Sunday, July 17, 2022

Battle of the Norwegian Sea ~ Conclusion

0805 hrs: Action became brisk with an increasing exchange of salvos. HMS Hermes suffered the attentions of all three German armoured cruisers as well as SMS Berlin, and succumbed under the weight of gunfire.

0810 hrs: Minutes later Berlin followed her enemy to the bottom as the combined weight of Aboukir's and Euryalus' secondary armament salvos ripped into her hull. The Royal Navy's gunnery from their main armament was poor, with several rounds missing their targets by a wide margin. The light cruisers fared better in spite of the rolling seas, their gun crews managing to compensate and score several telling hits on their opposite numbers.

0815 hrs: The range closes. Highflyer sees an opening and launches two torpedoes on a track timed to hit SMS Prinz Heinrich. German gunnery is good. Euryalus takes heavy cumulative damage and begins to slow.

0820 hrs: Prinz Heinrich fails to spot the torpedo tracks in the turbulent seas and takes a fatal hit astern. The Royal Navy's gunnery improves somewhat and they make better practice on the other two German armoured cruisers.

0825 hrs: It's not all one-way traffic. The surviving German armoured cruisers turn their 15cm secondary armament on Highflyer and she succumbs to heavy cumulative gunfire. Her demise allows Hamburg a chance to forge ahead, making best speed in the rolling waters. Emboldened by her late sister ship's success HMS Hyacinth tries her luck and fires two torpedoes.

0830 hrs: This time the torpedo tracks are sighted. The two German armoured cruisers try a partial turn to starboard in an effort to avoid the attack, keeping in mind they can't deviate too much or they'll be forced into neutral Norwegian waters. One torpedo reaches the end of its run and sinks. The other almost runs out of steam but smashes into Friedrich Karl, inflicting telling damage.

0835 hrs: Random event. A timely squall arrives in just the right place. Kommodore Schafer is mindful of the damage inflicted upon his ships and the fact Hamburg is heading for the North Atlantic with little chance of the enemy stopping her. With the Kaiser's known tenderness toward his fleet's survival Schafer decides to call it a day and head for home. Turning into the squall he manages to break contact with the enemy. The rain front will pass over Hamburg, further obscuring her from pursuit. 

0840 hrs: Rear Admiral Sir James Bryce RN is both frustrated and secretly relieved by the enemy's breaking contact. He has lost two of the Royal Navy's more modern cruisers, the surviving third isn't in a position or condition to pursue the Hamburg, and HMS Euryalus is in a bad way. Should the weather in these high northern latitudes worsen she could be in serious danger of foundering. Sending a complete action report to the Admiralty he too decides to turn for home and orders a course set for Scarpa Flow.

* * * *

And so the Battle of the Norwegian Sea ends in a tactical German defeat but a minor strategic victory. Schafer succeeded in getting at least one light cruiser into the North Atlantic. SMS Hamburg will commence a guerre de course against British and French merchant shipping as soon as she's refueled and repaired battle damage off Iceland.

1 comment:

Peter said...

An enjoyable game report to read with the ebbs and flows of the battle.


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