3. Seenotstaffel

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3. Seenotstaffel

(Unit Code: M6+ - assigned Mar 44)

as: Seenotflugkommando 3 (1939 - Jun 41)
3. Staffel/Seenotgruppe d.Lw. (Jun 41 - May 42)
3. Seenotstaffel (Jun 42 - 19 Aug 44)

Formation. (Apr 39)

Formed June 1940 at Boulogne/NE France (this is from a single secondary source, appears to be plausible, but needs corroboration). Equipped with He 59s. Subordinated to Seenotzentrale (L) Boulogne (later renamed Seenotzentrale (L) Kanalküste) to June 1942.[1]

Northeast France, Belgium and Holland. (Jun 40 - Nov 42)

1 Jul 40: He 59 shot down by Spitfires near a convoy underway to the east of Sunderland/NE England - crew rescued by the Royal Navy.[2]

27 Jul 40: He 59 shot down by 6 Hurricanes 16 km NE of Dover, 100%, Oblt. Chudziak + 3 MIA.

28 Jul 40: He 59 shot down by a Hurricane over mid-Channel, 100%, 2 KIA and 3 WIA.

3 Aug 40: He 59 broke loose from its buoy and hit the breakwater at Boulogne, 20%.

20 Aug 40: He 59 damaged while taking off in mid-Channel, 50%.

22 Aug 40: 2 He 59s damaged during a storm and high seas at Boulogne, both 50%.

28 Aug 40: 2 He 59s shot down by Hurricanes in the central Channel area, both 100%, 1 KIA, 4 WIA and 3 MIA.

Sep 40: said to have set up a 1 or 2 plane Kdo. (detachment) at Ostende (Oostende)/Belgium that remained there until September 1942.[3]

7 Sep 40: He 59 damaged landing in rough seas (location not reported), 100%.

13 Sep 40: He 59 destroyed at its moorings during an RAF raid on Boulogne, 100%.

14 Sep 40: He 59 force landed near Boulogne after picking up a pilot in the Channel, 100%.

15 Sep 40: He 59 damaged landing in the sea and had to be written off, 100%.

17 Sep 40: He 59 damaged during a storm at Boulogne, 30%.

23 Sep 40: 2 He 59s failed to return from rescue operations and possibly collided with each other, both 100%, crews safe.

26 Oct 40: He 59 shot down by Hurricanes off Boulogne, 100%, 3 KIA.

11 Nov 40: He 59 shot down by RAF Hurricanes over the Thames Estuary, 100%.[4]

26 Nov 40: He 59 shot down over the Channel by a RAF fighter while it was searching for a downed German fighter pilot.[5]

Dec 40: Boulogne with 4 He 59s plus 2 more at Amsterdam-Schellingwoude that operated as a separate detachment under the control of Seenotzentrale Holland.[6]

14 Feb 41: He 59 damaged taxiing near Boulogne, 15%.[7]

28 Apr 41: Staffel reported 6 x He 59s and 5 crews on strength.[8]

9 Apr 41: He 59 attacked and shot down by a Spitfire while on a ferry flight between Ostende (Oostende) and Boulogne, 60%, 1 KIA and 1 WIA.

Dec 41: may have set up a Kdo. at Amsterdam-Schellingwoude in December.[9]

Jun 42: now based at Amsterdam-Schellingwoude under Seenotbereichskdo. IV. It is unclear when the Staffel transferred from Boulogne to Schellingwoude but it may have been in June 1942.[10]

South France. (Dec 42 - Aug 44)

Nov - Dec 42: Staffel transferred from Amsterdam-Schellingwoude to Berre/20 km NNW of Marseille in South France following the take over of the unoccupied part of France by the Germans on 11 November. An advanced detachment of two Do 24s left for Berre in November, moving via Paris and Hourtin, and this was followed by the rest of the Staffel on 20 December. After arriving at Berre on 13 January with a mixed complement of He 59s and Do 24s, the Staffel was made responsible for air-sea rescue work in the entire western Mediterranean between the Iberian Peninsula and Italy under the command of Seenotbereichskdo. XIII (Berre). During the next few months, 3. Seenotstaffel incorporated 11 Breguet Bizerte flying boats found at Berre, Toulon and in Tunisia.[11]

Mar 43: operating from Berre, St-Raphael/SW of Cannes and Port Vendres near the French-Spanish border with Do 24s and He 59s. Between January and October 1943 the Staffel exchanged all but two of its He 59s for Do 24s.[12]

Jul - Aug 43: 4 Do 24s taken away from the Staffel and turned over to Seenotbereichskdo. XII for use in the evacuation of troops from the Taman Peninsula in North Caucasia.[13]

10 Sep 43: a Do 24 T-2 and a Do 24 T-3 shot up by fighters and forced to ditch west of Corsica, both 100%, 1 WIA and both crews rescued. These were 2 of the 6 Do 24s dispatched by the Staffel to rescue survivors from the Italian battleship Roma that had been sunk by a PC 1400 X guided bomb launched by an aircraft belonging to III./KG 100. According to German reports, the other 4 Do 24s were attacked by a USN PB4Y (B-24 Liberator) while they were on the water at the rescue scene and destroyed. A rescue boat was then ordered out from St-Raphael that night and managed to locate and pull from the water 24 Dornier crew members and 69 Italians.[14]

Oct 43: from Nov 42 to Oct 43, Seenotbereichskdo. XIII reported some 270 people rescued in the western Mediterranean, many of these by the Staffel’s flying boats. After October, rescue operations from South France decreased significantly due to Allied air and naval superiority in the western Mediterranean and a resulting decrease in German activity.[15]

17-20 Apr 44: sent 2 Do 24s (M6+CL and DL) from Barre to Constanţa-Mamaia in Romania for use in a provisional Sonderstaffel (see under 8. Seenotstaffel for details) that was being cobbled together for the evacuation of Crimea. The Sonderstaffel was later disbanded on 9 June and the Do 24s departed for Vienna.[16]

Jun 44: Staffel reported 6 Do 24s and Breguet Bizerte flying boats on strength.[17]

15 Jul 44: Berre with Do 24s and Ar 196s.[18]

15-18 Aug 44: departed Berre a day or two following the Allied invasion of South France on 15 August and transferred to Friedrichshafen-Manzell on the Bodensee (Lake Constance).[19]

19 Aug 44: ordered disbanded, and a report issued by or for Seenotdienstführer 3 (West) dated 23 August stated that it was in the process of disbanding at Friedrichshafen-Manzell.[20]

FpN:(L 12622)


Lt.(d.R.) Hermann Wölke (Jun 40 - Mar 41)

Hptm. Gottfried Luchmann (c. Mar 41 - c. 1943)

© H.L. deZeng IV, 2024


  1. Dierich-VdL:283-97; M.Holm-website ww2.dk.
  2. F.Mason-Battle Over Britain.
  3. M.Holm-op cit.
  4. J.Foreman-Battle of Britain: The Forgotten Months, November and December 1940:75.
  5. J.Foreman-op cit:135.
  6. AFHRA Maxwell: decimal K113 Karlsruhe Collection, unpublished manuscript “Geschichte d. Seenotdienst 1939-45”.
  7. BA-MA Freiburg: RL 2 III Meldungen über Flugzeugunfälle…..(Loss Reports – LRs).
  8. F.Kurowski-Seekrieg aus der Luft: Die deutsche Seeluftwaffe im Zweiten Weltkrieg:92.
  9. M.Holm-op cit.
  10. M.Holm-op cit.
  11. K.Born-Rettung zwischen den Fronten: Seenotdienst der deutschen Luftwaffe 1939-1945:134-35.
  12. G.Luchmann-“Der Einsatz von Seeflugzeugen und Seefahrzeugen im westlichen Teil des Mittelmeeres im Jahre 1943” in: AFHRA Maxwell: decimal K113 Karlsruhe Collection, unpublished manuscript “Geschichte d. Seenotdienst 1939-45”; PRO London: AIR 40 Air Ministry intelligence documents.
  13. G.Luchmann-op cit.
  14. G.Luchmann-op cit.
  15. G.Luchmann-op cit.
  16. J-L.Roba/C.Crãciunoiu, Seaplanes Over the Black Sea: German-Romanian Operations 1941-1944.
  17. K.Born-op cit:167; CX/MSS/R. 234 of 4.7.44.
  18. 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); AFHRA Maxwell: decimal 512.619 British AirMin CSDIC P/W Interrogation Reports in microfilm rolls A5415-18, interrogation CSDIC SF-8.
  19. RG 242/T-79 roll 14.
  20. T-79 roll 14.

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