The first and last battle of the cruiser "Blucher"

The Blucher was the second heavy cruiser of the Admiral Hipper type. It was laid in Hamburg on August 15, 1936 as a replacement for the cruiser "Berlin". On June 8 of the following year, he was launched and named in honor of Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher, the winner at Waterloo. However, the fate of the ship was not so successful. The launch of the vessel was delayed due to changes constantly being made to its project. On September 20, 1939, "Blucher" was finally officially accepted into Kriegsmarine under the command of 1st rank captain Heinrich Voldag. But until full combat readiness was still far away, it was necessary to correct all defects and malfunctions, which happened only on November 27, when the cruiser was sent for testing in the Gotenhafen area. But due to the fact that the winter of 1939−1940. stood out harsh, the ship did not pass the comprehensive tests and the proper course of combat training. Despite this, in the spring of 1940, he was still included by the command in the operation to capture Oslo.

"Teachings at Weser"

Germany managed on May 31, 1939 to conclude a non-aggression pact with Denmark. The Germans attempted to conclude similar treaties with Sweden and Norway, but they rejected these proposals, feeling their security behind the straits. Neutrality of Norway did not suit either Germany or the UK, and both countries even made several provocations to provoke Oslo’s refusal from its position.

For the Germans, Norway was the key to the North Sea and the route for the transit of such necessary Swedish ore. December 14, 1939, Hitler ordered the command of the Wehrmacht to explore the possibility of seizing Norway. On January 27, a separate headquarters was created to develop the operation, which was code-named “Weser Exercise”. After the battle on February 16 of the tanker Altmark with British destroyers in the neutral waters of Norway, the development of the plan was forced. Already on February 24, the headquarters under the direction of General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst began a detailed study of the operation, and after 5 days the plan was submitted to Hitler. It was supposed to carry out simultaneous lightning landing of assault troops in key cities, preferably without the use of weapons. The directive of March 1, 1940 said: "In principle, we should strive to give this operation the character of a friendly seizure, the purpose of which is to defend the neutrality of the northern states. The relevant requirements will be transferred to governments from the beginning of the seizure." The commander-in-chief of the kriegsmarine, Ehich Raeder, advised that the operation should be carried out before the end of the polar night, i.e., until April 7, however, Hitler approved the ninth number on the day of Weser. In addition to Norway, Denmark also came under attack, since the Germans needed to ensure the safe movement of sea transport along the Danish straits, and in addition, to supply Germany with their troops, Jutland’s airfields were needed.

Almost all ships of the Reich military and merchant fleets were used for the operation. Apparently the sheer lack of ships to attack forced the German fleet to use the incompetent Blucher. True, it should have been used for simple tasks. He became part of the capture of Oslo under the command of Admiral Kummets, who moved from headquarters to the cruiser. 830 troops, including 200 staff officers, including generals Engelbrecht and Shtussman, boarded the ship. The interior and even the deck were filled up with ammunition for the landing and other fire-dangerous items. The congestion of the ship worsened its already weak combat capability. Military intelligence misled Kriegsmarine because of the lack of intelligence about the forces on the Norwegian side, so the troops did not expect to meet any serious resistance from the Scandinavians. The German ships, according to the instructions of Admiral Kummets, could open fire only at a signal from the flagship, ignoring the warning volleys and spotlights, which were recommended not to shoot, but to dazzle with oncoming fighting lights.

On the morning of April 7, 1940, the Blucher and the Emden cruisers came out of Swinemunde, accompanied by the Meve and Albatross destroyers. In the area of ​​Kiel, they joined up with the rest of the invasion group and were able to reach the Skagerrak unnoticed. In the evening, they were spotted by two British submarines "Triton" and "Sunfish". The Triton was spotted by the Albatross and fired a volley, but the Blucher managed to avoid the torpedoes fired. Later, the "Sunfish" also noticed the German squad, which she reported to the British command, but did not attack. The detachment freely entered the Oslo Fjord, the expectation of surprise was justified. The Norwegian patrol ship "Paul III" opened a warning fire on the "Albatross", but failed to inflict any significant damage to it. The crew of the destroyer took the ship to the boarding, at which the lieutenant commander Leif Welding-Olsen died - the first Norwegian who died in the Second World War.

Map of the Oslo Fjord

"Blucher" and the detachment had to pass between the islands of Bolerana and Rana. Spotlights flared up on the islands and a warning volley rang out, but the Germans clearly followed the instructions and did not take any response actions, calmly following further. The Norwegians were a little surprised by this “friendliness” and therefore were late with fire from coastal batteries - the shells fell behind the German column. The only thing the Norwegians were able to do was turn off the lights in the fairway, which made the Germans slow down almost twice.

On 8 April, at 00:45, Blucher "signaled a landing near the Horten Base. Some of the crew from him and Emden were transplanted to the patrol boats and escorted by the destroyers to the coast. At about 5 am the German ships approached the narrow passage Drobak. To overcome This fortified area did not have a very favorable situation for the Germans: the landing force could not capture the coastal batteries and could open fire. Then Rear Admiral Kyummets made an ambiguous decision - at the head of the column he decided to put quite weak by combat measures “Blyukher” This decision looks even more controversial given the fact that Gyummets knew about the fairway mining by the Norwegians. Perhaps it was misled by intelligence data and hoped for a favorable and fast outcome.

At 5 am, Blucher was fired with 150 and 280 mm guns from the batteries of Kaholm and Kopaas of the Norwegian Fort Oxarsborg. Two projectiles of 280 mm guns hit the fire control post and the cruiser port side hangar, a fire and an explosion of ammunition began. About 20 shells of 150 mm guns reached the target and knocked out the steering gear and communication with the engine room, the steering wheel jammed and the Blucher turned his nose to the shore. Because of the damage to the main artillery post, the Germans could not respond with aimed fire, in fact they were forced to shoot aimlessly in all directions from 105 mm cannons and anti-aircraft guns. After 20 minutes, the cruiser was hit twice with torpedoes from the left side, one hit the boiler room, the second - in the front turbine. All the lower rooms are covered with smoke. AC and DC networks are out of order. At 5:23 the Norwegians stopped firing. "Blucher" was engulfed in fire and piled on the port side with a roll of 10 degrees. Ammunition that was filled with a cruiser now and then caught fire and exploded, fires could not be localized. “Blucher” anchored east of the island “Askholmen”. At about 6 am a strong explosion occurred in the cellar of the seventh compartment, oil began to flow from the onboard oil compartments, and the smoke intensified. After the explosion, the flooding of the ship became impossible to control, the list increased to 45 degrees. Then Captain Voldag gave the order to leave the ship. Despite the fact that the water was icy, many soldiers managed to swim to the shore.

At 7:23, "Blucher" slowly began to go down under the water. Soon the cruiser reached the bottom at a 70-meter depth. After the flooding, there were several underwater explosions, and oil burned on the surface for several hours.

The cause of the death of the cruiser was a combination of various factors - from the false data of German intelligence to the lack of combat readiness of the ship itself. The exact number of victims on the "Blucher" is still unknown. According to Germany, 125 crew members and 122 paratroopers were killed. 38 officers of the ship, 985 sailors and 538 army soldiers and officers were rescued.

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