Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Surface Raider V. [Conclusion]

This is coolbert:

"They seek him here, They seek him there,
. . . [they] seek him everywhere.

Is he in heaven?
—Is he in hell?
That dammed, elusive Pimpernel." - - Sir Percy Blakeney.

NO discussion of surface raiders would be complete without mention of the most famous German auxiliary cruiser, Atlantis.

Commanded by that most able naval officer, Captain Bernhard Rogge. Rogge, as has been mentioned in previous blog entries, was:

* Part Jewish. One of his four grandparents was Jewish.

* One of only a few German flag officers [general of admiral] NOT arrested by the Allied powers in the aftermath of World War Two [WW2].

* Served in the post-war Bundesmarine, rising to the rank of Admiral.

Rogge was an inspired practitioner of unconventional warfare on the high seas. Asymmetric naval guerrilla warfare waged by Rogge and his crew with flair, elan', and even what can only be categorized as CHIVALROUS BEHAVIOR!!

Rogge and the crew of the Atlantis distinguished themselves as CLEAN FIGHTERS! Causing loss to the enemy without inflicting unnecessary casualties. Took care to assist and give humane treatment to enemy merchant marine crews whose ships were sunk!

"I have a reactionary army, a National Socialist air force, and a CHRISTIAN navy" - - A. Hilter.

NOT above, however [Captain Rogge], in employing subterfuge, ruse, stratagem in furtherance of his mission. Rogge commanded a merchant cruiser whose superstructure and markings could be [were designed to be] modified with ease, complicating identification by pursuers.

"was capable of being modified to 26 different silhouettes." [number of masts and funnels [smokestacks], above deck superstructure, markings, rigging, etc.]

At one time or another, adopted the identities of:

* Soviet vessel Krim .

* Japanese vessel Kasii Maru.

* Abbekerk, a Dutch vessel.

* British Armed Merchant-Cruiser HMS Antenor.

The Atlantis, during a mission lasting nearly two full years, plied the waters of:

[in chronological order]

* Atlantic Ocean.

* Cape of Good Hope [South Africa].

* Cape Agulhas [South Africa].

* Indian Ocean.

* Bay of Bengal.

* Sumatra.

* Kerguelen Island [uninhabited French Vichy territory].

* Eastern coast of Africa.

* Atlantic.

* East of New Zealand [via the Indian Ocean].

* South Pacific [also French Vichy territory?].

* Atlantic [via Cape Horn].

Several things contributed to the success of the Atlantis, as long as it lasted. [the Atlantis eventually went to the bottom in battle with the British cruiser Devonshire.]

Success was in part due to:

* Ability of the Atlantis to replenish fuel stores from captured enemy merchant ships. In the case of the Atlantis, fuel oil. Similar to what the German raider Wolf did during World War One [WW1] [Wolf was coal fired]! Very guerrilla/unconventional warfare-like!

* Atlantis [embedded radio intercept operators on board] was able to read secret British merchant codes! Obtained UPDATED versions of the secret merchant marine code when boarding and searching captured vessels! [German and Japanese both, "could read almost all the British secret maritime radio traffic"!]

I find it especially interesting that Captain Rogge did not necessarily always intend to sink enemy merchant vessels encountered, but rather, if possible, capture them as PRIZES OF WAR. IT WAS NOT AN UNCOMMON OCCURRENCE FOR A PRIZE CREW FROM THE ATLANTIS TO MAKE A SUCCESSFUL VOYAGE TO FRANCE, ARRIVING WITH CAPTURED SHIP AND VALUABLE CARGO INTACT!!

Prizes of war to include:

* Silvaplana. "A modern, 4.793-ton Norwegian motor vessel, with an exotic and valuable mixed cargo of rubber, tin, copper, teak, wooden idols, 100.000 lbs of coffee, wax, sago, vanilla and spices . . . duly dispatched her as a prize to Bordeaux, where she arrived safely on November 17."

* Ketty Brovig. "This fast 7.301-ton Norwegian tanker, carrying 6.370 tons of fuel oil and 4.125 tons of diesel oil" [later sunk by Australian warships]

* Speybank. "This 5.154-ton British freighter bound for New York from Cochin with a cargo of manganese, ore, carpets, tea and shellac. Having put a prize crew on board, Rogge dispatched her to Bordeaux."

* Ole Jakob. "This modern 8.306-ton Norwegian tanker with 10.000 tons of aviation fuel. She was sent to Japan under a prize crew eventually made her way back to Bordeaux."

* Teddy. "This 6.748-ton Norwegian tanker carrying 10.000 tons of fuel oil and 500 tons of diesel oil . . . With a prize crew on board she sailed south to await further orders." [scuttled before embarking for France]

* Durmitor. "carrying a cargo of 8.200 tons of salt, she was provisioned and sent to Italian Somaliland under a prize crew of fourteen"

* Tirranna. "A 7,230-ton Wilhelmsen liner, she was bound for the UK, with a cargo of wheat, flour and wool, as well as 178 trucks, 5,500 cases of beer, 300 cases of tobacco, 3,000 cases of canned peaches and 17,000 cases of jam . . . A prize crew was put on board . . . with over three hundred prisoners on board, the Tirranna was dispatched to Bordeaux." [sunk by a British submarine before reaching France].

Captain Rogge was given more or less carte blanche' authority while in command of his naval "special operations" command!? Carry out the mission using his discretion and initiative, as he saw fit?!. Commanders of German surface raiders were men of special trust and worthiness?! It had to be so. At any given moment, Rogge and his peers had to think strategically, operationally, and tactically! NOT A SITUATION WHERE MICRO-MANAGEMENT FROM THE GEMAN NAVAL HIGH COMMAND WOULD HAVE BEEN APPROPRIATE!




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