Horst Weber

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Dr. jur.
Horst Benno Fridigern Weber
Born (1919-08-08)8 August 1919
Münster
Died 8 January 2007(2007-01-08) (aged 87)
Bad Neuenahr
Allegiance  Nazi Germany (to 1945)
 West Germany
Service/branch  Kriegsmarine
 German Navy
Years of service 1937–45
?–1965
Rank Kapitänleutnant (Kriegsmarine)
Kapitänleutnant of the Reserves (Bundesmarine)
Commands held Schnellboot S-55,S-191
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Dr. jur. Horst Benno Fridigern Weber[Note 1] (8 August 1919 in Münster – 8 January 2007 in Bad Neuenahr) was a German Schnellboot commander in World War II and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Career

Horst Weber was born on 8 August 1919 in Münster Germany, and joined Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine in 1937. From December 1939 to June 1940 he served with the 1st S-boot flotilla, in the English Channel and North Sea. The same year he transferred to the 3rd S-boot flotilla serving on S-13 and S-35 in the Baltic in action around Leningrad. Later in July 1941 he served on S-55 as commander in the Mediterranean, until January 1944. He was promoted to Oberleutnant zur See and awarded the Knight's Cross on 5 July 1943, and in January 1945 he was promoted to Kapitänleutnant on S-191, of the 10th Flotilla. S-191 was subsequently sunk in collision with S-301 on 7 May 1945 in the Fehmarnsund (Baltic Sea off Kiel) the day before the war ended. Horst Weber survived the war and died in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler in the Rhineland on 8 January 2007 aged 87.

German Schnellboots

The Schnellboot or S-boot ("fast craft") was a German small, fast torpedo boat, which saw service during World War II. The S-boats were approximately twice as large as its British and American counterparts. By comparison with the Allied craft, the S-boats were better suited for the open sea and had a substantially longer range at approximately 700 nautical miles. The allies called these small, fast torpedo boats "E-boats" whereas to the Germans they were "S-boats" – Schnellboots.

Schnellboot S-55, technical details

Built: F. R Lurssen Bootswerft at Bremen-Vegesack and commissioned during August 1940 (at Kiel) to form part of Third Flotilla.

Captain: Kommandant (later Oberleutnant) Horst Weber

Displacement: of 100 tons, 115 ft x 16.5 ft x 6.5 ft.

Powered: by three Daimler Benz 16 cylinder engines, each of 2000 HP, giving a maximum speed of 42 knots

Endurance: 700 miles @ 30 knots

Armament: 2 x 21 inch torpedo tubes, 2 single 20 mm guns, spare torpedoes on deck or depth charges

Crew: 21

Short History of S-55, part of the 3rd S-Boat flotilla ('Penguin insignia')

The Third S-boat Flotilla (10 boats) at the time of entering the Mediterranean comprised: S-55, S-35, S-61, S-31, S-34, S-56, S-54, S-57, S-58, S-59 On completion of its service in the Baltic the Third S-Boat Flotilla had been moved to Wilhelmshaven for a thorough refit. When this work was finished, the journey to the Mediterranean began on the morning of 7 October 1941. Divided into two groups of five (S-55, 35, 61, 31, 34) and (S-56, 54, 57, 58, 59) they set out from Wilhelmshaven for Rotterdam. Rough weather was encountered in the North Sea and S-54 and 57 suffered damage which necessitated a delay in Rotterdam for repairs.
From there the journey down the Rhine was carried out at an average speed of 15 knots and in daily stages until reaching Strasbourg. From here the route led through the Rhine-Rhône canal, through 167 locks, down to the Burgundian Gate, along the River Doubs to the estuary where it joins the Saone river at St Sinforien, thence down the Saone and finally into the Rhone at Lyon. From here the boats proceeded down river to the Mediterranean. The first group of boats completed the journey quite quickly and by December 1941 they were ready to undertake their first operations from Sicily on the night of 16 December 1941, when they laid mines off the entrance to the Grand Harbour, Malta.
The second group required somewhat longer to complete the journey to the Mediterranean, the low level of water in the Rhone holding them up for six weeks, so that it was 10 January 1942 before they could move on. They reached La Spezia in northern Italy on 15 January 1942, and from there continued to Augusta in Sicily, where the first group had already started their operations. The journey from Germany was extremely difficult due to narrow locks and low bridges. Because the S-Boats with the 20 cylinder engines were too large for the Rhine-Rhone canal locks, the 3rd Flotilla, whose boats had the smaller 16 cylinder engine, was chosen. Even with these boats, extensive modifications were still found to be necessary. In addition alterations had to be made for reasons of camouflage, e.g. the aft 20 mm AA gun was removed and the torpedo tubes covered with sheet metal plating. A thick funnel was placed over the forward engine fanlight. The bridge house was reduced to about half its height and the cut away top placed on the after deck. This meant that the helmsman had to stand in the open. Finally the boats were painted pitch-black and the Reich Service Flag flown (as worn by fleet auxiliaries). The intention was to give them the appearance of air-sea-rescue vessels. The crews wore civilian clothes and all military talk in front of strangers was strictly forbidden. Throughout the journey to the Mediterranean there was a total clampdown on mail and leave.
On 14 June 1942, during a relief convoy to Malta (Operation Vigorous from Alexandria), S-55 torpedoed HMS Hasty about 90 nautical miles north-west of Derna, Libya. (Ship abandoned and sunk by HMS Hotspur the next day). The following March after sinking HMS Lightning, he was appointed Oberleutnant at Sea and awarded the Knight’s Cross on 5 July 1943.
S-55 and the Third S-boat Flotilla moved to the port of Bizerte on 8 November 1942 (just as HMS Lightning was completing her UK refit in Chatham), and left when Tunisia was taken by the Allies in May 1943, two months after the sinking of Lightning. She later took part in the capture of the island of Leros (Dodecanese Islands, Aegean Sea) in the autumn of 1943 and was finally sunk on 10 January 1944 by allied bombing (one of her torpedoes exploded) at Korcŭla (Croatia) on the Adriatic Sea.

Awards

Notes

  1. In German a Doctor of Law is abbreviated as Dr. iur. (Doctor iuris) or Dr. jur. (Doctor juris).

References

Citations

  1. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 498.

Bibliography

  • Dörr, Manfred (1996). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Überwasserstreitkräfte der Kriegsmarine—Band 2: L–Z (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2497-6. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Range, Clemens (1974). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Kriegsmarine. Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-87943-355-1. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Further reading
  • 'Struck by Lightning' -a sailor's first-hand story about a World War Two fighting ship HMS Lightning (G55) 1941-1943, John Dann and Eric Gilroy, Fastprint Publishing, Peterborough, England 2010, ISBN 978-178035-480-4 features a first-hand account of the attack on the destroyer by Horst Weber in S-55 the night of 12 March 1943

External links

  • [1] The original website story of HMS Lightning published privately by Eric Gilroy in 1994. (Document deposited in the Imperial War Museum documents archive, Catalogue number / Documents.2900 / date: 1994-09 ). It features an eye-witness account of S-55 (Horst Weber) fatal attack on British Destroyer HMS Lightning (G55) night of 12 March 1943. It also includes a translation of a War Diary of the 7th S Boat Flotilla by Flotilla Commander Corvette Captain Trummer (S-157)-who took part in the same attack.
  • Deutsches Marinearchiv
  • World War 2 Awards.com