Sunday, October 22, 2017

BlucherWhen fear of and dislike for an impending mission gripped two young sailors, the difference in submitting to bravery or foolish action seems wafer thin. The situation was created on the German battle cruiser “Blücher” late in the afternoon 8th April 1940, and appears to have gone unnoticed by naval historians. The courageous action these two soldiers were embarking upon was going to play a pivotal role in the war – at least as far as Norway was concerned.

The start of the German invasion of ‘Vikingland’ was delayed by a few hours due to fierce resistance in the Oslofjord; and swift sinking of the cruiser enabling the Norwegian government and royal family to escape with essential documents, sovereign gold etc. This event is well known. The invasion of both Denmark and Norway was underway and happened on 9th April 1940. The cruiser was thus on a straight northerly course in full battle preparation, followed by supporting vessels. The flotilla had reached the West Coast of Sweden and one of the Deck Officers had Norwegian ancestry which troubled him greatly.

Helmut’s grandfather had come to Schleswig and got a job on a country estate; being a younger son he had little chance of finding work on the farmsteads of Telemark. The links with the old country were strong, ie personal visits, and every Christmas they exchanged cards. Whilst inspecting the battery of guns, Helmut recalled the military propaganda that Norway will not be attacked, but “protected” from the Western powers. The Germanic invasion will be welcome on the supposition of racial similarities and the close alliance with local Quisling agents!

The ship’s name Blücher seemed unfortunate since in January 1915 the heavily armoured cruiser bearing that name was in combat on the Dogger Banks with the Royal Navy. It was bombed and sank losing most of its crew. Both these battleships were on their first employments upon departing from Kiel Dockyard.

Darkness had fallen and Helmut shook his shoulders. He noted two sailors who were busy around the railings on aft deck, and assumed they carried out final preparations. These two young soldiers were soon to ‘jump ship’ and would have drowned, but for two resourceful Swedish fishermen.Blucher sunk

The seas were calm and the warships only encountered the occasional fishing boats. Little did these fishermen know that the next day, Tuesday 9th April, both Norway and Denmark were targeted with enemy invasion. The local lighthouse keepers checked the traffic and quickly informed Strömstad customs/port house about the unusual size warship seen through their binoculars.

Two professionals, the Andersson brothers, were hurrying home for a well-earned meal with their baskets full of oysters and lobsters caught in their pots. Their 27ft boat had recently been fitted out with a new 10 hp engine, which was a couple of knots faster than the old engine. At about 7.30pm they spotted the biggest vessel they had ever seen in these quiet waters.

Coming closer, it looked like a ghost ship, with no movement onboard. They soon caught sight of the German flag. Small talk about their plans for the herring fishing came to a halt. With sharpened wits it was clear that trouble was near for their friends in the North. They also saw vague outlines of further ships on the horizon. The Blücher was now in full view and the brothers enjoyed a ‘front row’ seat.

Suddenly, the brother at the bow noted a couple of figures gripping each others hands whilst standing on the aft. To his amazement they jumped overboard, so instinctively signalled ‘turn over tiller’ without saying a word. Soon the 27 footer was only a few cable lengths from the two men desperately struggling to stay afloat in the cold water; any longer than 10 minutes would have meant death. The Andersson brothers sensed that the ship, albeit in international waters, had come to a ‘stop’ or even gone ‘slow speed astern’. These essential manoeuvres seriously upset the Captain’s time schedules, which made defence preparations possible in the Oslofjord.

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - December 2011 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Gas Myth

Most Popular

  • 1
  • 2

Latest Products

Maritime Log

  • Test Ship Remotely Controlled From California +

    Highland Chieftain The Finnish group Wartsila has successfully tested the remote control of a ship in the North Sea from a centre Read More
  • Boost for Sail Ship Carrier +

    Quadriga Project The London-based classification society Lloyd’s Register has joined the project to build the world’s largest sailing cargo ship, a 170m Read More
  • Walk to Work Offshore Service Starts +

    Vos Start On Aug 1, what is described as a walk-to-work vessel arrived at Barrow to provide offshore logistics support during construction Read More
  • Drop In Orders For New Container Ships +

    Maersk Triple E The orderbook for container ships has fallen by 30 per cent in capacity terms since the start of 2016 and Read More
  • "Robot" Containers Tested +

    SEAtrue Smart “robot containers”, complete with cooling systems, that can sail to ports without any human interaction, have been developed by Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Hudson's Biggest +

    Steam generator The two-day, 170-mile delivery from the Port of Coeymans near Albany, New York of a new 130-foot high steam generator Read More
  • "Friendship of Salem" to Return This Winter +

    Friendship of Salem The Salem Maritime National Historic Site announced agreement on contract changes for the ongoing overhaul of the three-masted, 171-foot Friendship Read More
  • You're Fired! +

    USS John S McCain After a grounding, three collisions and multiple deaths, Vice Adm Joseph Aucoin was relieved of command of the US Navy’s Read More
  • Old Ironsides Floats Again +

    USS Constitution A two-year overhaul in dry dock for USS Constitution ended on the night of 23/24 July when the waters of Read More
  • "Berlin" Comes to New York +

    OOCL Berlin On 17 July, the 13,208 TEU OOCL Berlin became the largest ship to enter the port of New York and Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • Kidnapped Crew Killed +

    Royal 16 The Philippine military have found the bodies of three sailors who were kidnapped in two separate incidents over nine months Read More
  • Line Fined Over Cartel In Shipping Cars +

    NYK LIne The Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), of Tokyo, was convicted at an Australian Federal Court of criminal Read More
  • Historic Second World War Wreck Discovered +

    USS Indianapolis A team of civilian researchers, led by the entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul G Allen, has located one of the most Read More
  • Bound for Australia +

    FLNG Prelude Built for Shell, one of the world’s largest offshore facilities ever constructed was due in Australian waters on July 30 Read More
  • OOCL Takeover Will Lead to Third Largest Line +

    OOCL The takeover of Orient Overseas International Lines, of Hong Kong, by the Chinese companies Cosco Shipping Holdings and the Shanghai Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • HMS Queen Elizabeth Arrives at Home Port +

    HMS Queen Elizabeth British News An event following the 2010 Defence Review many thought would never happen occurred on Wednesday 16 August when Read More
  • Work Starts on Three Warships +

    Type 25 British News After an almost unseemly wait, the Royal Navy can breathe again having held its breath waiting for the Read More
  • Los Angeles Class Decommissioning +

    USS Dallas American News The end of May saw a lot of submarine news within the US Navy with the decommissioning of Read More
  • HMS Westminster Returns to Service +

    HMS Westminster British News After two years out of service undergoing a major reconstruction and refit, the Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster Read More
  • USS Tripoli Launched Ahead of Schedule +

    USS Tripoli American News Ingalls Shipbuilding achieved a remarkable achievement when they launched the latest America class amphibious assault ship, USS Tripoli, Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Excursion Woes +

    Waverley The excursion business, especially with the preserved classic vessels, has continued to have major disappointments. Read More
  • Making Points +

    Stena Superfast VIII In recent years, Remontowa at Gdansk has been the go-to yard for many European ferries needing refit and survey and Read More
  • Superfast Moves +

    Stena Superfast VIII Interesting moves at Stena Line where their Cairnryan – Belfast Superfast VII and VIII vessels, which appear to be integral to Read More
  • Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority +

    Iyanough The Isle of Wight has always been associated in my mind with the “Southampton, Isle of Wight and South of Read More
  • CalMac's Isle of Lewis +

    Isle of Lewis This fine study of the Isle of Lewis in the dramatic environs of Castlebay, Barra, is a reminder she has Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • Captain Tom Galloway +

    Tom Galloway and Shell Driver It is with sadness I report the loss, after a short illness, of long term Sea Breezes follower and valued Read More
  • Focus on Goole +

    Eems Sprinter A testing Yorkshire pub, West or East Riding, quiz challenge, or exam question in the armoury of a Yorkshire Education Read More
  • Dedicated Dry Dock for "Pommern" +

    Pommern After forty years in New York as a museum ship, the 4-masted barque Peking has been shipped by the heavy-lift Read More
  • Oil Downturn Continues +

    Ocean Seeker The offshore oil downturn has been taking its toll around the North Sea amongst many rig boat operators and also Read More
  • Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta +

    Artemis On April 6 Dutch sailing vessels took part in the Race of the Classics from Holland across the North Sea Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • New EU Research Project To Improve Safety +

    Nordic Orion A new three-year research project, funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, has been launched to address safety and efficiency Read More
  • Flogas Partners with ABP to Bunker Ships with LNG +

    Ireland As legislation tightens to reduce ship emissions I was interested to hear that Flogas Britain has partnered with Associated British Read More
  • Red Funnel Orders Second High-Speed Ferry +

    Red Jet 6 Great news from Red Funnel in late August that it has placed an order with Wight Shipyard Ltd in East Read More
  • FS Monge: A Highly Unusual Naval Vessel +

    FS Monge I am always interested in unusual looking ships and a friend of mine, who like me, is also a fan Read More
  • HMS Queen Elizabeth Sets Out on Her Sea Trials +

    HMS Queen Elizabeth Britain's largest ever aircraft carrier left Rosyth (in the Firth of Forth, Scotland) on June 26th 2017 to carry out Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Two Unique Ships Meet In Douglas Bay +

    Sega Sapphire and Talitha When Hapag-Lloyd’s new build, the Europa (3), was delivered to the company in 1981, the vessel very quickly was awarded Read More
  • The Movie “Juggernaut “ and the Experiences of an Extra +

    Juggernaut As a contributor to Sea Breezes it is always useful to get comment from our readers. Read More
  • Hydrogen Powered Vessel to Sail Around the World +

    Energy Observer. (J Bidon) A voyage with a planned duration of six years in which 101 ports of call in 50 different countries are Read More
  • Star Attraction +

    Areti. (K Jordan) Each and every September, the Principality of Monaco plays host to a Superyacht Show. Read More
  • Gliding up the Thames +

    Glider SS18 It's been eight years in the making but finally the first Glider was unveiled in London last month. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

Duke of Lancaster

TSS Duke of Lancaster

A Typical Summer Sailing From Heysham Harbour – 50 Years Ago Read More
MV Scillonian

MV Scillonian

Where in the South West will you find an 18 strong close-knit crew who have mostly sailed together the equivalent Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

British Monarch. (Malcolm Cranfield)

Man Overboard in the Pacific

Sixty years ago this year, the 2nd officer on the British cargo ship British Monarch had an amazing rescue after Read More
Painting of Venus

A Quartet for the North Sea

The chain of events that led to the Bergen Line building the Venus started in the head office of Swedish Read More
  • 1
  • 2