Did Günter Prien Have Help at Scapa Flow?

German Kriegsmarine 1935-1945.
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John W. Howard
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Prien

Post by John W. Howard » Sat Jul 05, 2003 11:48 pm

Hello Rich:
Thanks for your reply. I hope you stick around the forum for awhile. I think you are right about Prien, the Royal Oak, and British complacency. It is intersting to hear all sides of the story though. I am glad they restrict diving on the Royal Oak; it is the resting place for a lot of good men. I was thinking in terms of a Royal Geographic or National Geographic style official dive with a corresponding documentary. Perhaps one has already been done. Welcome to the forum. Best Wishes.
John W. Howard

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Post by Horace Bachelor » Sun Jul 06, 2003 7:30 am

Hello again John,
Further to my last posting, I've sinced discovered that a couple of dives have been made on Royal Oak (with official permission) in 1979 and 2000 and a 50 minute video is available. Try http://www.hmsroyaloak.co.uk
An official inquiry was launched after the disaster as the cause wasn't initially apparent. Sabotage, air attack or internal explosion were all possibilities.
Divers discovered three large holes approx 40ft x 50ft in the starboard side caused by the second attack and a smaller one in the bow from the initial hit. Many of the watertight doors were open and the crew asleep so it's no wonder she went down so quickly with such heavy loss of life.
A fairly detailed account of her loss and the results of the subsequent inquiry can be found in British Battleships 1919-39 by R A Burt (Conway).
By the way, anybody know how many torpedoes U 47 would have carried.

Cheers, Rich.

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John W. Howard
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Thanks Again Rich!!

Post by John W. Howard » Sun Jul 06, 2003 10:56 pm

Hi Rich:
Thanks for the the link to the outstanding web-site and the book suggestion. Wow, what a beautiful ship. It is bad enough when a ship goes down in daylight, but it has to be terrifying to go down at night, especially when one is awakened from a sound sleep. I intend to do a thorough reading of the site you posted; thanks again for taking the time to post. Best Wishes.
John W. Howard

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The Sinking of the Royal Oak

Post by rclayton » Tue Jul 08, 2003 3:32 pm

Hi John
In between my other research I thought I'd check out what the Official Kriegsmarine History has to say. To be honest it intrigued me!
Planning for Prien's operation and intelligence gathering had been carried out by aerial recconaisance and the submarine U 14 between the 13th and 29th of September.
It is stated in the records that HMS Repulse was also attacked but the torpedoes failed to detonate. It also states that the most difficulty encountered during the mission was a strong flood tide in Holm Sound and 'bright Northern Lights'.
Not knowing wether U47 had escaped the Kriegsmarins instructed U 18 to transmit a strong radio signal from outside the Flow the following day as a ruse. This would make the British think Prien had escaped even if he was still inside the flow.
As I said earlier the Repulse was definitely not inside Scapa Flow that evening.

I should have realised that Royal Oak was a war grave. Having said that there have been divers working on the hull recently, apparently she's leaking oil into the Flow.

Hope this has been of interest good luck everyone,
Ron C.

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Hello Ron!!

Post by John W. Howard » Tue Jul 08, 2003 11:52 pm

Hello Ron:
Thank you for continuing my education about the Royal Oak sinking. The question of the Repulse is interesting; I wonder if something along the shoreline made the Germans think they were firing on the Repulse? If the Northern Lights were a problem, one would think the Germans would have had a clear view of the ship they thought was the Repulse. Is there any indication the British found torpedoes on the shore or anywhere else, which may have been the ones fired by U-47? Best wishes.
John W. Howard

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Did Gunther Prien have help in Scapa Flow

Post by rclayton » Wed Jul 09, 2003 3:25 pm

Hello John,
Yes the Royal Navy did recover torpedo parts and therefore they were of the conviction that the sinking had been carried out by a U Boat.
I believe some fins and part of what is described as a torpedo motor were found by Navy divers. The nameplate on the motor was Siemens, of cousre a famous German manufacturing firm.
As well as the claimed attack on Repulse Prien also claimed that the conning tower of his submarine had been caught in the glare of a vehicle's headlights from the shore. I can't remember if he was at the time leaving or entering the Flow.
Besides the fact that a 'blackout' was in force, no military or civilian motorist ever came forward to claim they'd caught a U Boat in thier headlights. Perhaps the motorist didn't notice, or perhaps, like the Repulse, it was an embellishment of Prien's story?

Hope your continuing research goes well. Best wishes, Ron.

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John W. Howard
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Thanks Again Ron

Post by John W. Howard » Thu Jul 10, 2003 2:25 pm

Hello Ron:
When I asked about torpedoes, I was thinking of intact torpedoes which might have been the ones Prien fired at the phantom REPULSE. Prien said they did not explode so they should have been around somewhere, on the beach etc. Their existence might have corroborated Prien's story about firing on the phantom REPULSE. Thanks again for the information. Best wishes.
John W. Howard

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Post by lijn34 » Tue Dec 30, 2003 1:43 pm

As far as I know german submarines had already done a recoinnassance-tour of the route to Scapa flow before Prien's attack. Recoinnassance was already done in WWI, but I there was no attack because the germans believed it could not be done. Furthermore, I have always believed he did on his own.

Greetings LIJN

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Prien

Post by John W. Howard » Tue Dec 30, 2003 2:01 pm

Hello Lijn:
Thanks for responding to my post and adding the information about WW1. I think you are right about Prien making the attack on his own. Any way one looks at the attack, it was an incrdible feat of arms. Best wishes.
John W. Howard

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tigre
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Re: Did Günter Prien Have Help at Scapa Flow?

Post by tigre » Sat Jun 21, 2014 6:49 pm

Hello to all :D; some comments and questions about this topic.......................

How the idea about Scapa Flow came?

Two German submarines had already tried it during WWI, in October of 1914, the U-18 under von Henning reached the Scapa Flow base, hidden in the wake of an English merchant, but unfortunately for him, the British fleet had sailed and the base was deserted. In 1918, the U-116 under von Emsman also reached the base, but before he could attack struck a mine and sank with all hands.

One day in September 1939 the BdU Karl Dönitz studied a large scale map at his headquarters in Kiel; it was a map from the Orkney Islands in the north of Great Britain, between two large islands the sea expands forming a bay: Scapa Flow. The admiral was planning something special, it would not be a particularly serious tactical setback for the enemy, but would tell the world that nothing was safe from his submarine force.

On September 11, 1939, observing an aerial photograph of the area, Dönitz noted that several capital warships of the British navy were anchored in the bay, it was a significant target for a raid with a submarine.

On September 13, 1939 at 09:00 hours sailed from Kiel the U 14 (Kplt. Horst Wellner); the submersible was to operate against the British traffic in front of the Firth of Moray and carry out the reconnaissance over the approaches to Scapa Flow.

Sources: Fotoalbum-U-Boot-Atlantikboot-Feindfahrten-FrontbootTop bei eBay_de 1918-1945 (endet 14_02_10 200556 MEZ)
http://www.u-boot-archiv.de/krieg/prien_gegen_sf.html
http://www.ubootarchiv.de/ubootwiki/index.php/U_14
KTB U-Bootwaffe. 1939-09 y 1939-10. Das Kriegstagebuch der U-Bootwaffe von Roland Berr.
Husarenstück in Scapa Flow. Die Versenkung der Royal Oak durch U-47 in Scapa Flow. http://www.seekrieg.de

Doubts: Since when Dönitz had this idea? ... He exchanged views with the Abwehr, ie Canaris? ... Any particular reason for selecting kplt. Horst Wellner and U 14 for the reconnaissance? TIA. Cheers. Raúl M 8).
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image002.jpg
The U 14 (type IIB) which carried out the recce over the approaches to Scapa Flow ........................
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Serás lo que debas ser o no serás nada. General José de San Martín.

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Re: Did Günter Prien Have Help at Scapa Flow?

Post by phylo_roadking » Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:08 pm

John...if you're still looking in on this - and others who have commented...

Noone needed to help Prien - the Germans were inside the RN's codes from virtually the very first day of the war if not sooner! :shock: The Navy's movements, daily wireless traffic etc. would have been monitored - in the first three months of the war it was being monitored and sent to von Langdorff south of the Equator, for example! Which is how he was able to stay one step ahead of the pursuing British/French "hunting groups" for so long, until Harewood put himself in the Graf Spee's path...Berlin knew their movements and were able to transmit them to the Graf Spee.
"Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle." - Malcolm Reynolds

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Re: Scapa Flow and the Watchmaker

Post by Peedeel » Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:12 am

rclayton wrote:Another fact to take into consideration is that Royal Oak had been taking on stores the day before. These stores had been loaded from the dockside by civilian labour. They had stcked crates and boxes in gangways deep inside the ship. My point is that there was opportunity to get explosive devices onboard the ship so sabotage can not be ruled out completely.

Ron Clayton

My uncle was aboard Royal Oak when it went down. He swore to his dying day that the Oak wasn't torpedoed but fell victim to an internal explosion, most probably an act of sabotage! Later in the war my uncle was twice torpedoed and ended up in the drink both times - so he considered himself something of an expert on the subject; he acquired the family nickname Jonah in the process, too!

We had many discussions (arguments) on the subject while he was alive, and nothing would shake his view that sabotage sank the Oak.

Peter L

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Re: Did Günter Prien Have Help at Scapa Flow?

Post by John W. Howard » Thu Jul 03, 2014 11:22 pm

Thank you Phylo. That is something I did not know.
John W. Howard

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Re: Did Günter Prien Have Help at Scapa Flow?

Post by tigre » Sun Jul 06, 2014 6:17 am

Hello to all :D; thank you very much Phylo and Peter L for your feedbacks.......................

How the idea about Scapa Flow came?

On September 18, 1939 the BdU exposed his idea about an attack in Scapa Flow to Admiral Raeder, the Grand Admiral gave his approval but said that there should not be an action of laying mines.

On September 26, 1939 Dönitz received new aerial photographs of the bay and examining every inch, he saw three accesses were fully insured, but the access from the north posed a possibility of infiltration for a submersible. The task was risky because in addition to the security measures, in the area took place powerful tidal currents which could exceed 10 knots (submerged submarine reached 7 knots).

On September 29, 1939 at 09:30 hours U 14 returned to Kiel with the valuable information that the admiral was expecting. The Kaleun reported that the area east of Scapa Flow was constantly monitored by fixed guards, aircraft and groups of three to four destroyers on A / S mission and should be counted the ships had tracking equipment. However Wellner added that due to the strong currents in the area they would lose effectiveness.

On Sunday, October 1, 1939 after lunch Dönitz cited three officers to his office, Krv Kp Ernst Sobe (Flotilla Commander), kplt. Horst Wellner (U 14) and kplt. Günther Prien (U 47) to discuss the issue (SONDERUNTERNEHMEN "P"). Despite having 48 hours Prien accepted the mission the next day October 2, 1939 and on October 8, 1939 at 11:00 hours U 47 (Kplt. Günther Prien; IWO Oblt z S. Endraß, Engelbert; IIWO Oblt z S. Varendorff von, Amelung; LI Oblt z S. Wessels, Johann-Friedrich; OStrm Spahr, Wilhelm) sailed from Kiel and navigating through the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal with wind 7, headed to the North Sea, the rest is history ......

Sources: Fotoalbum-U-Boot-Atlantikboot-Feindfahrten-FrontbootTop bei eBay_de 1918-1945 (endet 14_02_10 200556 MEZ)
http://www.u-boot-archiv.de/krieg/prien_gegen_sf.html
http://www.ubootarchiv.de/ubootwiki/index.php/U_14
KTB U-Bootwaffe. 1939-09 y 1939-10. Das Kriegstagebuch der U-Bootwaffe von Roland Berr.
Husarenstück in Scapa Flow. Die Versenkung der Royal Oak durch U-47 in Scapa Flow. http://www.seekrieg.de
Prien Greift An. Wolfgang Frank.

Cheers. Raúl M 8).
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image015.jpg
U 47 sailing towards her target....................................
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Serás lo que debas ser o no serás nada. General José de San Martín.

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