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Friday, December 9th 2011, 3:58pm

The Chilean naval attache in Rio will take advantage of the public viewings to call on the German visitors.


Friday, December 9th 2011, 4:15pm


Originally posted by Brockpaine
The Chilean naval attache in Rio will take advantage of the public viewings to call on the German visitors.

And he will find a warm welcome. :)

Indeed, if he wishes, arrangements may be made to visit other vessels of the squadron - perhaps the base ship Coronel or the store ship Mittenwalde. ;)


Friday, December 9th 2011, 4:20pm

He would take the Germans up on that offer, of course.


Friday, December 9th 2011, 7:55pm

Unternehmen Rösselsprung - Part Thirty Nine

Thursday, 7 August 1941

All too quickly it seemed that the task force visiting Rio de Janeiro was departing. While the last liberty parties were enjoying their visits ashore, other German sailors were sweating beneath the warm winter sun stowing supplies in store rooms, overseeing the bunkering of their ships or otherwise preparing them for sea. Several commercial German tankers had arrived to transfer their cargos to the waiting oilers of the task force, while the local offices of the German Etappendienst had arranged fuel deliveries by barge from local sources.

Von Fischel found it interesting that a number of Brazilian officers had requested permission to inspect the squadron’s supply ships, the oilers in particular. They asked a number of penetrating questions and from such von Fischel surmised that the Brazilian Navy might be planning to acquire its own logistics train. In any event, his hosts proved quite helpful in seeing to the replenishment of his ships after their long journey. The voyage home would be nearly as long.

Finally, on a quiet Thursday morning, the propellers of the German ships began to churn in the harbour as the great ships began their seaward journey. First the destroyers, to take up their position in the outer ring of escorts; then the cruisers, and then the aircraft carriers; with their knot of small escorts the supply ships followed in their own detachment. To the Brazilians watching ashore it was a great sight to see the mighty fleet sortie from Guanabara Bay, accompanied by the thundering reports of salutes to the still-assembled Brazilian warships.

Von Fischel ordered his ships to steer southeast to take them clear of the normal coastal shipping lanes, and then directed a gradual change to the east and then northeast – out into the open Atlantic. The regular round of air patrols was resumed as the bow of the Graf Zeppelin and her consorts headed in the general direction of home.

[Situation Map]


Saturday, December 10th 2011, 2:47pm

Unternehmen Rösselsprung - Part Forty

Sunday, 10 August 1940

For two days the task force had sailed northeastward, skirting south of Trinidade and avoiding the major shipping lanes. The seas were moderate and in no way hampered the task force’s operations – yet even so the operation of aircraft from a moving base takes its toll. The second day out of Rio de Janeiro had seen the disappearance of a scouting Fi168 “Hammerhaie” from the Peter Strasser – a search could find no debris or survivors. Set beside the achievements of the task force the loss of an aircraft and crew might seem small cost – but it did dim the spirit of all the men of the task force.

Von Fischel arrived on the bridge of the Graf Zeppelin early on Sunday morning.

“Good morning Herr Admiral,” said Lindenau.

“Yes,” the admiral replied. “What is our current position?”

They adjourned to the chart table and checked the task force’s track. Von Fischel nodded. “We will turn north,” he ordered.

Lindenau plotted the course change and remarked, “That will bring us rather close to Ascension Island Herr Admiral.”

“Perhaps, but we will be well east of it.”

[Situation Map]


Monday, December 12th 2011, 3:04pm

Unternehmen Rösselsprung - Part Forty One

Saturday, 16 August 1941

The port of Dakar was abuzz with talk about the two German-flagged oil tankers that had arrived the day before – and this on top of the continuing visit of the cruisers Duquesne and Gloire. The local newspapers carried word of the German task force that had sailed to the South Atlantic and visited Brazil; reports were swirling as to where they would go next.

Capitaine Martin of the cruiser Gloire did know where the Germans were going – or rather coming; and that was to Dakar. That was the reason his Third Cruiser Squadron had prolonged its own visit while returning from Djibouti. A pair of heavy cruisers would make a far more impressive showing than the sloops Bellone and Aréthuse, the normal guard ships for the port.

It was late afternoon when the Bellone, patrolling to seaward, signaled that she had spotted the approaching German task force, and despite the best of efforts the word soon swept the marketplaces of the city. As the aircraft carriers, cruisers and destroyers of the German task force entered the roadstead and exchanged salutes with Gloire and the other French warships the waterfront of the city swarmed with Dakarians of all colours.

From the bridge of the Graf Zeppelin von Fischel looked out over the rapidly filling roadstead. “Our hosts are being quite accommodating,” he mused. “I suspect we are the largest task force to have called here in quite some time.”

Lindenau nodded. It was a testament to the confidence of the French government in the loyalty of its colonial subjects that they would allow a foreign fleet of such size to call at one of its ports, even if only for a day or two. The report from the Etappendienst advised that two tankers were available at Dakar to transfer their cargos to the task force’s oilers, and that bunkerage had been arranged to assure that the task force would have sufficient fuel reserves to return home whatever incidents might occur.

As the senior officers of the task force prepared to call upon the French authorities ashore and afloat the supply and intendance officers began the laborious task of fueling and supplying a floating city.

[Situation Map]


Tuesday, December 13th 2011, 3:05pm

Unternehmen Rösselsprung - Part Forty Two

Monday, 18 August 1941

The visiting German fleet stayed in the harbour of Dakar for only two days, its attention concentrated on refueling and replenishing. There was, of course, the opportunity for Capitaine Martin of the Gloire to host a visiting delegation of German officers, and, of greater interest to him, to enjoy the opportunity to visit the German flagship, Graf Zeppelin, as well as some of the other vessels of the German squadron.

Like his own ships, the Germans had been at sea for an extended period, and it did show – even in the short time in port the German officers had work parties chipping away at the inevitable rust and repainting the metal left bare. He was impressed by the victualing ship Mittenwalde, and he particularly appreciated the report of one of his junior officers who had been offered the opportunity to go aboard her and take a closer look at her cold storage facilities, her materials handling arrangements and her booms for underway transfer. Martin also took note of the rapidity with which the Germans had topped off their fleet oilers from the two chartered tankers awaiting in the port; their technique appeared well practiced. He also noted that the Germans obviously had contacts in the business community ashore, for fresh provisions were readily delivered to them – orders for their purchase must have been placed before the arrival of the German force.

Martin genuinely regretted the departure of the Germans, for there were many subjects that he wished he could have explored further. However, as the last of the German vessels disappeared over the northern horizon, he could take comfort that Gloire and Duquesne would soon follow in the same direction, making their own way home from their assignment in Djibouti.

Thursday, 21 August 1941

From Dakar the German task force had shaped a northwesterly course, passing east of the Atlantean mainland. From the outset they had the friendly escort of Atlantean patrol aircraft operating both from bases on Lyra and from bases in Atlantis’s African provinces. The Seetakt sets aboard the ships of the task force were kept lit by their constant presence. The combat air patrols would occasionally encounter them and both sides showed professional respect and kept reasonable distances. Likewise the antisubmarine patrols flown from the aircraft carriers; they would occasionally sight shadowing Atlantean warships but the latter made no attempt to close.

“Herr Admiral,” Lindenau reported. “We are passing west of Madeira, per orders.”

“Excellent,” von Fischel responded. “We should pass well east of the Azores on this course.”

“Yes Herr Admiral,” said Lindenau with a nod.

“Tomorrow we will alter course,” von Fischel added. “Fleet Command has advised that the British are planning to stage a major exercise in the North Sea. We must take care to avoid it – to be home if possible before it begins, if not, to steer clear of it.”

“Quite so Herr Admiral,” concluded Lindenau.

[Situation Map]


Wednesday, December 14th 2011, 6:31pm

Unternehmen Rösselsprung - Part Forty Three

On the morning of 22 August the task force altered course from northwest to northeast, intending to pass east of Rockall rather than west.

“The Canadians?” ventured Lindenau, when von Fischel ordered the change.

The admiral frowned before responding. “That is not my intent, but it is a consequence. Passing east of Rockall will save a day, perhaps two, on our voyage.”

“Yes Herr Admiral,” said Lindenau, checking his briefing portfolio. “We have detected transmissions from vessels operating to the southwest of us; frequencies and operating methods suggest they originate from Atlantean vessels.”

“That is to be expected; their air patrols were sufficient to monitor our progress across the Lyran Sea,” von Fischel replied. “Here they may be with us at least until we near Ireland; however, I do not anticipate anything more than their proper watchfulness.”

Over the next days the task force tracked steadily northeastward. Seetakt contacts with patrolling Atlantean aircraft soon fell away and after two days even the occasional transmissions from Atlantean surface vessels could be detected no longer.

Monday, 25 August 1941

“Seetakt contact Herr Admiral,” Lindenau reported. “Bearing zero-two-five relative, closing at two-two-zero kilometres per hour; characteristics suggest either one large aircraft or a small formation.”

Von Fischel checked the chart and the bearing of their contact.

“I suspect it is the Irish – this is where I would expect their Sunderlands to take charge of shepherding us. Alert the combat air patrol just in case; we can but hope that the Irish wireless equipment is in better order now.”

[Situation Map]


Thursday, December 15th 2011, 8:49pm

Unternehmen Rösselsprung - Part Forty Four

The task force continued on its northeasterly course, passing to the west of Ireland. The fine weather of late summer was fading fast and these northern seas began to have a tinge of autumn about them, with winds that made for difficult landings on the aircraft carriers and which carried spray to drench the decks of the ships. Nevertheless the officers and men of the task force were in good spirits; they had done something no German fleet in modern times had ever done – and they had learned many things. If deployed in tropical waters for extended periods, the ships would need improvements to their habitability; the store ship Mittenwalde proved a godsend with her refrigerated storerooms, and more such specialised ships would increase the ability of the Kriegsmarine to sustain a force at sea for far longer. The use of chartered merchantmen to plug the gap in the fleet train had shown its limitations on a number of occasions.

As expected, the Sunderlands of the Irish Air Corps had kept a watchful eye upon the task force, and one of the outer escorts had reported sighting what it took for an Irish fisheries patrol vessel. As the voyage progressed the Irish Sunderlands were replaced by those of the Royal Air Force; at times it was difficult to tell which was in the offing. Still later Nordish scout aircraft were seen as the task force neared the Faeroe Islands.

Friday, 29 August 1941

Admiral von Fischel came onto the bridge of the Graf Zeppelin and went immediately to the chart table to check their current position.

“Lindenau,” he said with a sense of anticipation, “it is time to change course – we will steer east, and pass well east of the Shetland Islands.”

“Yes Herr Admiral.”

Flags fluttered from signal halyards and lights flashed across the task force. Slowly their bows shifted to starboard and settled onto an easterly course.

[Situation Map]


Friday, December 16th 2011, 5:38pm

Unternehmen Rösselsprung - Part Forty Five

The task force had cruised east-southeasterly for a day and a half, coming rather near to the coast of Norway, wishing to give the Shetlands a wide berth; the intelligence from Fleet Command in Berlin suggested that the Royal Navy’s “Exercise Nelson” would soon begin, and von Fischel had no desire to blunder into the middle of another navy’s fleet exercise. The ships of the task force kept their navigation lights bright and their formation tightened up as the changed course to the southeast and began their final leg to Wilhelmshaven.

Wednesday, 3 September 1941

Admiral von Fischel was in his day cabin, reviewing the many reports that would be filed upon their return when his yeoman announced the arrival of Kapitän Lindenau.

“Herr Admiral,” he announced, “we have been sighted by our own air patrols, and the Marineflieger station at Norderney reports that it is ready to receive the air groups one we have launched them.”

Von Fischel looked up. “Good,” he exclaimed. “You may launch when ready; signal the Peter Strasser that she may begin launching her aircraft once the Graf’s air group is on its way.”

“Yes Herr Admiral,” replied Lindenau. “We should arrive in Wilhelmshaven late this afternoon.”

“Detach the Fifth Escort Group and the supply ships to make for Bremerhaven. Bütow has done a good job shepherding them these many days.”

Lindenau nodded. “Yes, the men are in good spirits, but they wish to be home.”

“So do we all Lindenau, so do we all,” von Fischel assured him.


As the autumn sun began to settle in the west the column of great ships entered the channel that led into the anchorage of the Jade. Sailors lined the rails and salutes were exchanged with the capital ships that were anchored there. The pride of the Kriegsmarine was evident for all to see. When the last of the ships of the task force had anchored and their engines come to rest, there was not one participant who did not know that their mission had been accomplished to the satisfaction of their officers and to the nation.

[Situation Map]


Friday, December 16th 2011, 6:37pm

The Marine Nationale sends their respects to the German Navy for their excellent performance of a technically-challenging cruise.


Friday, December 16th 2011, 6:39pm


Originally posted by Brockpaine
The Marine Nationale sends their respects to the German Navy for their excellent performance of a technically-challenging cruise.

Merci beau-coup! :)


Saturday, December 17th 2011, 12:43am

Aye, that was a jolly good tale. Lovely writing, I wish I could write half that good.


Saturday, December 17th 2011, 1:08am


Originally posted by Sachmle
Aye, that was a jolly good tale. Lovely writing, I wish I could write half that good.



Saturday, December 17th 2011, 10:51am

Thanks Bruce for this excellent piece of writing and these wonderful side-stories and tales.


Saturday, December 17th 2011, 1:29pm


Originally posted by Hood
Thanks Bruce for this excellent piece of writing and these wonderful side-stories and tales.

You are quite welcome. It's a challenge but one I enjoy.


Sunday, December 18th 2011, 7:10pm

Hi Bruce .... excellent work .... very good stuff .... i love your reports !!!!


Sunday, December 18th 2011, 7:24pm

Thank you.

Perhaps, when peace reigns in Asia, the Kriegsmarine might visit China, among others.