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Sinking of the German cruiser Königsberg

Unit/ Formation: RM Airmen

Location: Bergan

Period/ Conflict: World War II


Date/s: 10 April 1940

Captain R.T. Partridge, Royal Marines, Yellow 1 in aircraft L3025 led 800 Squadron in a raid consisted of sixteen Blackburn Skua dive bombers of the British Fleet Air Arm (seven of 800 Naval Air Squadron and nine of 803 Naval Air Squadron), launched from RNAS Hatston, Orkney. Königsberg's thin deck armor rendered her quite vulnerable to dive bomber attack

The dive bombers attacked at 7:20, catching the ship's crew off guard.

Half of the dive bombers had completed their dives before the crew realized they were under attack. Only one large anti-aircraft gun was reported as being manned with shells being fired once every five seconds from the aft of the ship with lighter anti-air weapons firing from the shore and adjacent ships firing even later in the attack.

The leading wave of Skuas tip over to attack the Königsberg. Image © John Dell

Königsberg was hit by at least five 500-pound (230 kg) bombs, which caused serious damage to the ship. One penetrated her thin deck armor, went through the ship, and exploded in the water, causing significant structural damage. Another hit destroyed the auxiliary boiler room.

Only 30 minutes before the Skuas arrived a Coastal Command Hudson circled Bergen harbour (the German defences misidentified it as a Heinkel He111) and took this remarkable picture. At the top of the picture, in Puddefjorden, are crowded mostly merchant ships (many from neutral countries, including the US tanker Flying Fish). Then there is the peninsula of Nordnes, then in front of that the Skoltegrunns mole (where modern cruise ships often dock) with the Königsberg alongside. In the foreground is Nyhaven with German Ju 52 floatplanes anchored. []

Two more bombs exploded in the water next to the ship; the concussion from the blasts tore large holes in the hull. She took on a heavy list almost immediately, and the captain ordered the crew to abandon the ship.

This dramatic sequence of photos shows the Königsberg on fire and sinking. The photos are courtesy of Ketil Svendsen. via

It took slightly less than three hours from the start of the attack for the ship to completely capsize and sink, which gave the crew enough time to evacuate many of the dead and wounded.

The ship was very clear and plain in my sights and the only opposition was one AA gun on the fo’c’s’le manned by a very brave crew that continued firing throughout the whole attack. Captain R.T. Partridge, Royal Marines

Sinking of the German cruiser Konigsberg at Bergen in Norway. Royal Marine pilot Captain McIVER RM of 803 Squadron, H.M.S. Merlin scored a hit amidships. His wing was hit by flak and he died on the 14th [Royal Marines Roll of Homour]

Read More/ Web Link:

Dingers Aviation Pages - The Sinking of the Königsberg

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