Gneisenau

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The Construction and Sea Trials
On 22 March the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau entered the French harbour at Brest after Operation "Berlin".

Scharnhorst was berthed alongside the Quai de la Ninon. Gneisenau was installed in Number 8 dry dock for a few minor repairs.

The heat had been too much for the steel in Scharnhorst's super-heaters. Although her engineers had kept her going throughout the two months in the Atlantic, a great deal of work needed to be done on them. The most optimistic estimates suggested that ten weeks would have to go by before she was ready for sea once more. Since the Bismarck were due to break out into the Atlantic in mid-April the Scharnhorst would not be ready in time to join her. For the first time in their lives, the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau would be separated. Gneisenau would join the Bismarck in Operation "Rheinübung" and Scharnhorst would be left behind in Brest.

A Spitfire routine reconnaissance mission over Brest on 28 March revealed to the British that Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were in the French port.

Brest was favourably located for air attack from Britain and the battleships were now exposed to a continual onslaught from bombers and torpedo aircraft. The first two raids, on the nights of 30 March and 3 April, passed off without mishap, but Gneisenau was torpedoed from the air on 6 April.

Over the succeeding weeks Scharnhorst's machinery was overhauled, engine trials being run in July. Because of the continual air raids, it was found prudent to quarter ashore such watches as could be spared, initially by division in a hotel at Roscoff and later in barracks at Landerau, La Roche.

Boiler repairs to the Scharnhorst were completed in July, even though the ship was under frequent air attack, and she went to La Pallice on 21 July for trials, during which she made 30 knots with no difficulties. Before returning to Brest, the Scharnhorst was anchored at La Pallice. There, on 24 July, several squadrons of Handley Page Halifaxes bombed from altitudes of 3.000 to 3.700 meters. Five bombs hit the starboard side simultaneously in a nearly straight line parallel to the centerline. Two bombs were of the 227 kg high-explosive type, the others were 454 kg semi-armor-piercing type bombs.

Bomb damage. One of the 227 kg bombs hit abeam of the conning tower, just forward of the starboard 150 mm twin turret. It passed through the upper and middle decks before exploding on the armor deck, which remained intact. The first platform deck was torn, with significant bulging in the explosion area. The side-armor plating was deflected outboard about 200 mm, and a small hole was torn in it. Rivets that joined the armored torpedo bulkhead to the main deck were loosened enough to cause leakage.

Ammunition for the 150 mm guns, stowed about 3 meters from the center of the explosion, was not affected. Splinter damage was insignificant.

A 454 kg bomb hit the port side between the 100 mm and the 150 mm guns, 3,5 meters from the deck edge, and penetrated the upper deck, lower armor deck, and first platform before being deflected downward along the torpedo bulkhead and out through the double bottom without exploding. The bottom plating was holed and local flooding occurred. The wing tanks had their restraining walls holed by splinters. Number 4 generator room was flooded, several electrical installations were put out of action, and cables, damaged by splinters or flooding, disrupted operations in the battle, command, and fire-control stations, including those for the forward antiaircraft battery and turret Anton.

A second 454 kg bomb hit midway between the 150 mm and 105 mm guns, 2,6 meters from the deck edge; it, too, penetrated all decks and platforms before passing through the side shell below the armor belt without exploding. Five spaces on the starboard side over a length of 10 meters were flooded. Some lights were extinguished, water leaked into the magazines for the 150 mm single mounts, and the living spaces were damaged by splinters.

The third 454 kg bomb hit slightly abaft the after turret, 3 meters from the deck edge, tore through the upper deck, passed through the side plating, and buried itself in the sea bed, unexploded; it was later recovered. The shell plating was severely damaged, and 10 watertight spaces, including the starboard shaft alley, were flooded. Flooding also occurred in the magazines for turret Caesar, and the ammunition hoist was put out of service.

The other 227 kg bomb fell forward of the after turret, to starboard, 3 meters from the deck edge; it penetrated two decks and exploded on the main armor deck, where it made a small hole. Several frames were holed by splinters, and the connection at the top of the torpedo bulkhead was damaged. The penetrated decks bulged from the explosion and were holed by splinters. Some flooding occurred in the outboard spaces. Heating, potable, and plumbing piping under the battery and middle decks was damaged. The ammunition hoists for the 37 mm guns were put out of action, although the ammunition was not affected.

The ship took an 8 degree list to starboard, as most of the void tanks used for counterflooding were flooded. Damage would have been more extensive if all three 454 kg bombs had not been duds. Trim by the stern increased 3 meters due to 1.520 to 3.050 metric tons of water taken on board. The forward and after turrets were temporarily out of action, and half the antiaircraft battery was out. Several small fires broke out but were extinguished. Two men were killed and 15 others were injured.

Quick damage-control action corrected trim and list, and steam was raised in record time. Draft was increased by one meter, but the ship was able to get under way for Brest by 1930, at a speed of 25 knots. At dawn, a British patrol plane was spotted and shot down by an escorting destroyer. When the Scharnhorst reached Brest on 25 July, the only visible sign of damage was her excessive draft, which put her stern portholes awash. Four months were spent in repairing the damage. Changes were also made to the ship, which included a new radar aft, increased output for the forward radar to 100 kw, and triple 533 mm torpedo tubes between the after 105-mm mounts and 150 mm turrets on either beam.

Despite bad weather, there was only a small time-lag between the study of the Spitfire's photographs and the appropriate action. On the night of 30 March, 100 RAF aircraft flew over the port and dropped their bombs. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau escaped unharmed, but there was at least one disturbing feature of the raid. The aircraft had discharged 500-lb armour-piercing missiles-bombs designed to penetrate the armoured decks of warships. The implication was obvious: the ships had been detected. Far from being a refuge, Brest had become a target.

For the next few nights and days, bad weather kept the aircraft on the ground. On the night of 4 August, the clouds parted sufficiently for them to return. The Continental Hotel, where the German naval staff and many of the ships' officers were quartered, was hit just as the evening meal was being served. There is no record of the casualties, though they are believed to have been considerable. Again, most of the missiles fell on the town of Brest. There was, however, one exception and this was to be of paramount importance.

At first it may have seemed to be fortunate. The bomb slipped down between Gneisenau's flank and the side of Number 8 dry dock, landing with a splash in the 12ft of water that had been left in the bottom. It did not explode.

On the face of things, it may have seemed easier to shift a comparatively small bomb than a very large battlecruiser. A crane was brought alongside for this purpose, but then Gneisenau's captain had second thoughts. The idea of hauling such a perilous object upwards, with the possibility that it might swing against the side of the dock, or else against the ship, was too much. The fact that it had not yet gone off did not mean that it was harmless. The impact might make good its earlier failure. Captain Fein decided to wait until daylight, and then move his vessel to a mooring buoy in the inner harbour. It took several hours to flood the dock, and the operation was not completed until noon on the 5th. Fortune, it seemed, had favoured Gneisenau. In fact, as became painfully apparent next morning, it was no more than a reprieve.

The time was 09.00 hours on the 6th. Four Coastal Command Beauforts, armed with 18 inch torpedoes, had taken off from England and were now over Brest. The pilots of all but one aircraft were unable to locate their targets in the haze that covered the harbour. They returned home without doing any damage.

Flying Officer Kenneth Campbell, on the other hand, flew low and was rewarded with an excellent view of his objective. It must have been a daunting spectacle. There was a large stone breakwater at one end of the run; at the other, the ground rose steeply. More to the point, however, was the fact that 270 antiaircraft guns were deployed round about; and three flakships in the outer harbour guarded the approaches. They were all pumping shells into the sky, but FlightLieutenant Campbell was not impressed. He brought his aircraft down until it was almost touching the water, skimmed over the masts of the flakships, and released his torpedo at a range of 500 yards. Nothing could possibly survive the inferno of shot and shell, and the Beaufort was ripped apart-killing Campbell and his three crewmen (Sergeants R. W. Hillman, W. Mullis and J. P. Scott). Meanwhile, the torpedo was running faultlessly towards its target. Suddenly, there was an enormous explosion at Gneisenau's stern. The damage-control parties had their work cut out to control the inrush of water. Eventually, listing heavily, the battlecruiser was towed back to the dry dock. When the engineers had completed their examination, they reported that the starboard propeller and shaft tunnel had been severely damaged, 1 and 2 turbine compartments had been flooded, and the well of `Caesar' turret was full of water. The repairs would take at least six months. Campbell was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his gallant action; he and his companions were buried by the German navy with full military honours.

The chapter of Gneisenau's misfortunes, which had begun with the arrival of an unexploded bomb in Number 8 dry dock, was not yet done. Four nights later, on the 10th, the RAF returned with another large force of bombers. Much of the port was set on fire, and Gneisenau was again hit. All told, four bombs crashed into her superstructure, setting it ablaze and exacting a toll of 50 dead and 90 wounded. Among the casualties were members of a party of 100 midshipmen who had recently been posted to the two ships to complete their training: 50 were allocated to Scharnhorst, 50 to Gneisenau. They were mainly employed on anti-aircraft duties. Some of those who died that night were off duty. They were killed by fragments of bombs that exploded on the dockside.

On 22 March, the great ships had entered Brest-if not in triumph, then at least in the expectation of big things to come. A mere three weeks had elapsed and already the dream of glory was rent to fragments. The striking force that Raeder and Liitjens had foreseen as bringing havoc to British shipping on the Atlantic was now reduced by half. Only Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were fit for service, and it might have been prudent to have called a halt to operations. But Raeder was inflexible. Despite the troubles at Brest, the grand-admiral decided to go ahead with it.

`I considered it necessary to carry out the operation with the Bismarck as planned', he wrote, `in order not to lose valuable time, which, in all probability, we should never be able to regain.' When he discussed it with Lutjens, the latter seems to have been somewhat less than enthusiastic. Certainly he argued that matters should be postponed until, at the very least, Scharnhorst was ready. Wrote Raeder: `It does Lutjens great credit that he did not hesitate to express this

In view of the heavy casualties in Gneisenau during the raid on 10 April, it was foolish to maintain a full complement aboard the two battlecruisers. Consequently Hoffmann moved most of the men ashore to barracks in the town of Brest. But, with enemy aircraft flying over almost every night, this, too, was fraught with danger. Eventually, a village of huts was built for them in a birchwood forest near Landerneau, fifteen miles away. There, at last, they were safe; and, for good measure, the main railway line to Paris passed nearby. It was useful for the men going on leave, and it also provided a quick journey to the headquarters of Navy Group West, which had now moved to the French capital.

While the ships were undergoing repairs, a number of alterations were made. The searchlights were reduced from five to three (one in front of the foretop, and one on either side of the funnel), and the anti-aircraft armament was considerably increased. Eighteen 20-mm AA guns were added to Scharnhorst, fourteen to Gneisenau.

Neither Scharnhorst nor Gneisenau had been equipped with torpedoes when they were built. The normal method of sending a captured merchant vessel to the bottom was for a boarding party to do the job with scuttling charges. This, obviously, took time and, under some circumstances, the delay could be dangerous. To increase the ships' efficiency in the role of commerce raiders, Scharnhorst was now fitted with six tubes on her upper deck abaft the 5,9 inch guns. They were installed in two sets of three on rotatable mountings. No attempt was made to link them with the fire-control system; a leading torpedo-man used the aiming apparatus on the battery itself. After all, refinements were unnecessary. The only purpose was to perform a hitherto time-wasting task in a matter of seconds and, so to speak, by remote control.

At the same time, the arrangements for Gneisenau's aircraft were changed. The hangar was broadened and lengthened, and the catapult was housed inside it. Large drop doors on a horizontal axis were fitted at one end. One aircraft was accommodated on the catapult itself; two more nestled beneath it with their wings folded. For take-off, the doors were opened and the launching mechanism swung round until it was pointing at the opening. Scharnhorst's mainmast was moved farther aft from its place immediately abaft the funnel, whilst Gneisenau's was retained in this position.

The question of the battlecruisers' future was exercising a great deal of thought on both sides. The British Home Fleet was concentrated to the north of Scotland; the defence of the Channel was entrusted to light forces of destroyers and motor torpedo boats, and to the RAF's Coastal and Bomber Commands. It was not entirely satisfactory-not least because, as one report put it: `This most inadequate force can only be of real use at night.'

As early as 29 April 1941, the Admiralty conceived the idea that the two ships might eventually make their way back to Germany, and that a possible route might take them up the English Channel. It was suspected that they would be escorted by destroyers and E-boats (a contemporary misnomer. The `E' stood for `enemy'. In fact, the German Admiralty referred to them as `S-boats'; `S' for schnell meaning `fast', which was a much more apt designation), and that there would be heavy air cover. Indeed, the reason for this earliest of many alerts was an agent's report that 120 Me-109 fighters were being moved from the Pas-deCalais area to Cherbourg and Brest. This was probably true, though it was more probably an attempt to improve the port's defences by reinforcing the squadrons of Me-110s already stationed in the vicinity.

To keep an eye on the two sisters, the Royal Air Force introduced a system of patrols. Coastal Command was to provide a dawn-to-dusk reconnaissance over Brest and Cherbourg, and similar flights were to be made off the coast at the approaches to Brest. Any information brought back was to be passed on at once to Bomber and Fighter Commands. At the same time, Fighter Command was to cover the area between Morlaix and Caen by daylight, reporting any unusual activity to Bomber Command, Fighter Command, and the Air Ministry. The evidence was not considered strong enough to hold air striking forces in readiness to engage the battlecruisers if they broke out. Bomber Command was to continue its normal programme. In the event of a break-out, whatever action was taken would be code-named `Fuller'. Later, when Prinz Eugen arrived at Brest on 1 June suffering from engine trouble after her voyage with Bismarck, a modified version was introduced in case she attempted to return to Germany on her own. It was known as `Fuller Minor'.

On 27 May, Bismarck was sunk after a contest in which the odds were never even, and which proved all manner of things about the robustness of German capital ship construction and the buoyancy of the human spirit. As the last (if only) battle of a great battleship, it was, perhaps, a nautical version of Gotterddmmerung-though this was one occasion when the Wagnerian overtones were not appreciated by Hitler. In the fire and the fury, there also perished some of the understanding that existed between Raeder and his master. As Raeder ruefully observed: `The loss of the Bismarck had a decisive effect on the conduct of the war at sea. Hitler's attitude towards my proposals now changed too. Up to then he had left me a more or less free hand. . . . But now he became much more critical and more inclined to insist on his own views than before.'

The immediate effect was that Hitler (to quote Raeder) forbade `the sending of any further surface craft into the Atlantic'. Had the battleship been the only victim, it might have been possible to argue against this point of view. Bismarck's sister, Tirpitz, was working up at Gdynia (Gotenhafen); two out of the three pocket battleships were still in service; and Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were being repaired at Brest. Despite the serious loss, there was no lack of vessels available for commerce raiding. However, in the wake of the bigger engagement, there followed an operation which, if less spectacular, was certainly no less significant. The object was to destroy the system of supply upon which the big ships depended at sea. During the course of the Royal Navy's sweep, six tankers were either sunk or scuttled. The Battle of the Atlantic was passed into the hands of the U-boat commanders. The heavyweights languished at their moorings.

At Brest, the air raids continued. Between April and September, there were 100 sorties a month; between October and the end of the year, the number was reduced to 75. It amounted to 10 percent of Bomber Command's capacity-tying up three squadrons plus half a squadron for minelaying duties. Daylight raids, it was estimated, resulted in 20 per cent losses; those incurred during darkness were negligible. The trouble was that the damage done at night was also small. However, the journey was relatively short; it gave the air crews experience of flak and searchlights; and, with only small casualties, these operations provided useful training. The greatest argument against them was that, in return for not very much, they diverted bombers from the more important mission of attacking Germany. But this, perhaps, was specious. The damage inflicted by Bomber Command on Germany at this stage of the war was small. On the other hand, Britain's most vulnerable point was her reliance on maritime lines of communication. In view of the potential importance of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the effort made against them seems pathetically small. Given overwhelming naval superiority, Germany could have achieved victory over the UK at sea. It was the one advantage that a continental power has over an island. To overlook it was dangerous.

The German naval authorities at Brest went to a great deal of trouble to deceive. The battlecruisers themselves were draped with camouflage nets, which was, perhaps, an obvious measure. More ingenious was the notion of building a dummy village on the roofs of large buildings. A French training cruiser named Jeanne d'Arc was artfully embellished with wood and canvas until, from the air, she assumed a very passable likeness to Scharnhorst. The town was ringed by devices that produced artificial fog. The result was that a great many of the bombs fell on Brest itself-to the distress of the inhabitants and to the anger of Lieutenant Philippon. In his messages via the trusty quartermaster at Saumur, he did not confine himself to supplying information. One signal contained a carefully worked out scheme for attacking the port with surface ships. On another occasion, he observed: `You will never get the ships by horizontal bombing approach.' In this, he echoed the ideas of a senior RAF officer in London, who noted that `the only form of bombing that is really feared by men-of-war ... is the dive bomber'. And: `Bomber Command is organised for a different role.... They are only trained for high level bombing.'

On 1 June, Prinz Eugen, commanded by Captain Helmuth Brinkmann, limped into Brest with sick engines. She was berthed in the eastern basin of the commercial port. A month later, almost to the day, the pilot of a bomber dived at the cruiser. His aircraft went out of control, and crashed on to the quay. But, on the way down, one bomb had been released. It smashed onto its target, piercing the upper decks and exploding in the forward transmitting station. Since this was the nerve centre of the cruiser's 8-inch guns, the damage was considerable. It ensured that the ship would be out of commission until the end of the year. The executive officer, Commander Otto Stooss, and sixty men were killed.

Scharnhorst, miraculously it seemed, had escaped unscathed through all the air raids so far. Her repairs had been completed, and there seemed no point in keeping her at Brest. Eventually she would be hit. Consequently, it was decided to remove her to La Pallice. The move was scheduled for 21 July.

Philippon knew very well that the work on her boilers must be nearly completed. His sensitive ears were waiting to receive some clue to her future. it eventually came from a clerk in the office. Apparently, the catering staff had placed a large order for provisions, which, the paymaster had insisted, must be delivered by 20 July. The hard working 'Mimi' set off on yet another train journey to Saumur, and the British Admiralty was alerted. In fact, Scharnhorst crept away on the 23rd after two days of trials in the roadstead. That day, sixty bombers flew over Brest whilst a smaller force went in search of the truant battlecruiser.

The trip to La Pallice was not a success. The port had been chosen for the shoals offshore, which provided a measure of protection and reduced the number of escorts needed. On the other hand, it was disastrously lacking in antiaircraft defences. Scharnhorst behaved perfectly. She worked up to 30 knots, and she carried out gunnery trials satisfactorily. The trouble came on the 24th, when she was lying at anchor.

It had taken the RAF a commendably short time to locate her. At noon that day, a force of bombers emerged from the cloud mass; five of their missiles struck the target, and dense clouds of black smoke were soon pouring out of the after part of the ship. The bombs had been released at a height of between 10 and 12,000 feet. Three of them pierced the armoured deck and then tore through her bottom without exploding. The other two caused only small damage, though the starboard shaft tunnel and Number 4 dynamo-room were both flooded. The ship was now 3 feet lower in the water. Mercifully, there were no casualties.

As an exercise in damage control, Captain Hoffmann must have found the aftermath encouraging. The watertight bulkheads held, the fires were quickly put out, and the list was corrected before it became serious. Scharnhorst had shipped 7,000 tons of water, but she was still seaworthy. Hoffmann quickly decided that his only course was to get back to Brest as quickly as possible. Quite apart from the fact that he needed the services of a dockyard, La Pallice, far from being a sanctuary, was obviously fraught with peril. At 19.00 hours, the crew weighed anchor and the injured battlecruiser made her way back to Brest at a steady 20 knots. When the damage was more minutely examined, it turned out to be less serious than Hoffmann had expected. The repairs would take about four months.

The episode has a tragic footnote. As soon as Philippon heard of Scharnhorst's return, he made haste to send a message to Saumur. But Anquetil, the radio operator, had been overstepping the limits of prudence in the time he spent transmitting. If he continued, it would not be long before his activities were detected. This was to be the occasion. When, by a coincidence, a fellow resistance worker walked towards his house to deliver a warning from `Colonel Remy', he found a German detector van parked outside. Anquetil was arrested and taken to Paris, where the Gestapo took over his case. The brave ex-quartermaster endured torture and, finally, execution, but he never gave away anything of importance.

Philippon, who had gone on leave, was now in a difficult position. If Anquetil had confessed, his only course of action must be to escape into Vichy France. If, on the other hand, he had remained silent, he could continue his work at the dockyard. Which should it be? His faith in Bernard Anquetil was absolute. He returned to Brest, called on Mme Leroux, and thereafter sent his messages through the `Johnny' network. At no time does he seem to have been suspected. Indeed, he survived the war and later became commander-in-chief of the French Mediterranean fleet. Nowadays, he lives in retirement on the outskirts of Paris.

Despite the communications from Philippon, which must have made clear to the Admiralty that none of the three ships was fit for action, the plan named `Fuller' was taken out from time to time and revised. A version circulated on 1 May had stipulated that there would be no air attacks on the ships by night, and that `no attacks are to be made on vessels other than the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau'. A force of 12 Stirling bombers, 36 Blenheims, and 60 Wellingtons was earmarked for the operation. `When possible', the directive instructed, `high level attacks are to be made both with AP [armour-piercing] and SAP [semiarmour-piercing] bombs.'

On 8 September, `Fuller' was modified again. All told, four patrols were set up: a dawn-to-dusk reconnaissance between Brest and Cherbourg; night patrols equipped with Air-to-Surface-Vessels radar (ASV) off Brest and Cherbourg; a forenoon reconnaissance between Brest and Cherbourg; and an afternoon patrol across the sea between Cherbourg and longitude 0°. The last two would be flown only if the first two reported that there were no longer any warships in Brest. `Strong protective cover will be provided by Fighter Command over the area,' the text explained, `but no close fighter escort will be provided for either bombing, torpedo, or mine-laying aircraft.'

Throughout the sojourn of the battlecruisers at Brest, the Home Fleet was fully extended guarding the northern exit from Germany to the Atlantic, and protecting troop convoys on their way to the Middle East. Consequently, the Royal Air Force assumed responsibility for the two ships. But, as the year wore on without any decisive successes, the obligation was proving to be something of a burden. Bomber aircraft were badly needed for the air offensive against Germany-they could not easily be spared for operations which, while providing useful training exercises, were not producing much in the way of results. When, on 23 December, the chiefs-of-staff in London sat down to their 430th meeting of the war, they were asked to consider whether `the destruction of major naval units at Brest' could really be considered `as primary targets'. `We cannot', wrote Air Commodore A. Durston who was in charge of Bomber Command's co-operation with the Navy, `continue ad infinitum to waste our bomber effort on these ships, nor yet to allow a large part of our bomber force to be held idle at the mere whisper of the departure of one of them.' On the other hand, Japan had entered the war on 7 December, and the resources of the Royal Navy were being stretched to their limits. To allow the escape of the battlecruisers would be a disaster.

What, then, was the answer? `It is imperative', wrote Durston, `that these ships be reduced to twisted masses of metal, or very severely damaged, in the shortest possible time.' To achieve this, he proposed an intensive effort in which the entire resources of Bomber Command would be used. Beginning at 19.00 hours the port of Brest would be attacked continuously throughout the night. Waves of thirty aircraft each would follow one another at half-hourly intervals until one hour before dawn. All told, 300 aeroplanes would be used as a crescendo to a series of operations that had already expended 3,413 tons of bombs (compared with the 20,202 that had been dropped on the whole of Germany) and which had cost Bomber Command 127 aircraft.

There is no knowing whether the plan would have succeeded, for it was never executed. While the RAF was working out how to destroy the two battlecruisers at Brest, Hitler was wondering how to bring them home to Germany. The Fuhrer had experienced one of his flashes of intuition. The gist of it was that the war would be won or lost in Norway. Indeed, to be more precise, he was convinced that Britain was preparing to invade that country. Tirpitz was now ready for service; short of further bomb damage, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau would both be in fighting trim by February 1942. To send the battleship into the Atlantic would be to invite another catastrophe on the Bismarck scale. She should, on the other hand, be able to make the journey from Gdynia (Gotenhafen) to Trondheim. Joined by the two battlecruisers, she could not only reinforce the defences of the Norwegian waters; she would also act as a substantial hazard to convoys carrying war materials to Russia.

Tirpitz was the least of the problem. The big question was how to bring home Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. The genesis of the operation that was to become known as `Cerberus' occurred almost by accident during a conversation between Hitler and Raeder. They were, in fact, discussing the problem of returning Prinz Eugen to Germany. In an unguarded moment, Raeder wondered whether it might be possible to route the cruiser via the English Channel. Hitler seized on the idea. `Why not', he asked, `bring them all home that way?' Raeder was dumbfounded. The very notion sounded preposterous.

What does one do with two battlecruisers that are virtually trapped in a port many miles from the Fatherland? Raeder had been considering the question for some time. Provided they could break out into the Atlantic, there were a number of alternatives. They might, for example, be able to carry out shortdistance raids on Gibraltar-bound convoys. They could, perhaps, be dispatched south-wards to the Mediterranean, where, conceivably, they might link up with the Italian fleet. If, for one reason or another, they had to make their ways back to Germany, the passage would need to be by way of the Denmark Strait.

A smaller ship, such as the Prinz Eugen, might manage to negotiate the English Channel. For two large battlecruisers it would be impossible. The pundits at the Seekriegsleitung in Berlin had already studied the question, and Raeder had always opposed it. There was the danger of minefields in such narrow waters, and the likelihood of attacks from torpedo-carrying aircraft. As Raeder realistically assumed, the British Admiralty must be receiving reports from agents in France. Although he knew nothing of Philippon, he realized that there had to be flaws in the security system. British naval intelligence would almost certainly be informed of the ships' impending departure-and in enough time to make adequate preparations.

No, Raeder concluded, the trip to Germany would have to be via the Denmark Strait. But, before such a voyage could be contemplated, the battlecruisers would have to make trips to sea. Their crews had been confined to port for the better part of nine months. They needed to be re-trained.

When Hitler suddenly became enthusiastic about the idea of a dash up the Channel, Raeder did his best to dissuade him. `If the enemy were watchful and properly prepared I could not see the action succeeding', he wrote. It was the attitude of an experienced, if somewhat conservative, naval officer; but Raeder should have known Hitler better. They had, after all, been working together for a good many years. He should have realized that, once a notion was wedged in the Fiihrer's mind, it was almost impossible to shake it loose.

Admiral Saalwachter, head of Navy Group West at Paris, agreed with Raeder. `I view', he noted, `these hazards as being very great. I must for this reason alone give an urgent warning against it being carried out.'

Predictably, the Fuhrer was unimpressed by these arguments. Wrote Raeder: `Hitler was determined to go ahead with the plan, and he told me bluntly that if I rejected the proposal for a dash through the Channel he would order the two ships to be put out of commission and their guns dismantled.' That was enough. Raeder gave in.

On 1 July 1941, Lutjens had been succeeded as Fleet Commander by Otto Ciliax, Scharnhorst's first captain and now a vice-admiral. He was a man of uncertain temper. Like Hoffmann, he suffered from dyspepsia, and he had an almost fussy concern for the details of naval life. He was known in the service as `The Black Tsar'. Unfortunately for his immediate subordinates, he found it difficult to delegate. Hitherto, Gneisenau had always worn the admiral's flag. Doubtless for sentimental reasons, Ciliax decided to move into Scharnhorst. Captain Kurt Caesar Hoffmann may have considered he had troubles enough without the intrusion of this difficult flag officer. In Hitler's view, however, the appointment must certainly have found favour, for Ciliax was one of the few senior officers who not only believed the Channel dash possible; he was actually enthusiastic about it.

By the New Year, on the Fi1hrer's instructions, Ciliax was making plans for such a voyage. On 12 January, he presented himself at Hitler's headquarters in East Prussia. It was an illustrious gathering. Among those present were Hitler himself, Keitel (C-in-C Armed Forces), Jodl, Hans Jeschonnek (Chief of General Staff, Luftwaffe), and Adolf Galland (the crack fighter pilot who would have the immediate task of providing air cover). On the naval side, there were Raeder, Fricke (Raeder's chief-of-staff), Ruge (who was in charge of minesweeping operations), and, of course, Ciliax. The meeting took placz° in a concrete bunker, 20 feet beneath the ground.

Ciliax presented his plan. There were, he said, to be no preliminaries such as shake-down cruises (alarmed intake of breath from Raeder), which would alert the enemy. The ships should leave Brest at night-again for reasons of secrecy. It would, admittedly, mean passing through the Straits of Dover in daylight, but he could not see that this would matter. Indeed, it might be an advantage, for forces at Britain's disposal favoured night attacks. The Luftwaffe would have to provide diversionary bombing-plus, of course, fighter cover. Jeschonnek said that he could put 250 aircraft at the fleet's disposal.

It was a well-thought-out presentation, and Hitler agreed with it. Inevitably, he had the last word and (no less predictably) it was a long one. He emphasized the importance of surprise; for, he said, `In view of past experience I do not believe the British are capable of making and carrying out lightning decisions.' He asked his audience to `picture what would happen if the situation were reversed-if a surprise report came in that British battleships had appeared in the Thames estuary and were heading for the Straits of Dover. Even we would hardly be able to bring up fighters and bombers swiftly and methodically'. He likened Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen to `a patient with cancer who is doomed unless he submits to an operation. An operation, on the other hand, even though it may have to be drastic, will at least offer some hope that the patient's life may yet be saved. The passage of our ships is such an operation. It must be attempted.'

The senior officers returned to their headquarters. Operation `Cerberus' was scheduled to begin on the night of 11 February. There was a great deal to do. Among the priorities was that of making sure Gneisenau would be ready to sail on time. On the night of 6 January, there had been a heavy air raid over Brest. At 20.30 hours one of the bombs exploded against her hull as she lay in Number 8 dock. It tore a gash several yards long and two compartments were flooded. The engineers promised that it could be mended in two weeks. It seemed that only a miracle could achieve such a feat, but they presumably knew what they were talking about. As events were to show, they did. Gneisenau was seaworthy by 11 February.

Scharnhorst's navigator, Helmuth Giessler, had received an inkling of the forthcoming move after he returned from leave early in the New Year. Admiral Ciliax had instructed him to obtain the necessary charts for a voyage up the Channel. But it was not quite so simple as that. If Giessler asked for these alone, it would give an immediate clue to the route. Consequently, he also demanded charts covering the Mediterranean, the sea around Iceland, and the West African coast.

It was the beginning of an impressive exercise in deception. During the weeks that followed, drums of lubricating oil marked `For Use in the Tropics' were seen to be unloaded at Brest railway station. Supplies of white uniforms and sun helmets were taken to the ships. Admiral Saalwachter invited the officers to a shooting party in the woods outside Paris and to dinner afterwards. The date of the invitation was for 12 February. In Brest itself, preparations were put in hand for a masked ball to be attended by the crews of the ships. The date, again, was 12 February. By dropping the apparently incautious word here and there in the cafes, officers were encouraged to spread false rumours about the ships' future. Many people were deceived, but not Philippon. While he went about his business of tending the dockyard gardens-a task that did not require very much effort in mid-winter-he was busy piecing together scraps of information, until they gave him a very fair picture of Ciliax's intentions. Between 25 January and 1 February, the wireless traffic between network `Johnny' and London was particularly brisk.

The plan, as Ciliax told his captains and heads of departments on his return from East Prussia, was that Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen should leave Brest on the night of 11 February with an escort of six destroyers. They were to be off Cherbourg by daylight, when the fighter cover would begin. From then onwards, sixteen aircraft, relieved at half-hourly intervals, would be continuously over the fleet. Their course would take them two miles off Fecamp; when they were opposite Berck-sur-Mer, they would be met by a flotilla of torpedo boats to reinforce the escort. As they approached the Straits of Dover, E-boats would join them as well. After passing through the Straits, they would follow the Dutch coast outside the twenty-fathom line. Minefields and sandbanks would be indicated by mark boats (small minesweepers).

Commodore Friedrich Ruge, in charge of so-called `Western Security', was responsible for clearing the route of enemy mines. It was not an easy task. If a sudden increase in this activity became apparent, the British Admiralty would become suspicious. The work would have to be done at night. With the hazards of bad weather added to the difficulties of operating in darkness, the crews had a hard time of it. Typically, Ciliax passed on this information in short, clipped, phrases and in a tone of voice that brooked no argument-nor any doubt that the operation would succeed. Nevertheless, the enormity of the undertaking was immediately apparent. The peril would come from the sky; in such confined waters, it seemed impossible that airborne torpedoes could miss their quarry. It was a disturbing thought. To lessen the risk of fires caused by their petrol igniting, all the Ar-196 seaplanes on the battlecruisers would be left behind.

The peril would, indeed, come from the sky, for there was little alternative. When Tirpitz moved to Trondheim in early January, the British Admiralty feared another break-out into the Atlantic. The Home Fleet hauled up its anchors in Scapa Flow on 17 January, and set course for Hvalfjord in Iceland. King George V, Rodney, Victorious, four cruisers, and thirteen destroyers were now many, many miles away to the north. The only surface vessels available to harass the fleet were a few Hunt class destroyers, which were not armed with torpedoes, a flotilla of much older ships based at Harwich, and a scattering of motor torpedo boats. Nor could submarines be brought into the battle-they were simply not available. Between 24 December and 2 January, seven antiquated boats had been watching the approaches to Brest. But then they were withdrawn for training purposes. HMS Sealion, a more modern `S' class vessel, took over in early February. Despite a signal on 7 February from Sir Max Horton, Flag Officer Submarines, that the German ships were known to be exercising in a bay to the south-west of Brest, Sealion's captain, Lieutenant-Commander `Joe' Colvin, could see nothing. Indeed, not the least of his problems was that of keeping on station. Navigation was made difficult by the strong tides surging along the coast.

At 21.00 hours on 9 February, Sealion was on the surface, recharging her batteries. Suddenly, a Dornier Do-217 bomber swept out of the clouds. Colvin dived immediately. Seconds, or so it seemed, later the submarine was rocked by the explosions of depth charges. They were not near enough to do any damage, but the message was all too obvious. The watch-dog had been spotted. Colvin took Sealion farther out to sea.

Ciliax's fleet was now freed from the danger of an early torpedo attack. The only chance of the ships being detected as they left Brest would be a sighting by one of Coastal Command's patrolling aircraft. As it had been throughout the interlude at Brest, the British initiative was once again in the hands of the RAF.

There was to be no shake-down cruise, no working-up for what, on the face of it, seemed to be a very dangerous voyage. There was, however, a certain amount of training that could be carried out when the ships were in port. The men were exercised in damage control. They were put through their paces in situations that simulated a complete failure of the lighting systems; the knocking out of one or another turret; the breakdown of the fire-control equipment; and so on. Somehow, the effects of a prolonged stay in port had to be dispelled, and the men had to be brought up to a peak of efficiency. The time was short, but the officers and ratings responded well. The period of waiting, when the ships had been no more than targets for RAF bombers, had gone on for too long. They were thankful for the prospect of action.

Above all, the timing was important. Ciliax had judged it essential that his command should be clear of Brest by 22.30 hours on the 11th. As things turned out, it very nearly missed the deadline.

The time was 20.30 hours. Hoffmann was at his post on Scharnhorst's bridge; Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen were in a similar state of readiness. The destroyers Z29 (the leader, which wore the flag of Rear-Admiral Erich `Achmed' Bey-Flag Officer Destroyers), Paul Jacobi, Richard Beitzen, Friedrich lhn, Z25, and Hermann Schoemann were taking up their stations. Everywhere there were signs of quiet, controlled activity; and then, at this very worst of times, the air-raid alarm sounded. The mines had been swept away; at airfields along the coast, pilots were waiting to go into action at first light; torpedo boats, destroyers, and E-Boats were in readiness; the complements of the two battlecruisers had been augmented by detachments of naval coastal gunners-sailors who normally never went to sea, but whose 20-mm quadruple-mounted guns were intended to strengthen the anti-aircraft defences. The moment had come, the preparations were complete; and now this. The one occurrence beyond the control of Ciliax and his officers threatened the entire project.

For one and three-quarter agonizing hours, it looked as if the departure might have to be put off. The ears of everyone above deck were alert for the distant rumble of aircraft engines, the crump of exploding bombs. But no sounds broke the silence of the night. The time dragged by with horrible slowness. Just after 22.00 hours, Ciliax was on the point of cancelling. Thankfully, just as the hands on his watch were pointing to 22.14, the `all clear' sounded. It had been a very close thing, but the operation could now go forward. By 23.45, all the ships had slipped their moorings, and were out in the roadstead.

There were some small mishaps-such as when the hawser from a tug became entangled in Prinz Eugen's starboard propeller, and when Scharnhorst nearly fouled the nets of the boom defences. Driven by the wind, the smoke that enshrouded the dockyard in an attempt to confuse bomber pilots obscured the buoys marking the channel. Consequently, the ships had to be navigated by dead reckoning, which, in such an enclosed space, was difficult. But, despite these set-backs, the fleet was off Ushant by 01.30 hours, steaming at 30 knots and only seventy-two minutes behind schedule. What was even more to the point, nobody in Britain knew that it had put to sea. The destroyer Z29 was leading; then came Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Prinz Eugen. Two destroyers were deployed on either flank, and Z25 brought up the rear.

Otto Ciliax could count himself fortunate. The `air raid', for it should be placed in inverted commas, had really been a stroke of unreasonably good luck. One of the Coastal Command aircraft that had been detailed to watch for the fleet's departure had strayed off course. A night fighter had chased it into the air space over Brest. By the time it had shaken off the pursuit and returned to the patrol area, a fault had developed in its ASV equipment. There was no point in remaining on patrol, and the pilot flew back to his base in Cornwall.

The reports of Jean Philippon had expressed that gallant officer's certainty that the fleet would leave Brest in darkness, and pass through the Straits of Dover in daylight. Captain (later Vice-Admiral) Norman Denning, head of the Admiralty's Operational Intelligence Centre, was less certain, though he admitted the possibility. At the end of January, he had issued a warning that the three ships were in a position to put to sea, and that some major operation should be expected. Later, in a note to the First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound, he observed:

The short cut for the German ships is via the English Channel. It is 240 miles from Brest to Cherbourg and another 120 miles from Cherbourg to the Dover Straits. While ships could make the passage from Brest to Cherbourg or from Cherbourg to the Dover Straits in the same dark period, they could not make the complete passage from Brest to Dover in one dark period.

At first sight this passage up the Channel seems hazardous for the Germans. It is probable, however, that as their heavy ships are not fully efficient, they would prefer such a passage, relying for their security on the destroyers and aircraft which are efficient, and knowing full well that we have no heavy ships to oppose them in the Channel....

Taking all factors into consideration, it appears that the Germans can pass east up the Channel with much less risk than they will incur if they attempt an ocean passage.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Bowhill, chief of Coastal Command, agreed with this appreciation of the probable route. He added that, in view of the necessity for a long night with no moon and a spring tide on the flood, the exodus from Brest could be expected any time after 10 February.

Unfortunately, the Admiralty, the Air Ministry, the heads of Coastal, Fighter and Bomber Commands, and Bertram Ramsay (Vice-Admiral Dover) were unanimous on one point. Contrary to Philippon's opinion, they all expected the ships to leave Brest in daylight, and to reserve darkness for the most perilous part of the trip-the passage through the Straits of Dover. Perhaps it was wishful thinking. The far from adequate forces at their disposal could best be used by night.

In spite of Ciliax's insistence on security and his efforts to mislead, there was no lack of clues. It was noticed that the destroyers that had escorted Tirpitz to Trondheim had not remained there, but had departed for a destination in the south. On 8 February, aerial photographs of Brest revealed the three big ships in the harbour-plus four large destroyers and a number of E-boats and minesweepers. Pictures taken on the following day brought the score of destroyers up to six.

Although Ruge had taken the precaution of working by night, some evidence of increased minesweeping was detected, especially at the approaches to Brest. Simultaneously, two British minelayers, Manxman and Welshman, were doing their best to make nonsense of the German commodore's efforts. On the night of 4 February, Manxman laid 156 contact mines opposite Lorient, whilst Welshman put down 158 off Cap d'Antifes. Twenty-four hours later Manxman offloaded 156 contact mines near the lie de Vierge; Welshman, 120 contact and 40 magnetic mines off Fecamp. Finally, on the 6th/7th of the month, they were operating off the Frisian Islands where, between them, they laid 95 ground magnetic mines. What with one side busy putting them down, and the other sweeping them up, it seems surprising that the two never collided.

The forces detailed to oppose the progress of Ciliax's fleet were slender enough in all conscience. Six destroyers equipped with torpedoes had been loaned to Admiral Ramsay by the C-in-C Nore. They were normally stationed at Sheerness and Harwich, but they should have been at four hours' notice in the Thames Estuary. In fact, at the crucial moment, they were out in the North Sea off Orfordness, practising gunnery. In addition to this, there were the Hunt class vessels which had been built for escort work. They had no torpedoes and consequently were virtually useless in this instance. Finally, there were thirty-two motor torpedo boats that were no match for the German E-boats.

So far as aircraft were concerned, Coastal Command had agreed to provide three squadrons of Beaufort torpedo bombers. The Fleet Air Arm was able to contribute one squadron of Swordfish torpedo-carriers. Bomber Command had 300 bombers on stand-by, and there was the promise of considerable fighter support. Ideally, the torpedo-carrying aircraft would have made a concerted attack with fighter cover. But this was impossible. For one thing, the Swordfish had a cruising speed of 95 mph, whilst the Beauforts were very much faster. For another, there was the question of bringing them all together. One Beaufort squadron was stationed at Leuchers in Scotland, another at St Eval in Cornwall, and the third at Thorney Island near Portsmouth.

As Hitler had rightly predicted, any action taken against the ships depended on sufficient warning, for it would take time to integrate all these scattered units into an effective whole. No such warning was given. The fiasco, for that is what it was, began in the sky over Brest, when the crews of Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen were waiting for the `all clear' during the air-raid alarm.

Three Hudson aircraft of Coastal Command, each equipped with ASV, were detailed to patrol the approaches to Brest by night. The first, code-named 'Stopper', maintained a vigil between sunset and first light off the port itself; the second, `Line SE', watched over the area from the north of Brest to Ushant; and the third, `Habo', covered the area between Le Havre and Boulogne between 01.00 hours and dawn. In addition to this, Fighter Command operated daylight sweeps, known as `Jim Crow' patrols, between the mouth of the Somme and Ostend. They began at daybreak and continued at two-hourly intervals until nightfall.

On the evening of 11 February, the `Stopper' aircraft set off for Brest as usual. At 19.25 hours, just as it was approaching the area, a German night-fighter intercepted it. By the time the pilot had succeeded in shaking off the enemy and was back on course, the ASV equipment had become unserviceable. There was no point in continuing the patrol; he headed back to base at St Eval, where he landed at 20.40 hours. Meanwhile, a relief Hudson had been dispatched. It reached Brest at 22.38 and remained in the vicinity for the next few hours, but the damage was done. During the period when there was no aeroplane to detect them, Ciliax and his ships had slipped away.

In theory, the fleet should have been picked up by the next Hudson, `Line SE', but this was a night of disasters. The ASV in this aeroplane also packed up. The fault occurred at 20.55 hours; at 21.50, when all attempts to repair it had failed, it too returned to base. No replacement was provided.

Everything now depended on `Habo'; but, once again, Ciliax was lucky. With the approach of dawn, mist began to form over the aircraft's base at Thorney Island. The station controller foresaw conditions that would make it impossible for the Hudson to land. Consequently, he recalled it one hour before the patrol was due to end-in other words, just as the warships were approaching the `Habo' zone.

The outer warning system had been a complete failure. At the very times that most suited Ciliax's convenience, the patrols had been unattended. It was almost uncanny. For eleven hours, two battlecruisers, one heavy cruiser, six large destroyers, and sundry other escorting vessels were able to make their way from Brest into the English Channel, and so to a point not very far from the Straits of Dover, without anybody being aware of them. Nobody was more surprised than the men in the ships. They had expected to steam into the mouth of hell; instead, there appeared to be no opposition at all. By the time they were off Barfleur, everybody had become more relaxed, and a meal of lentil soup, sausages, and coffee was served.

In his headquarters at Dover, Vice-Admiral Ramsay was perplexed. He believed that the ships would make the maximum use of darkness for the fourteen-hour voyage up the Channel and pass through the Straits of Dover at, or just before, first light. The timing, he estimated, would be within two hours of high water to lessen the danger from moored mines and sandbanks. But the morning was now advanced, and there was no sign of the fleet. As he wrote in his report afterwards, `the prospect of the enemy break-through had receded into an unlikelihood'.

He was about to tell his command that they could stand down when a report reached him from the radar station at Fairlight. The equipment had been undergoing maintenance. A mechanic was carrying out a test swing at 10.15 when, to his surprise, he picked up an echo twenty-seven miles south-west of Cap Gris Nez. There was no indication of the size or number of ships, but Ramsay's Air Staff Officer was sufficiently impressed to telephone 11 Group of the RAF and ask for another `Jim Crow'. He also warned 16 Group and the Fleet Air Arm Squadron of Swordfish at Manston that there was now a possibility of targets.

The fact that no evidence had been received earlier was due to a pair of Heinkel l l is which had taken off from an airfield to the north of Paris during darkness. With special electronic equipment on board, they had flown parallel to the south coast, jamming British radar. The flights had ceased at 09.00 hours, when installations along the French coast had taken over the task. The contact by Fairlight was nothing more than a piece of good fortune, for the set was assumed by the German monitors to be out of action.

When the `Jim Crow' request was dispatched, it landed on the desk of Group Captain Victor Beamish at Kenley aerodrome. It was a vile day, with a great deal of cloud and patches of mist. Beamish judged the conditions too bad to send his relatively inexperienced pilots on operations, and so he decided to go himself. For company, he took with him Wing-Commander Finlay Boyd. Like the group-captain, Boyd was a veteran of the Battle of Britain. The two men climbed into their Spitfires and took off.

Over the Channel, they came across a pack of Me-109s that marked the edge of Galland's air cover. To avoid the opposition, they dived. Suddenly and much to their amazement, they saw the German fleet spread out in line ahead beneath them. It was, perhaps, typical of the day that, while they had some knowledge of the Scharnhorst-Gneisenau situation, they had not been told to expect anything of this nature. They turned and hurried homewards.

The rules of Fighter Command were emphatic: its pilots were, under no matter what circumstances, to maintain radio silence. Consequently Beamish and Boyd had to keep their sensational discovery to themselves until they landed. They had sighted the ships at 10.42 hours-it was 11.09 before they touched down at Kenley. Another precious twenty-seven minutes had been lost, and it was not until sixteen minutes after this that Bomber Command was alerted. As for Vice-Admiral Ramsay, he was kept in the dark until 11.30 hours, when a telephone call from the Admiralty informed him that the German vessels had been sighted. Considering that they were now only a few miles away from his own doorstep, it may seem to have been a rather roundabout way of doing things.

Ramsay kept faith with his original idea. The fact that the enemy force was late, according to his timetable, must have some reason. He assumed that they had suffered a delay during their journey up-Channel; that they had intended to pass Cap Gris Nez two hours earlier. If such a mishap had occurred, why, he wondered, had nobody taken advantage of it? `It must', he wrote, `be accounted one of the mistakes or disappointments which occur in war, and to which [he noted with some bitterness] the Prime Minister has taken more than one opportunity to refer.'

When he heard about the sighting, Churchill's comment was much as might have been expected. `At all costs', he growled, `the ships must be intercepted and made to pay dearly for their audacity.' It was all very well to demand such things; but delay, added to the lack of available forces, had made such retribution virtually impossible.

On the bridge of Scharnhorst, Admiral Ciliax was telling Captain Hoffmann that the easy part of the voyage was over. The Spitfires of Beamish and Boyd must surely be the harbingers of an attack. The next few hours would determine the real mettle of the crews.

In order to reduce the concentration of heavy units in one port-the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen had arrived there on 1 June-Scharnhorst moved down the coast to La Pallice on 23 July, but this did not pass unnoticed and an attack was pressed home the following day by twelve Halifax bombers. Two machines fell victim to flak or fighters and the other ten all returned home damaged. The bombs were dropped in two runs. Several near-misses fell in the sea between the ship's side and the anti-torpedo nets. Five hits were obtained, all on the starboard side. The first and fourth bombs penetrated the armoured upper deck, battery and 'tween deck and exploded against the armour deck. The second, third and fifth bombs pierced all decks and passed through the plating of the double bottom without exploding. There was some flooding as a result. The ship listed 8°, but this was reduced to 2° by compensatory flooding.

The attack proved that La Pallice was no safer than Brest, and as in any case there was no suitable dockyard facility there Scharnhorst returned to Brest for drydocking in August and remained at the port until early 1942. Whilst the bomb damage was being repaired, the opportunity was taken during the next few months to give the ship a refit. Banks of torpedo tubes were installed and 2cm flak quadruples set up on the 15cm turret roofs.


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