German Armed Forces Research 1918-1945
Organization of the Kriegsmarine in the West 1940-45
The German Kriegsmarine has been greatly studied from the naval point of view, and in particular, from the point of view of its submarine force and larger naval vessels, while its service, ground and security detachments have often been forgotten by historians. This is mainly because of the simple fact that the majority of these service, ground and security units are not thought of as constituting combat units by most people interested in researching WWII. This is an entirely false assumption. Although many of these units did not serve in front line combat, many others did, some as their main function such as the Marine-Artillerie-Abteilungen. Many other units were thrown into the front line in ad-hoc units formed late in 1944-45 in a vain attempt to stave off defeat. Regardless of front line status, most all of these units served in a truely vital position for the Kriegsmarine and the Wehrmacht as a whole. Without their support, service and security functions, the ground, naval and air war in the Western Theater would have been impossible to fight. Thus was the story of nearly all support units of the armed forces during WWII.
Before entering into any more detail though, it is helpful to know some basics about the Kriegsmarine, principally about the different structures and organizations of the Kriegsmarine on the Western Front during WWII.
In the mass of forces stationed in the Western Theater, it is necessary to distinguish between two large families: the first groups together the totality of surface combat units, the Seestreitkrafte - excluding U-Boats and Harbor Protection Flotillas (Hafenschutzflotillen) - which covers five categories: torpedo boats (Torpedoboote), destroyers (Zerstorer), motor-torpedo boats (Schnellboote), small combat units (Kleinkampfverbande), and security forces (Sicherungsdivisionen). The second family groups together the totality of land-based naval forces, the Landstreitkrafte, which include the Harbor Protection Flotillas (Hafenschutzflotillen), covering the three coastal commands of the region, Kanalkuste, Atlanlikkuste and Sud-Frankreich, as well as the command of naval troops in Paris. These two families both fall under the overall single and central command of the Commander-in-Chief of Naval Group West (Oberbefehlshaber des Marinegruppenkommando West) based in Paris To this list should be added the submarine arm of the Navy, which had its own, separate command named Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote (B.d.U.), under which fell the Fuhrer der Unterseeboote West.
Structure of the High Command of the Kriegsmarine between 1935 and 1945:
Since 1938, it was Adolf Hitler who led the Armed Forces, grouping together the Army, Navy and Luftwaffe At his disposal was a General Staff specific for each of the branches, with a Commander-in-Chief at the head of each For the Kriegsmarine, the General Staff was the Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine (OKM) commanded by Generaladmiral (later Grossadmiral) Erich Raeder between 1 June 1935, and 30 January 1943. He was replaced by Grossadmiral Karl Donitz until 1 May 1945, when he was in turn replaced by Generaladmiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg.
The OKM also had a Chief of the Naval General Staff, who was in charge of naval operations on the high seas (Seekriegsleitung). The first officer in this post was Admiral Otto Schniewind, who held the position between 31 October 1938 and 12 June 1941, before handing it over to Vizeadmiral (later Admiral) Kurt Fricke until 20 February 1943, when he was replaced by Admiral Wilhelm Meisel. The General Staff had direct control over the Admiral Commanding, France (Kommandierender Admiral, Frankreich) and over Marinegruppenkommando West in Paris, who reported all activities of the fleet based in its area of control, and on any problems encountered.
The Various Successive Changes that Occurred During WWII:
In 1940, France was under the control of the Admiral Commanding, France, which also covered all of Belgium. Until then, these two countries had been under the control of the Admiral Commanding, West. The Admiral Commanding, France, split his command into three sectors: in the north was the Marinebefehlshaber Nordfrankreich which covered Walcheren (excluded) down to the Couesnon. In the west was the Marinebefehlshaber Bretagne (Brittany) which covered the zone between the Couesnon and the Loire estuary. The Marinebefehlshaber Kanalkuste covered the zone from the Loire to Spain
At the end of 1940, the coastal sector between the Rance and the Couesnon was joined to the Marinebefehlshaber Nordfrankreich for practical reasons and part of the zone of Marinebefehlshaber Bretagne (the St. Nazaire sector) was attached to the Marinebefehlshaber Westfrankreich which was split into two parts to form Marinebefehlshaber Kanalkuste north of the Seine, and another zone between the Seine and the Rance under its own name.
At the end of 1942, the Admiral Commanding, France was dissolved to form part of Marinegruppenkommando West, installed in Paris, whereas the former had been based in Wilhelmshaven. It controlled all naval units in France and Belgium.
The final change came after taking over the Mediterranean sector in September 1943. This new sector was integrated into two others to form Admiral Commanding, Southern French Coast, whereas since June 1943, only the western part (Languedoc region) had been under German control under the Admiral, Southern French Coast.
High Command of the Kriegsmarine in the West (Marinegruppenkommando West):
Set up in August 1939, Naval Group West was in charge of naval operations in the Heligoland Bight, the North Sea and the Atlantic. Originally, the HQ of the Group was in Sengwarden, near Wilhelmshaven. In August 1940, the Group transferred its HQ to Paris (Place de la Concorde, in the former French Navy Ministry) and abandoned its control over operations in the North Sea to concentrate on France and Belgium. Its first commander was Generaladmiral Alfred Saalwachter, who ceded his place in September 1942 to Generaladmiral Wilhelm Marschall, who had previously been Admiral, France. On 16 November, 1943 the post Admiral, France was eliminated and its staff transferred in full to Group West to form the large General Staff of the Navy in the West. As of this date, Naval Group West took charge of not only operations but also the administration of personnel, supplies and all other tasks that had previously pertained to the Admiral, France.
The third and last commander of Naval Group West under this title is much better known to the public, since he was much lauded in German propaganda. This was Admiral Theodor Krancke, who took over on 20 April 1943 and who held this command until 20 October 1944. His promotion through the media was due to two factors: he benefited from the presence of the big dignitaries during their visits to the French coast, notably Rommel and Donitz, and secondly, he was in charge of the Kriegsmarine during the Allied landings in Normandy and in Provence, which gave him a high profile.
During the whole war, Naval Group West benefited from Chiefs of Staff who stood in capably during the absences of the Commanders-in-Chief. Successively there were Konteradmiral Otto Ciliax (September 1939 - March 1941), Kapitan zur See Hans Meyer (May 1941 - December 1942), Konteradmiral Wilhelm Meisel (December 1942 - February 1943), and finally Konteradmiral Karl Hoffmann (February 1943 -October 1944).
In addition, Naval Group West delegated its officers to act as liaisons with the Commander-in-Chief, West (Army Group D) at Saint-Germain en Laye, where Fregattenkapitan Richard Konig was attached to Field Marshal von Rundstedt, and with Army Group B, with Vizeadmiral Friedrich Ruge, later replaced by Vizeadmiral Friedrich Rieve (September 1944 - October 1944). In addition there was the general staff attached to Naval Group West following the dismantlement of Admiral Commanding, France, with Konteradmiral Otto Fricke (November 1942 - March 1943) replaced by KzS Johannes Hain (April 1943 - October 1944) as Deputy Chiefs of Staff of the Naval Group.
On October 20, 1944, Marinegruppenkommando West was dissolved, and its general staff served to form the high command of the Navy in the West.
High Command of the Kriegsmarine in France (Kommandierender Admiral Frankreich):
The high command of the Kriegsmarine in France was originally called Oberbefehslhaber des Admirals West, between 27 May 1940 and 21 June 1940, then Oberbefehslhaber des Admirals Frankreich as of 22 June 1940. This staff, situated in Paris, was principally in charge of personnel administration and troop supply. The first commander was Admiral Karl-Georg Schuster, 27 May 1940 - 1 March 1941. With his Chief of Staff, Konteradmiral Joachim Lietzmann, and Generalmajor Franz Habicht (Chief of Fortress Engineer Staff), who was in charge of the first concrete constructions for the Kriegsmarine, Admiral Schuster inspected the coasts of France and set up a program for future defensive positions along the coast, future submarine bases, and inventoried the former coastal sites of the French Navy to see what was useable or not. He visited Brest, Lorient, Saint-Nazaire, the Ile de Re, La Pallice, Rochefort, Royan, Soulac and Saint-Jean-de-Luz. In March 1941, Admiral Schuster was replaced by Admiral Otto Schultze (2 March 1941 - 16 August 1942) with a new Chief of Staff, as of 18 April 1942, Konteradmiral Otto Fricke. Admiral Schultze continued the mission of his predecessor with the same zeal before being replaced on 16 August 1942 by Admiral Wilhelm Marschall. He was the last to hold the title of Oberbefehslhaber des Admirals Frankreich, since on 21 September 1942 his position was renamed Commander-in-Chief of Naval Group West.
Introduction to the Command of the German Navy:
In occupying the coast of France, the Kriegsmarine organized a split of territories with a pyramidal hierarchy. At the top was Naval Group West, based in Paris, which headed all the Kriegsmarine forces in France and Belgium. At the next level down, the coasts were split into three large sectors: to the northwest, the Befehlshaber Kanalkuste included the zone between Blankenberghe and Saint Malo; to the west, the Befelshaber Atlantikkuste spread from Saint-Malo (excluded) down to Spain; in the south, the Befehlshaber Sudkuste included the Mediterranean zone between Italy and Spain. Each of these sectors, with an Admiral at its head, had several naval defense commanders covering a smaller zone.
In the northwest, the Blankenberghe-Saint Malo sector was split between four Seekommandanten (Seeko): Seeko Pas-de-Calais covering Belgium down to the Somme, Seeko Seine-Somme, Seeko Normandie (Le Havre to Saint-Malo), and Seeko Kanalinseln covering the Channel Islands. In the west, the Atlantic coast from Erquy to Spain was covered by three Seeko: Seeko Bretagne (Brittany), Seeko Loire (from the Vilaine to the Sendre), and Seeko Gascogne between the Sendre and Spain. Finally, in the south, the Mediterranean coast was split into two sectors, with Seeko Languedoc to the west (covering Spain to Cany-le-Rouet) and Seeko Riviera to the east (covering Carry-le-Rouet to Italy).
Admiral Kanalkuste/Admiral Commanding the Channel Coast:
On 26 July 1940, Vizeadmiral Friedrich-Wilhelm Fleischer took the post of Marinebefehlshaber Kanalkuste, setting up his HQ at Lumbres. In August, he transferred his command post to Wimille, closer to Boulogne. His mission consisted of ensuring the respect of the legitimate interests of the Navy on the northern coasts of the occupied territory, from Antwerp to the Somme estuary, and to assure the defense of these positions in the event of an enemy attack from the sea. His HQ in the chateau of Wimille consisted of a sheltered command post, a transmission bunker, a sick-bay, a bunker for the staff officers and technicians, with three barracks and three shelters in addition.
After the unification, in 1941, of the English Channel and Pas-de-Calais sectors, Vizeadmiral Fleischer handed over his command to Admiral Hermann von Fischel, who transferred to Trouville. Under Admiral von Fischel, the Marinebefehlshaber Kanalkuste held full responsibility for the following services: command over the naval artillery (Marko); Seeko Seine-Somme, Seeko Pas-de-Calais, Seeko Flandre; the naval artillery groups (MAA); the Harbor Protection Flotillas; the port commands (Haka [Hafenkapitan] and Hako [Hafenkommandant]); and the various naval services for communications and supplies. Later he would have command over only the Seeko, who themselves would be in charge of the various services in place in their sectors. Towards the end of 1943, the General Staff moved from Trouville to Rouen.
On 1 February 1943, the post of Marinebefehlshaber Kanalkuste was renamed Admiral Kanalkuste. As of this date, the HQ was moved to Calais, where it remained until its dissolution in September 1944. On 21 April 1943, Admiral von Fischel handed over his command to Vizeadmiral Friedrich Rieve, at which time the Admiral Kanalkuste was in charge of four naval commands: Seeko Pas-de-Calais (HQ at Wimille), Seeko Seine-Somme (HQ at Le Havre), Seeko Normandie (HQ at Cherbourg), and Seeko Kanalinseln (HQ at Jersey).
General Staff of the Marinebefehlshaber/Admiral Kanalkuste:
-Vizeadmiral Friedrich Wilhelm Fleischer 7.26.40 - 2.16.41
-Admiral Hermann von Fischel 2.17.41 - 4.21.43
-Vizeadmiral Friedrich Rieve 4.22.43 - 9.??.44
Chief of Staff:
-KzS Otto Fricke 7.??.40 - 3.7.42
-KzS Ernst Kopp 3.8.42 - 9.??.44
First Admiralty Officer:
-Fregattenkap. Konrad Engelhard 7.??.40 - 12.9.40
-Korvettenkap. Bodo Elleke 12.10.40 - 9.19.43
-Korvettenkap. Eduard Becker 9.20.43 - 9.??.44
Units of the Kriegsmarine Attached to Marinegruppenkommando West:
In August 1940, Marinegruppenkommando West installed its HQ in Paris, with Generaladmiral Alfred Saalwächter at its head, who was replaced on 20 September 1942 by Generaladmiral Wilhelm Marschall, then by Admiral Theodor Krancke in April 1943.
The HQ had several services for its own needs, as well as a multitude of units attached to it. Naval group West was essentially in charge of operations, personnel administration and supplies, for which it had an important general staff made up of:
-Konteradmiral Werner Lindenau 2.26.43 - 7.14.43
-KzS Erich Heymann 7.15.43-11.2.44
Another important service installed in Paris: the Directorate-General for Naval Shipyards in France.
Directorate-General for Naval Shipyards in France:
In Paris, at the HQ of the Admiral C-in-C France, a special service was created in June 1940. In fact, it was rapidly dissolved, in accordance with Order of the Day No. 206 of the Admiral Commanding, North Sea, dated 30 August 1940.
The head of the service, KzS Rhein (serving from August - October 1940), held the official title of Delegate to the Naval Shipyards in France, which was shortly thereafter changed to Directorate-General for Naval Shipyards.
A new service was thus formed. It depended directly, for all questions concerning technical responsibility, on the Department of Naval Construction of the OKM, whilst from the strictly military point of view, it was subordinated to the Admiral Commanding, France which was succeeded by Naval Group West (Secret Order of the Day No. 63 of the Admiral Commanding, North Sea, dated 9 December 1942).
The Director of Naval Shipyards was in charge of the shipyards and naval arsenals at Brest, Lorient, La Pallice, Saint-Nazaire, Bordeaux and Toulon, as well as the naval armaments warehouses, repair facilities and supply depots.
In February 1943, the service in charge of maintenance of submarines, previously under the auspices of the Lorient Arsenal, was integrated into the Directorate-General for Naval Shipyards.
In October 1943, an armaments service was created, stationed at Brest, which was charged with control over all the artillery depots, repair facilities and arsenals in France.
As a result, the links between the Directorate-General for Naval Shipyards and the armaments service were somewhat loose. The armaments service was placed under the authority of the Director of the Naval Shipyard at Brest
The General Staff of the Directorate-General for Naval Shipyards was dissolved in October 1944.
The position of Director-General was held successively by:
-Vizeadmiral Siegfried Massmann June - August 1940
-KzS Wilhelm Rhein August - October 1940
-Vizeadmiral Walter Kinzel October 1940 - 13 March 1944
-Konteradmiral Max Schenitzki l4 March 1944 - October 1944
The Defense Sectors (Seeko), Units Attached & the Seekommandant (Seeko) - Commander of Coastal Sector:
The commander of a coastal sector (Seeko) was in charge of all Kriegsmarine units based on land in that sector. His role was that of regional Admiral. His authority extended over: the port commanders (Haka [Hafenkapitän] and Hako [Hafenkommandant]), naval arsenals, naval intendancies, coastal and naval flak artillery, Harbor Protection Flotillas, transport units, radar detection units, and smoke units. It did not cover military hospitals or naval shipyards.
France was covered by 9 Seekommandanturen, from north to south:
-Seeko Pas-de Calais (HQ: Calais)
-Seeko Seine-Somme (HQ: Le Havre)
-Seeko Normandie (HQ: Cherbourg)
-Seeko Kanalinseln (HQ: Guernsey)
-Seeko Bretagne (HQ: Brest)
-Seeko Loire-Gironde (HQ: Saint-Nazaire)
-Seeko Gascogne (HQ: Royan)
-Seeko Languedoc (HQ: Port-Vendres)
-Seeko Französische Riviera (HQ: Marseille)
Port Captains & Commanders (Haka [Hafenkapitän] and Hako [Hafenkommandant])
The Port Commanders (Hako) were in charge of the ships based inside the perimeter of the ports. They also oversaw the resupply of these ships in terms of provisions, munitions and fuel, as well as the functioning of port facilities (cranes, etc). Each Port Commander was also responsible for the security and defense of his area of control, for which he had a Company of Marines (Hafenwachkompanie) attached to him.
Port Captains (Haka) had similar responsibilites, but with less important means of carrying them out. They were mostly based in smaller, less important ports. On the French and Belgian coasts, there were 28 Port Commanders and 17 Port Captains, as follows:
-Hako Le Havre
-Hako La Pallice
-Haka Le Treport
-Haka Les Sables d'Olonne
-Haka La Rochelle
-Haka Port de Bouc
-Haka La Ciotat
Each Hako or Haka had at his disposal a port police (Hafenüberwachung), which oversaw the French ships and delivered authorizations for sorties and fishing trips. They also oversaw the signals stations (semaphores) which took note of ship movements.
This service was charged with maintaining and repairing the equipment of the coastal artillery batteries. Initially called the Marineartilleriezeugamt, later the Marineartilleriearsenal, this service had at its disposal a repair branch and a warehousing branch.
In France and in Belgium, the Kriegsmarine had a total of 8 arsenals and 5 commands as follows:
Marineartilleriearsenale: Boulogne, Cherbourg, Brest, Lorient, Saint-Nazaire, Rochefort, Sete, Toulon.
Marineartillerie Waffenkommando: Bruges, Le Havre, Saint-Male, Port-Vendres, Marseille.
Naval Intendaney Service (Kriegsmarinedienststelle):
The Naval Intendancy Service had as its purpose to feed and clothe troops, and to warehouse supplies necessary to supply the different units.
It was split into three main branches: the first supplied the basics and provisions, the second supplied clothing, and the third was in charge of warehousing and maintenance.
In France and Belgium, these services were based at Saint-Male, Bordeaux, Marseille, Toulon, Ostende, Bouiogne, Le Havre, Cherbourg.
Naval Artillery (Marineartillerie):
The Naval Artillery ensured the defense of a port or a particularly sensitive coastal sector. For this, it had available a panoply of batteries spread out along the coast, using either German equipment (Krupp) or equipment taken over from the arsenals of occupied countries (Schneider, Saint-Chamond, Vickers, Bofors, Cockeville, Putilov, Skoda, etc).
These batteries made use of five main types of emplacements: railroads, pillboxes, encuvements, armored turrets, or concrete turrets; sometimes heavy batteries used a composite of two types of emplacement (such as pillbox and armored turret), such as can be found at the "Lindemann" and "Todt" positions in the Pas de Calais region. As regards armament, this varied according to the sector to be defended (from 6.5cm to 40.6cm). On the coast, the Kriegsmarine used three types of formations:
Coastal Artillery Group (Marine Artillerie Abteilung - MAA): its purpose was to engage an enemy fleet in sight of land and to defend large ports and sensitive defense sectors.
Light Coastal Artillery Group (Leichte Marine Artillene Abteilung - leMAA): had the same fUnction as above, but used infantry companies not available to the above.
Naval Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group (Marine Flakartillerie Abteilung -MaF/A): its function was to protect major ports from air attack.
All of these batteries were an integral part of the Atlantic Wall or the South Wall.
Sometimes these Groups (Abteilungen) were regrouped to form a Regiment or Brigade. Examples are found at Brest, Lorient, Saint-Nazaire and in the Pas de Calais. There also existed in France an On-Board Naval Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group (Marine Bordflak Abteilung) at Bordeaux and a training school at Daxs (Marine Flak Schule II).
The Naval Artillery in Belgium and France was distributed as follows:
-MAA 204 Ostende/Dunkerque
-MAA 244 Calais
-MAA 242 Gris-Nez
-MAA 240 Boulogne
-MAA 266 Le Havre
-MAA 260 Cherbourg
-MAA 604 Guernsey
-MAA 605 Aurigny
-MAA 608 Saint-Malo
-MAA 262 Brest
-MAA 264 Lorient
-MAA 280 Saint-Nazaire
-MAA 282 Re/La Pallice
-MAA 284 Royan
-MAA 618 Pointe de Grave
-MAA 286 Saint-Jean-de-Luz/Bayonne
-MAA 615 Port-Vendres
-MAA 610 Sete
-MAA 625 Port de Bouc
-MAA 611 Marseille
-MAA 627 Hybes
-leMAA 683 Lorient (Marine Artillerie Regiment 1)
-leMAA 688 Lorient
-leMAA 684 Noirmoutier
-leMAA 685 Yeu
-leMAA 686 Re
-leMAA 687 Oleron
-leMAA 682 Toulon
III Marine Flak Brigade:
-MaF/A 231 Brest
-MaF/A 803 Brest
-MaF/A 804 Brest
-MaF/A 805 Brest
-MaF/A 811 Brest
IV Marine Flak Brigade:
-MaF/A 704 Lorient
-MaF/A 708 Lorient
-MaF/A 806 Lorient
-MaF/A 807 Lorient
-MaF/A 817 Lorient
V Marine Flak Brigade:
-MaF/A 703 Saint-Nazaire
-MaF/A 809 Saint-Nazaire
-MaF/A 820 Saint-Nazaire
-MaF/A 819 Saint-Nazaire, later Toulon
-MaF/A 812 Re/Oleron
-10.Marine Bordflak Abteilung (Bordeaux)
-Marine Flak Schule II (Dax)
Finally, there also existed several isolated naval artillery batteries which for tactical purposes were attached to the nearest Coastal Artillery Group.
Harbor Protection Flotillas (Hafenschutzflotillen):
These coastal navigation flotillas controlled the navigation in territorial waters and ensured the protection of the ports to which they were attached. Each flotilla was equipped with a handful of requisitioned fishing boats armed with 2cm flak guns (or at best 7.5cm guns). These small and vulnerable craft would have to rejoin a port as quickly as possible to shelter from any attack. There were 9 such flotillas in Belgium and France:
Hafenschutzflotille Le Havre
Hafenschutzflotille Gironde (Rochefort/Pointe de Grave)
Hafenschutzflotille Languedoc (Sete/Port-Vendres)
Naval Transport Groups (Marine Kraftfahr Abteilungen):
The Kriegsmarine had at its disposal its own transport groups and automobile parks, made up of German trucks or those requisitioned from occupied countries. These units took care of road transport of troops, equipment and supplies.
There were 8 groups in France and Belgium:
16.Marine- Kraftfahrabteilung (Royan)
20.Marine-Kraftfahrabteilung (Le Havre)
Navy Signals Officer (Marine-Nachrichten-Offiziere)
The main locations of the Kriegsmarine each had signals officers attached to maintain liaison with Berlin and with OKM. Due to their communications centers, they maintained contact with and passed on orders from OKM at the local level of the major ports.
In Paris, a signals battalion (Marine-Nachrichten-Abteilung West) was attached to Naval Group West, and signals officers were to be found at Boulogne, Le Havre, Cherbourg, the Channel Islands, Brest, Lorient, Saint-Nazaire, La Rochelle, Royan, Port-Vendres, Montpellier, Marseille, Toulon and Nice, to which should be added the Special Purposes Signals Regiment 618 (Nachrichtenregiment z.b.V 618) which was split up along the entire coastal territory.
Naval Radar Groups (Marine-Funkmess-Abteilungen):
During the war, the Kriegsmarine installed several radar stations along the coasts. Their electronic surveillance allowed for the detection of enemy naval activity and for passing on of information to the artillery batteries in place in each sector. Each radar station was in contact with a central station which co-ordinated the information.
Funkmesseabteilung 1 and Funkmesseabteilung 2 were located in the English Channel sector, Funkmesseabteilung 3 was on the Atlantic Coast, and Funkmessekompanie 51 covered the Mediterranean sector
Other Miscellaneous Units:
Under the command of the Seeko were various small units such as direction- finding sections (Peilabteilung), located in Flanders and on the Atlantic coast, motorized direction-finding units (Peilhauptstelle II mot.), smoke-laying units in Brest (4.Marine-Nebelabteilung) at Lorient (2. Marine-Nebelabteilung and 3.Marine-Nebelabteilung) and at Saint-Nazaire (8.Marine-Nebelahteilung), which laid out smoke during air attacks to hide targets in ports. There were also units that laid out anti-submarine and anti-torpedo nets in ports (Netzsperrflotille West).
Security Commander West (Befehlshaber der Sicherung West):
On 27 October 1940, the new title of Security Commander West (Befehlshaber der Sicherung West B.S.W) was created, with its own general staff, part of which came from the security services in the Baltic Sea.
This staff, with Vizeadmiral Hermann Mootz at its head, was headquartered at Trouville, and in regards to operations, was subordinate to Naval Group West in Paris, while in regards to personnel and supplies, it was dependent on the Commanding Admiral, France. At the beginning of November 1940, the B.S.W. had two separate and distinct sub-commands: Commander of Minesweepers West (Fürhrer der Minensuchverbände West - FdMW - KzS (later Kommodore) Friedrich Ruge, and Commander of Patrol Boats West (Führer der Vorpostenverbände West) - KzS Schiller. The FdMW had under his command three coastal defense sectors with a certain number of minesweeping flotillas at his disposal commanded by regional deputy commanders of minesweepers: Deputy Commander of Minesweepers Netherlands (Fregattenkap. Heinrich Bramesfeld, HQ: The Hague, Holland), Deputy Commander of Minesweepers Northern France Fregattenkap. Karl Weniger, HQ: Boulogne), Deputy Commander of Minesweepers Western France (Fregattenkap. Anselm Lautenschlager, HQ: Lorient).
On 9 January 1941, Vizeadmiral Hermann Mootz was replaced by Vizeadmiral Hermann von Fischel, who stayed in that post until 16 February 1941, when the organization of the B.S.W changed. Until then, the zone of operations covered the coasts of Holland, Belgium and France. As of 1 November 1941 (??), the zone of operations was reduced to cover just Belgium and France, and the Deputy Commander of Minesweepers Netherlands was transferred to the auspices of the Security Commander, North Sea.
With the loss of this command, the B.S.W. fused the two sub-commands, Commander of Minesweepers West (Führer der Minensuchverbände West - FdMW) and Commander of Patrol Boats West (Führer der Vorpostenverbände West), and as of 8 April 1941 moved its HQ to Paris.
In the context of this on-going reorganization, four Security Divisions were formed: 1.Sicherungs-Division at Scheveningen, 2.Sicherungs-Division at Boulogne, 3.Sicherungs-Division at Brest and 4.Sicherungs-Division at Larmor Plage. Only the 1.Sicherungs-Division, outside of the western security zone, was not placed under the command of the B.S.W. Added later was the 6.Sicherungs Flotilla which was installed at Marseille under Korvettenkap. Waiter Josephi.
The Security Divisions (Sicherungs-Divisionen):
The Belgian and French coasts were split into several sectors, to each of which was attributed a Security Division. Each was responsible for the protection of the different naval bases in its sector, for requisitioning boats, forming new flotillas and for carrying out missions assigned to it: coastal convoy protection, mine-laying, dragging of accesses to ports, anti-submarine missions and barrage breaking. Below is a breakdown of forces as of April 1944.
The 2.Sicherungs-Division was formed on 17 February 1941 from the flotillas operating at that time in the English Channel between England and the estuary of the River Schelde ~scaut). Its HQ was near Boulogne in the Chateau de Souverain-Moulin. The Division was commanded by:
-KzS Karl Weniger 2.17.41 - 10.1.41
-KzS Heinrich Bramesfeld 11.17.41 - 2.12.43
-KzS Max Freymadl 2.13.43 - 3.29.44
-Fregattenkap. Adalbert von Blanc 3.30.44 - 9.??.44
This Division used several ports for its base and point of supply: Bruges and Ostende in Belgium, and Dunkerque, Boulogne-Wimereux, Dieppe, Le Havre, Ouistreham, and Cherbourg in France, as well as the infrastructure of the Channel Islands.
In April 1944, the 2.Sicherung-Division had 11 flotillas under its command, based as follows:
-2. Mine-clearing Flotilla (Dunkerque)
-2. Artilllery Flotilla (Boulogne)
-4. Mine-clearing Flotilla (Boulogne)
-6. Artillery Flotilla (CHannel Islands)
-8. Mine-clearing Flotilla (Bruges)
-10. Mine-clearing Flotilla (Ouistreham)
-14. Mine-clearing Flotilla (Dieppe)
-15. Patrol Boat Flotilla (Le Havre)
-18. Patrol Boat Flotilla (Bruges)
-36. Minesweeping Flotilla (Ostende)
-38. Minesweeping Flotilla (Le Havre)
The 3.Sicherungs-Division was also formed on 17 February 1941 from the flotillas operating at that time between the western English Channel and the estuary of the River Loire. Its HQ was in Brest from February until May, then at Trez-Hir near Brest until 28 April 1942 when it moved to Nostang, near Etel, in the Lorient region, ending up at Kemeval on 21 July 1944 in the Chateau des Sardines. The Division was commanded by:
-KzS Heinz Schiller 2.17.41 - 8.21.41
-Korvettenkap. Hans John 8.29.41 - 10.5.41
-KzS Amold Bentlage 10.6.41 - 12.3.41
-KzS Hans Hartmann 12.12.41 - 4.9.42
-KzS Erich Breuning 9.??.42 - 5.??.43
-Korvettenkap. Bodo Notholt 5.??.43 - 7.??.43
-KzS Karl Bergeit 7.??.43 - 9.12.44
As its base ports and point of supply it used: Brest, Saint Malo, Concarneau, Benodet and Lorient.
In April 1944, the 3.Sicherungs-Division had 9 flotillas under its command, installed at:
-2. Patrol Boat Flotilla (Saint Malo)
-2. Minesweeping Flotilla (Benodet)
-6. Minesweeping Flotilla (Concarneau)
-6. Barrage-breaking Flotilla (Concarneau)
-14. Submarine-Chaser Flotilla (Lorient)
-24. Minesweeping Flotilla (Brest)
-40. Minesweeping Flotilla (Brest)
-46. Minesweeping Flotilla (Saint Malo)
The 4.Sicherungs-Division was formed on 17 February 1941 from the flotillas operating at that time on the Atlantic coasts, between the estuary of the River Loire and the Spanish frontier. Its HQ was at Larmor-Plage, near Lorient until June 1941 and then at La Rochelle. The Division was commanded by:
-KzS Anselm Lautenschlager 2.17.41 - 4.26.44
-KzS Hans John 6.1.44 - 9.??.44
It used the following ports for its base and point of supply: Nantes/Coueron, Paimboeuf, Saint Nazaire, Les Sables-d'Olonne, La Pallice, Royan, Pauillac, Bordeaux, Bayonne and Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
In April 1944, the 4.Sicherungs-Division had 9 flotillas under its command, installed at:
-2. Barrage-breaking Flotilla (Royan)
-4. Patrol Boat Flotilla (Bordeaux)
-6. Patrol Boat Flotilla (Saint-Nazaire)
-8. Minesweeping Flotilla (Royan)
-l0. Minesweeping Flotilla (Paimboeuf)
-26. Minesweeping Flotilla (Coueron)
-28. Minesweeping Flotilla (Pauillac)
-42. Minesweeping Flotilla (Les Sables-d'Olonne)
-44. Minesweeping Flotilla (La Pallice)
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