• Si Biggs

Unlocking the Secrets of the Kriegsmarine - Raising the Secret Midget Sub

Unit/ Formation: 30 Cdo


Location: Glueckstadt


Period/ Conflict: World War II


Year: 1945


Date/s: 10 May 1945


A conference was held at Glueckstadt between Colonel Humphrey Quill and his team and senior officers of the Oberkommando der Marine. That night they stayed on board the SS Patria, crowded together with German naval officers who had lost their ships.

They were the first British detachment to penetrate the inner HQ of the Kriegsmarine, but they were well fed and entertained and ‘no untoward incidents of any kind occurred’.


Indeed some Germans were still hoping they would be re-armed and join with the Allies in fighting the Russians.


At the meeting on 10 May 1945 Quill insisted upon, and duly received, a document signed by Admiral Otto Backenköhler, the chief of Kriegsmarine armaments, instructing all naval establishments to hand over to 30AU representatives all secret papers and material, whether already hidden or not. This was a vital open sesame, because many German navy establishments held that the order they had received not to hide or destroy any secret matter after 8.00a.m. on 5 May did not apply to material they had hidden previously.


Forty copies of this document, all signed by Backenköhler and sent to all team leaders, yielded results straight away at Eckernförde and especially at the Helmuth Walter factory. A Kapitän zur See staff officer came down in person to tell Helmuth Walter that ‘nothing whatsoever was to be withheld’. ‘Then ensued a hilarious series of discoveries,’ wrote Commander Jan Aylen, the senior engineering officer with 30AU. "The average rate of finding new weapons for the first fortnight was about two per day. Combustion chambers were retrieved from the bottom of flooded bomb craters. A case containing key torpedo data was dug up from a hole whose position had been revealed by the German Director of Torpedoes .


At an outstation near Boseau on the nearby Plömer Zee, a sinister lake where midget crews, swimmers and other marine pests were trained, was found Walter’s latest miniature, 25-knot, one-man U-boat which had been scuttled so successfully that the hull had collapsed under pressure."


Schwertwal (Grampus)


This vessel, also known as SW 1, was built only as a prototype. It was designed to use a Walter-turbine in a midget-boat. It was built to reach a maximum speed of 30 knots while submerged.

SW1 Scuttled and Salvaged by Royal Marines

The prototype was scuttled in May 1945 in the Plöner See. Two months later the SW 1 was raised by Royal Marine Engineers, which had searched for the boat. Later they scrapped it in Kiel.


Read More/ Web Link::Ian Fleming's Commandos : The Story of the Legendary 30 Assault Unit

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