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WW2 German Destroyer Z12 Erich Giese


History

03 May 35: Laid down at Germaniawerft, Kiel

12 Mar 36: Launched

04 Mar 39: Completed

03-20 Sep 39: With forces laying the West Wall mine barrage in the North Sea. 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 04 Sep and 05 Sep Z12 with Z6 and 2xML laid 666 mines each day in the Martha mine barrage, a subset of the West Wall system.

28-30 Sep 39: Z12 with Z11, 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: Z12 with Z11 and Z8 ordered to Kiel.

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

12/13 Nov 39: Z12 was assigned to a mining operation off the mouth of the Thames along with Z6, Z7, Z18, Z19, Z20 and Z21. However, when Z6 and Z7 suffered machinery problems they were forced to return to port. Z12 returned also as their escort.

06-07 Dec 39: Z12 escorted by Z10 (FS Fregattenkapitan Bey) on an offensive mining operation off Cromer. At 0255, just 15 minutes after the lay had been completed, the German ships sighted the British destroyers Juno and Jersey about 8,000m away. The Germans turned to a parallel course and by 0310 had closed range to 4,600m while remaining undetected themselves. Z10 fired three torpedoes at Juno, the lead British ship while Z12 sent four more torpedoes at Jersey. Z10's salvo missed, but Z12 scored with one torpedo. The blow started a large fire and caused damage that required ten months to repair. Juno turned back to assist her mate, making smoke; apparently the British believed a submarine had attacked them. Bey still had the advantage of surprise and at least five more torpedoes on his flagship, but he decided to break off the action and return for home. Two ships of 5,286 GRT were sunk by the minefield.

06-07 Apr 40: Part of Group 1 (Narvik) in invasion of Norway with Z9, Z11, Z13, Z17, Z18, Z19, Z21 and Z22. She embarked approximately 200 troops of the 139th Regiment. The force assembled at Wesermunde at the beginning of April to embark supplies and troops. It 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 from ships in the force.

09 Apr 40: Z12 was holed by heavy seas causing her to fall behind the other destroyers in Force 1. She also suffered a compass failure. The damage resulted in a loss of oil and she had to reduce speed to conserve what remained. She did not reach the Herjangsfjord until 0830 hours.

10 Apr 40 At 0400 hours on this day Z12 was stationed in Herjangsfjord, north and east of Narvik Harbor with Z13 and Z9.

10 Apr 40: First Battle of Narvik. The British destroyers Hardy, Hunter, Havock, Hostile and Hotspur slipped past the two U-Boats guarding the entrance to Ofotfjord, sailed 25 miles up the fjord and completely surprised the five German destroys at Narvik. At 0530 they launched a gunfire and torpedo attack that sank two of these ships and crippled the other three while receiving only one minor hit in return. After almost an hour of mayhem, the British were making their last pass prior to withdraw when Z9, Z12 and Z13 emerging from Herjangsfjord to the northeast surprised them. The Germans advanced in line with, each ship offset to port which allowed all six of their forward guns to bear. They opened fire from 6,500m; the British replied and a running fight developed. Z12 was running on only two boilers due to her extreme shortage of fuel. Moreover, visibility was poor, and the three German ships (commanded by Fregattenkapitan Erich Bey) were forced to turn hard to port to avoid torpedoes fired out of Narvik harbor by Z18. At this point, 0657, Z2 and Z11 emerged from Ballangenfjord, ahead of the British ships and opened fire. The Z9, Z12 and Z13 turned back to the fight and the two forces (particularly Z2) brought the British under an effective crossfire. Hardy was blasted and forced aground. Hunter was hit hard by gunfire, then torpedoed and finally rammed by Hotspur, herself damaged. Hotspur managed to extract herself, but Hunter sank. Z9, Z12 and Z13 briefly pursued the three retreating British destroyers up the fjord and then broke off to return to Narvik. Z12 was extremely short on fuel although Z9 and Z13 had refueled the night before. Bey's decision to abandon the pursuit was unfortunate, because the British destroyers encountered and sank the ammunition ship Rauenfels coming up the fjord loaded with 5" shells. These would be sorely missed during the Second Battle of Narvik.

Z12 managed to refuel after the battle and on the night of the 10th attempted a breakout in company with Z9. However, the two ships turned back when they spotted the British blockading force, led by the cruiser Penelope.

11 Apr 40: Z12 anchored alongside Jan Wellem making use of her repair facilities repairing battle damage.

13 Apr 40: Second Battle of Narvik. When the first reports of British warships steaming up Ofotfjord reached Z12 she was laying at Narvik harbor with cold boilers. She was unable to get underway until 1405. However, when she reached the harbor entrance, her port engine failed leaving her stopped for another 13 minutes. Nonetheless, she fired three torpedoes (all of which missed) and, with Z17 took Eskimo and Punjabi under fire. Punjabi was seriously damaged, suffering hits that set off serious fires requiring flooding of her aft magazine.. Z12 escaped any consequential counterhits during this period. However, when she finally got her engines restarted and left the harbor, she began take hits from Bedouin and Warspite (although the battleships accurate fire was somewhat offset by the weight of her shells which passed directly through the destroyer's light plating). Z12 fruitlessly fired her last torpedoes at Punjabi and expended her remaining ammunition. Finally, having taken at least 21 hits, as well as torpedoes from Cossack and Foxhound, she was abandoned adrift and on fire. She sank later with the loss of 83 men.

Commanders

K.Kpt K. Schmidt from commissioning until 13 Apr 40 when the ship was sunk.