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Seekriegsleitung

Minutes of the Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer at Berghof Headquarters on 12 June 1944.

I. At 1300 the Commander in Chief, Navy, participates in a conference on the situation with the Führer.

1. It is mentioned that the enemy would gain a suitable debarkation point by seizing the harbor and the very well situated roadstead of St. Vaast. The possibility of mining it by air and naval forces should be investigated.

2. Concerning the emergency units of the Navy, it was briefly stated that 45,000 men have been made available for security duties. At present there is no necessity for any further transfers.

3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports on the supply and delivery of DM 1 mines. It is impossible to lay minefields in all potential landing areas. The Commander in Chief, Navy, believes it best to lay first of all as many of these mines as possible in the Seine Bay area, especially off the mouths of the Vire (by air) and the Orne (by air and naval forces) and off Le Havre. Next in importance are Cherbourg, Dieppe, Boulogne and Ostende. The respective placement of incoming supplies of mines is to be decided as conditions warrant. The Commander in Chief, Navy, considers it inadvisable to lay mines off the long coast of Jutland because the enemy can easily break through a long, narrow mine field by sacrificing a few mine exploding vessels, making gaps which render the rest of the mine field Useless. Aside from that, Jutland is not as endangered as the areas of northern France, Belgium and Holland. (See Annex 1).
The Führer agrees.

4. During the report on the Russian attack against the Finnish Front on the Karelian Isthmus, the Führer decides that the Army is to send several armament shipments to Finland at this time. "So long as the Finn fights, he will receive support; as soon as he begins to negotiate, the deliveries will be stopped." The Commander in Chief, Navy, considers this a confirmation that it is correct to send them the promised S-boats on time, two at first.

5. Renewed minelaying off Sevastopol is discussed. The Führer proposes that the Navy and the Luftwaffe investigate the possibilities for such action.

6. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports on supply shipments to Crete (see Annex 2). So far as tonnage is concerned, we can ship 6,000 tons per month at this time. However, the Commander in Chief, Navy, cannot guarantee this since the success of the shipments depends entirely on how much enemy interference is encountered and on the strength of our own fighter defenses. The Navy will do its utmost to comply with the demands as far as possible. The Führer states that the figure of 50 tons per day, as supplied by General Breuer, cannot be considered a basis for procedure. There is no point in using combat submarines for supply shipments since their capacity is only 30 to 40 tons. The Commander in Chief, Navy, announces that we cannot count on the first Italian transport submarine before about 3 months from now.

II. 1500. The Commander in Chief, Navy, has lunch with the Führer. At this time they have a private conference.

III. 1630. The Comnander in Chief, Navy, and Konteradmiral von Puttkamer, confer with Reichsleiter Bormann.

IV. 1750. The Commander in Chief, Navy, Konteradmiral Voss and the Chief of the Seekriegsleitung Operations Division [Konteradmiral Wagner], confer with Field Marshal Keitel and Generaloberst Jodl.

Keitel and Jodl consider the situation very serious, although they still see a chance for isolating the bridgehead with a little luck. Our best chance would lie in an unsuccessful enemy landing attempt at another point. It is doubtful whether the enemy will make such an attempt. The most likely spot for it would be the coast between Dieppe and Boulogne or between Calais and the Scheldt River. It is hoped that the long range bombardment of London [with V-1 flying bombs], which will begin during the night from 12 to 13 June, will on the one hand divert enemy planes and on the other induce the enemy to attempt a second landing in northern France. (This last thought was already mentioned during the conference on the situation with the Führer.) If the enemy succeeds in fighting his way out of the present bridgehead and gains freedom of action for mobile warfare in France, then all of France is lost. Our next line of defense would be the Maginot Line or the old Westwall. Field Marshal Keitel believes that even then there is still a chance to defend Germany. Generaloberst Jodl does not commit himself in this respect since everything depends on how the situation develops and on how many troops we can save.

It was possible to transfer a small reinforcement from the Eastern Front. Luftwaffe units from the Eastern Front are not suited for warfare in the West since they are too inexperienced to oppose the well trained personnel of the western Allies.

V. Conclusions of the Commander in Chief, Navy, from II and IV.

    1. It is still too early to abandon altogether the long range planning policy of the Navy in favor of short range action.

    2. It is absolutely necessary to employ all naval forces in any way suitable in the Channel combat area. In this connection it must be investigated how many of the submarines in Group "Wallenstein" are suited for this purpose; forces must be assembled that are quickly ready for action at the expense of long-term projects.

    3. The possibility of dissolving Group "Wallenstein" is to be considered in order to continue with training.

    4. For the time being no further emergency units are to be formed in the West.

    5. The submarines of Group "Landwirt" which are stationed in the Bay of Biscay are to be withdrawn. They risk serious losses in that area while being of no practical value because, to judge by the present situation, there is no likelihood of an enemy landing in the Bay of Biscay.

    6. It must be kept in mind that it might become necessary to recall all submarines to Norway.

VI. Kapitän zur See Assmann reports as follows: The Army is putting 16 batteries of 4 7.62 cm J.K.H. (Russian) guns, with 300 rounds of ammunition each, at the disposal of the Navy. Assmann urges that they be claimed and put into action as soon as possible. It will be possible to furnish 15 more batteries of the same type.

signed: Dönitz

countersigned: Kapitän zur See Pfeiffer


Annex 1

The Use of Mines with Magnetic Pressure Firing Devices.

The entire present supply of 600 mines with magnetic pressure firing devices is en route for use in the Western Area. 600 more will be completed by 25 June. After that the monthly output will be 1,200 mines at the most. A bottleneck is caused by the lack of trained personnel essential to the manufacture. The present workers cannot possibly do more. An increase in production will be attempted, however, even at the expense of other types.

The mines with magnetic pressure firing devices can be employed only in an area between 10 and 25 meters deep. Thus not all the places most favorable from the military point of view, from which heavy ships can fire on the coastal batteries, can be mined. Tactically suitable would be a mine field which is bounded on the coast side by the range of our own batteries, and toward the sea by the range of the artillery of the attacking forces. On the accompanying maps (not included) the range of our own batteries is indicated by a green line. The areas hatched in yellow have the proper depth for mines with the magnetic pressure firing device.

Since only a comparatively small number of mines is being constructed, it would be impractical to distribute them evenly over the entire coastal areas. It is much more important to place them at focal points. The positions of the focal points will depend on the situation prevailing at a given time, and must be decided upon whenever a worthwhile number of mines is available. Under these circumstances precautionary mining of the west coast of Jutland would seem impossible.

Aside from the landing area, the following locations are to be considered as focal points for the mines:

    1. Off the mouth of the Scheldt River
    2. Off Hook of Holland
    3. Off the middle of the Dutch west coast (Ijmuiden)
    4. Off the Lister Deep
    5. Off Esbjerg
    6. Off Hanstholm
The distribution of the 600 mines which are en route is intended as follows:
    Ostende: 90
    Boulogne: 70
    Dieppe: 120
    Le Havre and Cherbourg: 320


Annex 2

Shipping Conditions in the Aegean Sea.

See map for naval forces, shipping space, and shipping requirements and performance. (Map not included.)

Auxiliary sailing vessels have so far been used only to a small extent for supply shipments to Crete. The greater part was transported by steamers. After the loss of the steamer LÜNEBURG, the Commanding Admiral, Aegean Sea, gathered all available sea and air forces and attempted to ship the supplies for May in a large convoy to Candia. Suda still had supplies left from the April shipment.

This plan was unsuccessful. The enemy was obviously prepared through espionage and had patrolled the sea by air for days in advance. A concentrated attack was launched with a large number of modern bombers against which our defense is not strong enough. The only ship to get through was the TANAIS (1,500 BRT), which was sunk by a submarine on its return trip after unloading. Total losses of our escort forces were 2 submarine chasers and the torpedo boat TA16.

Experience shows that an attempt must be made to ship supplies less conspicuously in the future and to use auxiliary sailing vessels to a greater extent. Firm steps must be taken to make better use of Greek auxiliary sailing vessels by making them circulate faster.

Shipping capacity has been somewhat improved through transfer of the following additional vessels from the Black Sea up to 10 June: 4 cargo vessels (KT-Schiffe), 9 coastal motor vessels, 8 converted fishing craft, 1 tugboat, the steamer LOLA (1,193 BRT), and the small tanker DRESDEN (120 BRT).

There is enough shipping space to transport about 6,000 tons of supplies to Crete every month. The question of supplying a fighter escort is of especial importance in the event that enemy resistance increases.

The daily supply of 50 tons requested by the Fortress Commander of Crete can be provided without using transport submarines. The latter will be necessary only in case of an enemy offensive directed against the Aegean area, since it will then hardly be possible to send supplies with surface vessels. However, the estimate of only 1,500 tons per month as given by the Fortress Commander, Crete, contradicts the opinion of Group South and the demands of Army Group E. According to a statement from Army Group E the current needs will continue to be 6,000 tons a month, even higher temporarily for the purpose of accumulating a stock of supplies for 6 months.

The Seekriegsleitung believes that the utmost effort must be devoted to supplying Crete as well as the entire Aegean area. The shipment of 6,000 tons of supplies per month to Crete can be guaranteed only so far as shipping capacity is concerned, without considering enemy interference. If present conditions prevail, most of the supplies will get through.

We cannot guarantee to fulfill the requirements of the Aegean area because we cannot foretell the actions of the enemy.



   


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