|Dr. jur. Horst Benno Fridigern Weber|
|Born||8 August 1919|
|Died||8 January 2007(aged 87)|
|Place of birth||Münster|
|Place of death||Bad Neuenahr|
Nazi Germany (to 1945)|
|Years of service||
Kapitänleutnant of the Reserves
|Commands held||Schnellboot S-55,S-191|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
Dr. jur. Horst Benno Fridigern Weber[Note 1] (8 August 1919 in Münster – 8 January 2007 in Bad Neuenahr) was a German Schnellboot commander in World War II and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German language: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Horst Weber was born on 8 August 1919 in Münster Germany, and joined the German Navy (Deutsche Kriegsmarine) in 1937. From December 1939 to June 1940 he served with the 1st S-boot flotilla, in the English Channel and North Sea. The same year he transferred to the 3rd S-boot flotilla serving on S-13 and S-35 in the Baltic in action around Leningrad. Later in July 1941 he served on S-55 as Kommandant in the Mediterranean, until January 1944. He was appointed Oberleutnant at Sea and awarded the Knight’s Cross on 5 July 1943, and in January 1945 he was appointed Kapitänleutnant on S-191, of the 10th Flotilla. S-191 was subsequently sunk in collision with S-301 on 7 May 1945 in the Fehmarnsund (Baltic Sea off Kiel) the day before the war ended. Horst Weber survived the war and died in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler in the Rhineland on 8 January 2007 aged 87.
The Schnellboot or S-boot ("fast craft") was a German small, fast torpedo boat, which saw service during World War II. The S-boats were approximately twice as large as its British and American counterparts. By comparison with the Allied craft, the S-boats were better suited for the open sea and had a substantially longer range at approximately 700 nautical miles. The allies called these small, fast torpedo boats "E-boats" whereas to the Germans they were "S-boats" – Schnellboots.
Schnellboot S-55, technical details
Built: F. R Lurssen Bootswerft at Bremen-Vegesack and commissioned during August 1940 (at Kiel) to form part of Third Flotilla.
Captain: Kommandant (later Oberleutnant) Horst Weber
Displacement: of 100 tons, 115 ft x 16.5 ft x 6.5 ft.
Powered: by three Daimler Benz 16 cylinder engines, each of 2000 HP, giving a maximum speed of 42 knots
Endurance: 700 miles @ 30 knots
Armament: 2 x 21 inch torpedo tubes, 2 single 20 mm guns, spare torpedoes on deck or depth charges
Short History of S-55, part of the 3rd S-Boat flotilla ('Penguin insignia')
The Third S-boat Flotilla (10 boats) at the time of entering the Mediterranean comprised: S-55, S-35, S-61, S-31, S-34, S-56, S-54, S-57, S-58, S-59 On completion of its service in the Baltic the Third S-Boat Flotilla had been moved to Wilhelmshaven for a thorough refit. When this work was finished, the journey to the Mediterranean began on the morning of 7 October 1941. Divided into two groups of five (S-55, 35, 61, 31, 34) and (S-56, 54, 57, 58, 59) they set out from Wilhelmshaven for Rotterdam. Rough weather was encountered in the North Sea and S-54 and 57 suffered damage which necessitated a delay in Rotterdam for repairs.
From there the journey down the Rhine was carried out at an average speed of 15 knots and in daily stages until reaching Strasbourg. From here the route led through the Rhine-Rhône canal, through 167 locks, down to the Burgundian Gate, along the River Doubs to the estuary where it joins the Saone river at St Sinforien, thence down the Saone and finally into the Rhone at Lyon. From here the boats proceeded down river to the Mediterranean. The first group of boats completed the journey quite quickly and by December 1941 they were ready to undertake their first operations from Sicily on the night of 16 December 1941, when they laid mines off the entrance to the Grand Harbour, Malta.
The second group required somewhat longer to complete the journey to the Mediterranean, the low level of water in the Rhone holding them up for six weeks, so that it was 10 January 1942 before they could move on. They reached La Spezia in northern Italy on 15 January 1942, and from there continued to Augusta in Sicily, where the first group had already started their operations. The journey from Germany was extremely difficult due to narrow locks and low bridges. Because the S-Boats with the 20 cylinder engines were too large for the Rhine-Rhone canal locks, the 3rd Flotilla, whose boats had the smaller 16 cylinder engine, was chosen. Even with these boats, extensive modifications were still found to be necessary. In addition alterations had to be made for reasons of camouflage, e.g. the aft 20 mm AA gun was removed and the torpedo tubes covered with sheet metal plating. A thick funnel was placed over the forward engine fanlight. The bridge house was reduced to about half its height and the cut away top placed on the after deck. This meant that the helmsman had to stand in the open. Finally the boats were painted pitch-black and the Reich Service Flag flown (as worn by fleet auxiliaries). The intention was to give them the appearance of air-sea-rescue vessels. The crews wore civilian clothes and all military talk in front of strangers was strictly forbidden. Throughout the journey to the Mediterranean there was a total clampdown on mail and leave.
On the 14th June 1942, during a relief convoy to Malta (Operation Vigorous from Alexandria), S-55 torpedoed HMS Hasty about 90 nautical miles north-west of Derna, Libya. (Ship abandoned and sunk by HMS Hotspur the next day). The following March after sinking HMS Lightning, he was appointed Oberleutnant at Sea and awarded the Knight’s Cross on 5 July 1943.
S-55 and the Third S-boat Flotilla moved to the port of Bizerte on 8 November 1942 (just as HMS Lightning was completing her UK refit in Chatham), and left when Tunisia was taken by the Allies in May 1943, two months after the sinking of Lightning. She later took part in the capture of the island of Leros (Dodecanese Islands, Aegean Sea) in the autumn of 1943 and was finally sunk on 10 January 1944 by allied bombing (one of her torpedoes exploded) at Korcŭla (Croatia) on the Adriatic Sea.
- Iron Cross (1939)
- 2nd Class (20 April 1940)
- 1st Class (28 July 1941)
- Fast Attack Craft War Badge (30 December 1940)
- German Cross in Gold (21 November 1942)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 5 July 1943 as Oberleutnant zur See of the Reserves and commander of Schnellboot ‘’S-55’’
- Military Order of the Iron Trefoil 3rd Class (11 May 1944)
- In German a Doctor of Law is abbreviated as Dr. iur. (Doctor iuris) or Dr. jur. (Doctor juris).
- Dörr, Manfred (1996) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Überwasserstreitkräfte der Kriegsmarine—Band 2:L–Z. Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio Verlag. ISBN 3-7648-2497-2.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945. Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
- Range, Clemens (1974). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Kriegsmarine [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Navy]. Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-87943-355-1.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives]. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
-  The original website story of HMS Lightning published privately by Eric Gilroy in 1994. (Document deposited in the Imperial War Museum documents archive, Catalogue number / Documents.2900 / date: 1994-09 ). It features an eye-witness account of S-55 (Horst Weber) fatal attack on British Destroyer HMS Lightning (G55) night of 12 March 1943. It also includes a translation of a War Diary of the 7th S Boat Flotilla by Flotilla Commander Corvette Captain Trummer (S-157)-who took part in the same attack.
- External link