Destroyer Z12 Erich Giese


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 NorthSea. 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 DDDIV (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 666mines each day in the Martha mine barrage, a subset of the West Wallsystem.

28-30 Sep 39: Z12 with Z11, Z17, Z18, Z19, Z20 and Z21, patrolled theSkaggerak, stopping and searching 58 merchant ships, nine of which wereimpounded 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 ananti-shipping patrol in the Skagerrak

12/13 Nov 39: Z12 was assigned to a mining operation off the mouth ofthe Thames along with Z6, Z7, Z18, Z19, Z20 and Z21. However, when Z6and 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 anoffensive mining operation off Cromer. At 0255, just 15 minutes afterthe lay had been completed, the German ships sighted the Britishdestroyers Juno and Jersey about 8,000m away. The Germans turned to aparallel course and by 0310 had closed range to 4,600m while remainingundetected themselves. Z10 fired three torpedoes at Juno, the leadBritish ship while Z12 sent four more torpedoes at Jersey. Z10’s salvomissed, but Z12 scored with one torpedo. The blow started a large fireand caused damage that required ten months to repair. Juno turned backto assist her mate, making smoke; apparently the British believed asubmarine had attacked them. Bey still had the advantage of surprise andat least five more torpedoes on his flagship, but he decided to breakoff the action and return for home. Two ships of 5,286 GRT were sunk bythe 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 200troops of the 139th Regiment. The force assembled at Wesermunde at thebeginning of April to embark supplies and troops. It departedWesermunde at 2300 hours on the 6th and rendezvoused with the Hippergroup. The force underwent an ineffective air attack on the 7th.Throughout the 7th weather conditions deteriorated, winds reaching force7 that night. A number of crew and soldiers were washed overboard fromships in the force.

09 Apr 40: Z12 was holed by heavy seas causing her to fall behind theother destroyers in Force 1. She also suffered a compass failure. Thedamage resulted in a loss of oil and she had to reduce speed to conservewhat 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 theentrance to Ofotfjord, sailed 25 miles up the fjord and completelysurprised the five German destroys at Narvik. At 0530 they launched agunfire and torpedo attack that sank two of these ships and crippled theother three while receiving only one minor hit in return. After almostan hour of mayhem, the British were making their last pass prior towithdraw when Z9, Z12 and Z13 emerging from Herjangsfjord to thenortheast surprised them. The Germans advanced in line with, each shipoffset to port which allowed all six of their forward guns to bear.They opened fire from 6,500m; the British replied and a running fightdeveloped. Z12 was running on only two boilers due to her extremeshortage of fuel. Moreover, visibility was poor, and the three Germanships (commanded by Fregattenkapitan Erich Bey) were forced to turn hardto port to avoid torpedoes fired out of Narvik harbor by Z18. At thispoint, 0657, Z2 and Z11 emerged from Ballangenfjord, ahead of theBritish ships and opened fire. The Z9, Z12 and Z13 turned back to thefight and the two forces (particularly Z2) brought the British under aneffective crossfire. Hardy was blasted and forced aground. Hunter washit 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 destroyersup the fjord and then broke off to return to Narvik. Z12 was extremelyshort on fuel although Z9 and Z13 had refueled the night before. Bey’sdecision to abandon the pursuit was unfortunate, because the Britishdestroyers encountered and sank the ammunition ship Rauenfels coming upthe fjord loaded with 5″ shells. These would be sorely missed duringthe Second Battle of Narvik.

Z12 managed to refuel after the battle and on the night of the 10thattempted a breakout in company with Z9. However, the two ships turnedback when they spotted the British blockading force, led by the cruiserPenelope.

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

13 Apr 40:Second Battle of Narvik. When the first reports of Britishwarships steaming up Ofotfjord reached Z12 she was laying at Narvikharbor with cold boilers. She was unable to get underway until 1405.However, when she reached the harbor entrance, her port engine failedleaving her stopped for another 13 minutes. Nonetheless, she firedthree torpedoes (all of which missed) and, with Z17 took Eskimo andPunjabi under fire. Punjabi was seriously damaged, suffering hits thatset off serious fires requiring flooding of her aft magazine.. Z12escaped any consequential counterhits during this period. However, whenshe finally got her engines restarted and left the harbor, she begantake hits from Bedouin and Warspite (although the battleships accuratefire was somewhat offset by the weight of her shells which passeddirectly through the destroyer’s light plating). Z12 fruitlessly firedher last torpedoes at Punjabi and expended her remaining ammunition.Finally, having taken at least 21 hits, as well as torpedoes fromCossack and Foxhound, she was abandoned adrift and on fire. She sanklater with the loss of 83 men.


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