Kriegstagebuch 5. 196 “Karhlsruhe”
7 – 9 April 1940
Set out below is a translation of the Kriegstagebuch of 5./196, which had one aircraft serving aboard the “Karhlsruhe” at this time. This translation was provided by Adam Thompson
Beobachter: Oblt.z.See Hesse
Flugzeugführer: Lt. Luther
Wind from SSE, intensity 2, Swell 1 – 2 Visibility Good, no clouds.
Weather in Bremerhaven is the same as in Wilhelmshaven
Aircraft lifts of from Wilhemshaven at 1315 on route for Bremerhaven. With the arrival over Bremerhaven, landing occurred at 1515 and the Karlsruhe tied up at the Columbus Pier. The recovery of the aircraft followed at 15:35.
The crew of the Ar 196 (T3+FH) consisted of Lt. Luther and Oblt.z.S Hesse. After the recovery of the aeroplane, the observer reported to the captain of the Karlsruhe, Kapitän zur See Rievel and asked for orders for the coming day. Rievel ordered the installation aboard ship of the plane for the 9th in the morning. The exact time was still to be made known. The installation could not occur because the Karlsruhe was being protected by the torpedo boats of the 4th Group against submarine attack. The plane was thereupon ordered to be de-fuelled for the night.
Wind from NE, intensity 1 – 2, swell 1 – 2. Until lunchtime clear visibility then becomes cloudy. 1300hrs there is fog until the morning of the next day
Running works on the plane throughout the day, which includes the overhauling of the weapons and FT [radio] fittings. The plane was refuelled in the morning at 0600.
About 2000 it was de-fuelled for the night. That evening the aircrew received a briefing from Rievel about the enterprise of the 4th Group.
Kristiansandfjord: Wind is from East, intensity 1 – 2, Swell is 2: Gentle westerly swell.
Early morning is foggy and then becomes hazy. Around 0700 weather clears with high cloud at 3000m (4/10). At 1000 severe fog from the East is down to 200m, visibility = 100m. At 1130 slow lifting of fog over Kristiansandfjord in the afternoon complete clearing of weather conditions. New rolling in of fog towards 2300hrs
The plane was fuelled at 0500, a bomb was hung on the starboard side while on the port side the bomb rack failed, although it had been okay on the previous examination. It is to be assumed, because during the night there had been icing over, the shackle on the port side failed and for the moment could no longer be made operational. Both the plane and the catapult had suffered icing during the night. Towards 0630 the Karlsruhe entered, for the first time, the harbour entrance of Kristiansand and was shot at by the batteries in the entrance (Odderöy).
The Karlsruhe returned fire with its main turret. Due to the weather at that time, a catapulting of the Arado was not considered possible. The 4th Group then made an about turn back to Backbord, from where it was planned to mount a new start on Kristiansand. At this moment, three planes (He 111 – possibly from KG 4) attacked Kristiansand and Rievel decided to once again do an about turn and gave the order to attack with all three main guns. There upon the Hesse begged Rievel to allow the take-off of the Arado because it was argued that any intervention by the aircraft after the shooting of all turrets could in no circumstances be guaranteed. Thus, the commander gave the order at 0710 for the Arado crew to:
1) attack Odderöy with bombs
2) artillery spot for the Karlsruhe
3) support the disembarking of troops with the weapons of the Ar 196 in case there was any enemy resistance.
At 0712 the aircraft was launched.
After catapulting the plane hit the water with its pontoons. This is attributable to the icing up of the plane and catapult affecting the capabilities of both. Nevertheless, the launch was successful and the plane flew to 2000m. At 0715 the Karlsruhe opened fire on Odderöy for a second time. A bomb attack by 196 could not occur at this time because the flight paths of the shots from the Karlsruhe would endanger the plane. Hesse gave the order for a bomb attack on the southern radio stations of Kristiansand. The bomb strike was observed 100 – 150m from target. After this, the plane went up to 3000 to artillery spot. While it was climbing the observer ascertained that transmitter was faulty and no transmission could be sent. However, transmission by the Karlsruhe was heard very well. It was not ascertained what the problem was with the transmitter as the entire radio receiver was later thrown overboard. It can be assumed that the transmitter of the Ar 196 had been damaged by the icing up during the night and possibly even the take-off incident. As the artillery spotting could not be fulfilled, the plane remained on patrol over the ships in order to assist in disembarking of troops under order #3 (also to repel any enemy air strike).
During this period of shooting by the Karlsruhe, a wall of fog was observed approaching from the east. Towards 1010 the combined formation (4th Group) which was situated in front of the entrance of Kristiansand, and steering an easterly course, disappeared at the edge of the fog. The Observer gave the pilot the order as soon as possible to land near the just-visible formation. However, due to the fog the landing was carried out blind at 1015. By this stage the ships were no longer visible. To find the formation an easterly course was taken and flares were shot off which remained unanswered. As this course remained without success, a westerly course was taken in order to get out of the fog. But the fog moved quicker to the west than the plane was able to across the surface of the water. Thereupon the observer gave the instruction to steer a course between 0 – 30 Degrees in order to reach the coast. In doing so the danger of being taken captive was recognised and Hesse immediately sunk (threw overboard):
2 Ammunition drums for the FF 2cm
10 Flare gun cartridges
These objects were found afterwards by divers at a depth of 40 meters. After the plane had been cruising for about an hour it met the first rocky outcrops and reached a shipping channel which had been marked with booms. After a further 15 minutes an island was found which dropped shallowly away to the east. The pilot cruised into the wind and pushed the plane onto the island from the stern. Here the plane was fastened by three ropes which were of the equipment onboard. The crew took the machineguns as well as the flare guns with ammunition and emergency provisions, maps and bandages and went onto the island. Up until the mooring on this island a motor boat with two fishermen were seen in the immediate vicinity of the plane. This boat was seen three times. The last time (after the plane had been tied up) the boat disappeared in a northerly direction. The crew assumed it was heading to Kristiansand. The crew reckoned Norwegian soldiers would soon be to take them captive. In order to stop the plane from falling into Norwegian hands its destruction was prepared. The crew had opened the fuel tank and prepared to shoot into it with the flare ammunition so the plane would burn out. If the weather were to clear up, the intention was to start and once again try to find their unit. The remaining fuel in the aircraft was sufficient for 1.5 hours flight. Towards 1120 the blanket of fog lifted for a short time, thereupon torch signals were noticed in the mist. Immediately the silhouette of the Karlsruhe became visible. The visibility quickly became better with a lower cloud bank of 100m. The crew saw the entire unit steering towards the entrance of Kristiansand. Immediately the objects previously unloaded were put into the plane. At 1135 they took off again.
The crew flew to the ships and flew around this until the Karlsruhe dropped anchor at Kristiansand. The aircraft landed at 1205 and recovery of the plane was at completed at 1225. Afterwards the observer reported to the commander. The later had thought that the plane had been lost and while the Karlsruhe lay in harbour, the aircraft was made fit for flying again. The re-sailing of the Karlsruhe had been determined for 1900. However, another deployment of the plane was no longer possible (due to weather and approach of nightfall), but it was scheduled again for a take-off in the morning. The plane was de-fuelled and defence of the 4th Group was entrusted to the torpedo boats. The sailing of the Karlsruhe happened according to orders at 1900. Immediately before 2000 on the changing of the watch, three torpedoes were sighted in the water which went past in front of the ship, while a fourth torpedo hit the Karlsruhe in the sixth compartment. The ship began listing immediately and began to sink from the stern. The catapulting of the plane was not possible because it had been de-fuelled and the list of the ship was affecting the catapult. When the commander realised the fact the ship was not able to be saved, he gave the order to the torpedo boats Seeadler and Lux to take onboard the crew of the Karlsruhe. After the disembarking of the crew, they sailed in the direction of Skargen while torpedo boats remained with the commander on the ship. As the commander communicated to Hesse, the ship was sunk towards 2300 by the torpedo boat Grieg by torpedoes. The Arado was set alike and completely destroyed. The crew reached Kiel on 10.4.40 and was accommodated on the steamer Sierra Cordoba and on 12.4.40 they were dismissed to Wilhelmshaven.
The exact documents of the advance and battle action contained in the KTB Karlsruhe are being worked on by the commander with those in charge of the weapons.