Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 223 April 10, 1940

1st Battle of Narvik. At dawn in heavy snow, 5 British destroyers under Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee enter Ototfjord & surprise the German flotilla at Narvik (10 destroyers, plus supply and cargo ships). German destroyers Wilhelm Heidkamp & Anton Schmidt are sunk, four more are damaged & 11 merchant ships in the harbor are also sunk. HMS Hardy is destroyed by shellfire & beached. HMS Hunter is torpedoed & sinks. HMS Hotspur is badly damaged by a torpedo. The British withdraw but are not chased by the Germans who are low on fuel. On the way out of the fjord, HMS Havock sinks German supply ship Rauenfels containing the artillery, anti-aircraft guns & ammunition for Generalleutnant Eduard Dietl’s 138th Gebirgsjäger Regiment at Narvik.

Both naval commanders at Narvik die in the engagement and are decorated. British Captain Bernard Armitage Warburton Warburton-Lee is killed by a direct hit to HMS Hardy's bridge. He will be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross and, in 1942, the Norwegian War Cross. Commander of the German destroyer flotilla at Narvik Commodore Friedrich Bonte is killed when his flagship, destroyer Z21 Wilhelm Heidkamp, is torpedoed and explodes. Bonte will be posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

Coming out of the rising sun at 7.30 AM, 16 Skua fighter/bombers of British Fleet Air Arm 800 & 803 Squadrons divebomb German cruiser Königsberg in Bergen harbor (at the absolute limit of their range from Hatson airfield, Orkney Islands). Königsberg is hit with three 500 pound bombs (18 killed, 23 wounded) and sinks 2 hours later. German transport ship SS Barenfels is also damaged. 1 Skua malfunctions and crashes (2 aircrew lost).

U-4 sinks HMS Thistle at 2.13 AM (all 53 hands lost) at Stavanger. HMS Tarpon fires torpedoes at Q-ship Schiff 40/Schürbek but is sunk by depth charges 50 mile off the Danish coast (another 53 crew lost).

Battle of the Atlantic. U-37 fires 5 torpedoes and sinks Swedish motor tanker Sveaborg at 2.15 AM 10 miles North of Faroe Isles (5 dead, 29 survivors). At 3.23 AM, Norwegian MV Tosca stops to assist the burning Sveaborg and is sunk by 1 torpedo from U-37 (2 dead, 32 survivors). Survivors from both ships are picked up by British armed boarding vessel HMS Northern Chief and landed in Kirkwall.

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