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Research on the German Armed Forces 1918-1945

WW2 German Destroyer Z11 Bernd von Arnim


01 Apr 35: Laid down at Germaniawerft, Kiel

14 May 36: Launched

13 Sep 38: Completed

01 Sep 39: Attached to the Reconnaissance Force (Viceadmiral Densch). This force included: light cruisers Nurnberg (FS) Leipzig, Koln, destroyers (Konteradmiral Lutjens) Z1 (FS) Z2, Z4, Z8, Z9, Z10, Z11, Z14, Z15, Z16, 6xS-Boats, 21xMS, 5xEscorts and 10xUB. This force was excessive for the mission of containing the Polish naval units in home waters (destroyer Wicher, ML Gryf and 5xss with smaller auxiliaries.) and was quickly allocated other tasks after the war's first day.

03-20 Sep 39: Z11 deployed to the North Sea with forces gathered to lay the West Wall mine barrage. Ships involved in one or more operations included Nurnberg, Leipzig, Koln, Konigsbeg and Emden; the 1st DD FLOT (Z2, Z4, Z14, Z15, Z16) 2nd DD FLOT (Z1, Z6, Z7, Z8), 4th DD FLOT (Z10, Z11, Z12) 5th DD DIV (Z17, Z18, Z19 and Z20, 5th TB FLOT (Greif, Mowe, Albatros, Kondor, Falke) and the 6th TB FLOT (Leopard, Seeadler, Ilis, Wolf and Luchs) along with 3xML. On 13 Sep and 15 Sep Z11 with Z6, Z16 and 4xML laid 960 and 555 mines respectively. (Z15 participated in the 15 Sep mission as well).

28-30 Sep 39: Z11 with Z12, Z17, Z18, Z19, Z20 and Z21, patrolled the Skaggerak, stopping and searching 58 merchant ships, nine of which were impounded and escorted into Kiel.

01 Oct 39: Z11 was ordered to Kiel with Z8 and Z12.

07-10 Oct 39: Z11 participated in a major sortie off the southern coast of Norway designed to entice the British fleet out and into an aircraft/submarine trap as well as to relive pressure on the two "pocket-battleships" raiding in the Atlantic. The squadron included Gneisenau (FS Admiral Boehm), Koln and twelve destroyers (Z3, Z4, Z6, Z11, Z12, Z14, Z15, Z16, Z17, Z19, Z20, Z21). This force sailed from the Blight and was not sighted until 1320 (London Time) on the 8th off Lister Light, about fifty miles west of Kristiansand. This sighting elicited the desired result when three major British squadrons, the battlecruiser force, the light cruiser force and the Home Fleet sailed to intercept and prevent the Germans from breaking out into the Atlantic (which the British assumed was the German intention). The Germans continued north until night when they reversed course. Neither Bomber Command nor any of the British warships managed to make contact with the Germans; however, large scale German air attacks by He 111s (127) and Ju 88s (21) were also without results. The German force returned to Kiel early on the 10th.

22-24 Oct 39: Z11 with Z3, Z10, Z12, Z14 and Z15, conducted an anti-shipping patrol in the Skaggerak.

27-29 Oct 39: Z11 with Z3, Z10, Z14, Z15 and Z20, attempted an anti-shipping patrol in the Skaggerak, but the mission was canceled due to bad weather. Some of the units involved suffered weather damage.

17-18 Nov 39: Z11 with Z19 (FS Cdr. H. Hartmann) and Z21 conducted an offensive mining operation off the Thames Estuary. The RN destroyer Gipsy and eight ships of 27,565 tons were sunk by this field.

24-25 Nov 39: Conducted mercantile warfare in the Skagerrak with Lutzow, Koln, Leipzig, Z8, Z14, Z15, Z20, and the TBs Leopard, Seeadler, Iltis and Wolf.

27-28 Nov 39: Z11 conducted an anti-mercantile sweep off the southern coast of Norway with, Z10, Z20, Z14, Z3 and Z15. Heavy weather caused the operation to be aborted and Z3 suffered serious damage while returning to port.

06-07 Dec 39: Z11 was to accompany Z10 and Z12 on a mining operation off Cromer, however, boiler problems forced her to return to port leaving the other two ships to complete the mission.

06-07 Apr 40: Part of Group 1 (Narvik) in invasion of Norway with Z9, Z12, Z13, Z17, Z18, Z19, Z21 and Z22. The force assembled at Wesermunde at the beginning of April to embark supplies and troops. Z11 took aboard approximately 200 troops of the 139th Regiment. Group 1 departed Wesermunde at 2300 hours on the 6th and rendezvoused with the Hipper Group. The force underwent an ineffective air attack on the 7th. Throughout the 7th weather conditions deteriorated, winds reaching force 7 that night. A number of crew and soldiers were washed overboard in the heavy seas.

08 Apr 40: At 0900 hours Z11 encountered the British destroyer Glowworm which had become separated from Renown's escort while searching for a man overboard. The two ships exchanged fire as Z11 turned away and signaled to Hipper for support. Glowworm obligingly chased Z11 and paid the price when Hipper came up and sank her.

09 Apr 40: Group 1 entered Ofotfjord early on the 9th brushing aside two small Norwegian patrol boats. Z11 along with Z2 pushed ahead all the way to Narvik harbor where they encountered the old coast defense ship Norge. Forwarned by the reports of the picket ships and the sinking of her sister, Eidswold by Z21, at 0525, Norge opened fire with her 210mm main battery. The initial salvo landed in the water just short of Z11. The German ship came along a pier, quickly disembarked her troops and then began trading salvos with Norge. Norge overcompensated on the range and most of her subsequent shoots were overs that landed in the town. At 0530 Z11 fired a spread of seven torpedoes. Five malfunctioned and missed; the other two ran on the surface, but nevertheless managed to hit Norge; she rolled over and sank with heavy loss of life.

10 Apr 40: First battle of Narvik. Z11 and Z2 were anchored in Ballangenfjord, west of Narvik harbor almost half way down Ofotfjord toward the sea. After the British destroyers shot up Narvik harbor inflicting serious damage on the five destroyers anchored there, they withdrew west up the fjord, pursued by Z9, Z12 and Z13. Heavy fog prevented Z11 and Z2 from immediately reacting to reports of the battle, but when they were able to get underway, they emerged into the main fjord at about 0650 less than 5,000m ahead and to the flank of the retreating British destroyers. Hunter and Hardy were sunk in this action largely by Z2. She also damaged Hotspur, causing her to collide with Hunter. Z11 fired one torpedo, was hit five times by British shells, but was only lightly damaged.

11 Apr 40: Z11 repaired damage suffered the day before. By 12 Apr she was in good condition, capable of 33 knots with all guns functional and six torpedoes aboard.

13 Apr 40: Second Battle of Narvik. Z11 along with Z9 and Z18 and sailed from Narvik harbor at 1215 upon receiving word from Z19, acting as picket ship, that a large British force was sailing up Ofotfjord. They were joined by Z19 and then confronted the British destroyers in an indecisive action, exchanging gunfire and torpedoes as they maneuvered through snow squalls at high speeds. Finally, at 1350 when most of his ammunition was expended, Bey ordered his ships, joined by Z2 from Narvik, to retreat up Rombaksfjord. Z19 went up Herjangsfjord instead, but Z11 with Z2, Z9 and Z18 complied with this order. Z2 and Z18 covered Z11 and Z9, both of whom were completely out of ammunition by this time. Z2 managed to hit Eskimo with a torpedo as the British destroyer nosed up the narrow fjord. However, this was just a momentary victory. Z11, along with her three companions, set demolition charges and her crew abandoned ship.


K.Kpt K Rechel from commissioning in 1938 until 13 Apr 40 when the ship was scuttled.