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Friday, September 29th 2017, 1:02am

Aircraft Carrier Graf Zeppelin, 57 dgs 14 min North, 2 dgs 22 min East, Thursday, 15 April 1948

Late afternoon found Einzatzverband 58 continuing its northward course; Lindemann had deployed Ruge’s Einzatzgruppe 58.2 somewhat to the south and west of his own; Langsdorff’s Einzatzgruppe 58.4 was somewhat to the north, while Einzatzgruppe 58.3 – the least experienced of his aircraft carrier groups – was to the east. All were sailing within easy supporting distance, and as the sun began to sink in the west Lindemann issued orders to maintain night combat air patrols as well as anti-submarine patrols.

Somewhere to the west of Britain the main force of the Royal Navy was sailing in his direction; the lack of definitive information of its whereabouts concerned him. Thus far Donnerschlag could be considered a success, but an unanticipated intrusion by the British fleet would bring on more than sufficient complications. Indeed, his northward movement might tempt those elements of the Royal Navy based in Scotland to become more active in their surveillance. Hence he had allowed his ships to spread over a somewhat wider area.


Friday, September 29th 2017, 2:30am

Marinestützpunkt Emden, Thursday, 15 April 1948

Capitaine de vaisseau Georges Cabanier had taken the opportunity of the relative lull in the German fleet exercise to visit the officers and crews of the four French submarines that had been involved as ‘Red Force’ scouts. Their rapid loss to German antisubmarine units was no surprise to Cabanier – that the Q193 had managed to ‘sink’ the cruiser Breslau – which lay moored in the harbour – could almost be taken as a coup. He had made the trip from Bremerhaven to get a first impression from their perspective on their participation; and he received an earful.

Capitaine de Corvette Charpentier described it succinctly, “We were deaf, dumb, and blind. The boats are old, slow, noisy – their hydrophones are totally inadequate – and they are devoid of any electronic detection equipment.” Cabanier could not disagree; he himself had been fighting for the design of a new class of submarines to replace the ancient boats Charpentier and his fellows manned. The poor showing they had made in the exercise might be enough to finally convince the naval chiefs of the necessity of modernising France’s coastal defences.

The Germans had shown considerable skill in their sub-hunting; aggressive use of sensors to drive submarines deep while their heavy ships left harbour; sprint and drift techniques by ships of corvette size as well as coastal escorts; box searches to localise a target once discovered. The use of acoustic buoys dropped from aircraft had come as a surprise – though Cabanier wondered whether the returns offset the cost of such equipment. He made a mental note to ask des Moutis, the staff intelligence officer, what he knew of the subject.

Having unburdened themselves of their frustrations, the officers of the Second Submarine Flotilla were in a much better mood when they went aboard the Breslau for dinner, hosted by their ‘victims’.


Friday, September 29th 2017, 3:50am

The use of acoustic buoys dropped from aircraft had come as a surprise – though Cabanier wondered whether the returns offset the cost of such equipment. He made a mental note to ask des Moutis, the staff intelligence officer, what he knew of the subject.

Shouldn't have been too much of a surprise - the French have used sonobuoys since at least 1942 on the Br.930 Pêcheur, and the Br.892 Épaulard. The Champagne-class antisubmarine airships also carry sonobuoys (and, more dangerously, a heavier sonar on a cable reel).


Friday, September 29th 2017, 12:17pm


Spoil-sport! :D


Saturday, September 30th 2017, 3:09pm

Bridge HMS Barrosa, 15:30 GMT, Wednesday 14 April

The task of shadowing the German ships was beginning to get routine. The lookouts kept their eyes peeled and the RDF hut was running a full routine with an additional operator on hand. Everything seemed relatively calm and neither side was doing any unprofessional so the tensions had relaxed slightly.

The Captain, Charles Ross, came onto the bridge and checked over the plot and bearing. Everything was as it should be and he settled into his chair as clouds parted and the spring sun shone down.
Moments later a messenger came up from the radio room and stood beside him and saluted, "Sir, a dispatch from Nore and Channel Command."
Ross thanked him and read the message. He dismissed the messenger and called over the First Officer, Lieutenant Peter Graves.

"Number One, we're being relieved at sixteen-thirty by HMS Fortune. We are then to proceed to the north of the Skagerrak and set up a patrol line in consort with Albuera, Mons and Somme. They will rendezvous with us there no later than twenty-one hundred hours. We've been designated the force flag."
Graves looked mystified, "Very good Sir. Do they say why we're being detached? Are there more German ships moving into the North Sea?"
Ross shook his head, "No, we're covering one of our subs coming out of the Baltic. We are to prevent any German interference. Ask the Chief to check how much fuel we have remaining."
Graves saluted in acknowledgement and headed down the bridge wing ladder. Ross was sure things were going to get more lively.

Control Room HMS Sealion, 15:35 GMT, Wednesday 14 April

Sitting about seventy miles off the Jutland coast, Sealion had been lucky so far and had not been detected by the German patrols further west and north. Her role now was to keep up a reconnaissance of the area and inform the Admiralty of any German ships heading home or going north to join the main force. There had been little to report but even so Commander Squires was annoyed when he received the radio dispatch ordering him north to a position just south of the Skagerrak. He didn't want to be spotted now and felt he was in a good position. Still orders were orders and his orders were to support a submarine coming home. The Germans might try and interfere with her passage and his task was to prevent that.


Saturday, September 30th 2017, 6:50pm

Wilhelmshaven, Headquarters Befehlshaber der Sicherung der Nordsee, Thursday, 15 April 1948

The burden of security for Germany’s waters in the North Sea would be burden enough for Konteradmiral Franz Claassen, whose command stretched from the Dutch frontier to the Danish Border, and well into the North Sea itself to the outpost of Heligoland. Add the challenge of a major fleet exercise and the responses of the British navy to it and his task seemed neigh impossible.

The British submarine that had made a nuisance of herself in the Baltic was making her way through the Sound and the Kattegat, in seeming innocence. The why and the how of her undetected and not-so-innocent passage to the Baltic was a matter for the Wilhelmstraße, not the Admiralstab. However, his orders directed him to deploy sufficient forces to monitor the Skagerrak and track the submarine – HMS Wolverine – should she attempt to make further trouble by poking her nose into the harbours of his command. These orders he had followed, with more than twenty ships deployed in the area – though Claassen acknowledged that most of them were not equipped with modern antisubmarine detection equipment.

What concerned him was the indications received via signals intelligence that the British were also sending warships into the region to support the breakout of their submarine. Air reconnaissance had noted movement of British destroyers in the general direction of the mouth of the Skagerrak and traffic analysis suggested that at least one more British submarine was operating in the area. Seeking to avoid even more complications he reiterated orders to the effect that British vessels should be closely monitored but not interfered with so long as they did not enter German territorial waters.


Tuesday, October 3rd 2017, 3:07pm

Flottenkommando Atlantik, Bremerhaven, Thursday, 15 April 1948

Admiral Lindenau checked the exercise plot one last time before retiring for the night. The movement of the British Home Fleet through the Irish Sea had been confirmed – agents in Dublin had reported sightings of large British warships by fishing trawlers operating out of Dundalk and Rosslare – and the British cruisers based on the Clyde in the west of Scotland had put to sea – presumably to rendezvous and add their strength to the British armada. This news had ben relayed to Admiral Lindemann, and the latest reports from Einzatzverband 58 indicated that it had moved northward in response. Lindenau summoned a staff officer…

“I want the Marineflieger to concentrate its long-range reconnaissance to cover the entrances to the Norwegian Sea north of Orkney.” He was confident that Lindemann’s own search could give adequate warning if the British chose to sail through the Pentland Firth – the shortest route from the Clyde.

Thus far Donnerschlag had achieved the first of its strategic objectives. Only time would tell if it would achieve all of them.


Wednesday, October 4th 2017, 11:44am

Admiralty Building, Whitehall, London, 09:00 GMT Friday 16 April

To an outsider the hour might seem early for a meeting to discuss policy but the Admiralty never really sleeps and remains a constantly manned unit of leadership. The Commander in Chief The Nore and Channel, Admiral Harold Burrough, had driven up from his headquarters in Dover. Although the bulk of the Home Fleet was now at sea off the Orkneys and technically under the command of the North Atlantic Command, the Germans were still in the North Sea and most of the action was to be found there and therefore Burrough remained in overall tactical command of the situation.

The decision to be made now was whether to go ahead and deploy the fleet or not. Burrough gave the latest situation update. With the shadowing ships and RAF and Fleet Air Arm aircraft he had a pretty detailed picture of exactly where and what the Germans were doing. They showed no signs of heading home just yet, indeed they still had four days of exercise time left according to their original notice to mariners.

To the First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Bruce Fraser, it looked certain that the Germans were waiting for the Royal Navy to appear. He assumed certain parts of their exercise planning probably relied on it. By sailing west instead of east the Navy had off-footed the Germans who had planned rigorously a submarine screen across their rear flanks.
“I wonder whether now we can’t still tweak the Germans’ tail a little further,” he mused as he gazed at a chart of the main dispositions of both sides.

Everyone around the table looked slightly puzzled and he gave his line of reasoning, “the Germans want to see how we would respond and may even wish to close on our forces. Their leadership will be getting anxious that their objectives are not being met. Ship-to-ship air strikes are useful but they could have done that kind of practice in the Baltic, they are using fuel and sea time doing relatively little that is new or enlightening. We know from reports we’ve had from Wolverine that the Baltic is largely bare, the Admiralstab have staked everything on this exercise and they will want results.” He turned to Burrough, “when will Wolverine make her breakout of the Skagerrak?”

Burrough looked at the wall clock, “she’s probably already out and making for her rendezvous.”
Fraser nodded, “Good, then the Germans will probably be distracted somewhat in their rear and have probably already moved some of their submarines to intercept her possible track. I want you to send the cruisers Essex and Largs to reinforce Barossa Force, that will make the Germans sit up and notice, they may even despatch shadowers.”

“And the main fleet?” Vice Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Andrew Cunningham interrupted, impatiently wanting to get to the nub of Fraser’s strategy, he had worked out a response while looking at the map and felt sure Fraser had come to the same conclusion.
Fraser smiled, “the Home Fleet will set up a racetrack off the western isles of the Orkneys and Shetland. German reconnaissance is bound to push further west to find them, our own air patrols should try to push them off. The German fleet will then do one of two things, either recognise we won’t be drawn out and call it day and head back for Wilhelmshaven or desperate to achieve something they will head into the Atlantic.”

Borrough looked at the map and then Fraser, “and if they do?” It was a prescient question, it wasn’t likely the Kreigsmarine would be rash enough to infringe territorial waters and with only four days left it seemed certain the Germans wouldn’t take the bait. Of course the other unspoken question was ‘what if they don’t?’ Would the Royal Navy appear too weak, would that only embolden the Germans and what would the public backlash be?

Bridge HMS Barrosa, 10:03 GMT Friday 16 April

Lieutenant Peter Graves came out of the Asdic hut and stepped onto the bridge.
“Sir, we’ve completed another search. Nothing on the set.”
Captain Charles Ross nodded in response, “Thankyou number one,” he pointed to their sistership Mons 15,000 yards off the port beam, “Mons hasn’t had any luck either. I think we should pull our search line back further east a couple of miles.”
Graves looked at the churning sea, “she may well have passed us by completely Sir. I hope we don’t run into a Jerry U-boat.”
Ross bent over the compass to check their course, “it will be too bad for them if we do.”

A messenger appeared on the bridge and saluted, "Sir, a dispatch from Nore and Channel Command."
Ross thanked him and read the message. "We're being joined by the Essex and Largs, we’re to expect them by fourteen hundred hours.”
Graves let out a whistle momentarily, “a Northumberland class cruiser, the Citadel must think there’s something brewing.”
Ross could only agree but was mystified why and could only hope they wouldn’t interfere with his Asdic search.

Control Room HMS Sealion, 09:35 GMT, Friday 16 April

The submarine was cruising slowly on battery power, remaining as silent as she could so her hydrophones were unimpaired and could pick up any sounds easily. She had been on patrol for several hours and it was with relief when her operators picked up the sound of a submerged submarine heading southwest. As it neared the operator felt sure it was a British submarine.
Commander Squires ordered the Sealion to be brought onto a converging course to bring her alongside the Wolverine. Once identities had been established both could then begin their voyage to home waters.

[OOC Note: Wolverine made her transit on the surface through the Oresund but once safely clear of the main shipping routes and territorial waters she dived to make her rendezvous more covertly as she entered the North Sea waters]


Thursday, October 5th 2017, 4:32pm

Light Minelayer Spica, 57 dgs 25 min North, 5 dgs 35 min East, Friday, 16 April 1948

Dawn found the Spica with company – in the distance several British destroyers cruised slowly. Oberleutnant zur See Radermacher wondered whether they were examining the dummy minefield he and his flotilla mates had laid over the previous few days, or perhaps, if luck might have it, they might have fouled a propeller on the mooring lines for the floats. His first duty was to report their presence to the BSN, a task accomplished quickly through reference to grid squares.

His report was answered with a general halloo announcing that the British submarine they had been detailed to locate had passed the Oresund and entered the Kattegat the previous evening, where she had submerged. For Radermacher this changed his assessment of the presence of the British vessels – they were obviously waiting for their submarine, to assure that any interference by the Kriegsmarine might be minimized. It also signalled that the British expected their submarine to be in the vicinity at this particular point in time – leaving Radermacher to redouble the watch on the old-style hydrophones of his vessel.


Thursday, October 5th 2017, 6:12pm

Corvette Albatros, 56 dgs 48 min North, 5 dgs 485 min East, Friday, 16 April 1948

Fregattenkapitän Rüdiger Perleberg had repaired to the Albatros’ command centre at the first word of the submarine contact.

“Signal is very faint Herr Kapitän,” he whispered, pressing his headphones to his ears. “Somewhere to the northeast of us.”

Albatros and her sister Bussard were drifting, operating under wireless and ASDIC silence. To the east of them the picket line set up by Befehlshaber der Sicherung der Nordsee was supposed to detect and warn of the approach of a British submarine coming out of the Skagerrak; Perleberg had little faith in their abilities – the ships involved had limited capabilities – and his ship and her sisters had been detached from the main fleet exercise to backstop the inshore patrols. It seemed as though fortune had favoured them.

Moments passed, and the hydrophone operator tracked the sound of a submarine’s engine approaching. Suddenly he exclaimed, “A second signal Herr Kapitän”. Perleberg knew that no German U-boats were operating in the area, but a Danish or Nordish boat might be in the vicinity. The plot now showed two submarines – one on an intercept course for the other. “Perhaps the British have sent another submarine to escort their boat from the Baltic?” he thought.

“One boat has just sent out several active pings.” This would be standard procedure for submerged submarines approaching each other, preparatory to establishing their respective identities. “Pass the word, bring engines to standby. Signal the Bussard to do likewise.” Perleberg sought to be ready once he revealed his presence.

Below aboard HMS Wolverine Craddock hung up the handset of their submarine telephone; she had found HMS Sealion, her escort. Ordering his boat to continue on her south-westerly course he nearly allowed himself to relax when his sonar operator announced. “I have engine noises to starboard. They just appeared from nowhere.”

The sound of German active sonars was something Craddock had become too familiar with on his venture to the Baltic. “I think they have us sir” the operator confirmed. Perleberg began manoeuvring his ships to localise the two submarines and brought his crews to action stations. He sent off a flash contact report to the BSN with a request for orders.

Craddock ordered the Wolverine deep, hoping to get under a thermocline; he hoped Sealion would do likewise. “Will the bloody Jerries never give up?” he thought.

After ten minutes of sonar lashing the sound from the German vessels ceased abruptly. “Have they merely gone silent?” Craddock would take no chances – he kept his boat deep for the next half hour, running as quietly as possible. His ASDIC operator reported that the two sets of small screws could be heard at growing distance, eventually fading out. When Craddock at last brought the Wolverine to periscope depth he found the horizon clear.

“A Parthian shot?” he mused…


Thursday, October 5th 2017, 8:33pm

Aircraft Carrier Graf Zeppelin, 58 dgs 4 min North, 1 dgs 55 min East, Friday, 16 April 1948

Long-range aircraft from the Marineflieger had finally located the British Home Fleet off the north coast of Scotland somewhat west of the Orkney Islands – and, somewhat to Lindemann’s surprise, they seemed not to be advancing. Like his own ships they appeared to be running a racetrack course and staying in the same general area, waiting. While it was not what he expected of the British, Lindemann took it in stride.

The latest intelligence suggested that the British had sent a few more ships to operate off the Skagerrak – to what end he was uncertain. Was this preparatory for a British movement seeking to flank Einzatzverband 58? Lindemann guarded against this possibility by extending his own search patrols to the north and east.

No, the apparent timidity of the British stemmed either from a desire not to escalate the situation – with so many ships operating in a limited area incidents were becoming more probable; or, perhaps, they appreciated the tactical disadvantage they would place themselves in – despite its concentration the Home Fleet was still outnumbered by Einzatzverband 58. By operating behind the shield of the Orkneys it could, in theory, redress such a balance.

For the moment Lindemann made the best opportunity for flying training and ship handling manoeuvres in the open sea. This was part-and-parcel of the exercise’s objectives.


Thursday, October 5th 2017, 10:19pm

Wilhelmshaven, Headquarters Befehlshaber der Sicherung der Nordsee, Friday, 16 April 1948

Konteradmiral Claassen had conferred with the Admiralstab and with the Flottenkomando Atlantik regarding the British submarine that had exited the Baltic. Whatever its mission – which was presumed to be intelligence gathering – there was little more that could be done. Having gifted the British boat with a final reminder of whose waters she was sailing in Claassen had ordered the end of the hunt; the vessels of his own command – the minecraft and minelayers – would return to harbour. The four corvettes of Einzatzgruppe 71.4 would take up the task of a shadowing a small British flotilla – a Northumberland-class cruiser and several destroyers – that were operating off the Skagerrak. Claassen was happy enough with the outcome.


Friday, October 6th 2017, 3:27am

Flottenkommando Atlantik, Bremerhaven, Friday, 16 April 1948

The updated plot placed the British Home Fleet west of the Orkney Islands. To Lindenau, this was a perceptive move on the part of the British – not knowing what the ultimate objective of Donnerschlag was it placed them in a position to react if they wished, yet kept them safe from what they might deem a threat. For the map exercise going on elsewhere in the building though, the decision was more unfortunate – it left eastern Scotland open to repeated air attacks without serious challenge. The staff officers playing the role of Lindemann were taking far greater risks that any of his colleagues would take – that was a shortcoming of map exercises.

Checking his watch he turned to Admirals von Bassewitz-Levetzow and Abashvili and said, “Gentlemen, dinner should be ready in the Mess. Will you join me?”

As he turned to leave the plotting room he noticed that Abashvili lingered at the large map, intent on the current deployment, as if he was deep in thought. “Is there something that concerns you?” Lindenau asked his Russian guest.

“No,” replied Abashvili. “My apologies… my mind was focused elsewhere.” As the deputy chief of staff of the Russian Baltic Fleet turned it was clear that his incisive mind was considering the implications of the exercise thus far.


Saturday, October 7th 2017, 6:51pm

BCAC Sea Fang FN.Mk.I, 807 Squadron, HMS Leviathan, 14:20 GMT, Friday 16 April

Flt. Lt. Baker was leading his loose formation of four Sea Fangs when he spotted the Fieseler Fi 168 'Hammerhaie' slightly below him to port.
"Leader to Blue Flight, bandit angels twelve, climb to angels fourteen, heading three-hundred, follow leader."
As he led his flight up-sun to get behind the German spotter he reported the contact to his home carrier. When he was ready he gave a wave and the four sleek fighters dived down. Baker felt aggrieved that the Jerries were so brazenly flying around the Shetlands and that the Navy wasn't doing enough to stop them. The Fieseler filled his gunsight, in wartime it would have been an easy kill but he chopped the throttle and slid alongside the portside, he could clearly see the rear gunner/ navigator and the pilot's face when he turned to look at him. Baker's wingman slid down onto the Fieseler's starboard side boxing the German pilot in. The other two Sea Fangs lurked astern.

Baker didn't wave but gave a stare from his helmeted face. The German looked at him for seemed an age they flew in formation but it was only moments before Baker peeled away with he throttle wide open. He wingman did likewise but he gave a parting V with his fingers before he rolled to starboard. The two other Sea Fangs broke off too and circled.
"Razor to Steeple, bandit is Fiesler one-six-eight hammerhead, altering course south-east, course nine-seven degrees. Do you have further instructions for us?"
"Steeple to Razor, contact Zipper on band C, contact Zipper on band C and stand-by for his instructions."

Baker wondered who the hell 'Zipper' was and tuned his VHF set to the pre-selected band.
"This is Razor calling Zipper, Razor calling Zipper. Over."
"Zipper to Razor, we receive you clearly. We have you on transponder. Please identify. Over."
"Razor, patrol, four birds from Steeple. Steeple said you had instructions for me. Over."
"We have four incoming bogeys bearing eight-six-four, range sixty miles, angels fifteen, see you bagged bandit now heading track nine-four degrees on your angels. Good work. What is your fuel status Razor?"
"Fuel is good, have thirty minutes to Bingo."
"Roger Razor, we'll vector your intercept."

Baker checked his fuel gauge and compass again. He wondered who this guy was and how he had such a good plot of what was going on? He put these thoughts to the back of his mind as the new intercept plot came in.

Some miles behind and slightly above him a lone Fairey Spearfish was lumbering along in a racetrack pattern with four Sea Furies prowling near it. To the casual observer it looked a little different, lacking any gun armament and with a large dome beneath its belly. Experimental though it might be, it was proving its worth already. Below him another flight of Sea Fangs was climbing.
"Zipper to Dingo Leader, Zipper to Dingo Leader, climb to angels fifteen, turn to heading eight-two and be ready to support Razor if he calls bingo fuel. Estimated four bogeys inbound angels fifteen, range fifty-five miles, speed two-one-five knots."


Saturday, October 7th 2017, 9:51pm


Lieutenant Baker must have seen a mirage. No units equipped with the Hs130 have been committed to Donnerschlag; indeed, the Shetland Islands would be very much out of their normal operating range.


Sunday, October 8th 2017, 10:51am

OOC: Edited post.
My bad, I thought the Hs 130 was a carrier-based aircraft. I've changed it to the usual Fieseler Fi168.


Sunday, October 8th 2017, 6:52pm

Corvette Albatros, 56 dgs 56 min North, 5 dgs 1 min East, Saturday, 17 April 1948

The sun still hung below the eastern horizon, though the orange glow that heralded its approach warned of poor weather to come. Fregattenkapitän Perleberg paced the bridge of the Albatros, wondering what the British ships he was shadowing might do next. Throughout the night they had followed the British flotilla – which he identified as a Northumberland-class cruiser and three of the new Battle-class destroyers – though at time Perleberg wondered whether the British were trying to shadow his movements. It made little difference who was chasing whom – so long as he kept the British vessels under observation he was fulfilling his mission.

“Signal from Bussard Herr Kapitän,” a yeoman announced. “Grief and Mowe sighted to the south. They should join us by sunrise.”

Perleberg acknowledged with a simple nod. After having been ordered to cease the pursuit of the British submarine fleeting the Baltic he had expected to be ordered to re-join the REGENBOGEN picket line, or, perhaps, be ordered to join Einzatzverband 58 itself. Such was not to be; of course, monitoring the rear of the task force had its place in the grand scheme of things.

Now the DT-operator had a report. “Targets are altering course to the northwest, increasing speed to 18 knots.”

Perleberg rattled off a string of orders in response. “Match the course change; increase speed to 18 knots; signal the rest of the ships to conform.”

It would be another day…


Sunday, October 8th 2017, 9:13pm

The North Atlantic, 59 dgs 46 min North, 1 dgs 51 min West, Saturday, 17 April 1948

The two Dornier Do330 maritime reconnaissance aircraft of Marine-Aufklärungsstaffel 241 had taken off from their base at Nordholz in the pre-dawn hours, and had flown a long mission profile to reach the vicinity of the British Home Fleet. They were operating under emissions control, and their mission was to detect and evaluate the wireless transmissions of the British fleet and the operational characteristics of its electronic detection equipment. It was a type of mission they had flown numerous times before, stooging under the eyes and noses of the British to gather electronic intelligence. The crews of both aircraft were inured to the risks.

Voice transmissions they intercepted suggested that the small airport on Fair Isle was being used as a relief landing ground for British aircraft providing air cover for the Home Fleet; other aircraft appeared to be operating from Sumburgh in the Shetlands. Signals from DT stations – called by the British ‘radar’ – were relatively sparse, thus when a relatively powerful signal was detected it elicited much interest by the crew.

A laconic warning, “We have visitors” was heard over the intercom of the lead aircraft. The pilots looked out of the cockpit windows to discover that they had an escort of British fighter aircraft – which they subsequently identified as of the Supermarine Seafang type. “Ignore them,” the aircraft commander ordered.

If the British pilots were hoping to panic the Dorniers they were disappointed. Of course, had this been wartime, both Marineflieger aircraft would have been shot down rather quickly; but this was merely the cat-and-mouse game that was the regular fare of the Marineflieger. Analysis of the voice transmissions recorded during the next fifteen minutes would yield illuminating clues to the latest developments in British ‘radar’ techniques. When at last the Dorniers lost their fighter ‘escort’, they turned south before turning east to begin their return flight. In the northern latitudes it would be near dusk by the time they landed.


Monday, October 9th 2017, 12:57am

Flottenkommando Atlantik, Bremerhaven, Saturday, 17 April 1947

It was mid-afternoon when Admiral Lindenau received the call from Berlin on the secure land line. Generaladmiral von Fischel sought his opinion on the status of the fleet exercise.

“Tell me Lindenau,” he inquired, “have we achieved our objectives?”

Lindenau hesitated before answering. “Those we can assess in the short-term we have achieved. The British reaction to our presence in the North Sea was not what we would have expected; that will require some careful analysis before drawing definite conclusions. At the moment aircraft from Einzatzverband 58 and the British Home Fleet are shadow-boxing with each other over the north of Scotland, and it is entirely possible that an unfortunate incident could occur.”

“Then you wish to end the exercise early?” Von Fischel asked.

“I should like to order Lindemann to move south and see how the British react to what they might perceive as a weakness on our part. I have little doubt that the British Admiralty would like to follow; however, they have no doubt divined the presence of our U-boats assembled as part of Fischadler – in a war scenario sending a weaker force into a cul-de-sac where the superior force would gain submarine and land-based air support would be foolhardy. But it would be interesting if the British lion would unwisely snap at the opportunity to try.”

Now it was von Fischel’s turn to pause in thought; eventually he replied. “Lindemann might well head towards home, though I believe that we should permit the exercise to continue for the time being.”

“Thank you Herr Generaladmiral,” Lindenau answered. “I should like to order the Fischadler group to move northwest from its present position to screen the flank of our carriers.”

“As you see fit Lindenau” von Fischel added approvingly. “Make it so.”


Monday, October 9th 2017, 3:35pm

Aircraft Carrier Graf Zeppelin, 57 dgs 47 min North, 2 dgs 16 min East, Saturday, 17 April 1948

Admiral Lindemann had received the order to move Einzatzverband 58 to the southeast with a mix of relief and disappointment. Unless the British chose to follow, Donnerschlag was essentially complete – its very purpose being to test British reactions. Langsdorff’s Einzatzgruppe 58.4, with its battleships, trailed the aircraft carrier groups, which sailed on a broad front. DT-equipped aircraft would operate into the night to search the sea in the wake of the task force, and every kilometre closer to home brought greater coverage from the Marineflieger. The orders that had brought him south also advised that he would receive submarine support; at this prospect he smiled. As Fischadler had been projected to counter the British fleet heading up the Channel into the North Sea, its reorientation to the north was a welcome wild card. In a way he hoped that the British would see the manoeuvre as skittishness, and leave their position north of Scotland; the sparring between his air groups and those of the Royal Navy had been good training.