1. Seenotstaffel

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1. Seenotstaffel

(Unit Code: W4+ - assigned Mar 44)

as: Seenotflugkommando 1 (1939 - Jun 41)
1. Staffel/Seenotgruppe d.Lw. (Jun 41 - May 42)
1. Seenotstaffel (Jun 42 - 19 Aug 44)

Formation. (Apr 39)

Ordered formed 12 April 1939 at Bad Zwischenahn with 3 of the crews provided by units of the Luftdienstverband. Initially equipped with 6 He 59s specially outfitted for rescue work. The first of the He 59s (coded WL-APIE) was delivered in mid-June.[1]

North Germany, Norway and Western France. (Apr 39 - Aug 44)

Aug 39: transferred from Bad Zwischenahn to Norderney in mid-August to begin operations under Seenotzentrale (L) Nord.[2]

13 Sep 39: probable date of first rescue mission - searched for a Do 18 reported to have made an emergency landing along the coast of Holland, but the aircraft and crew were captured by the Dutch.[3]

Jan – Feb 40: Staffel temporarily equipped with 3 Ju 52s to transport passengers, freight, mail and food between the Frisian Islands and the German mainland due to an unusually cold winter that froze harbors and coastal stretches of the North Sea.[4]

Apr – May 40: supported the occupation of Denmark and Norway from 9 April, operating detachments of one or two He 59s from harbors along the Norwegian coast (e.g., Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, Bodø, Tromsø, etc.).[5]

23 May 40: Staffel established an Aussenstelle Amsterdam-Schellingwoude/Seenotflugkdo. 1 Norderney with 2 He 59s this date.[6]

Jun 40: reassigned to Seenotzentrale (L) Brest at the end of June and began moving to Brest-South (Brest-Poulmic) in July.

9 Jul 40: He 59 shot down by a Spitfire off Ramsgate in Kent, aircraft and crew captured.[7]

20 Jul 40: He 59 shot down by a Hurricane near Convoy “Bosum” off Selsey Bill, 100%, 4 KIA.

28 Jul 40: He 59 shot up by a Hurricane while rescuing downed air crew 16 km W of Boulogne, 60%, 2 WIA.

6 Aug 40: based at Brest under Seenotzentrale (L) Brest.[8]

1 Oct 40: Staffel reported that since it had commenced operations from Brest-South and Hourtin, it had already carried out 17 successful rescues in the Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay.[9]

21 Oct 40: a Ju W 34 H-1 belonging to the Staffel damaged in a runway collision at Fp. Paris-Buc, 2%.

28 Oct 40: Do 27 crashed at Noordwijk aan Zee due to engine failure, 80%, 1 KIA and 2 WIA.

6 Nov 40: Breguet Bre 11 belonging to the Staffel shot down by a RAF Coastal Command Blenheim while escorting a convoy between Brest and Jersey.[10]

Dec 40: Brest under Seenotzentrale (L) Brest (later renamed Seenotzentrale (L) Bretagne) with 4 Breguet-Bizerte plus two more based at the seaplane base at Hourtin/55 km NW of Bordeaux for use by Seenotbezirksstelle Royan.[11]

14 Mar 41: Do 24 destroyed in a towing accident near Brest, 100%.

17 Mar 41: Breguet accidently shot down by German Flak at Royan, 100%, 1 WIA.

12 Apr 41: Breguet totaled in a crash landing near Brest, 100%.

28 Apr 41: Staffel reported 4 Breguet, 1 Do 24 and 5 crews on strength.[12]

31 Jan 42: 2 men from the Staffel’s ground staff KIA and 3 more WIA during a strafing of Fp. Brest-South by RAF aircraft.

Apr 42: Brest under Seenotbereichskommando I d.Lw.[13]

23 May 42: Staffel half at Brest with He 59s and half at Royan with He 59s.[14]

18 Aug 42: Staffel half at Brest with He 59s and half at Royan with He 59s.[15]

20 Aug 42: Do 24 failed to return from a mission, 100%, crew of 5 all MIA.

9 Oct 42: Do 24 crashed into the sea off Fp. Brest-South, 100%, 5 KIA.

13 Oct 42: Breguet 521 (BD+KJ) failed to return from a sortie (no details), 100%, Staffelkapitän Oblt. Alfred Kröning + 5 all MIA.

24 Nov 42: Staffel half at Brest with 5 He 59s and half at Royan with 4 He 59s.[16]

9 Feb 43: Do 24 broke loose from its moorings in Cherbourg harbor and sank, 80%.

18 Feb 43: Breguet crashed into the sea at Hourtin due to engine failure o/a this date, 100%, 1 KIA and 3 WIA.

9 Jul 43: Bre 27 crashed near Morlaix, 100%.

13 Jul 43: Staffel air crew member WIA when his aircraft fired on accidently by German Flak near Lorient.

24 Oct 43: Breguet Bizerte crashed at Fp. Brest-South due to pilot error, 100%.

25 Oct 43: Kl 35 hack belonging to the Staffel bombed on the ground at Fp. Brest-South, 80%.

9 Feb 44: a Do 24 from the Staffel shot down by 4 enemy fighters 10 km east of Dreux.[17]

Jun 44: Staffel had 5 Do 24s and 3 Breguet Bizerte on strength.[18]

8 Jun 44: Do 24 (W4+EH) rescued 14 survivors from U-970 that were found in a life raft in the Bay of Biscay. The U-boat had been sunk the day before by an RAF Sunderland while outbound from Brest to begin a patrol.[19]

Jul 44: at Biscarosse/70 km SW of Bordeaux and still assigned to Seenotbereichskommando I d.Lw.[20]

19 Aug 44: evacuated Biscarosse o/a this date for Friedrichshafen-Manzell on the Bodensee (Lake Constance - two departing Do 24s (incl. W4+BH) collided while taking off in darkness and had to be sunk some hours later to prevent their capture by the enemy. The wrecks were discovered by French scuba divers in 1980 and parts salvaged along with some 300 pages of the Staffel’s 1944 operational reports, which were still legible.[21]

19 Aug 44: renamed Seenotstaffel 60 of Seenotgruppe 60 d.Lw. at Friedrichshafen-Manzell.[22]

FpN:(L 10055)


Lt.(d.R.) Karl Born (12 Apr 39 - Dec 39)

Lt.(d.R.) Werner Ziegler (7 Sep 40 - ? ) 12/40

Oblt. Alfred Kröning ( ? - 13 Oct 42) MIA

© H.L. deZeng IV, 2024

Additional Notes and Losses

All notes sourced from RL10/401 30.7.40-15.1240 unless otherwise stated.

22.9.40 – Staffel’s first Do 24 (KK+UM) arrived at Brest.[23]

3.10.40 – 10.35 hrs - Request received from K.Gr. 606 indicating that Do 17, LB + VI had been overdue since 09.50.At 11.15 hrs, Breguet WZ + AB departed to search in Qu. 5941 - 5036 - 5026 – 5943. At 14.00 hrs the search operation was cancelled without result.

4.10.40 – 11.25 hrs call received from K.Gr. 606 that a Do 17 was overdue.12.00 hrs Breguet WZ+AA took off from Brest-Süd for a search operation in Qu. 5933 - 5031 - 6033 - 5933.15.50 hrs a call was then received from K.Gr. 606 indicating that the search was futile and that the aircraft is to be recalled.16.07 hrs - Breguet WZ + AA landed.

5.10.40 - Lt Ketschmar in Royan advised that the 2 Breguets in Hourtin needed a partial overhaul. The expected duration was approx. 8 days per aircraft.

8.10.40 – 12.40 hrs - Seenotzentrale Brest advised that there was a He 111 flying on one engine and it would probably have to make an emergency landing.13.06 hrs - Seenotzentrale Brest notified the unit that the emergency at sea had been dealt with.

9.10.40 – At 19.15 hrs Ju 88 reported to have come down 20 km S. of Lizard Point (Qu. 6034). 19.45 hrs Breguet WZ+AD despatched to the indicated area. 20.30 task abandoned due to darkness.

10.10.40 – 08.05 hrs Breguet WZ+AD was ordered off by Seenotzentrale Brest again to resume yesterdays search. A strip search was flown from south of Lizard Point as far as the French coast. 13.55 hrs WZ+AD landed having had no success.

11.10.40 – 23.35 hrs, notified by Seenotzentrale Brest that a Do 17 of K.Gr. 606 made an emergency landing at 21.15 hrs in Qa. 4033 – 4078 – 5088 – 5042. Aircraft could not take-off at night.

12.10.40 - In agreement between Seenotzentrale (L) Brest and K.Gr. 606, 3 Breguets took off for the search area at 08.30 hrs. A strip search was flown with 1000 metres between the aircraft. Nothing was found of the missing Do 17.13.15 hrs the 3 Breguets landed back at Brest.

13.10.40 – Transfer of 2 Breguets from Hourtin. One aircraft landed at Brest-South. The second Breguet (KB+DF) had to land 800 metres from the coast at Bersicien. This flying boat took on water during the night.

14.10.40 – Breguet (KB+DF) landed at Brest-Süd.

Nov 1940 – Do 24 (KK+UM) returned to Travemünde for post-production modifications.[24]

1-4.11.40 – No operations.

5.11.40 - Generalfeldamarschall Sperrle visited the base and gave 17 personnel of the command the E.K.II and 6 personnel the E.K.I.

6.11.40 – 06.05 hrs - Distress message from the Brest control centre:05.20 hrs. an aircraft was identified 30 km NW Morlaix, this was a forced landing of a He 111 of KGr. 100 (GN+BH).

Two aircraft from the unit took-off - SG+FM 08.37 hrs, KD+BD 09.32 hrs. SG+FM was shot down burning by a Bristol Blenheim fighter near Ile de Vierge at 09.15 hrs. Four crew members were rescued by a M-Boote, the observer, Obgefr. Stoffel, was recorded as missing. The KD+BD landed at the scene of the accident at 11.00 hrs. and was unable to take off due to heavy seas. She taxied into the bay near Treompau and returned to Brest-Süd on 9.11.40.

8.11.40 – No operations.

9.11.40 - Call received from an observation post. (a) An aircraft made an emergency landing about 15 km from land in Qu. 59521. (b) The aircraft sank and there was nothing to be seen of the crew.

Breguets KD+BC & l SG+FN took off. In Qu. 59371, Breguet KD+BC picked up two fliers. Due to heavy seas, take-off was impossible. A motor cutter towed the Breguet to the harbour of Argenton, where the rescued men, Obltn.Lorenz and Feldw. von Luwonius (K.G.126), were brought ashore by a fishing boat and taken to the nearest doctor. 10.11.40 – No operations.

11.11.40 Breguet KD+BC was torn loose from its mooring at Argenton during a sudden storm and drifted onto the rocks, where it sank.

12-15.11.40 – No operations.

16.11.40 – At 04.30 hrs a message was received from Flugleitung Brest-Süd: Near Crozon and Lanveoc a Do 26 had crashed, this Do 26 had taken off from Brest-Süd at 04.05 hrs.At 08.47 hrs Breguets SG+FN and KD+BF took off for the accident site. SG+FN searched the area in the direction of Lanveoc-Le Fret over land and sea. Between the island of I'des Marts and the jetty south of Roscanvel, several oil streaks and aircraft parts were sighted under the surface of the water. The FL.B.-Boote 420 and several Fl.C.-Boats were ordered by the crew of SG+FN to the scene of the accident. No floating crew members could be identified. At 10.38 hrs the two Breguets landed back at Brest-Süd.

17.11.40 – No operations.

18.11.40 – 20.00 hrs Message from Flugleitung Brest-Süd: Observation centre reports a distress signal seen in Qu. 6973.20.22 hrs - From Obltn.Schelling 2./906: one Bv 138 came under attack at 20.00 hrs. A search operation to was to be initiated at dawn.

19.11.40 – 08.45 hrs - The two Breguets that were detailed for the search, for the Bv 138, both suffered engine faults. After fitting weapons, Do 24 KK+UM took off. After approaching Qu. 6973, the whole area of Qu.6949, 7961, 7827, 6829 was searched. At 14.02 hrs the Do 24 returned and landed without sighting anything.

20 – 22.11.40 – No operations

23.11.40 – At 18.55 hrs Seenotzentrale (L) Brest notified the unit that there was a boat in difficulties in Qu. 5923. This had been reported by a Luftwaffe crew. Closer observations: Next to the boat a green colour spot and a small cloth with red stripes. The crew had signalled using yellow smoke.

24.11.40 – 09.50 hrs - Two Breguets took off for the location of the emergency reported the previous evening. The Qu. 5923, 5929, 4912 and 4918 were searched. Apart from a small fishing boat seen in Qu. 4915, nothing else was seen. At 13.30 hrs the aircraft landed.

25.11.40 – At 21.20 hrs Flugleitung See advised that an aircraft had ditched in Qu. 39581 at 21.14 hrs.

26.11.40 – 09.45 hrs, 2 Breguet Bizertes took-off in answer to the distress call received the previous evening. The search operation was unsuccessful. The aircraft landed at 13.55 hrs.

27-28.11.40 – No operations.

29.11.40 - From Seenotzentrale (L) Brest – At 14.08 hrs a fighter was reported to have made an emergency landing in Qu. 5827. An Hs 126 kept contact with the downed aircraft.

At 14.20 hrs a Do 24 took off for the crash location. An Hs 126 was encountered in Qu. 5824, but it headed east and flew inland. A further search in the specified area proved unsuccessful. The Do 24 landed at 16.18 hrs. Follow up investigations established that there had not been a crash at sea but that a coastguard observation post had been deceived by a sighting of a fishing boat with a Hs 126 circling above it.

30.11.40 – No operations.

1.12.40 – Seenotflugkommando 1 renamed 1. Staffel /Seenotgruppe (1./S.G.).(On orders of Gen.d.Lw. b.0b.d.M., with immediate effect)

2.12.40 – It was reported at 21.40 hrs that a burning Do 17 had crashed in Brest Bay.

3.12.40 – At 10.00 hrs Breguet KD+BG departed for the area of the previous evenings crash. The search was unsuccessful. The aircraft landed back at base at 10.55 hrs.

4-8.12.40 – No operations.

9.12.40 - The duties of the Staffelkäpitan were handed over from Ltn. Ziegler to Oblt. zur See Wojahn.

10-11.12.40 – No operations.

12.12.40 – At 15.45 hrs an Hs 126 dropped a message at Brest airfield requesting an immediate search operation for an Hs 126, which arrived at 09.30 hrs. in Quimper for a coastal reconnaissance flight to Paimpol. It had been missing for 2 hours. It’s last report was made at 10.30 a.m. from Ile de Batz.

16.09 hrs a Do 24 took off but the search in the area indicated was unsuccessful.

17.50 hrs the Do. 24 landed at Brest-Süd.

20.30 hrs Flugauswertungsstelle reported that an English land plane ditched in Qu. 593364 about 20 km from land. The crew were not recovered.

13.12.40 - At 09.50 hrs Breguet KD+BF took off for the crash site reported on 12.12.40. The search lasted an hour and the aircraft landed at 12.15 hrs without finding anything.

14-15.12.40 – No operations

14.3.41 – KK+UO lost in towing accident in Brest harbour in heavy swell.[25]

5.2.42 – Do 24 seriously damaged in rendezvous with U-105 while attempting to collect a survivor from Spreewald. Crew rescued by U-105 and aircraft sunk by gunfire.[26]

15.2.42 – Do 24 despatched to rescue the crew of a KG 40 Fw 200C-3 which had come down approx. 400 miles NNW of Cape Finisterre on 13 Feb. This Do 24 landed in the Ria de Carnarinas, on the NW tip of Spain and was refuelled by the Spanish authorities, the aircraft then flew home.[27]

8.5.44 – 2 Do 24s destroyed at Brest in an Allied air attack.[28]


  1. K.Born-Rettung zwischen den Fronten: Seenotdienst der deutschen Luftwaffe 1939-1945:13-14; Dierich-VdL:283-97; D.Jung/B.Wenzel/A.Abendroth-Die Schiffe und Boote der deutschen Seeflieger 1912-1976; W.Green-Warplanes:276; AFHRA Maxwell: decimal K113 Karlsruhe Collection, unpublished manuscript “Geschichte d. Seenotdienst 1939-45”; PRO London: AIR 40 Air Ministry intelligence documents, A.I.3.(E) intelligence study “Organisation of the Air/Sea Rescue Service in the G.A.F.” dated 31.1.1944 with later supplements.
  2. K.Born-op cit.
  3. K.Born-op cit:21-22.
  4. K.Born-op cit.
  5. K.Born-op cit.
  6. K.Born-op cit.
  7. BA-MA Freiburg: RL 2 III Meldungen über Flugzeugunfälle…..(Loss Reports – LRs).
  8. NARA WashDC: RG 242/T-321 roll 39.
  9. K.Born-op cit.
  10. J.Foreman-Battle of Britain: The Forgotten Months, November and December 1940:44.
  11. Karlsruhe Collection-op cit.
  12. F.Kurowski-Seekrieg aus der Luft: Die deutsche Seeluftwaffe im Zweiten Weltkrieg:92.
  13. Karlsruhe Collection-op cit.
  14. PRO London: ADM 223/OIC-SI (Operational Intelligence Centre - Special Intelligence), a daily intelligence report based on ULTRA and other signals intelligence that began about January 1942.
  15. ADM 223/OIC-SI – op cit.
  16. PRO London: AIR 40 Air Ministry intelligence documents.
  17. F.Kurowski-op cit:255.
  18. K.Born-op cit:167.
  19. K.Born-op cit:162-63.
  20. NARA WashDC: RG 242/T-971 roll 18 (Lfl.3 order of battle list for 10.7.44); T-321 (Lfl.3 order of battle list for 25.7.44).
  21. K.Born-op cit:9-10.
  22. RG 242/T-79 roll 14.
  23. Dornier Do 24 Units – Peter de Jong, Osprey – 2015:p 33
  24. Dornier Do 24 Units – Peter de Jong, Osprey – 2015:p 33
  25. Dornier Do 24 Units – Peter de Jong, Osprey – 2015:p 33 – additional info re entry in LdZ work.
  26. Dornier Do 24 Units – Peter de Jong, Osprey – 2015:p 33
  27. Dornier Do 24 Units – Peter de Jong, Osprey – 2015:p 33/49 – needs independent verification!
  28. Dornier Do 24 Units – Peter de Jong, Osprey – 2015:p 49

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