Convoy KMF 5 - Aerial Torpedoing of the Cameronia

German Luftwaffe 1935-1945.
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Andre Chissel
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Convoy KMF 5 - Aerial Torpedoing of the Cameronia

Post by Andre Chissel » Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:16 pm

Dear Sirs,

I am writing an article about the time my father was torpedoed in a convoy during World War two and would like to pay a researcher (presumably German) that specialises in the Luftwaffe to find out some information.

It seems that my father whilst on board the Cameronia was torpedoed by an aerial torpedo dropped by a Heinkel 111 in the Mediterranean on 22 December 1942.

What I would like to get hold of are any reports about the incident from the Heinkel squadron that was responsible, the name of the pilot, that flew the plane, stuff like that - any idea who I need to contact ?

Where can I get a list of researchers that specialise in this area of research ? I can get any info that I want translated from German to English and vice versa that is not a problem - I just want to get in touch with someone to start this ball rolling (if the records still/actually exist that is)

Thanks

Andre Chissel
Andre Chissel

Lorenz
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Post by Lorenz » Wed Aug 23, 2006 7:12 am

In the Western Mediterranean, ............... U565 (Lt-Cdr Franken) sinks the British destroyer Partridge on 18 Dec and torpedoes the troop transport Cameronia (16297 tons) on 22 Dec.
[Source: Rohwer, Jürgen and Gerhard Hümmelchen. Chronology of the War at Sea: The Naval History of World War Two (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1992). pp.180-81].

You need the log of U-565. I suggest you initiate a skilled and persistent internet search using Google, because the internet is full of material on the Kriegsmarine Unterseeboot-Waffe. The Luftwaffe was not involved, and for this you should be thankful. Most of the Luftwaffe records were destroyed during the first week of May 1945, while most of the Kriegsmarine records survived. Locating the log of U-565 should not be difficult. The probability of it being copied in full on a roll of U.S. National Archives microfilm is very good.

--Lorenz

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Post by cpa95 » Wed Aug 23, 2006 9:52 am

Hi Andre,

first information about U-565 and the Cameronia:
http://ubootwaffe.net/ops/boat.cgi?boat=565
http://ubootwaffe.net/ops/ships.cgi?boat=565;nr=5

Thomas
Das Studium der Tagesmeldungen der Heeresgruppen ist mühseliger als die Lösung eines Kreuzworträtsels (Guderian 4.2.45)

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Post by Andre Chissel » Wed Aug 23, 2006 1:46 pm

Gentlemen,

Many thanks for your replies thus far.

I am aware of U565 however, the official records from the Captain of the Cameronia when he wrote his report to the Admiralty (?) that I have give the impression that it was an aerial torpedo from an He 111 - Basically there were a lot of torpedoes from both aircraft and planes being thrown in the general direction of the Cameronia at the time (which one hit the ship one from U565 or an aerial torpedo is still a mystery and one reason for writing the article). I have thoroughly researched U565, now I want to look at Torpedo bomber squadrons in the mediterranean at the time.

Really appreciate the rapid responses and was not really expecting replies at all ! Please keep them coming !
Andre Chissel

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Post by Andre Chissel » Wed Aug 23, 2006 1:48 pm

Sorry when I said "aircraft and planes" I meant

aircraft and submarines !
Andre Chissel

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Post by Lorenz » Wed Aug 23, 2006 2:20 pm

Andre Chissel wrote:Sorry when I said "aircraft and planes" I meant
aircraft and submarines !
Here, I believe, is the unit that attacked the ship:

I./KG 26
22.12.42: two (2) 3.St. He 111H-6s (1H+BL,NL) FTR from ops - no details, 100%, 4 MIA.
Crew members:
Lt. Sebastian Suchanek (MIA)
Ofw. Georg Lachenbacher (MIA)
Fw. Ewald Namyslo (MIA)
Uffz. Georg Pikerek (MIA)

Uffz. Hermann Meinel (PoW)
Uffz. Wolfgang Kurzer (PoW)
Ogefr. Heinz Leuner (PoW)
Ogefr. Josef Pietschmann (PoW)

This was the only He 111 torpedo unit in the Mediterranean that appears to have been in action on 22 December 1942.

[Source: Schmidt, Rudi. Achtung - Torpedos Los!: Der Strategische und Operative Einsatz des Kampfgeschwader 26 (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe Verlag, 1991). pp.162-63 and 345].

The entire crew of one the Heinkels was evidently rescued and captured by the Allies, so there may be a PoW interrogation report that would include some details of their last mission (presumably the attack on the Cameronia).

--Lorenz

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Post by Andre Chissel » Wed Aug 23, 2006 2:45 pm

Dear Lorenz,

Many many thanks for what your input Please excuse my ignorance but could you offer me a translation of the following:

two (2) 3.St. He 111H-6s (1H+BL,NL) FTR from ops - no details, 100%,

I two or three stukas ? What does 1H +BL NL mean ? I assume FTR means failed to return.

Many thanks for the reference as well Just what I need.

Thank you for your time
Andre Chissel

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Post by Lorenz » Wed Aug 23, 2006 2:57 pm

Two Heinkel He 111 H-6s (marked 1H+BL and 1H+NL) belonging to 3. Staffel (3d Squadron) of KG 26 failed to return from operations on 22 December 1942. The loss report entry provided no details as to the specific cause of the loss. Both aircraft were 100% (totally written off). 4 crew members were reported missing in action while the other 4 were captured.

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Post by Andre Chissel » Wed Aug 23, 2006 3:16 pm

Dear Lorenz,

Thank you once again.

Once the article has been written, I will post details of where it can be seen (Our Company website) so you can see what I have done.

I really was not expecting this type of information as it is the first time that I have ever used this or any other type of "Forum".

I do not know if this is common but once some information comes back it raises all sorts of other questions but I will not over stay my welcome at this stage ! Once the article is near completion I will post another enquiry to ask for answers to any remaining queries that I may have.

Thanks to all of you for your tremendous help.
Andre Chissel

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Post by alessandro bray » Fri Aug 25, 2006 1:34 am

Hallo,

I’m deeply interested in anti shipping operations in the Med and about the torpedoing of the Cameronia, I’m not sure that she was torpedoed by U-565.
Convoy KMS 5 was under attack by U-Boot already on the 21.12 and OKW claimed a large ship sunk and another damaged, the ship sunk was the troop trasport Strathallan and Commodore’s ship (27300 BRT) by U-562 (Hamm).
On the night 21-22 december 14 torpedo aircrafts from KG26 were launched against this convoy and 8 effectively attacked the ships but without apparent results, later on 06.35 the convoy was again attacked position 35.67N 05.03E by 2 Ju88 armed with bombs and 1 Ju88 with torpedos from III/KG26 and a hit was claimed by the torpedo aircraft (no pilot name) on a 12000 BRT steamer.
OKW reported this attack with the result of a 12000 BRT steamer in flames.
It’s possible that the torpedo was from U-565, but it’s maybe more probable that Cameronia was hit by aircraft launched torpedo. I have find an interview from member of the Cameronia, Georg Chadwick, he sustained the ship was hit by aircraft torpedo and the report from OKW could confirm this version.

Regards
Alessandro

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Post by Andre Chissel » Fri Aug 25, 2006 2:27 am

Dear Alessandro,

I am aware of the Strathallan and it forms part of the article that I am writing as it too was part of KMF 5.

I do not know what OKW means

Please please (!) tell me where you goy your information about the 14 torpedo aircraft (did they leave from Grosetto ???)

I am aware of George Chadwick's diary - it too is forming part of my article !

Does your source mention how many ships were in the convoy that was attacked ? My source is three the Cameronia being the largest and all attacks were thus concentrated on her !

My time line for the torpedo hit on the Cameronia is about 0400 22nd December (this may be wrong) Chadwick's diary need a second corroborating source.

37.03N, 05.24E is the position I have for the torpedo hit from U565 from UBOAT.NET.

I am in the process of getting another copy of the Captain's report about the attack (Captain of the Cameronia) as I lost the one I had - once I have it I will be able to let you know some more information.

The Cameronia was 16.297 tons

What does BRT mean ?


Sincerely
Andre Chissel

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Post by alessandro bray » Fri Aug 25, 2006 3:05 am

hi,

OKW is "Oberkommando der Wehrmacht", my reference in the post are extracted from the OKW's diary

BRT is the german acronymous as the english GRT is for gross registered tonnage

Alessandro

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Post by Andre Chissel » Sat Aug 26, 2006 9:41 pm

Gentlemen,

So far, this is a rough first draft of a small part of what I want to put into my article about the torpedoing of the Cameroinia:

All of the aircraft that took part in the repeated attacks on the Cameronia were from Kampfgeschwader (KG) 26 (Bomber Wing 26) based in Grosetto, Italy. KG 26 was the main anti-shipping torpedo Geschwader of the Luftwaffe and the favoured attack used by its aircrews and probably carried out against the Cameronia was known as “Golden Comb”. This involved aircraft attacking all at once in ‘line abreast formation’ at low altitude and preferably at dusk.

It would seem that fourteen Heinkel (He 111 H-6) torpedo bombers from KG 26 were initially launched against this convoy and eight attacked the ships. Although not mentioned in the Incident Report from the Captain of the Cameronia, it would seem from official records18 that two He 111 H-6s (marked 1H+BL and 1H+NL) belonging to the first Bomber Group No. 3 Staffel (3d Squadron) of KG 26 failed to return from operations on 22 December 1942.

Their crews were:
Lt. Sebastian Suchanek (MIA)
Ofw. Georg Lachenbacher (MIA)
Fw. Ewald Namyslo (MIA)
Uffz. Georg Pikerek (MIA)

Uffz. Hermann Meinel (PoW)
Uffz. Wolfgang Kurzer (PoW)
Ogefr. Heinz Leuner (PoW)
Ogefr. Josef Pietschmann (PoW)

As it appears that this was the only He 111 H-6 unit in the Mediterranean that was in action on 22 December 1942, the gun crews on either the Cameronia or one of its sister ships in the convoy are likely to have been responsible for the downing of these two aircraft.

The Convoy was later again attacked at 0.635am at 35.67N 05.03E by two Junkers (Ju) 88s armed with bombs and another armed with torpedos all from the third Bomber Group of KG 26 based at Grosetto and a hit was claimed by the torpedo bomber on a 12000 ton Steamer.

The Report filed by Wilhelm Franken, the 28 year old Commander of the Type VIIC U Boat 565 about the Cameronia is at odds with the official version as set out by the Captain of the Cameronia and by the OKW as Franken reported that it was a torpedo from his U boat that had hit the Cameronia and this still forms part of the public record today. There are no reports of two torpedoes hitting the Cameronia

The Report filed by Franken, states the location of the Cameronia when she was hit - (37.03N, 05.24E).

Questions

1) How many aircraft were there in a Staffel and a Gruppe in KG26 at the time ?

2) Did the other six aircraft from the original 14 attack a different target ? If so were the downed aircraft associated with this other attack and is there any way of finding out ?

3) How many ships were attacked by torpedo bombers on 21 and 22nd December 1942 only the ones involving the Cameronia or were there any others ? (A rehash of question 2)

4) Are the two positions given by the Ju88 and U565 within experimental error i.e. could they be the same position or are they too far apart ?

5) Are there any other records that can be dug up to assist with this ?

6) What further information might be relevant to put into the article regarding KG26 ?

7) Lastly please could I get a full reference for the OKW diary - page number, volume, year section that sort of stuff so someone can immediately look it up.

Sincerely
Andre Chissel

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Post by Andy_F » Sun Aug 27, 2006 2:43 am

Hi Andre,

For aircraft (a/c) on strength at the start and end of each month check out the following link.

http://www.ww2.dk/oob/bestand/kampf/bikg26.html

The normal establishment of a kampfstaffel was 12 a/c and for a kampfgruppe 40 a/c (3xStaffeln (3x12) + Gruppen Stab (1x4)) although the figure of 40 was rarely reached owing to losses. Of the a/c actually on strength not all would be serviceable.

Regards

Andy

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Post by Lorenz » Sun Aug 27, 2006 5:06 am

7) Lastly please could I get a full reference for the OKW diary - page number, volume, year section that sort of stuff so someone can immediately look it up.
Schramm, Percy Ernst (ed.). Kriegstagebuch des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht (Wehrmachtführungsstab) 1940 – 1945. München: Bernard & Graefe Verlag, 1982. ISBN: 3-88199-073-9. Licenced paperback edition by Manfred Pawlak Verlag, Herrsching. 4 paperback Bände (volumes) in 8 Halbbände (half-volumes) all in slip cover case.
Band I: 1. August 1940 – 31. Dezember 1941. Erster Halbband I/1. Charts. Tables. Zweiter Halbband I/2. Total of 1,285p. Charts. Tables. Lists. Index.
Band II: 1. Januar 1942 – 31. Dezember 1942. Erster Halbband II/3. Zweiter Halbband II/4. Total of 1,464p. Maps. Charts. Tables. Lists. Index.
Band III: 1. Januar 1943 – 31. Dezenber 1943. Erster Halbband III/5. Tables. Zweiter Halbband III/6. Total of 1,661p. Tables. Index.
Band IV: 1. Januar 1944 – 22. Mai 1945. Erster Halbband IV/7. Tables. Zweiter Halbband IV/8. Total of 1,939p. + 87p. + 85p. Maps. Charts. Tables. Index.

The citation for 22 December 1942 is in Zweiter Halbband II/4, page 1176-77.

All it says is:
Am 22. 06.10 Uhr griffen 2 Ju 88 das nordostwärts Bougie stehende Feindgeleit an und beschädigten einen 6000 t Dampfer.
Um 06.35 Uhr griffen Torp.=Flugzeuge an, ein Fahrgaster 12000 t erhielt 2 LT=Treffer und geriet in Brand.
Trans.:
On the 22d, 2 Ju 88s attacked an enemy convoy lying northeast of Bougie at 0610 hours and damaged a 6,000 ton steamer.
Around 0635 torpedo aircraft attacked, a 12,000 ton passenger ship received 2 torpedo hits and was set on fire.

[Terse and not very informative - obviously based on the reports of returning air crew.]

--Lorenz

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