The Life and Death of the Scharnhorst

Home Forums Historical Cruel Seas The Life and Death of the Scharnhorst

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • Author
  • #167435
    Stephen Hunt

    Given that “Cruel Seas” is about coastal forces the above title may seem a little odd. However, go on to YouTube and Google it.

    You will see a documentary about it lasting 50 minutes. I first saw it on Boxing Day 1971, the 28th Anniversary of the Battle of North Cape. It was presented by Ludovic Kennedy who served aboard HMS Tartar in the Bismarck chase and his own father died commanding HMS Rawalpindi when it was sunk by the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in 1939.

    The programme also covered the Channel Dash as this is where the coastal forces element comes in as they interviewed the survivors of the MTBs that attacked the German forces.

    At the time many of the interviewees were relatively young men (mid to late 40s) so their memories were still fresh.

    Taken as a whole but is an excellent documentary, but I hope that Cruel Seas fans will enjoy the section about the Channel Dash.


    Chris Salander

    In The Battle of the Narrow Seas, Peter Scott covers his flotilla’s attack during the Channel Dash. He believes that even though the capital ships turned to avoid the torpedoes, one may have hit.
    There was a swarm of fighters overhead that ignored the MTBs and an outer line of E-boats making a continuous line of smoke, who did not react to the MTBs. Then there was an inner layer of Torpedoboote and Minesweepers and Vorpostenboote that attacked the MTBs. I am thinking of making a scenario about this which is just one segment of this long parade. The capital ships would be off the far edge of the map and the British would get points for penetrating the defenses and shooting torpedoes off of that edge.

    invisible officer

    The Battle of the Narrow Seas makes excellent reading but has to be read cum grano salis. It was written without access to German sources. There was no torpedo hit. “Just” the three mine hits.
    The 15.34 hit did not much damage to Scharnhorst but so many secondary engines got shaked out of action that she had to stop. It took half an hour to repair them. And with the second damage it caused 8 months of repairs to German overreaching high standard.
    A lot of the actions are more novel than history. An Amazon book reviewer (not me!) gave just three stars and wrote: ” We are always good shots; Jerry always misses. We are always daring; Jerry always messes up.”
    A view that is great in wartime. Good for moral. But as base for a balanced game…..

    Well, Operation Cerberus was a retreat that was strangely seen by many British as German victory. The Hybris that the Channel was British backfired. For the war situation it was a 100 % British win. Großadmiral Erich Raeder named it a „taktischer Sieg, aber eine strategische Niederlage“. (Tactical victory but strategical defeat).

    Escort was done by Zerstörer and Torpedoboote and a screen of S-Boote to the North.

    To use Vorpostenboote and Minensucher in game as escort would be wrong, they had been far too slow. Their job was the preparation of the “Minenfreier Weg”.
    Only close cooperation was with 1. Minensuchflot. That had found North of Etaples a new British minefield that morning. It made a breach, sweeping 8 mines. In the process the bigships arrived. To pass they formed a line behind the sweepers that did a second sweep and reformed on other side. Then the escort reformed, the 1. MS staying behind.
    East of Dover Minensucher went far in front of the group, throwing DC, hoping to kill magnetic groundmines that escaped the sweeps.

    With the bigships having passed the Minensucher and Vorpostenboote retreated to bases.
    The only loss that day was V 1301, bombed North of Schelde entry, it had done marker service at the safe way. Eight more small vessels had crew losses from air attacks.
    They did a good job, making safe ways through 16 contact minefields West of Dover and the 1100 groundmines east.

    For MTB and MGB a daytime operation against a strong escort was the worst possible setting. The S-Boote did not leave station but fired on them, so not “no reaction”. They reported the attacks as “light”

    (To get a true picture of MTB war I prefer Peter Dickens:” Night action” )

    Stephen Hunt


    That sounds like an interesting scenario. Would the MTBs get any additional points for making it back in one piece.

    Peter Scott’s book is excellent. If you are able to visit the Maritime Museum in Liverpool, in the archives there is a copy of this book dating from 1946. His paintings are fantastic. Also, a first edition of Stephen Roskill’s WW2 at Sea, with some great maps.

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.