263)
    ; HMA (historisches-marinearchiv.de/projekte/s_boote/ausgabe.php?where_value=1264 ) ; HMA (historisches-marinearchiv.de/projekte/s_boote/ausgabe.php?where_value=1265)
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairey_Albacore

In 1927 bouwde de Lürssen werf in Bremen voor de Joodse Duits-Amerikaanse investeringsbankier Otto Hermann Kahn de ‘Oheka II’. Dit jacht bereikte, dankzij het model en de drie motoren, een voor die tijd indrukwekkende snelheid van 34 knopen. Toen de Lürssen werf in 1929 de opdracht kreeg de eerste ‘Schnellboot’ te bouwen greep ze voor het ontwerp daarvan terug op de Oheka II.

  1. MGB stands for Motor Gun Boat
  2. Baart, Jac. J., Schnellboote , o.c., p. 105.
    https://www.historisches-marinearchiv.de/projekte/s_boote/lebenslauf_boot.php?where_value=64; http://www.s-boot.net/englisch/sboats-km-channel43.html ; https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schnellbootverb%C3%A4nde_der_Reichs-_und_Kriegsmarine#6._Schnellboot-Flottille ;
    http://www.wildfire3.com/garth.html and personal pages of Fred Stokes: Fred Stokes (wildfire3.com) / http://www.wildfire3.com/fred-stokes-.html and Duncan Campbell: Duncan Campbell (wildfire3.com) / http://www.wildfire3.com/duncan-campbell.html
    The location of the encounter between the S 71 and the British destroyers is also described differently in the literature. There are descriptions which place the sinking of the S 71 north of Sheringham, whereas the location of the wreck, mentioned in J.J. Baart, is 20 km east of Lowestoft. Both are incompatible. As the primary task of the British destroyers was to protect the convoy from Harwich to Great Yarmouth, we assume that J.J. Baart’s interpretation is the most reliable.
  3. Handwritten report by police officer Imthorn, starting 9 April 1943, made up on 12 May 1943, about the finding of the corpses of Arthur Arps and Willi Lissowski and the further actions up to and including the transfer to Oegstgeest. Handwritten report, made up by the Noordwijk police, starting on the 9th of April 1943, about the finding of the corpse of an unknown German soldier of the Kriegsmarine (He later turned out to be Eberhard Kronke) and the further actions up to and including the transfer to Oegstgeest. Handwritten report made up by the Noordwijk police, starting on 10 April 1943, about the finding of a corpse of an unknown German soldier of the Kriegsmarine and the further actions up to and including the transfer to Oegstgeest. Forms filled in by the Noordwijk police, ‘Statement of information regarding a war victim who died/washed ashore at Noordwijk’, regarding a ‘Marine-Feldwebel’ (= Eberhard Kronke), who washed ashore on 9 April 1943, drawn up 10 July 1945; Arthur Arps, who washed ashore on 9 April 1943, drawn up 10 July 1945; Willi Lissowski, who washed ashore on 9 April 1943, drawn up 10 July 1945; unknown marine soldier, who washed ashore on 10 April 1943, drawn up 10 July 1945. Consulted are scans of authentic documents, of which it is unknown in which archives they can be found. With thanks to Rinus Noort.
    Death certificate 1943 nr. 32, betr. Willi Lissowski and certificate nr. 33, betr. Arthur Arps. Erfgoed Leiden, Access No. 0900, inventory No. 2962. Digital: https://www.erfgoedleiden.nl/collecties/archieven/archievenoverzicht/scans/NL-LdnRAL-0900/2.2.6.1.14.16/start/70/limit/10/highlight/3 ; https://www.erfgoedleiden.nl/collecties/archieven/archievenoverzicht/scans/NL-LdnRAL-0900/2.2.6.1.14.16/start/70/limit/10/highlight/4 Gräberkarteikarten by Arthurs Arps, Eberhard Kronke and Willi Lissowski. Scans received from Danny Hoek, thank you.
    Website ‘Find A Grave’: https://nl.findagrave.com/memorial/67419640/eberhard-kronke ;https://nl.findagrave.com/memorial/67419593/arthur-arps ; https://nl.findagrave.com/memorial/67419556/willi-lissowski ;https://nl.findagrave.com/memorial/67419508/cv-10-229-ein_deutscher_soldat

Schnellboot' S 12 and S 13. Both belonged to the types before the S 26 in which the torpedo launch tubes were placed above deck.

Schnellboote' of the older types at the Lürssen Werft in Bremen

  1. The Gräberkarteikarten of Wilhelm Galeman and Paul Niechwiejczyk are not unambiguous about the date of stranding of both. The cream-coloured cards mention 8 April, the turquoise-coloured cards 15 April 1943 as the date on which the mortal remains were found on the beach. To date, no indications of the exact date have been found in Dutch archives. The archive of the municipal police in Zandvoort contains no information about the bodies washing ashore. Mail to Jaap Plokker from Robert van Vuuren, employee of the Noord Hollands Archive, dated 13-9-2021, who checked the following files: Noord Hollands Archief, archives of the Municipal Police Zandvoort, Access no. 2231, inv. nos. 9, 210 and 211. Also in the Noord Hollands Archief, Toegangsnr. 18, inv. nr. 6979, inz. Stukken betreffende de voldoening via de Commissaris der Koningin door de ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken van declaraties wegens het begraven van uit zee aangesgewoeld corpses van burgers en militairen, met gegevens over identificatie, 1851, 1912-1943, was no document found that referred to the remains of German soldiers who washed ashore in Zandvoort.
  2. Gräberkarteikarten by Wilhelm Galeman and Paul Niechwiejczyk. Scans received from Danny Hoek, thanks.
    Westduin Cemetery, List of buried German soldiers during 1940-1945 – Navy Department, grave nr. 89 (German man who washed ashore at Monster on 31 March 1943) and 93 and 94 (Crew members Wilhelm Galeman and Paul Niechwiejczyk who were found at Zandvoort) Archieven.nl – 0610-01 Municipal Council The Hague 1937-1952 (The Hague Municipal Archives)
    Website ‘Find A Grave’: https://nl.findagrave.com/memorial/76220420/wilhelm-galeman; https://nl.findagrave.com/memorial/76220439/paul-niechwiejczyk
    n 31 March 1943, an unknown German was found on the beach of the Monster municipality, dressed only in a jumper with a swastika and a pair of shoes. Further information about the corpse was not found in the archives (Declaration, dated 25 May 1943, about the transport of a German found on the beach of Monster on 31 March 1943). Historical Archives Westland, Municipal Administration Archives Monster 1930 – 1980, inventory number 1109). Mail from Lars Steenbeek, storage and collection manager of the Westland historical archive, to Jaap Plokker, dated 28 February 2022. With thanks to Lars Steenbeek. https://nl.findagrave.com/memorial/76220401/bk-7-164-ein_deutscher_soldat .
    In addition to the Kriegsmarine mortal remains found on the beach near ‘Nora’ on 10 April 1943, two other unidentified Germans were buried in the cemetery near the ‘Groene Kerkje’ in graves 378 and 379. These two Germans, who belonged to the Kriegsmarine, were found on the beach of Noordwijk on 17 June 1943 and buried at the German cemetery in Oegstgeest on 22 June 1943. They were reburied on 12 May 1948 at the German military cemetery at Ysselsteyn in grave CV-10-230 and 231. The time span between the Germans who washed ashore at the beginning of April and these two is so large that it must be excluded that the remains of the Kriegsmarine found on the beach of Noordwijk on 17 June 1943 are also crew members of the S 71. (List of German soldiers buried at Oegstgeest and Report of the transfer of German soldiers to Ysselsteyn, Erfgoed Leiden e.o., Municipal Archive Oegstgeest, 1931-1989, inv. nr. 1702)
    Wassenaar beach: Hazenberg, F.R., et al., Wassenaar in the Second World War, published by the Foundation Wassenaar 1940-1945, 1995, pp. 539-541.
    Katwijk beach: List of German soldiers buried at the General Cemetery in Katwijk aan Zee. Erfgoed Leiden e.o., Municipal Archive Katwijk 1656-1931 inv. nr. 512.
    15. Mail, dated 10-9-2021, from Gert Overeem, senior GGP Nautical, Team Maritime Police Office Missing Persons North Sea, Den Helder, to Jaap Plokker.
    The mentioned 10 km per day is a rule of thumb, not a fixed number. For illustration: The Brit John Clarke was probably evacuated from Dunkirk on 30 May 1940 and washed up on the beach at Katwijk on 20 August 1940. (81 days) (Police report L. de Jong and S. Brandsma, i.c. ‘Fransch militair’, dd. 16 April 1943. Scan received from Danny Hoek, origin unknown. Correspondence between the Ministry of War and Mayor Woldringh van der Hoop regarding allied soldiers buried in Katwijk, dd. 13 July, 13 and 21 November 1951, GAK 1946-1959, inv. nr. 636).
    On the night of 3 October 1943, an Avro Lancaster with Alexander Boyd Mclelland on board made an emergency landing in the English Channel, 25 miles off the coast of Beachy Head (Eastborne). His body washed ashore on the beach at Katwijk on 1 December 1943. (58 days) (Report detectives of police L. de Jong and S. Brandsma, i.c. A.B. Mac Lelland, dd. 12 April 1944. Scan received from Danny Hoek, origin unknown. Website International Bomber Command Centre – Losses Database: https://losses.internationalbcc.co.uk/loss/115775/ )
    On 13 July 1940 Leutnant Joachim Lange crashed with his Me Bf 109 into the English Channel south of Dover; on 16 August 1940 he washed ashore on the beach near Katwijk. (34 days) (Gräberkarteikarte Joachim Lange)
    On September 9, 1940, at 08.00 a.m., the Katwijk police station received a telephone call from The Hague stating that a German had drowned while swimming in Scheveningen. On Friday morning, 13 September 1940, at 07.00 a.m., the day/night reports of the Katwijk municipal police stated that the corpse of a German man in swimming trunks was found in the Uitwatering. Presumably the German drowned at Scheveningen. (Time between reports: 4 days; distance between drowning and beaching approx. 13 km) (Municipal archive Katwijk, police archive. Archive 0411, inv. nr. 7a. Leiden Heritage)

Illustrations

Title page: ‘Schnellboot’ of the S 38 class at speed. Taken from the Internet https://nl.pinterest.com/pin/325174035598267622/

Annex – Crew of Schnellboot S 71 killed in action

Germans killed in the night of 17 to 18 February 1943 as a result of the sinking of the S 71

In the night of 17 to 18 February 1943, the German Schnellboot S 71 was sunk by the British destroyers HMS Montrose and HMS Garth off the coast of Norfolk, near Lowestoft. Of the 26 people on board, seven were rescued by the British and made prisoners of war. Nineteen Germans did not survive. Eighteen of them are known by name. In April 1943 the remains of Germans of the Kriegsmarine were washed up on the beaches of Noordwijk and Zandvoort. Five could be identified and turned out to be crew members of the S 71. One unidentifiable German of the Kriegsmarine washed ashore at Noordwijk and was most probably also a seafarer of the S 71. A German Kriegsmarine ‘Matrose’, who washed ashore at Monster on 31 March 1943, could also have been a member of the crew of the S 71. No indications were found that possible crewmembers of the S 71 were washed ashore on the beaches of Scheveningen, Wassenaar and Katwijk.

The following Germans died during the sinking of the S 71: Commander S 71 Obertleutnant zur See Rüdiger Suhr, Leutnant Helmut Otto, ObMach. Ernst Tober, MachObMt. Freitag, MaschMt. Reer, ObMt. Eberhard Kronke, MatrHptGefr. Willi Lissowski, FkObGefr. ?, FkObGefr. Hohmann, MatrObGefr. Arthur Arps, MatrObGefr. Kolbe, MatrObGefr. Naujoks, MatrObGefr. Paul Niechwiejczyk, MechObGefr. Zgolik, MachObGefr. Meier, MaschObGefr. Schilling, MatrGefr. Kracik and Matr. Lengert.

Bodies of crewmembers of the S 71 washed up at Noordwijk and Zandvoort

Name

Born….

Deceased

Grade

EM…………………

Found

1st. Cemetery

2nd..Cemetery

Note

Arps, Arthur
9-1-1917
18-2-1943
Obergefreiter
O 3908/38 S
Washed ashore in Noordwijk on 9 April 1943 at pole 77 (near the current Golf Course)
Transferred to the General Cemetery, Oude Zeeweg, in Noordwijk. Buried on 23 April 1943 in the cemetery near the ‘Groene Kerkje’ in Oegstgeest
On 10 May 1948 reburied at the German military cemetery at Ysselsteyn in grave CV-10-227
 
Galeman, Wilhelm
14-4-1923
18-2-1943
Obergefreiter
O.N. 8526/40 T
Washed ashore in Zandvoort on 8 April 1943, possibly 15 April 1943
Buried on 21-4-1943 in the naval section of the Westduin Cemetery in The Hague in grave 93
On 8 October 1948 reburied at the German military cemetery at Ysselsteyn in grave BK-7- 168
Two different dates of washout are mentioned on the grave cards: 8 and 15 April 1943
Kronke, Eberhard
4-9-1922
18-2-1943
Obermaat
0618/41 Kt
065276 M
Washed ashore in Noordwijk on 9 April 1943, at pole 83 (in front of the Zuid Boulevard)
Transferred to the General Cemetery, Oude Zeeweg, in Noordwijk. Buried on 23 April 1943 in the cemetery near the ‘Groene Kerkje’ in Oegstgeest
On 10 May 1948 reburied at the German military cemetery at Ysselsteyn in grave CV-10-226
 
Lissowski, Willi
28-12-1917
18-2-1943
Hauptgefreiter
N 3661/38 I
Washed ashore in Noordwijk on 9 April 1945 at pole 81 (off the Wantveld)
Transferred to the General Cemetery, Oude Zeeweg, in Noordwijk. Buried on 23 April 1943 in the cemetery near the ‘Groene Kerkje’ in Oegstgeest
On 12 May 1948 reburied at the German Military Cemetery at Ysselsteyn in grave CV-10-228
 
Niechwiejczyk, Paul
18-1-1922
18-2-1943
Gefreiter
O 6745/41 S
Washed ashore in Zandvoort on 8 April 1943, possibly 15 April 1943
Buried on 21-4-1943 in the naval section of the Westduin Cemetery in The Hague in grave 94
On 8 October 1948 reburied at the German military cemetery at Ysselsteyn in grave BK-7- 169
Two different dates of washout are mentioned on the grave cards: 8 and 15 April 1943
Unknown German soldier of the Kriegsmarine
       
Washed ashore in Noordwijk on 10 April 1943, on the beach in front of the radio station ‘Nora’ near Langevelderslag
Transferred to the General Cemetery, Oude Zeeweg, in Noordwijk. Buried on 23 April 1943 in the cemetery near the ‘Groene Kerkje’ in Oegstgeest
On 12 May 1948 reburied at the German military cemetery at Ysselsteyn in grave CV-10-229
Although not a visible crew member of the S 71, the date and location of the beaching, the uniform of the Kriegsmarine and the condition of the corpse indicate that this could most probably be a crew member of the S 71.

Not to be completely ruled out as a crew member of the S 71, corpse washed up on the Holland coast.

Name

Born….

Deceased

Grade

EM…………………

Found

1st. Cemetery

2nd..Cemetery

Note

Unknown German soldier of the Kriegsmarine
   
‘Matrose’
 
Washed ashore in Monster on 31 March 1943
Buried on 01-04-143 on the naval part of the Westduin Cemetery in The Hague in grave 8
On 8 October 1948 reburied at the German military cemetery at Ysselsteyn in grave BK-7-164
Although not a visible crew member of the S 71, the date and location of the beaching do not exclude the possibility that this was a crew member of the S 71.