Marine-Artillery Abteilung 531 and Sturmboots Kommando

German unit histories, lineages, OoBs, ToEs, commanders, fieldpost numbers, organization, etc.

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csundstr
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Marine-Artillery Abteilung 531 and Sturmboots Kommando

Post by csundstr » Mon Oct 30, 2006 3:44 pm

Hello All:

I've been researching the TO&E of Marine-Artillerie Abteilung 531 during Operation Tanne Ost. Contrary to the name, it seems to have been organized as an assault landing force versus an artillery unit. As far as I have been able to determine, the battalion had the following units:

1st Company - Infantry Company
2nd Company - Heavy (Schwere) Company
3rd Company - Motorised Company
4th Company - Infantry Company
5th Company - UNKNOWN

Supposedly these companies were organised similarly to the standard Army Kstn.

Question: does anyone have any information on the organization of the fifth company? My information seems to indicate a staffing of about 200 personnel, but no further details.

Question: can anyone confirm details of the weapons, equipment or vehicles used by this unit in or about September 1944 (Operation Tanne Ost)?

Also included in Operation Tanne Ost were Sturmboots-Kommando 902 and 903...these seem to be special boat-landed raiding parties, with very rough indications of 15-16 Sturmboots with a squad of soldiers on each for each Kommando.

Question: does anyone know the TO&E for these units or similar units?

Finally, as part of Tanne Ost, there were a company of Ladungspioneer and what appears to have been a short Luftwaffe Flakabteilung (one battery '88', 1.5 batteries '20mm', attached light searchlights). Does anyone have any ideas on which units these might have been?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Chris Sundstrom

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Jason Pipes
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Post by Jason Pipes » Mon Nov 13, 2006 2:19 pm

Not sure if you have done any searches on the forum yet but info on this unit has been written about fairly well on the forum in the past. This is a unit that I have long been facinated with, and you are correct that it was not a true artillery unit and was organized as a landing/assault force for most of it's operations.

Here are some link:

http://www.feldgrau.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=20060

http://www.feldgrau.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=12596

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Post by csundstr » Mon Nov 13, 2006 3:54 pm

Thank you, yes, I had seen those discussions. Most of the information I have collected has been from this forum or similar forums. Unfortunately I have yet to find the detail I am looking for on the unit during Tanne Ost.

With the caveat that I have not yet managed to get a copy of the book Deutsche Marineinfanterie 1938-1945 (I'm ordering it in a week or so), I am looking for the following information:

1) The composition of the fifth company (possibly the attached Marineersatzkompanie from that Seekommando - this companie is suggested as being ill-trained)

2) The vehicles and weapons used (what artillery pieces, trucks, half tracks, captured or obsolete versus state of the art MG's, level of PFk usage)

I have discovered since I posted the first query that the Sturmboots-Kommando units each nominally possessed 81 Sturmboots, leading the numbers to suggest that both Kommandos were slightly under-staffed (assuming two crewmen per boat, they would have 80 and 77 Sturmboots).

Also, does anyone have any idea what the real numbers of landing craft were in this operation? By the books, the units involved would have possessed 75 Marinefahrprahme landing craft or similar (there are indications that MAL, Seibel-ferries, Marineprahme and MNL were also available), 162 sturmboots, plus upwards of 20 R-Boats, 5 S-Boats, 30+ Minesweepers and 10+ Gunboats. By the books this number of landing craft could have landed the better part of a division (16,000+ infantry), when the entire force actually had roughly 2000 personnel plus a dozen or so artillery pieces, and used R-Boats to land some of the forces.

Thank you for any help you can provide.

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Post by Jason Pipes » Mon Nov 13, 2006 3:58 pm

For those that haven't seen it:

German naval forces in action against Suursari (Operation Tanne Ost):

3.M-Flottille
25.M-Flottille
13., 21., 24.Landungsboot-Flottillen
7.Artillerieträger-Flottille
1.R-Flottille, 5.S-Flottille

German landing forces:

Marine-Artillerie-Abteilung 531 (core of the landing troops)
Füsilier-Regiment 68 of the 23.Inf.Division
Sturmboots.Kdo 902
Sturmboots.Kdo 903

The battle lasted only two days and resulted in the death or capture of nearly 1500 German troops - basically everyone landed on the island.

In first wave were 650 men from IR 68, 380 men from MAA 531, 155 men from Sturmboots.Kdo 902. The second wave was 160 men from Sturmboots.Kdo 903, 200 men from Luftwaffe AA and 50 signals men and drivers. Third wave was 200 more men from MAA 531 and 80 sappers. 6 88mm guns, 19 20mm guns, 6 60cm searchlights, 1 towing truck, 2 trucks, bicycles, a radio truck, 4 28mm at-rifles were also transported.

1st wave and almost half of the 2nd wave managed to land. 491 remained in vessels, including all of the 3rd wave.

Finnish statistics place German casualties at 153 KIA and 1231 POW of which 175 were wounded. German statistics place the number at 137 KIA and 29 officers and 1027 men POW, of which 2 officers and 173 men were wounded. 74% of the men who participated were lost. German casualties at sea are difficult to calculate but they must be significant because the following German vessels were lost - 3 landing crafts (F-822, F-866 and F-173), 3 patrol boats (B-1, B-31 and B-35), minesweeper R-29 and tugboat Pernau. Damaged vessels were 3 mine ships, 3 minesweepers and tugboat Polyp.

Kapitän zur See Karl-Conrad Mecke (who received the Knight’s Cross on 11 April 1943 while commanding 22. Marine-Flak-Regiment) was the overall commander of the landing operations. He was captured during the landing operation on Suursaari on Sept 15 and remained a POW in Russia until 1955.

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Jason Long
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Post by Jason Long » Thu Nov 16, 2006 1:54 pm

Wasn't this the unit that seized Libau during the opening of Barbarossa? Does anyone have any details on its composition during 1941? And what's the best way to translate Erfassungs-Abt., its title in 1941?

Jason

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Libau 1941

Post by tigre » Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:29 am

Hello Jason, AFAIK the unit that seized Libau was MAA 530 Motorized (without guns) under Capitan Leutnant Schwenke. The MAA 530 was armed with the artillery guns captured at Libau and one battery was detached to Windau where it took over the coastal security from the II./ IR 504. The 2./ MAA 530 took over, early Jul, the sector at Dinamunde blocking the Duna river; another battery remained at Libau.

Source: Historia de la 291 Division de Infanteria Alemana. W. Conze.

Regards. Tigre.
Serás lo que debas ser o no serás nada. General José de San Martín.

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Post by Jason Long » Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:32 am

Hmm, then did 531 do anything during Barbarossa in particular? It seems to have been up around the Oranienbaum Pocket by the winter.

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Post by csundstr » Sun Nov 19, 2006 12:46 pm

I've dug up a bit more information about Tanne Ost that I want to share:

1) The German forces had a "radar unit" already on the island as part of the defences. Removing this unit as part of the retreat from Finland was the ruse the Germans used to move the enitre first landing wave into/next to the harbour without being fired upon. It appears that this unit was not a "radar" unit per se, but rather an "acoustic radar" or sound detector unit, probably equipped with RRH acoustic listening station(s). A statement about the 1944 bombing of Helsinki says that the bombing force was first detected by the soudnlistening post on Suursaari, which alerted the Freya radars in Talliin and Helsinki to watch for the bombers. DOES ANYONE KNOW THE OOB/TO&E FOR SUCH A UNIT? Or even the designation?

2) The 1st R-Boat Flotilla appears to have had the following vessels assigned to it at this point: R-29, R-67, R-68, R-69, R-72, R-76, R-119, R-120, R-127, R-145, R-249. R-29 was lost in the battle. These were shallow-water minesweepers.

3) The 5th S-Boat Flotilla appears to have had the following vessels assigned to it at this point: S-85, S-110, S-116, S-120. These were motor-torpedo boats and were presumably the fleet's primary defence against the Russians (who were operating submarines and motor gunboats/torpedo boats in the area).

4) The 3rd and 25th M-Boat Flotillas appear to have had the following ships assigned to them at this point: M-14 (or M-16), M-15, M-17, M-18, M-19, M-22, M-29, M-30, M-443, M-453, M-460. These were larger minesweepers which could provide some offensive firepower (1 or 2 105mm deck guns) as well as providing safe passage through and around the large minefields.

5) The 7th Artillerie-Trager Flotilla appears to have had the following ships assigned to it at this point: Group A/ AF-33, AF-19, AF-26, Group B/ AF-38, AF-34, AF-21, Group C/ AF-46, AF-49, AF-37, AF-30, Group D/ AF-50, AF-2, AF-31, AF-23, Group E/ AF-5, AF-9, AF-29. These were gun-boats of one type or another; I am not certain whether they were AFP gunboat versions of the MFP, or converted civilian vessels. Information that this unit was assigned "MFP" vessels may indicate AFP gunboats.

6) The 21st Ladungs Flotilla appears to have been assigned primarily MFP vessels plus some LAT vessels. The MFP's were the "standard" German assault landing craft, while the LAT appear to have been small civilian vessels converted to gunboats.

7) The 24th Ladungs Flotilla appears to have been assigned SAT-5, SAT-6, SAT-7, SAT-8, SAT-11, SAT-15, SAT-18, plus several MFP, several AFP, several MNL and some Seibelferries. The SAT were apparently larger civilian vessels converted to gunboats. The AFP were gunboat versions of the MFP. The MNL were supply lighters similar in size and design to the American/British LCM, although unarmoured. The Seibel-Ferries were catamaran landing craft converted from heavy bridging pontoons; this unit left several in Finland a month earlier which had been shifted to Lake Ladoga; the ones left in Finland were the FlaK variants with 88mm and 20mm guns. The Seibel-Ferries used in this landing may also have been these versions, and might account for the AA guns captured by the Finns during the battle.

8.) The 13th Ladungs Flotilla seems to have been assigned a mixture of MFP and MP (motorboats). This unit was assigned to coastal Estonia/Lithuania evacuation duties prior to Tanne Ost, so it may not have been at full strength. The motorboats may have been assigned to allow evacuation from areas not accessible to the MFP's; rivers, canals and such.

In addition, as jpipes stated, at least two tugs took part in the raid (as they were lost) as well as several B-class boats (were these the seibel-ferries??). The tugs may have been used to tow the Siebel Ferries, as they might not have been able to maintain fleet speed during the voyage (while the other vessels could). All of the Ladungs Flotillas also had support craft (generally converted freighters) which may or may not have participated; some of these were mini-FlaK ships as well as supply ships.

The large numbers of minesweepers are probably beacause Suusaari was the linchpin of the biggest minefield in the gulf of Finland, specifically laid almost all the way across the gulf in order to bottle up the Russian Baltic Fleet. Finnish foces seem to have used primarily small wooden-hulled gunboats (VMV class) in the region for the same reason. Two of these VMV boats were in the harbour at the time of the invasion and were sunk by the Germans (VMV10 and VMV14).

One can only presume that the German landing flotillas were understrength or only partially assigned to this attack, as their numbers are slightly excessive for the forces carried. The land forces, including artillery, would have needed about 15-20 MFP to complete the landing. The units involved had something on the order of 60 MFP, MNL and SF available, plus motorboats (MP), gunboats (SAT/LAT) and artillery landing craft (AFP). They also had approximately 162 Leichte Sturmboote, which presumably would have been launched from MFP or SF vessels away from shore.

Kapitan Zur-See Mecke seems to have been the commander of Sonderkommando 7000 at this point in time; does anyone know if this was the code name for the Operation Tanne forces, or was this a separate unit from which he was drawn to command this attack?

The parent command for the Marine forces participating in the attack was also assigned the following units, which may be the origin of the unknown engineer and "luftwaffe" FlaK personnel and the "poorly trained" 5th company of MAA 531 in the attack:

Marine-Einsatz-Abteilung Ostsee (Prisoner Battalion)
Marine-Festungs-Pioneer-Abteilung 321
Marine-Festungs-Abteilung 311

The sound detector unit may have been part of:

1st or 5th Marine-Flugmelde-Abteilung

or a detachment of the Luftwaffe Flugmeldemess-Stellung Tutters radar post located on the nearby island of Tytarsaari.

I would appreciate any other information that anyone may have about any of the units listed.

Cheers,

Chris

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