You are not logged in.

101

Tuesday, October 30th 2018, 12:17am

Marinestützpunkt Kiel, Wednesday, 1 December 1948

Captain First Rank Konstantin Konstantinovich Khrenov, naval attaché of the Russian Federation, arrived from Berlin on the early morning train. His hosts had invited him to observe planned amphibious exercises off the island of Rugen. Casting an eye over the inner harbour Khrenov noted a number of vessels he had not noted in previous visits – a squadron of fleet destroyers of the Z250-class – ships as far as he was aware ought to be with the Kriegsmarine’s Atlantikflotte in the North Sea. Moreover, as the launch that was ferrying him out the amphibious ship Wittelsbach passed that section of the shipyard reserved for ships “in ordinary” he saw much activity – including a tug towing one of the older destroyers that were in reserve across the harbour towards a shipyard wharf.

“Interesting… and very unexpected.” Even in his thoughts Khrenov was a master of understatement.

The launch came alongside Wittelsbach and he was piped aboard. He was then conducted to the cabin of Vizeadmiral Becker, who welcomed him.

“Herr Kapitän, please make yourself comfortable. Your gear will be sent to your cabin.” Khrenov had been warned that the exercise would take several days to conclude.

“Thank you Admiral.”

Becker went on to explain that the exercise was rather routine in concept – a reinforced battalion would make a practice landing on beaches on Rügen.

“Admiral, I trust that the weather will be propitious.”

“We expect the weather will be marginal… as an engineer might say, we are ‘pushing bounds of the envelope’. Our goal is to learn what can be anticipated in marginal weather and how to cope with it.”

102

Monday, November 5th 2018, 4:36pm

The Prorer Wiek, Sunday, 5 December 1948

Captain Khrenov stood on the bridge of the Wittelsbach and watched with interest the transport Frundsberg as she began to lower her landing craft. He could see the landing troops congregating on deck preparatory to clambering down the cargo nets that stretched from the deck to the spots designated by bold numbers on the Frundsberg’s side, to which the boats in the water made their way slowly. As predicted, the weather made matters difficult – a strong chop in the water, moderate winds, which hampered the landing boats that strove to take their place.

“Admiral, I suspect you may take casualties. Clambering down those nets fully loaded cannot be easy.”

Becker nodded. “In previous exercises we have lost men who lost their footing and fell into the water, and drowned before they could be recovered; others by being crushed between their boat and their ship. I hope that the training of our boat crews will keep this to a minimum.”

Khrenov was about to comment further when the sound of gunfire distracted him. Looking towards the shore he way several destroyers had taken station to landward and were beginning a preliminary bombardment of the shore.

*****
“Herr Kapitän, we are in position.”

Von Bülow nodded. “Signal the squadron to open fire according to plan.”

The Z250 shuddered as a broadside was loosed from her main guns and arced toward the shore, throwing up fountains of sand from their impact.

His crews were accustomed to firing at moving targets while their own ship moved at speed. Firing at fixed targets, with their ship barely under way, was a new experience. And it was necessary that their bombardment be precise – too short and their shells would land among the landing barges; too long and shells might fall in areas still occupied by civilians.

He looked toward the flagship Wittelsbach and saw her hoist the signal for the landing barges to start their run for the beach. He watched the barges crawl toward the rim of white sand, struggling against the current that tried to sweep them southward from their objective.

“Shift fire. Execute fire plan Dora”

In response the destroyers shifted their fire slightly inland – in the event a barge was swept too far south its landing point would be out of the immediate bombardment zone.

*****

Khrenov noted that the first wave of barges had reached the shore and disgorged their cargo of troops, wheeling smartly to return to the Frundsberg. As they did so he saw larger lighters making their way towards the beach, where they would deliver tanks and other heavy equipment to support the first assault detachments.

“Methodical…”

103

Wednesday, November 14th 2018, 8:44pm

Marinestützpunkt Warnemünde, Monday, 13 December 1948

It had been some months since Mladshy Leytenant Gennady Alexandrov had seen the sights of Warnemünde, and he was still surprised at the receipt of orders that had detached him from his duties with the Baltic Fleet and instructed him to report to Captain First Rank Kozyukhin aboard the destroyer Pylkiy. Once he had come on board the destroyer he was conducted to Captain Kozyukhin’s cabin, where, to his continuing surprise, he found several of the other Russian exchange officers he had served with on the training ship Brummer. Kozyukhin wasted little time before explaining.

“Gentlemen, our cooperation with the Kriegsmarine will be entering a new phase in the next months, and the skills you have developed will be particularly useful. Soon a number of Kriegsmarine reservists will arrive for orientation in current operational procedures and will be embarking on an accelerated training program. Your first assignments will be to familiarise these reservists with the terminology in use at the moment, which, as you know, is rather a hybrid of German and Russian. Your assignments will be as language instructors ashore.”

“I assure you, you should not look upon this in anyway prejudicial to your careers. Each of you as shown particular promise and your efforts in this present assignment are of vital importance. I regret that at the moment I cannot be more specific.”

104

Tuesday, November 20th 2018, 9:20pm

Marinestützpunkt Kiel, Sunday, 19 December 1948

The first train arrived in the early morning, and disgorged its group of a hundred Kriegsmarine reservists under the watchful eyes of half-a-dozen experienced petty officers. They were marched from the railway station to the naval barracks, processed through reception, and assigned quarters. As the day wore on they were joined by other groups of reservists – all experienced destroyer-men, enough to fill the most important billets in any ship. Reserve officers arrived sometime later, taking charge of nucleus groups of the several departments of a ship – gunnery, machinery, navigation, sensors. Some of the reservists had served together, others had been recalled reluctantly from civilian life. For the time being, they were kept busy in drill. Everyone wondered why they had been recalled in so hasty a manner.

105

Tuesday, November 27th 2018, 3:48pm

Marinestützpunkt Kiel, Wednesday, 22 December 1948

The process of forming the recalled reservists into nucleus ships companies was underway when the first recruits – fresh from their basic training – arrived. So many were parcelled out to each of the ships companies, filling less-important billets under the watchful eyes of experienced petty officers. It would take time for them to meld.

What surprised the new crews was the amount of time they spent in the classroom; particularly the reservists. They found themselves listening to lectures on new operational procedures and, to the surprise of most, taking abbreviated language lessons. To the old hands the sight of their Russian instructors was almost unnerving – though their officers reassured them that working seamlessly with their allies was the key to future successes.

106

Friday, December 7th 2018, 12:36am

Marinestützpunkt Warnemünde, Saturday, 25 December 1948

Konteradmiral Maximilian Glaser had called his staff to arms, despite the Christmas festivities and understandable desire to spend the holiday weekend with family and friends.

“Gentlemen, as you may be aware the Admiralstab has announced the reactivation of Zerstörergeschwader 31, Zerstörergeschwader 32, and Zerstörergeschwader 33. Within a few days the first ships will be stripped of their cocoons and begin refitting for active service. The nucleus crews are already undergoing refresher training at Kiel and by the end of next month we will have more ships to incorporate into our training programme.”

There was a murmur of concern from some members of the staff. There were already a dozen ships cycling through the Lehrdivision’s exercises, and the projections from the Admiralstab suggested that more new ships – including two of the new escort aircraft carriers – would be arriving before spring. The sudden addition of destroyers from the reserve could easily overwhelm them.

“I want you to work up accelerated training programmes for the ships once they are refitted. Our resources will be stretched, so training must concentrate on fundamentals. Fortunately, the crews coming forward have a good proportion of experienced men who will only need to absorb our current operating procedures. Our Russian allies have already provided a training cadre to assist in the transition.”

He paused and then concluded, “I want to see your plans by Thursday.”

107

Sunday, January 13th 2019, 12:49am

Marinestützpunkt Warnemünde, Tuesday, 4 January 1949

Gennady Alexandrov, together with his fellow officers – a mix of Germans and Russians – had been working flat out teaching successive groups of Kriegsmarine officers and ratings. He had been told that these men would need to learn Russian – but in practice the training sessions had come to focus on the technical jargon used in common between the Federation Navy and its German counterpart – and that was enough. For the first time in days he had an opportunity to relax; this proved to be short-lived, as the pounding on the door to his quarters heralded a summons.

“Gennady Alekseevich!” It was Malenkov, one of his fellow instructors. “We’re having a party in the canteen tonight. Come, join us!”

Alexandrov knew that the post canteen served beer, but the gaiety of Malenkov’s demeanour suggested he had found something stronger; the neck of a bottle protruding from one of his pockets confirmed Alexandrov’s surmise.

“No, I have to catch up on some files before classes in the morning.”

“Haven’t you heard? The Germans have cancelled tomorrow’s classes. Some big inspection or something. We’ll have an entire free day!”

No, Alexandrov had not heard that report; and if correct, he would have. Malenkov might have something, but prudence suggested that rumour was not to be trusted.

“I still want to finish the paperwork and get a good night’s rest.”

“You’ll be sorry…” Malenkov concluded and retreated down the corridor.

Alexandrov returned to the desk on which papers were spread. He took up his pen and paper and returned to his task.

“Dearest Mother… My assignment here is most interesting…”

108

Sunday, January 27th 2019, 7:36pm

Marinestützpunkt Warnemünde, Saturday, 15 January 1949

Troop trains sat alongside every platform at the Warnemünde station, platforms that were filled with sailors with their duffel bags. The recalled reservists had spent a month or so re-learning their trades while the recruits that formed a fair proportion of the new crews had picked up a bit of classroom experience on the particular vessels to which they were now being sent.

Slowly the carriages filled – soon they would be departing for their destinations – some to Kiel, some to Rostock, and others as far away as Hamburg. There they would meet their ships – destroyers brought out of moth-balls and still in the hands of the yards for refit. The officers – some of whom had already departed as an advance guard – had some inkling of the reason for the haste, but few spoke aloud the questions that remained in their minds.

109

Wednesday, January 30th 2019, 9:30pm

Marinestützpunkt Pillau, Thursday, 20 January 1949

The Pylkiy and the other ships of the Thirteenth Destroyer Flotilla swung lazily at anchor. Captain First Rank Pavel Kozyukhin watched from the bridge as the icebreaking tugs Eiszapfen and Eisberg worked to keep the harbour clear.

“They are having plenty of opportunity to learn their trade.”

The tugs, like many of the German vessels operating in the Baltic were assigned to the Lehrdivision – the Kriegsmarine’s training command. They had emerged from the Hamburg shipyard nearly two months ago and would formally become operational in a few weeks. There was no reason they could not put their crews to realistic training.

A signals yeoman approached. “Captain, message from Commander, Lehrdivision.” Kozyukhin acknowledged it and read.

From Commander, Lehrdivision to Commander, Thirteenth Destroyer Flotilla, Russian Federation Navy. Be advised that Zerstörergeschwader 31 has been assigned to Lehrdivision for accelerated operational training. Expected arrival Pillau 21 January. Request you prepare and submit proposed training plan as soon as possible. Glaser.”

He sighed. He had been briefed on the Kriegsmarine’s plan to reactivate a number of their older destroyers from the reserve – and indeed some his best officers had been called upon to assist in the classroom training of the reservists who composed their crews. He wondered what the level of experience the officers of the ships might have, how well they had fared in their shore-side training, and how good their ship-handling skills might be. He considered that his skills as a patient instructor were to be put to the test.

110

Thursday, February 7th 2019, 1:25am

Submarine U-205, Irbe Strait, Ruhna bearing East-Southeast, Saturday, 22 January 1949

She had trailed a British flotilla – a light cruiser and two destroyers – from just outside Nordish territorial limits off Stockholm to their entry to the Gulf of Riga; now her orders were to picket the strait through which the British must pass on their homeward voyage. No doubt there were Russian boats operating in the area, even if ice hampered their activities. And if not submarines, more than sufficient Russian assets were deployed to remind the Royal Navy that the Baltic was not a British lake.

So they waited. Perhaps the Kriegsmarine had sent more vessels, or submarines. If so, the U-205 had not been informed. Her orders were to watch and wait.


Marinestützpunkt Pillau, Sunday, 23 January 1949

Kapitän zur See Hermann Lüdke was on the bridge of his flagship Z-219 when he led the four ships of Zerstörerdivision 311 into Pillau harbour. Freshly refitted and cleared by the shipyard Lüdke had brought his ships hence to begin what he had been told was ‘intensive training’. He could see across the harbour the Russian destroyer Pylkiy, from which a lamp aimed at the Z-219 now rapped out a string of signals.

“Captain repair on board”

Lüdke ordered the signal acknowledged and for the Number One motor whale boat to be cleared away. Kozyukhin was supposed to be a hard taskmaster – and he looked as if the man was wasting little time.

111

Thursday, February 7th 2019, 4:41pm

OOC
Submarine U-205, Irbe Strait, Ruhna bearing East-Southeast, Saturday, 22 January 1949

...No doubt there were Russian boats operating in the area, even if ice hampered their activities. And if not submarines, more than sufficient Russian assets were deployed to remind the Royal Navy that the Baltic was not a British lake.

The Russians would not... directly shadow the British visitors. The Russians will generally act neutrally towards the British unless there are extenuating circumstances. That said, the Brits will definitely see one or two of the Project 73 Obsidian guardships hanging around southwest of Saaremaa in the entrance to the Irbe Strait. Perhaps one or two "Gostinitsa" type patrol boats in the Gulf of Riga, or some of the Parnu-class destroyers out of Tallinn on the Baltic itself. The British ships should know they're being watched, but in a non-confrontive way.

Saaremaa is, of course, Russian territory and there is coast-defense artillery covering the northern shore of the Irbe Strait. The best channel is in the southern part of the strait, though, and I don't remember whether or not the Russian shore artillery can command the entire distance; I don't think it can.

U-205 might want to keep clear of the Russian guardship, just in case. If the Russians aren't told that U-205 is in the area, they might start playing bloodhound. And if the Russians were told... well, er, the guardship would still pursue her until they confirmed she's German.

112

Thursday, February 7th 2019, 4:47pm

Quoted

U-205 might want to keep clear of the Russian guardship, just in case. If the Russians aren't told that U-205 is in the area, they might start playing bloodhound. And if the Russians were told... well, er, the guardship would still pursue her until they confirmed she's German.


Her movements would have been communicated... but there is always value to 'extempore' training exercises. 8)

113

Thursday, February 7th 2019, 5:03pm

Quoted

U-205 might want to keep clear of the Russian guardship, just in case. If the Russians aren't told that U-205 is in the area, they might start playing bloodhound. And if the Russians were told... well, er, the guardship would still pursue her until they confirmed she's German.


Her movements would have been communicated... but there is always value to 'extempore' training exercises. 8)

I figured that would have been the case.

Still, the submarine game in the northern Baltic is played in a bit of a 'friendly aggressive' way. The Russians hassle Nordish and Polish boats; the Nords hassle Russian boats; and when everyone's done, they trade Pripps and Carlsberg for Mariinsk vodka... ;)

114

Friday, February 8th 2019, 10:58am

The Royal Navy is delighted their presence gives the German and Russian crews some time out of harbour.

115

Friday, February 8th 2019, 3:53pm

The Royal Navy is delighted their presence gives the German and Russian crews some time out of harbour.

The inverse, actually. In the case of the Russians, they'd actually have more ships in harbor during foreign visits, particularly since you're passing some of the best winter-time exercise areas. Similar to the way Petrograd parks the Northern Fleet when the Germans are running big exercises, much of the Baltic Fleet will either be in more remote areas or spending some time running repairs in Tallinn.

With fifty-odd surface combatants (destroyer size or larger) on the Baltic, another two hundred light craft, and five hundred aircraft in Baltic Fleet's assigned arm of Naval Aviation (not counting any other Russian aviation branches), I can make sure the British feel they've been properly shadowed...

But Russia feels it gains more from dignified restraint. At least in this case.

:)

116

Friday, February 8th 2019, 4:40pm

The Royal Navy is delighted their presence gives the German and Russian crews some time out of harbour.

The inverse, actually. In the case of the Russians, they'd actually have more ships in harbor during foreign visits, particularly since you're passing some of the best winter-time exercise areas. Similar to the way Petrograd parks the Northern Fleet when the Germans are running big exercises, much of the Baltic Fleet will either be in more remote areas or spending some time running repairs in Tallinn.

With fifty-odd surface combatants (destroyer size or larger) on the Baltic, another two hundred light craft, and five hundred aircraft in Baltic Fleet's assigned arm of Naval Aviation (not counting any other Russian aviation branches), I can make sure the British feel they've been properly shadowed...

But Russia feels it gains more from dignified restraint. At least in this case.

:)


And the Kriegsmarine is carrying out a lot of training in the lower Baltic - that's the purpose of Wachsame Entschlossenheit -but at the moment the U-205 is all that can be spared. Give us a reason and we can fix that, as we did with HM Submarine Wolverine.

117

Saturday, February 9th 2019, 10:42am

Wolverine had a job to do. Euryalus, Petard and Porcupine are just on a booze cruise. They could have visited Danzig but the Admiralty were weary of German sensitivities and limited their flag showing cruise.
Saying that, the crews are listening on hydrohpones so don't think they aren't prepared.

118

Monday, February 11th 2019, 4:25pm

Cruiser Marseillaise, The Gulf of Danzig, Thursday, 27 January 1949

The cold winter wind buffeted his ship, and Capitaine D'Estienne d'Orves was thankful for an enclosed bridge. The Marseillaise and the Suffren were again training up a new group of German destroyers – the four recently arrived ships of Zerstörerdivision 312. Reactivated and crewed by a mix of reservists and recruits he had found little to complain about in their ship handling. Today would test their skills in screening the cruisers in a simulated attack by submarines. Two of the latest ‘Shark’ class boats were to form the opposition. He wondered if the refurbished sensors on the destroyers would be adequate for the job. The answer was not long in coming.

“Signal from Z-221. Sighted submarine. Am engaging.”

The bridge crew of the Marseillaise raised a collective eyebrow. “Sighted a submarine?”

D'Estienne d'Orves said nothing and awaited further word from the Z-221, which had gone into full attack mode – firing her forward guns at something in the water off her starboard quarter and readying practice depth charges for an attack.

“Any confirmation of the sighting from Z-222?” She was paired with the Z-221 on the starboard side of the formation.

“No mon Capitaine…”

It was a few moments before the captain of the Z-221 sheepishly reported that an error had been made and his ship had ‘attacked’ a pile of floating debris. Obviously, someone was overanxious.