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Action of 13 May 1942
Part of World War II, Battle of the Atlantic
Date13 May 1942
LocationStraits of Dover, English Channel
Result

British tactical victory

Stier reaches Gironde
Belligerents
 United Kingdom Nazi Germany Germany
Strength
Motor Torpedo Boats

1 Auxiliary cruiser
4 Torpedo boats[note 1]

16 minesweepers
Casualties and losses
1 MTB sunk

2 Torpedo Boats sunk

118 dead

The Action of 13 May 1942 was a naval engagement between the British Royal Navy and the German Kriegsmarine. It was an attempt by Royal Navy Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs) to stop the German auxiliary cruiser Stier from reaching Gironde, France.[1] Stier made it through the English Channel and reached Gironde, but MTBs sunk the German fleet torpedo boats Iltis and Seeadler. MTB 220 was sunk by the German ships.

Background

The Stier was an auxiliary cruiser, a former merchant ship armed with hidden weapons and designed to be used as a merchant raider. The German plan was for Stier, disguised as the minesweeper Sperrbrecher 171, to be escorted through the English Channel to Gironde, France. From there, Stier was to break out into the Atlantic to attack Allied merchant ships.[2] The escort for Stier was the 5th Torpedo Boat Flotilla, consisting of the torpedo boats Seeadler, Kondor, Falke, and Iltis as well as 16 R-boat minesweepers.[3] The torpedo boats were all Raubvogelor Raubtier class. Stier left Rotterdam with the escort on 12 May, heading into the channel.[4]

The Battle

The German ships began picking up British MTBs on radar around two hours after midnight on 13 May. Crew on some of the German ships reported hearing motor noises, but the MTBs could not be seen.[2] The German ships were shelled by British coastal batteries in the Strait of Dover, but the batteries scored no hits.[4]

At around 3:30 am, the MTBs began their attack. German gunners hit and sunk MTB 220, and damaged several other MTBs.[3] Around 4:00 am, one of the MTBs fired a torpedo meant for Stier that hit Iltis instead, breaking Iltis in two.[2] Less than fifteen minutes later, Seeadler was also hit by a torpedo, rolled over, split, and sank.[2] As Stier and its remaining escort neared German shore batteries at Boulogne, the MTBs withdrew.[2] Around 118 German sailors lost their lives in the battle.[4]

Aftermath

Stier and its escort did not encounter any other Royal Navy forces after 13 May. On 15 May RAF aircraft attacked the escort. The minesweeper M 26 was sunk off Cap de la Hague and M 256 was badly damaged.[4] On 19 May Stier reached Gironde, and broke out into the Atlantic on 20–21 May.[4]

References

Notes

  1. German torpedo boats were not boats by the traditional definition, but actually ships slightly smaller than destroyers.

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