Hilfskreuzer

HK Pinquin

Hilfskreuzer (Auxiliary Cruiser) Pinquin
General Details
Nationality German
Type Auxiliary Cruiser (Raider)
Ship Number 33
HSK Number V
British Admiralty Letter F
Builder A.G. Weser-Werft, Bremen.
Launched 1936
Previous Owner Deutsche Dampfschifffahrt Gesellschaft. Hansa, Bremen
Previous Name Kandelfels  (Sistership of the Goldenfels - converted into the HK Atlantis)
Sistership Converted by Deschimag-Werft, Bremen.
Conversion Converted by Deschimag-Werft, Bremen.
Additional Information Most of her main armament was taken from the obsolete pre-World War One battleship Schlesien.
General Cruise Details
Commander Kapitän zur See Ernst-Felix Krüder - winner of the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves
Sail date 15 June 1940
End date 8 May 1941
Fate Sunk by the British heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall - the first of the raiders to be destroyed.
Performance
Ships Sunk / Captured 12 sunk – 16 captured – Plus 4 sunk by mines laid by the Pinguin and her auxiliary Passat.
Tonnage Sunk 136,642 – plus 18,068 sunk by mines – for a total of 154,710 tons
Days at Sea 357
Tons per Day 382,75
Displacement
Displacement 7.766 tons
Dimensions
Length 155 metres
Beam 18.7 metres
Weapons
Main Armament 6 x 150 mm
Secondary Battery 1 x 75 mm, 2 x 37 mm Flak, 4 x 20mm Flak
Torpedo Tubes 2 x 53.3 cm (16 torpedoes)
Mines 300
Aircraft
Aircraft 2 x Heinkel He-114 A-2 - later 1 Arado Ar-196
Smaller Boats
Light Speedboat None
Propulsion
Engine Type Two 6-cylinder two stroke MAN diesel engines
Horsepower 7.600
Endurance 30.000 nautical miles at 12 knots
Speed 17 knots
Fuel Type Oil
Complement
Wartime 420

Hilfskreuzer (Auxiliary Cruiser / Raider) Pinquin
The History

Launched at the A.G. Weser-Werft in Bremen for the Deutsche Dampfschifffahrts Gesellschaft (Hansa) line, on November 12 1936, the 7,766-ton freighter Kandelfels was the sister-ship of the Kybfels, and a half-sister of the Goldenfels, which was converted into the raider Atlantis.

155 metres long, 18.7 metres at the beam, and powered by two Six-Cylinder         Two-Stroke MAN Diesel engines, producing 7,600 horse-power, for a top speed of 17 knots and a range of 30,000 miles at 12 knots.

Returning from a trip to India on September 1 1939, just as German troops were crossing the border into Poland, she was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine.

Designated Schiff 33, she was converted into Auxiliary Cruiser HSK 5, at the Bremer Deschimag-Werft, and armed with six 150mm L/45 C/13 guns taken from the obsolete pre-World War One battleship, SMS Schlesien.

Also fitted with one 75mm cannon, one twin 37mm anti-aircraft mounting, four 20mm anti-aircraft guns, and, unlike all the other raiders, just two single 53.3cm torpedo tubes for 16 torpedoes.

Supplied with two Heinkel He-114 A-2 seaplanes and 300 seamines, she also carried 25-G7/a torpedoes and 80 U-Boat mines for replenishing U-Boats.

Ideally suited for the role of an Auxiliary Cruiser, her conversion at the Deschimag-Werft in Bremen took from the end of 1939 until early February 1940.

On February 6, the amiable 42-year-old Kapitän zur See Ernst-Felix Krüder, commanding a wartime complement of 17 Officers, 5 Prize Officers and 398 Petty Officers and men, commissioned Schiff 33 into naval service as the HSK 5, and named her the Pinguin.

Carrying out trials and exercises in the River Weser over the next two months, she sailed through the Kaiser-Wilhelm Canal into the Baltic Sea, where the crew were drilled and worked up to fighting efficiency in the arts and skills of raider warfare, returning to Kiel on May 26.

Her fuel, water and stores replenished, she departed for Gotenhafen on June 10.

Completing her sea trials and working up exercises in the Gulf of Danzig, she left Gotenhafen on June 15 1940, disguised as an anonymous naval transport ship and escorted by the minesweeper Nautilus.

With escort duties being taken over on June 18 by the Sperrbrecher IV and later by the 924-ton Möwe-class torpedo-boat Falke and the 933-ton Wolf-class Jaguar, she sailed through the Great Belt into the Kattegat.

As the Sperrbrecher IV turned back, the three-ship convoy passed through the Skaggerak on the morning of June 19, picking up Luftwaffe air cover in the shape of a Dornier Do-18 flying boat and two fighters, and out into the North Sea.

With her escort reinforced by the 717-ton Typ 35 minesweepers M17 and M18, she headed up the coast of Norway, passing Bergen early on June 20, where the torpedo boats bid her farewell, and carrying on northwards, reached Sörgulenfjord in the afternoon.

Over the next two days in the privacy of the fjord, the anonymous-looking grey German auxiliary ‘Ship 33’ was transformed into the sleek black-hulled Soviet cargo ship Petschura, complete with hammer and sickle markings.

Emerging from the fjord with his minesweepers in the early morning of June 22, en route for the Denmark Strait, Krüder’s instructions were to rendezvous with, and replenish, the submarine U-A (Kptlt. Hans Cohausz) off the Cape Verde Islands and then proceed to disrupt traffic in the Indian Ocean, where he was also to lay his mines off Australian and Indian ports.

At the end of the year he was to head south to seek out the British and Norwegian whaling fleets in Antarctica.

It was the final part that prompted him to name his ship Pinguin.

While the crew of the Pinguin were quickly re-acquainted with sea sickness as she headed into heavy weather and high winds, the ship held up and behaved well, a lot better than the minesweepers which were taking such a severe hammering that Krüder cleared them to turn back.

Pounding westwards at a steady 15 knots, a surfacing submarine was spotted, which on sighting the raider, instantly disappeared.

Assuming it was British, as the SKL had assured him that all U-Boats had been warned away from his route, he immediately swung the ‘Petschura’ northwards to reinforce the impression of a ‘Soviet’ ship headed for Murmansk.

Coming to the surface again, the submarine increased speed and gave chase, signalling first ‘What ship?’, and, on being ignored ‘Heave to, or we open fire!

With the enemy astern of him and experiencing great difficulties with the violent weather, Krüder chose to continue at full speed and quickly left it behind.

Soon afterwards three explosions were detected suggesting that as an ambitious parting shot the struggling sub had loosed a salvo that had fallen short.

Continuing to pursue him for another hour, the enemy boat finally gave up.

Certain that the submarine would have reported his presence Krüder continued on a northeasterly course up the coast of Norway for the rest of the day seeing nothing but a Heinkel He-115 that flew low over the ship.

Unaware that the U-A had sunk the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Andania, that had been guarding the route between the Faeroes and Iceland, the shorter route into the Atlantic by about 700 miles, Krüder decided to go north, around Jan Mayen Island and then southwest to the Denmark Strait.

Unknowingly avoiding the now totally unprotected route, as well as choosing the longer way around, he was also inadvertantly choosing the way of greater danger as, since the sinking of the Andania, the British had sent the County-class heavy cruiser HMS Sussex and the Town-class light cruiser HMS Newcastle to reinforce the vessels patrolling off Greenland.

As the Pinguin turned northwards the foul weather that had so far sheltered and protected her began to improve on June 23, and before long the wind had dropped and there was perfect visibility.

Krüder‘s hopes of hiding in the fog normally surrounding the desolate volcanic island evaporated on June 24, when from a distance of over a hundred miles the icy summit of the 2,500 metre extinct volcano Beerenberg could clearly be seen.

By evening he was approaching the southern edge of the Arctic pack ice in deteriorating visibility, and was soon enveloped in dense fog.

Cautiously heading southwestwards through the night the reduced visibility suited Krüder well, but by the following morning the unusually clear weather had returned, forcing him to return to the sanctuary of the fog and wait.

nally on the morning of June 28, as low rain clouds replaced the fog, the Pinguin once again headed south, but as conditions deteriorated still further she found herself surrounded by icebergs.

For fully twenty-four hours she inched her way southwards until the afternoon of June 29, in good visibility that while it may have left her exposed to detection, was welcomed by all on board, she sailed through the Denmark Strait, emerging into the wide open waters of the Atlantic on the morning of July 1 and at last setting off for her July 18 rendezvous with the U-A.

For five days she steamed southward spotting nothing but a British AMC that failed to see her, and by July 7 she had reached the trans-Atlantic convoy routes.

At the latitude of the Azores by July 9, Krüder decided that as a ‘Soviet’ ship so far south was likely to attract the wrong kind of attention, it was time to change the Pinguin’s appearance.

On the following day she was re-camouflaged to take on the identity of the 5,215-ton Greek, Kassos Steam Navigation Company motorship, Kassos.

So disguised, at midday on July 17, she arrived at the remote spot, safely away from the shipping routes, thay had been chosen by the SKL for the rendezvous.

At dawn the following day, the U-Boat, under Kapitänleutnant Hans Cohausz,  which was experiencing serious engine troubles, emerged from the morning mist.

As the weather was cutting up rough and it was not possible to safely transfer the torpedoes, water and stores, Krüder decided to that they should seek calmer waters to the south, transferring 70 tons of diesel fuel to the submarine en route, to at least enable her to get home should anything go wrong.

On July 20, in calmer waters 700 miles south-west of the Cape Verde Islands, the replenishment of the U-A by the Pinguin commenced, the first time a submarine was ever re-supplied at sea by a raider … but not without problems.

Unable to come alongside because of the risk of damaging her hydroplanes, the first day was spent improvising methods of closing the gap.

The eleven torpedoes had to be ferried across on flotation bags and because of the extremely hazardous nature of the task it was not completed until July 25.

The Pinguin then continued southwards, with the U-A on tow to conserve her fuel, returning her to the shipping lanes off Freetown, where the U-Boat unsuccessfully pursued a tanker, with Cohausz reporting back that the torpedo he had fired had malfunctioned and turned on him.

Taking her on tow again briefly until the tow rope parted, the two captains bid one another farewell to go their separate ways on July 28.

On the morning of July 31 three hundred miles north-west of Ascension Island, a ship was sighted, which on spotting the raider turned away, increased speed and commenced sending a QQQ signal.

With radio operator Leutnant Karl Brunke trying to jam the distress signals, Krüder called for full speed and gave chase, until finally, after two hours, closing to within range, he ran up his battle flag, dropped his camouflage, and signalled to the vessel to stop and not to use her wireless, or else she would be fired upon.

When both of these commands were ignored, Krüder ordered his gunners to fire a 75mm warning shot across the enemy’s bow, at which point her radio operator began transmitting details of the raider’s appearance and silhouette.

Attempting to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, Krüder ordered four more warning shots fired, but she continued to run, the distress signals continued and her crew were seen to be manning their stern-mounted gun.

To stop the wireless transmissions, Pinguin opened fire with her main armament on the freighter’s bridge, scoring several devastating hits. With a fire rapidly taking hold amidships, the shattered freighter slowed to a halt and her crew were seen to be abandoning ship.

Identifying her as the 5,358-ton British Larrinaga Steamship Company freighter Domingo de Larrinaga on her way from Bahia Blanca to Newcastle with 7,000 tons of grain, and a crew of thirty-six, the heavily-armed boarding party, under Leutnant Erich Warning, found eight crewmen dead on the burning ship.

The party, which included the Pinguin’s surgeon Dr. Wenzel and two sick bay attendants, sent to care for the wounded, having placed the scuttling charges in the freighter’s engine room and got back into their cutter, unexpectedly found themselves in a terrifying position as they prepared to leave the ship’s side.

With the fuses on the charges set to explode in nine minutes, the diesel engine on their motor cutter, sitting virtually on top of them, refused to start.

Despite the frantic efforts of everyone on board they were unable to get away due to the weight of the cutter, which remained jammed against the burning ship’s hull as the seconds ticked away.

As the nine-minute mark was reached, the charges inexplicably failed to explode, which was just as well as the engine didn’t start until three minutes later!

The survivors from the freighter’s crew were taken on board Pinguin, and their blazing ship was sunk by a torpedo.

On August 20 as the Pinguin rounded the Cape of Good Hope a large merchant ship was sighted heading north, but fearing the dark stranger might be a British Armed Merchant Cruiser, Krüder decided not to risk attacking her.

It was just as well, as she was in fact Atlantis’ prize, the 7,230-ton Norwegian cargo liner Tirranna, under the command of Leutnant zur See Waldmann, on her way back to France with an 18-man prize crew and over three hundred of Bernhard Rogge’s prisoners, including many women and children, on board.

* Her luck was to run out however, as she was torpedoed and sunk off the estuary of the Gironde on September 22, while awaiting her minesweeper escort, by the British submarine HMS Tuna, with sixty men, women and children losing their lives.

On August 26, south of Madagascar, one of the Krüder’s seaplanes, complete with RAF markings, was launched and, on finding a tanker, the pilot, Leutnant Werner, dropped a message onto her deck ordering her to ‘Alter cours to 180° distance 140 miles on account of vicinity of enemy raider’

The message further instructed her to ‘From that point take up cours direct to 31°N 37°E .. thence you get further informations .. Do not use wireless’

These directions, of course, were intended to lead her straight to the Pinguin!

The tanker appeared to obey this command, but later in the day was found to be trying to escape at top speed, at which point the plane was re-launched, and on finding her again, ripped away her radio aerials, strafed her bridge with cannon and machine gun fire and set down, ordering her to ‘Remain stopping here’ .. cruiser Cumberland will go with you’ and to show her navigation lights.

The captain of the tanker, sitting on 10,000 tons of high-octane aviation fuel and 500 tons of oil, that could send him and his ship to kingdom come if hit, and needing very little encouragment to surrender, switched on his lights.

Within half an hour, guided by the lights, the Pinguin arrived on the scene, and Warning’s boarding party identified the vessel as the 7,616-ton Norwegian Olsen & Ugelstad ship, Filefjell, under charter to the British Admiralty on her way from the Gulf to Cape Town.

Her captain, warned that a German raider (Atlantis) was operating near the Equator, had chosen not to pass the news on to his crew, who were already nervous enough about living on an unarmed floating bomb in a war zone!

Realising the extremely valuable nature of the cargo, placed a prize crew on board, but before any decision could be made as to the tanker’s fate, a signal was intercepted from a ship called the Bernes, reporting that she had been stopped by a passenger liner.

While interpreting this as evidence that a British Armed Merchant Cruiser was operating nearby and hoping that it was not too close, Krüder decided to take the Filefjell to a quieter area in order to transfer the 500 tons of oil found in her cargo tanks to the Pinguin in safety.

Just before dawn on the morning of August 27, a lookout spotted a ship ahead, blacked-out and sailing without lights, and so, most probably an enemy. Ordering the Filefjell to drop back, Krüder set out to intercept the newcomer, and having shadowed her for an hour, signalled to her to stop and had a warning shot fired across her bows.

Although her captain obeyed the command, and signalled back identifying his ship as the 6,901-ton tanker British Commander, his radio operator began to transmit QQQQ distress signals, giving her position and reporting that she was being attacked by a merchant raider.

With the signal being picked up ashore, Krüder immediately had the Pinguin’s powerful searchlight turned onto the enemy ship, and, seeing that the 4-inch gun mounted on her stern had been manned, ordered his gunners to open fire.

Calling for full speed, the tanker’s captain turned his ship to present the smallest possible target and instructed his radio operator to continue sending, this time being acknowledged by at least three shore stations.

As the airwaves were now humming, the raider’s response had to be swift and, finding the range, hit the floodlit tanker several times, setting her on fire.

Realising that further resistance was futile, her captain stopped the ship, told his radio operator to stop transmitting and instructed his crew to abandon ship.

When a torpedo, which blew a hole in her port side, failed to sink the vessel, in ballast from Falmouth to Abadan via Cape Town, and owned by the British Tanker Company, it required forty 150mm shells to finally send her to the bottom.

With the lifeboats having been launched on the far side of the burning tanker, her captain, who had briefly considered trying to escape towards the coast of South Africa, and his 45-man crew, was picked up by the Pinguin.

Anxious to leave the area as quickly as possible, Krüder rang for full speed and set course away from the coast and out into the Indian Ocean.

Almost immediately, another freighter came into view, steaming up astern. Despite his intention to get away Krüder, could not pass up on the opportunity to take what was clearly a fine modern freighter.

Taking the raider around in a wide circle he crossed astern of her and, coming up alongside, signalled to her that he would sink her if she did not stop, emphasising the signal with a 75mm warning shot across her bows, which brought her to a halt, with no resistance whatsoever and no signal sent.

Identified by the boarding party, under former Nord-Deutsche Lloyd staff captain, Leutnant Erich Warning, as the 5,008-ton Norwegian Haakon Wallem ship Morviken, bound for Calcutta from Cape Town, her highly distressed master, Captain Anton Norvalls, pointed out that she was brand new, and, describing her as ‘the finest ship in the Norwegian Mercantile Marine’, begged Krüder to put a prize crew aboard her, and even offered to take her back to Germany himself.

Although he would have liked to have taken her as a prize, Krüder was unable to accommodate this impassioned request, but saw to it that all thirty-five of her crew were picked up and taken on board, along with her motor-cutter, a sturdy boat with a powerful engine that Krüder intended using for boarding parties, after which he had her scuttled.

Ever more anxious to get away from what was by now a highly compromised area, Krüder departed at top speed, but within an hour, the prize crew on the Filefjell signalled to report yet another large ship passing nearby.

Regretting not being in a position to take three ships in as many hours, Krüder decided that it was high time he moved on.

Because of all the signals, which had been picked up and repeated by shore stations and by ships at sea, and absolutely certain that enemy warships and aircraft would be rushing to the scene, Krüder realised that he could no longer afford the time necessary to prepare the Filefjell for the long voyage back to France, and so, reluctantly, he decided to remove the prize crew and sink her.

This was a decision he reportedly later regretted, and for which he was criticised by the SKL, but his instincts had been correct, as the light cruisers HMS Neptune, and HMS Colombo, and the AMCs HMS Arawa and HMS Kanimbla, were already on their way to the scene of the sinking of the British Commander.

Steaming south-east to a remote area away from the shipping routes, the 500 tons of fuel oil were transferred and the scuttling charges set.

Because of the dangerously volatile nature of the tanker’s cargo of aviation spirit, the raider then withdrew to a safe distance to observe the results.

The charges were heard to detonate, and the Filefjell began to settle slowly by the stern, but there was no explosion.

When she was still afloat five hours later, at one o’clock in the morning, Krüder decided to finish her off with 75mm gunfire, but she still refused to go down.

Two 150mm shells were then fired into her, the second of which, hitting on the waterline, unleashed the anticipated result as the petrol ignited in a gigantic sheet of flame setting the surface of the sea on fire around the ship.

This led to the other tanks exploding one after another sending a massive fireball high into the night sky in a cataclysmic display of such magnitude that the Pinguin had to depart the area at full speed.

Convinced that it was time to adopt a fresh disguise for his ship, but depending heavily on his ‘Greek’ livery when exchanging lamp signals with a large British ‘Blue Funnel’ line ship, that could possibly have been an Armed Merchant Cruiser, on August 29, Krüder recalled that Captain Norvalls of the Morviken had initially taken the Pinguin for a Wilhelmsen liner, and so decided to adopt the identity of the 5,542-ton Wilhelmsen cargo-liner Trafalgar.

* The real Trafalgar was sunk by the U-129 (Kptlt. Hans-Ludwig Witt) on October 15 1942, northeast

   of Guadeloupe, and should not be confused with the British freighter Trafalgar sunk by the raider

   Atlantis on November 24 1941.

Stopping at a remote spot on August 31 to affect the transformation, the Pinguin drifted for five days until September 5, when Krüder decided to launch his seaplane to survey the surrounding seas, only to see it crash on take off.

Bursting into flames, it sank, leaving the crew in the water, and taking with it the ship’s only radio telephone, which had operated on a wavelength undetectable to Allied shipping and had been invaluable in communicating with the ‘plane.

Krüder knew that as his technicians would require exceptionally calm weather for the assembling of the second aircraft, stowed below in a crate, it meant that he had lost the ability to silence enemy radio operators by tearing away their aerials, and that for the foreseeable future enemy ships that sent signals would have to be fired on, increasing the likelihood of members of their crews losing their lives.

By September 10 the transformation was complete and the Pinguin had a black hull with a white band all the way around, white upperworks and a black funnel with two light blue bands.

With Krüder deciding to make one more sortie into the area off Madagascar before heading for Australian waters to sow his mines, early on September 12, a freighter was spotted and approached head-on 330 miles east of the island.

As the Pinguin closed fast on a deliberate ‘collision course’ the freighter steadily maintained hers, in accordance with the International Collision Regulations, until the two ships were just over a mile apart. At this point someone on the bridge of the freighter decided enough was enough and sounded a long warning blast on the ship’s whistle.

Turning sharply away from the approaching raider, which had by now run up her battle ensign and de-camouflaged, she manned her 4-inch gun, commenced signalling, increased her speed and tried to escape.

After she had been signalled to stop, and a 75mm warning shot had been fired, to Krüder’s surprise she fired back, and instantly registered a hit, with a shell that ricocheted off the surface of the sea, pierced the port side of the raider and ended up in the crew’s quarters, dangerously close to the storage compartment that contained three hundred high-explosive mines.

Fortunately for the Pinguin and her 420-man crew, the shell, like all those fired by the freighter’s enthusiastic, but insufficiently-trained, gun crew, had no fuse cap fitted, and so it failed to explode.

One of Pinguin’s crew, Bootsmann Streil, picked it up with his cap and threw it back through the hole it had made in the ship’s hull into the sea.

Had it exploded where it hit, it would have blown the Pinguin to bits.

In response, the Pinguin’s gunners unleashed a series of murderous broadsides at the fleeing ship, which was zig-zagging so effectively that it took eight salvoes before they registered a hit, but once they found the range, they hammered her, putting her gun and her wireless out of action, destroying most of her lifeboats, and setting her on fire in several places.

With her gun and its crew literally blown away, her funnel down and blazing fiercely, the freighter slowly came to a halt, as her captain, realising the game was up, gave the order to abandon ship.

As he did so, the raider’s final salvo struck the bridge, killing him, all of his deck officers, and the radio operator.

Ordering a cease fire, Krüder watched as what was left of her crew, with their lifeboats splintered, launched a life-raft and simply jumped into the sea.

The boarding party found five men on board the burning wreck, three of them wounded, and they, with the twenty-four that had already left, were taken on board the Pinguin bringing the total number of survivors to twenty-eight.

Their shattered and burning ship was identified as the 5,872-ton British Ben Line freighter Benavon, on her way to London from Manila and Singapore, with a cargo of hemp, jute and rubber, a crew of forty-nine and armed with one 4-inch and one 3-inch anti-aircraft gun.                  

Three of the wounded died of their injuries soon after boarding the Pinguin, and as their smouldering hulk of a ship burned herself out in the distance, they were buried with full military honours.

Instructed by the SKL to leave the area, Krüder set course along the busy sea route between Australia and South Africa, heading eastward.

Four days later, on September 16, a fine-looking ship was sighted, approached and stopped without any signals being sent and consequently, no gunfire.

Identified by the boarding party as the 4,111-ton Norwegian Lauritz Kloster motor-ship Nordvard, a former German ship, en route from Fremantle to Port Elizabeth with a cargo of 7,500 tons of Australian grain and a crew of thirty, she had not raised the alarm, so Krüder had time to consider what to do with her.

A fine ship with a valuable cargo, he put a prize crew, under Leutnant zur See Hans Neumeyer, aboard, and having transferred his two hundred plus prisoners, he sent her to Bordeaux, where she arrived on November 22.

* Employed initially as a target ship, and later as a U-Boat depot ship, the Nordvard was attacked and sunk by British bombers in Oslofjord, while serving as a supply ship for U-Boats, Torpedo Boats and Patrol Boats, in a raid on the U-Boat pens at Horten on December 28 1944, that also accounted for the U-735. (Kptlt. Hans-Joachim Börner).

The time spent transferring fuel, water and supplies to the Nordvard as she was prepared for her long voyage to France, delayed the Pinguin, and meant that she would not be able to carry out her designated task of mining the approaches to Australian harbours at the end of September during the period of the new moon.

Krüder was not unduly troubled by this, as similar conditions would again prevail a month later and he needed to ‘get rid of’ his prisoners.

* In view of what happened to the Pinguin, ‘getting rid of’ his mines might have been a better idea.

With time on his hands and heading north-eastwards towards the Sunda Strait to hunt along the busy shipping lanes between India and Australia, Krüder was also solving the problem of operating too close to the area covered by the Atlantis.

On September 27, while proceeding at less than half speed to enable the crew to take a well-earned rest, the sea was at last calm enough to allow the spare seaplane to be brought topside from the hangar and assembled.

Krüder kept the crew occupied during this leisurely 2,800 mile journey across the empty sea with maintenance and repair work about the ship, but boredom set in as the days dragged by with no sightings.

With his navigation officer, Leutnant Wilhelm Michaelson, Krüder had conceived and developed an ingenious plan to lay mines in six Australian and Tasmanian sea lanes, that would comply with the SKL’s order, but would require two ships.

The solution appeared out of the rising sun off Christmas Island on October 7.

Crossing the raider’s path, the vessel was flagged down and ordered to stop with a 75mm warning shot, causing her captain, who was reluctant to attract any more fire, to decide not to transmit any distress calls, to stop, and surrender.

Identified as the 8,998-ton Norwegian Skibs A/S Sommerstad motor-tanker Storstad, loaded with 12,000 tons of diesel oil and 500 tons of heavy fuel oil, on her way from British North Borneo to Melbourne, she appeared very suitable for use as an auxiliary minelayer.

For the first, and only, time in the cruise, Krüder left his ship, accompanied by his mine officer in a second boarding party, to explore the possibilities of his prize.

Following a thorough inspection she was approved for her new role and taken under a prize crew to a remote spot between Java and the north-west tip of Australia to be converted into an auxiliary minelayer.

Stripping out and transforming her after accomodation space into a mine deck, complete with launching rails, one hundred and ten mines were transferred from the Pinguin in the motorboat taken from the Morviken, while 1,200 tons of the Storstad’s diesel oil went in the opposite direction

Commissioned into the German Navy as the auxiliary minelayer, Passat, the old German word for the north-east Atlantic trade wind, under the command of the temporarily, promoted Kapitänleutnant Erich Warning, she was manned by three officers, eight petty officers and nineteen ratings, plus five members of her original Norwegian crew who volunteered to work in the engine room.

Departing on October 12 she headed for the Banks Strait, off Tasmania, and for the east and west ends of the Bass Strait, on the approaches to Melbourne, while the Pinguin headed for the ports of Sydney, Newcastle and Hobart, and later laid mines off Adelaide.

Between October 28 and November 7, the two ships laid their deadly minefields off the unprotected ports with the greatest of ease and without being disturbed in any way, and arranged to meet again 700 miles west of Perth on November 15.

On the night of November 7, the 10,846-ton Federal Steam Navigation Company refrigerated cargo liner Cambridge, formerly the German ship Vogtland, on her thirty-first and last, trip to Australia, hit one of the Passat’s mines, losing part of her stern, and sank within half an hour at the eastern approach to the Bass Strait, with the loss of one man.

Two nights later, on November 9, in foul weather, this time at the western end of the strait, the 5,883-ton American Pioneer Line freighter City of Rayville, ran onto another of the auxiliary’s mines, which broke her back.

With the forward section sinking almost immediately, the rear section of the ship remained afloat long enough for her crew to be rescued before it went down, also with the loss of only one man.

She was the first US merchant ship sunk by enemy action in World War Two.

The mines laid by the Pinguin had less effect than those laid by Passat, sinking only the 1,052-ton Australian coaster Nimbin, on December 5, with the loss of seven men, and two days later on December 7, badly damaging the 10,923-ton Federal Steam Navigation Company’s Hertford, formerly the German ship Friesland, which was back in service a year later.

It was three months before they claimed another victim, this time the 287-ton fishing trawler Millimumul, with the loss of one man, on March 26 1941, and indirectly the 223-ton Australian minesweeper HMAS Goorangai, which went down with all hands after colliding with the 10,346-ton freighter Duntroon, while searching for the mines off Port Philip in late November 1941.

By the time the Australian authorities realised that it was raiders and not U-Boats that had laid the mines, and dispatched the elderly light-cruiser HMAS Adelaide to search for them, both the Pinguin and her consort were far away.

The two ships rendezvoused as arranged on November 15, at a point 700 miles west of Perth and greeted one another with great celebration.

Having maintained strict radio silence during the month-long operation in which both vessels ran tremendous risks, they had both survived with no casualties.

As Krüder had been ordered by the SKL to seek out the British and Norwegian whaling fleets off the island of South Georgia, 6,000 miles away in Antarctica, in late December, he decided that as his engines had been working non-stop for five months, it was time to give them a thorough overhaul.

By keeping one engine operational while stripping down and servicing the other, the raider could maintain a speed of just over 10 knots.

On the following day, the Passat, with her own engines in even worse condition, and in no fit state to continue, was de-commissioned and resumed her original name of Storstad.

With her German crew reduced to eighteen, twenty Norwegian volunteers supplementing the five already on board, and under the command of Oberleutnant Levit, she was instructed to act as a scout ship for the Pinguin.

Setting sail later in the day in good weather, with the Pinguin running on one engine and the Storstad scouting ahead of her, the two ships headed northwards before swinging westwards.

On the evening of November 17, with the work on the second engine nearing completion, smoke was sighted on the horizon ahead.

Initially on one engine, the raider started in pursuit of the stranger as darkness fell, but with both engines running within the hour, caught up around midnight.

Calling for top speed, Krüder closed the vessel, a large freighter, and, pinning her in the beam of the Pinguin’s searchlight, had a warning shot put across her bows and signalled to her to stop and maintain radio silence, or be fired upon.

Initially tempted to resist and try to get away, the first thing the captain of the freighter did was stand down his over-enthusiastic gun crew, who already had their 4-inch gun loaded and trained along the raider’s searchlight beam.

By doing this he probably saved the lives of most of his crew.

Ringing down to the engine-room to bring the ship to a halt, he instructed his radio officer not to transmit any signals.

The boarding party, under Leutnant Warning, identified the ship as the 7,920-ton British India Steam Navigation Company motor ship Nowshera, on her way from Adelaide to Durban and the UK, with a cargo of 4,000 tons of zinc ore, 3,000 tons of wheat, 2,000 tons of wool, and assorted piece goods.

Carrying an unusually large crew of one hundred and thirteen, ninety-three of whom were Indians, she was armed with an elderly Japanese-made 4-inch gun on her stern and an even older Lewis gun on the bridge.

Had he had more time to prepare her for the journey home, Krüder would have very much liked to have sent the Nowshera, and her extremely valuable cargo, back to Germany, but with little to spare, he ordered that whatever goods and provisions his ship might require be taken from the freighter’s holds, after which he ordered her scuttled in a rather unusual manner.

Once they had liberally helped themselves to wines, spirits, Christmas puddings, cooked meats, woollen jumpers, gloves, scarves and underwear, all of which was transferred to the Pinguin, and would be very much appreciated later in the icy conditions that awaited them in Antarctica, the boarding party was ordered to suspend fourteen timed aircraft bombs over the ship’s against her hull and to remain on board in case they were insufficient and further charges were needed.

As they were detonated, the Nowshera jolted violently and dropped suddenly.

As the startled scuttling crew rushed towards the rails, the freighter steadied briefly, supported by air trapped under her hatches, but with her decks awash, and about level with the surface of the sea.

Suddenly conscious of the possibility that they might all go down with her, the startled  crew leapt into their cutter and got away as quickly as they could!

Departing southwards on one engine, a lookout spotted smoke on the horizon early in the morning of November 20. With the engineers reporting that the engine they were working on would be ready in an hour or so, Krüder decided to simply keep the vessel in sight.

Soon back on two engines and making a steady 14 knots, the Pinguin caught up and established that the stranger was a large westbound cargo ship.

When she abruptly turned away and increased speed on spotting him, Krüder decided to to play it safe and let her go, secure in the knowledge that she had not used her wireless and that he could easily catch her later.

Launching his newly-assembled seaplane in the early afternoon, with Leutnants Werner and Müller instructed to snatch the vessel’s wireless aerials, or to bomb her, if necessary, Krüder followed at his best possible speed.

Failing on the first attempt to snare the aerials, the aircrew dropped a weighted bag onto the freighter’s bridge, containing a message, commanding her captain to stop his engines and to maintain radio silence, or be attacked.

The captain did not obey either of these orders, instead instructing his radio operator to send signals reporting that his ship was being attacked from the air.

Responding by dropping two small bombs in front of the ship and then swooping in for a second attempt on the aerials, Werner and Müller came under sustained machine-gun and rifle fire, taking several damaging hits, with Müller firing back, but this time they succeeded in ripping away the aerials.

Forced to put the plane down on the water with a perforated petrol tank and one of its floats damaged, Werner and Müller crouched down in the cockpit, expecting the freighter’s gunners to finish them off, which they could easily have done.

But, with her captain ringing down to his engine-room for the maximum possible speed and her radio operators busily rigging an emergency aerial, the vessel’s crew, apart from one or two who waved, ignored the Heinkel and hurtled past.

When the grateful Müller waved back, someone replied on the ship’s siren!

Meanwhile, Krüder, frustrated by the fact that his operators could not jam the freighter’s non-stop stream of distress signals, and distracted by a report from the Storstad of another ship nearby, raced towards the aircraft at top speed.

Reaching the stricken Heinkel, but unable to afford the time to stop, the Pinguin slowed down to half speed, and in a delicate and risky manoeuvre, ‘dropped’ a boat, with a three-man crew, beside it, before pressing on after the enemy ship.

Quickly re-establishing visual contact, Krüder relentlessly pursued the vessel for over two hours, during which her wireless operators broadcast a highly detailed description of his ship to the listening world.

Closing the gap to twelve miles, the maximum effective range of his 155mm guns, by the late afternoon, he hoisted his battle flag and opened fire.

Following two salvoes, one long, one just short, the freighter’s captain, realising that the next one would most probably wipe him out, sensibly struck his colours, cut the engines and brought his ship to a halt.

The boarding party, under Leutnants Warning and Hanefeld, identified her as the 10,123-ton Shaw, Saville and Albion Co., coal-burning refrigeration ship Maimoa, en route to the UK from Fremantle, via Durban, with a cargo of 5,000 tons of frozen meat, 1,500 tons of butter, 1,500 tons of grain, 16 million eggs packed in 170,000 boxes and 100 tons of piece goods.

Once again Krüder was presented with a valuable cargo in a ship that would have made an excellent prize, but on being informed that her bunkers were already half-empty, once again he had no choice but to send her to the bottom.

Besides, with every Allied warship within wireless range presumably on its way to try to blow him out of the water, he knew he had to get as far away from the area as quickly as possible.

Having scuttled the ship, her crew of eighty-seven was taken on board.

Locating the temporarily-repaired seaplane and the cutter early on the following morning, and taking several hours in choppy seas and rising winds to hoist them back on board, Krüder received a repetition of the previous day’s report from the Storstad of another enemy freighter nearby.

Passing within 60 miles of the attack on the Maimoa the day before, picking up her stream of distress signals, and being shadowed by a suspicious-looking tanker, the captain of the elderly coal-burning vessel had called his crew to action stations, poured on the speed and hauled his ship away to the north.

Several hours later, satisfied that the tanker was not as threatening as he’d first thought, and in a decision that was to prove fatal for his ship, he chose to resume his original course and speed.

At sunrise the following morning the suspicious-looking tanker had re-appeared.

With Levit reporting on the vessel’s every move the Pinguin closed in on her, but, conscious of the fact that the Maimoa’s radio operator had described his ship in detail, Krüder decided to steer a parallel course and shadow her until after dark.

Slowing down to keep pace with her, and finding her easy to follow because of the thick cloud of black smoke, he kept the raider out of sight below the horizon.

Increasing speed and closing with her late in the evening, Krüder waited until it was pitch dark before he fixed her in the glare of his searchlight, ordered a warning shot fired, and signalled to her to stop and maintain radio silence.

As the searchlight beam revealed two manned 6-inch guns on the freighter’s after deck, Krüder reckoned that he had mistakenly challenged an Armed Merchant Cruiser and instantly ordered his gunners to open up with everything they had.

With all eight shots of the first salvo registering hits, destroying the radio room, and killing her radio operator who was sending a raider attack signal and setting the bridge on fire, they also smashed the funnel and the steering gear, which jammed her rudder hard over, sending her around in circles.

As flames rapidly spread throughout his command, her captain was left with little alternative but to stop engines and order his crew to abandon ship.

Identified as the 8,739-ton Port Line refrigerated freighter Port Brisbane, she was on her way from Adelaide to Britain via Durban, with a cargo of 5,000 tons of frozen meat, butter and cheese, 3,000 tons of wool, lead and piece goods.

Although supposedly carrying a crew of eighty-seven, only sixty men, and one woman passenger, were picked up by the raider, the remaining twenty-seven apparently having slipped away in a lifeboat under cover of darkness.

As the scuttling charges failed to sink her quickly enough, Krüder had her finished off with a torpedo, after which, he spent most of the night unsuccessfully looking for the missing lifeboat, but with dawn breaking, and disappointed that he had been unable to help himself to some of her tempting cargo, he took his ship swiftly away from the scene, heading south-westwards.

It was just as well that he did, as the missing men from the Port Brisbane were picked up soon afterwards by the 9,850-ton heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra, that had been sent out to destroy him.

Heading south, then west, with the Storstad following, the Pinguin’s engineers carried out further repairs in preparation for the voyage into the Antarctic ocean in search of the whaling fleets.

With the overhaul complete on November 28, and the ship’s appearance radically altered by being painted black, Krüder set course for the area in which the whalers were reported to be operating.

Two days later, he received a report from the Storstad of a ship on the horizon.

Having sent the tanker to a rendezvous point, he stalked the ship until nightfall, and seeing that she was sailing without lights, he closed to within a mile, at which point the freighter turned sharply away and tried to escape.

Krüder opened fire without warning to prevent any signals being sent, the first salvo destroying the control centre and the radio room, killing the operator, and mortally wounding the captain.

With the ship’s steering gear out of action, and the flames taking hold, her First Officer stopped the engines and boats were seen being lowered.

Identified as the 8,303-ton British refrigerated freighter Port Wellington, sister ship of the Port Brisbane, bound for England from Adelaide via Durban, and armed with two 6-inch and one 3-inch gun, she was carrying 4,400 tons of frozen meat, butter, eggs, and cheese as well as 1,750 tons of steel and 1,200 tons of wheat, a crew of eighty-two and seven passengers.

Eighty-one crewmen, including the captain, who would later die from his injuries on board the raider, and the seven passengers, all women, were picked up.

The First Officer had to go back on board the burning ship to collect clothing for the women, who were still in their night attire.

While engaged in the rescue operation, and with a boarding party still on the freighter, a ship, possibly a warship, was reported close by.

Fearing that it might be, and regretting that he was not in a position to replenish his larder from her bountiful cargo, Krüder had the blazing freighter scuttled.

With eleven ships sunk, the number of prisoners on board the Pinguin was now at an unsupportable four hundred and five.

Krüder notified the SKL that he intended sending them back to Europe, under Leutnant z. S. Hanefeld, in the Storstad, which still contained most of her 12,000 tons of diesel oil, 3,000 tons of which he took onto the Pinguin before she left.

On December 1, while on course for the Kerguelen Islands, Bernhard Rogge, the captain of the Atlantis, learned that Krüder was planning to send the Storstad back to Europe with his prisoners and her remaining cargo of diesel oil.

He requested of the SKL that the two ships meet to re-fuel the Atlantis first, and was delighted to hear that they had already arranged for the Pinguin to not only re-fuel the Atlantis, but the Komet and the Orion as well.

On December 8, amid joyful scenes of celebration in the western Indian Ocean, Ernst-Felix Krüder stepped aboard the raider Atlantis.

The Storstad arrived the next day, and the re-fuelling commenced.

On December 10, as the Pinguin played host to Rogge, a signal was received from Berlin announcing the awarding of the Ritterkreuz, the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, to the commanding officer of the Atlantis.

Parting company, the Atlantis once more headed for the Kerguelens, Krüder set course southwards for his rendezvous with the whaling fleets in the Antarctic Ocean south of Bouvet Island, and the Storstad set off for France.

* The tanker’s journey home turned into quite an adventure.                                                      

   Having received two-hundred and eighteen more prisoners from the raider Atlantis, while re-fuelling  

   her, and becoming part of an impressive armada at ‘Point Andalusia’ with the raider Thor, the heavy  

   cruiser Admiral Scheer, from which she took on more prisoners, the tanker Nordmark, to which she

   transferred her remaining 6,500 tons of diesel oil, and the Scheer’s prize, the Duquesa, from which

   she received thousands of eggs!

* Surviving two attempts by the prisoners, led by the British captains, to take over the ship, she

   arrived in Bordeaux on February 4 1941.

  Severely damaged at St Nazaire on March 29 1942, when the HMS Campbelltown blew up in the

   lock gates, the Storstad was bombed on April 18.                                                                          

   Bombed and sunk off St Nazaire on September 2 1942, she was later raised, only to be scuttled at  

   Nantes on August 11 1944.

On December 17, as the first icebergs were sighted, the SKL signalled that the fleets were to be found in the area around South Georgia, and that the names of the Norwegian factory ships involved were the Harpon, Pelagos, Thorshammer, Vestfjord and Ole Wegger, all of them under British charter.

On Christmas Eve, as Krüder learned that he too had been awarded the Knights Cross, the intercepted open-frequency chatter between two of the factory ships, the Ole Wegger, and the Pelagos, and their fourteen attendant whalers, suggested that they had little fear of the war coming their way, and confirmed that they were awaiting a supply ship which was overdue.

He also learned that the Pelagos was short of fuel, and that as the Ole Wegger’s whale oil tanks were full to capacity, she was offering to transfer some of her surplus fuel to her, and so, he decided that he would wait until the two ships were unmanoeuverable, engaged in this transfer before making any move on them.

A signal to the approaching tanker’s owners in New York, requesting information on her estimated time of arrival, led Krüder to assume that as she was probably a neutral American vessel, he would have to complete his attack on the whalers before her arrival so as not to precipitate an international incident.

However, another intercepted signal established that the approaching ship was in fact the Norwegian whale-oil tanker Solglimt, a ship with an interesting past.

* Built by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg and launched in December 1899, the former Nederlandsch-Amerikaanische Stoomboot Maatschappij liner Potsdam completed her maiden voyage in May 1900.

Following fifteen years of trans-Atlantic service for the Dutch line, the ship that was nick-named ‘Funneldam’ because of her remarkably tall funnel, was sold to the newly-formed Swedish-American Line in 1915 and re-named Stockholm.

Following a further thirteen years as a luxury trans-Atlantic liner, she was sold to the Norwegian Atlas Whaling Company in November 1928, for conversion into a whaling factory-ship, entering service in her new and decidedly less glamourous role under the name of Solglimt in September 1929.

With the Solglimt getting ever closer, first attending to the Thorshammer, which was operating 400 miles to the south-west, Krüder decided to await her arrival.

At last, on January 13, she arrived, and tied up alongside the Ole Wegger.

As the huge ships lay side by side in the early morning half-light of January 14, Krüder approached cautiously out of the dusk from the west, anxious not to raise the alarm too soon and risk losing the other ships.

Momentarily losing sight of the two brightly lit up ships in a sudden squall of snow, the Pinguin emerged from it to find herself almost on top of them.

Slipping alongside the Solglimt, Krüder ordered the two ships to maintain total radio silence as he launched his two prize crews under Leutnant Warning.

The 12,246-ton Solglimt, with 4,000 tons of whale oil, 4,000 tons of fuel and a crew of sixty, and the 12,201-ton factory ship Ole Wegger, with 7,000 tons of whale oil and 5,500 tons of fuel and a crew of one hundred and ninety, and both owned by A/S Thor Dahl, were captured within forty-five minutes.

Krüder had instructed Warning to tell the Norwegian captains to continue with their whaling, and that the Reich would pay them for their work, and as he did so, a motor boat was dispatched from the Pinguin to round up the whale catchers.

Three of their captains, realising what was happening, refused to co-operate, claiming ‘engine trouble’ and ‘fouled rudder’ problems, and managed to escape.

Not prepared to blow them out of the water, and secure in the knowledge that with such short range radios they could do him no harm, Krüder let them go, as the remaining four, the 247-ton Torlyn the 298-ton Pol VIII and the 354-ton Pol IX and Pol X were captured without further incident.

Later that night in order to confuse the Norwegians, Krüder steamed the Pinguin away in the opposite direction to where he knew the third factory ship to be, and once out of their sight, turned and approached the brightly-lit vessel in dense fog.

Coming in at full speed to within 200 metres, Krüder signalled his warnings and dispatched his prize crews, and the 12,083-ton Bruun & Von der Lippe factory ship Pelagos, with several catchers nearby busily engaged in their work, and with 9,500 tons of whale oil, 800 tons of fuel and a crew of two hundred and ten, was captured within minutes.

* Built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast in 1901, the former 12,234-ton White Star liner Athenic was sold to

   Bruun and von der Lippe of Tønsberg in 1928 and converted into a whaling factory-ship.

But this time he took no chances, and as the Pinguin stood off in the thick fog, he instructed the captain of the factory ship to recall his catchers, so as not to arouse their suspicions and risk having a repeat of what had happened earlier.

Soon, the 247-ton Star XIV, 249-ton Star XIX and Star XX, 298-ton Star XXI, the 303-ton Star XXII, 357-ton Star XXIII and the 361-ton Star XXIV, all of which would make excellent anti-submarine vessels if they could be got back to Europe, were tied up alongside the Pelagos.                                            

The Pinguin’s operation against the Norwegian whaling fleet was the single most successful performance by a German auxiliary cruiser during World War Two.

More than 36,000 tons of shipping, eleven whalers, over 20,000 tons of whale oil, valued at over four million US dollars, and about 10,000 tons of fuel oil, were captured without a single shot being fired, and with no casualties.

The Norwegians continuing working as if nothing was happening and made no effort whatsoever to resist, leading Krüder to maintain that it was probably because they believed a ‘regular warship’ to be nearby.

Indeed, Theodor Krancke, 600 miles away in the heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer, was awaiting the signal from Krüder notifying him that he was in contact with the whaling fleet and that a joint operation could begin.

The Ole Wegger’s three catchers that had managed to escape had alerted the third factory ship, the giant Thorshammer, to the presence of a German raider, for when Krüder later tried to locate her, she was nowhere to be found.

Knowing that British counter measures could soon be expected, Krüder decided to confuse them as to the whereabouts of the captured fleet.

Making a five-day, top-speed dash to the north-west, past Bouvet Island, and over half-way to the South Sandwich Islands, he had his wireless operators send a long coded message home knowing that every wireless station in the region would pick it up and discover his position.

While on his way back to the captured Norwegians, signals were intercepted from a variety of British heavy units putting to sea from the Falkland Islands and Simonstown naval bases, confirming the success of this ploy.

With the Pinguin in the lead, and the three huge factory ships bringing up the rear, the fifteen-ships set off eastwards, as Krüder deliberated on how he was going to provide for their hazardous journey back to Europe.

As he was not in a position to provide adequate prize crews for all of them, he decided to transfer the Ole Wegger’s 7,000 tons of whale oil to the Solglimt’s storage tanks, and dispatch both she and the Pelagos, with almost 10,000 tons of whale oil, and ten of the catchers to France.

He then received instructions from the SKL to bring the Ole Wegger and all eleven catchers to a mid-Atlantic rendezvous at Point Andalusia, just north of the island of Tristan da Cunha.

There he was to meet the tanker Nordmark, on board which the Admiral Scheer, the raider Thor and others, had been instructed to leave prize officers and crews for the remaining whalers, after which he was to return to the Indian Ocean.

The Pelagos and the Solglimt departed for France on January 25, under Leutnant Küster, with the Pelagos reaching Bordeaux on March 11, and the Solglimt joining her five days later on March 16.

* Initially used as a depot supply ship for the German navy, the Pelagos, despite conflicting opinion,

   survived the war at Narvik, and was returned to Norwegian ownership in 1946 under her original

   name.  She was broken up in Hamburg in 1962.

* The Solglimt, which was re-named Sonderburg, her fourth name-change, was bombed and written

   off at the port of Cherbourg in 1942.

   Scuttled as a blockship there in June 1944 as the port was being evacuated, the wreck of the former

   trans-Atlantic luxury liner Potsdam was blown up where it lay in January 1947.

Having met the Nordmark, towing the by now seriously dilapidated refrigerator ship Herzogin, formerly the British Duquesa, on February 15, the supply-ship Alstertor arrived three days later on February 18, with a fresh supply of torpedoes and mines, a crated Arado Ar-196 seaplane and eagerly-awaited mails.

Krüder instructed her to proceed with the whaling ships to the Kerguelen Islands, where the manning and replenishing could take place in peace and safety.                                         

By this time, the Duquesa, supplier of meat and eggs to half the German Navy, had finally run out of everything that could possibly be burned to keep her refrigeration plant working, including her entire bridge structure, her lifeboat derricks, her masts and all her teak decking, and was going to have to be sunk.

Krüder had the Pinguin re-stocked with 360,000 eggs, forty-seven sides of beef, 410 sheep and seventeen sacks of oxtails from ‘the floating delicatessen’ before the scuttling crew set their charges.

As the charges detonated, a huge sheet of flame shot up from her bunkers and set the lightweight tropical clothing of two of two of her crewmen on fire.

As the ramshackle Duquesa heeled over and began to sink they were scrambled overboard by their rescuers and rushed to the Pinguin’s sick bay, where Doctors Hasselmann and Wenzel had to perform blood transfusions before assuring their captain that they would pull through.

With the crew of the Duquesa, plus Prize Officers and former merchant captains Blau and Petersen, amongst others left at his disposal by the Admiral Scheer, Krüder was at last in a position to assign crews to the captured whaling fleet.

* Ludolf Petersen, former First Officer of the Hamburg-Amerika line freighter Kiel which he successfully brought through the British blockade in 1939, and who had been a Prize Officer on the Deutschland and on the Admiral Scheer, was later appointed First Officer on the raider Stier.

With the arrival of the Ole Wegger and the ten catchers at the rendezvous, they were manned with skeleton crews of armed Germans and departed for Europe three days later, under Leutnants Petersen and Blau.

The newest catcher, the Pol IX, was retained as an auxiliary minelayer and renamed Adjutant, in honour of Krüder’s loyal adjutant, Hans-Karl Hemmer.

Unable to follow the safest route due to a shortage of fuel, two of the catchers, Star XIX and Star XXIV, were stopped by the British sloop HMS Scarborough, on escort duty with a Gibraltar-bound convoy, off Cape Finisterre on March 13.

To prevent them from being captured by the British prize crews, the prize crews scuttled them, and took to the boats, with eight Germans, one officer and seven seamen, and twenty-two Norwegians being picked up.

The Ole Wegger and the other eight catchers arrived at Bordeaux on March 20.

* Used as a supply ship for the navy in France, the Ole Wegger was scuttled as a blockship in the 

   river Seine at Rouen-Sahurs in August 1944.                                                                                     

   Raised in August 1945 and towed to England where she was declared beyond economical repair, she

   was sold to a Swedish shipbreaking company in May 1946 and broken up in Gothenburg in 1947.

* The eight catchers served as Auxiliary ‘Submarine Hunters’ serving mainly with the 11th and 12th

   Unterseebootsjagdflottillen in Norwegian and Arctic waters.

   Of the Ole Wegger vessels Torlyn became the UJ-1112 - later re-designated as UJ-1218 - Pol VIII

   became the UJ-1711 - later the auxiliary minesweeper NS-06 – and the Pol X became the UJ-171.

All three were returned to their original owners in 1945.

* Of the Pelagos catchers - Star XIV became the UJ-1107 - later re-designated UJ-1215 and V-6503

   and was returned to her original owners in 1945. She was still in service in 1991.

   Star XX also became the UJ-1107 - later re-designated UJ-1215 and UJ-1217 and was returned to

   her original owners in 1945.

   Star XXI became the UJ-1216. She was sunk by enemy action at Vik in Norway on August 26 1942.

   Star XXII became the UJ-1217. She was torpedoed and sunk by the Russian submarine M-107 at

   Syltefjord on September 11 1943.

   Star XXIII became the UJ-1218 and was later re-designated as the UJ-1112.

Heading east to join the Alstertor and the whaling ships at Port Couvreux, Krüder received orders to rendezvous with the HK Kormoran to the south of the island of St.Helena on February 25, to deliver the urgently-needed 210 kilos of the white metal, WM80, he was bringing for her hard-pressed engineers who were suffering continual engine bearing problems.

Arriving at the pre-arranged meeting place first, Krüder hove to and waited. Soon afterwards, the Kormoran appeared, and cautiously approached.

On finding the Pinguin already there, her captain, Theodor Detmers, was unwilling to commit himself until the agreed identification signals had been exchanged and verified, and so, the two ships cautiously skirted around one another, before finally coming together amidst much wild cheering.

The two captains also exchanged films, and there was much lively traffic back and forth between their two ships.

Having enjoyed one another’s company, exchanging operational experiences and advice, and agreed to meet again on June 1, in the Indian Ocean, the captains bid one another farewell on February 26, and went their separate ways.

Rounding the Cape and heading south past Prince Edward Island and Crozet Island, the Pinguin overtook the Alstertor and the Adjutant, and rendezvoused with the HK Komet 120 miles east of the Kerguelen Islands on March 12.

Sending his Navigation Officer, Michaelsen, on ahead in the little whaler to take soundings at the entrances to the various bays and inlets so that he could steer clear of rocks like that which had almost wrecked the Atlantis in December, Krüder and the Komet’s commander, Admiral Robert Eyssen, met briefly to discuss tactics and share war stories.

Later, having sailed around the islands, Eyssen anchored offshore while Krüder followed the Adjutant into Gazelle Bay, the sheltered natural harbour at Port Couvreux, where he could take on supplies from the Alstertor in peace and replenish his fresh water tanks, tying up alongside the supply ship on March 13.

With the crew at last able to set foot on dry land again, albeit in a desolate and inhospitable place, the prospect of a little rabbit hunting soon cheered them up.

As the Komet departed on March 14, heading for her new operational area on the shipping routes between Africa and Australia, First Leutnant Schwinne organised his work crews and the replenishment of the Pinguin commenced.

One of the first items to be hoisted out of the Alstertor’s holds, to the delight of the raider’s aircrew, was a new seaplane, an Arado Ar-196.

While the Adjutant was converted into an auxiliary minelayer for her future role in Krüder’s plan to mine the approaches to the port of Karachi, he took advantage of the tranquil waters to have the Pinguin’s hull scraped and cleaned of the marine growth and barnacles that had attached itself and was likely to reduce her speed.

By careening the ship from one side to the other a considerable amount of the hull was exposed and scraped clean.

Carrying out essential repairs and maintenance, giving the engines a thorough overhaul, assembling the new seaplane, and generally tidying up his ship inside and out, Krüder decided that it was time to change her appearance, taking on the identity of the 6,778-ton Norwegian Wilhelmsen liner Tamerlane.

Before departing, there remained the task of replenishing the ship’s water supply.

Having duly inspected the waterfall cascading down close to the anchorage, the Chief Engineer approached his captain to present his simple gravity-feed plan for getting the fresh mountain water into the Pinguin’s tanks.

To his astonishment, before he could explain anything, Krüder outlined his own, virtually identical, plan on how it might be achieved, before admitting that, like the Chief, he had got all the details from his counterpart on the Atlantis, which had successfully applied the system there three months earlier!

By March 22 as the replenishing of supplies from the Alstertor was completed a group of Prize Officers joined the raider from the supply ship, including Leutnant Grau, the former captain of the S.S.Antonio Delfino, and his First Officer, and three former merchant marine officers of the Hamburg-Amerika Line.

Releasing the Alstertor to supply the raider Orion and to then re-supply from the 8,306-ton former Norwegian tanker Ole Jacob, taken by the Atlantis in November, Krüder departed the islands with the Adjutant on March 25.

Heading north-eastwards for a rendezvous with the 7,301-ton former Norwegian tanker Ketty Brøvig, also taken by the Atlantis, this time in February, and the 8,000-ton former Nord-Deutsche Lloyd supply-ship Coburg, at Point Siberia, Krüder reflected on how difficult it was going to be to take the prizes so obviously expected of him by the SKL.

With the normal shipping routes virtually deserted due to the successful activities of his own ship, the Atlantis and other raiders, and most Allied shipping sailing closer to the coast lines, he searched for the two supply-ships for several days without success, unaware that they had both been sunk.

Arriving at the pre-arranged point off the Saya de Malha Bank on March 4, not knowing that the supply-ship transmission codes had been broken, the two ships had been ambushed by the Australian cruisers HMAS Canberra and HMS Leander and scuttled by their crews.

Happening upon the Ole Jacob, under Leutnant Vossloh, which had just re-fuelled the Komet, and was herself expecting the Ketty Brøvig, on April 4, Krüder was less than pleased, as he now found himself compelled to top up his tanks with her poor quality Japanese oil rather than the Ketty Brøvig’s high quality Allied fuel. 

Releasing the tanker to re-fuel the Orion, Krüder spent a short time cruising the area around the Saya de Malha Bank before heading northwards.

Increasingly conscious of the difficult conditions in which he and the Adjutant now operated, and convinced that the best strategy would be to adopt a hit-and-run policy, Krüder spent the next three weeks searching to the north and south of the Seychelles, with his seaplane making thirty-five flights without success, for a tanker that, like the Storstad, would make a suitable auxiliary minelayer.

On the morning of April 24, the Adjutant, searching further to the north off the island of Mahé, almost ran into a large freighter.

Turning quickly away, she reporting the vessel’s course and speed to the Pinguin, and began to shadow her from below the horizon as best she could.

Arriving on the scene early on the following day, the Pinguin steamed past her scout at full speed and opened fire, shooting the freighter’s wireless aerials away and crippling her steering gear with the first salvo, bringing her to a halt.

Ordering his gunners to cease fire, Krüder dispatched the boarding party, which identified the vessel as the 6,828-ton British India Steam Navigation Company freighter Empire Light, on her way from Madras to Durban, with a cargo of ore, hides and piece goods and a crew of seventy.

Her steering had been so badly disabled that the best efforts of the Pinguin’s engineers to repair the damage failed, and she had to be scuttled.

Having been refused permission by the SKL to use the Ole Jacob, which they required to keep the oil-thirsty Orion operational, Krüder was determined to find a tanker for his planned mining expedition off the coast of India.

On April 27, his seaplane spotted a ship which was chased for five hours until yet another freighter came into view, at which point he let the first vessel go, and turned after the second one, in a chase that would last all night.

Opening fire on the freighter from 5,000 metres first thing the next morning, destroying her radio room, and putting her steering gear out of action, the second salvo blew her 4.7-inch gun into the engine room, after which she hove to and was abandoned by her 110-man crew.

Some signals had been transmitted from some sort of an auxiliary wireless, but as they were so weak, they were not considered likely to have gone very far.

Identified as the 7,266-ton British Clan Line ship, Clan Buchanan, en route for Madras from the United States, with a cargo of military equipment, it turned out that as her steering gear had been destroyed, she too had to be scuttled.

Convinced that the weak signals had not been picked up by any stations either at sea or ashore, the Pinguin’s Radio Officer assured his captain that all was well.

But all was not well.

As Krüder altered course towards the Persian Gulf – Mozambique shipping route in the continuing quest for a suitable small tanker, and gave instructions to Leutnant Hemmer to proceed to ‘Point Violet’ in the event of enemy activity, to rendezvous with the Alstertor on May 8, the fateful sequence of events that would lead the raider Pinguin to her final showdown was just commencing.

The Clan Buchanan’s signals had in fact been picked up by two stations, and further exchanges between Royal Navy bases and ships at sea, resulted in the mobilisation of powerful naval forces on both sides of the Indian Ocean.

With the Adjutant on course for the rendezvous, Krüder decided to go where he believed the enemy would least expect to find him, and searched for his tanker further to the north-west, nearer to the entrance of the Persian Gulf.

At dawn on May 7, when his lookouts spotted a small tanker, he had found just what he had been looking for.

Approaching her, he fervently hoped that he could take her ‘silently’ and intact.

Signalling to her to heave to, the vessel’s captain refused to obey, ordering his radio operator to transmit distress signals describing his attacker and identifying his ship as the 3,663-ton British Tanker Company’s British Emperor.             

Ordering his gunners to fire a salvo of deliberate near misses to encourage him to stop, Krüder was dismayed to see that the enemy captain was not so easily persuaded and ordered another salvo.

As the tanker stubbornly held her course, while sending a continuous stream of SOS messages, Krüder was left with no alternative but to open fire in earnest.

The next salvo destroyed the tanker’s bridge and wheelhouse causing her to veer off course and go round in circles trailing dense black smoke as her cargo ignited producing huge sheets of flame.

Slowly coming to a halt, the crew were seen to be jumping overboard, prompting Krüder to send boats to pick them up and take the remainder off the blazing ship.

While the rescue party was alongside engaged in this work, more distress signals were detected coming from the shattered vessel, giving her position and describing her attacker, leaving Krüder in the frustrating position of being unable to re-open fire to stop them.

When the rescue boats finally hauled off the blazing tanker, the raider’s guns opened up again, tearing away the bridge structure and silencing the signals.

By this time the ether was alive with signals and as Krüder was anxious to sink what was left of the British Emperor as quickly as possible and get away from the massive pall of smoke which would have been visible for miles, he instructed his Torpedo Officer, Leutnant Gabe, to use one of his precious ‘eels’.

The torpedo immediately began to describe a large circle with every likelihood that the Pinguin would be it’s final destination, requiring a sharp turn to starboard that saw it pass a mere twenty metres in front of the raider’s bows.

A second torpedo missed the tanker completely, but the third, hitting square amidships, sent her down slowly as the Pinguin departed south-eastwards.

The British Emperor’s SOS signals were picked as far away as Germany, but more ominously for Krüder and those on board the Pinguin, they were picked by ships and shore stations all over the Indian Ocean, including on board the 9,850-ton County-class heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall, five hundred miles to the south of her.

On a ship that boasted a main armament of eight 8-inch guns, and a top speed of almost 32 knots, the Cornwall’s captain, also conscious that he was low in fuel, called for 25 knots and altered course to the north on the asumption that the raider would most probably be heading south.

He was correct, but when, at 0300 hours on May 8, on the bridge of the fleeing Pinguin, Oberleutnant Levit spotted a shadow on the horizon against the setting moon which he quickly confirmed as the unmistakable silhouette of a British warship and called his captain, Krüder immediately altered course away from it and called for the maximum speed his two giant MAN diesels could give him.

With the British lookouts not quite so alert, the Cornwall maintained her course.

Despite his concern about his own fuel, the urgent need to put as much distance between himself and the enemy was paramount, and as dawn broke to reveal an empty sea, Krüder kept his ship flat-out in a south-westerly direction.

But, when a British ‘Walrus’ seaplane appeared on the horizon just after dawn, he knew that this far from land it could only be a spotter-plane from a warship and that from now on there would be nowhere for the Pinguin to hide.

But, due to the raider’s highly-detailed and convincing disguise, the captain of the shadowing warship was anxious not to find himself attacking an innocent ship, as he had almost done a few days earlier, and spent the morning merely staying in touch with her, while sending his aircraft to search the surrounding seas for any other ship that might better fit the description of the reported German raider.

Returning four hours later, circling the ship, taking a closer look, and probably a few photographs, the aircrew saw what appeared to be a typical Norwegian freighter, flying the Norwegian ensign, and with the name ‘Tamerlane’ clearly displayed on both sides of the bridge, just sixty-five miles away from their ship.

Several crewmen could be seen here and there on deck, and, like the officers visible on the bridge, they wore typical merchant marine clothing.

Seemingly satisfied, the plane departed, but returned an hour and a half later requesting the ship’s identity, cargo and port of destination.

Playing for time, Krüder, also wearing civilian clothing, and who, like most naval officers, believed merchant seamen to be incapable of signalling accurately by lamp, instructed his signallers to reply ineptly with signal letter flags in the hope that the aircrew would have difficulty understanding them and give up.

This could have been a serious mistake, as the officers of a top-class shipping company such as the Wihelmsen Line would always be in uniform on the bridge, and their signallers would be of the highest order.

As the Walrus flew low over the ‘Tamerlane’, so its crew could inspect her more closely, Krüder was urged by Michaelsen to shoot it down in order to gain extra time, but dismissed the suggestion on the grounds that another would replace it, and that doing so would ruin their chances of bluffing it out with their disguise.

For the moment it appeared to be working well, but for some reason the aircrew seemed to remain suspicious and took one final close look before flying away.

As it later transpired, the aircrew could see little reason to doubt that the ‘Tamerlane’ was genuine, but the absence of ‘Norwegian’ crewmen lining the rails to stare at the aircraft, a rare sight in these waters, struck them as odd, not to mention the total absence of any ‘coloured’ crewmen.

For once, the captain of the Pinguin had been too cautious, keeping his men out of sight, and hadn’t for a moment considered allowing a few of his many coloured prisoners up on deck to wave at the enemy.

Back on board the Cornwall, the pilot reported to his captain, P.C.W. Manwaring.

Still uncertain as to the identity of the ship, Manwaring listened carefully as his pilot described the Norwegian freighter heading south-west at roughly 15 knots, whose signal flags had claimed that she was the Wilhelmsen liner Tamerlane, and confirmed that the silhouette outline of the Tamerlane shown in the Talbot Booth shipping register, ‘Merchant Ships’ matched what he and his observer had seen.

But with the fact that the Tamerlane was not among the names on his list of merchant ships known to be in the area at the time, plus the aircrew’s suspicions, and the recent events in the vicinity, suggesting that he at least take a closer look, he rang down for full speed, and headed south-west at 29 knots, launching one of his seaplanes on the way.

In the early afternoon, as the Pinguin’s lookouts spotted first one column, then two and finally three colums of smoke astern, soon followed by two masts, it was clear to all on board that a large warship was fast approaching.

With the funnels and bridge structure coming into sight the only question that remained was which class of British heavy cruiser they were dealing with.

Calling the crew to action stations, Krüder ordered that both they and their guns remain concealed as he had resolved to depend on his disguise and brazen it out as long as he could, after which he hoped to exploit the element of surprise.

As Manwaring approached carefully, to find a ship frantically sending raider reports identifying herself as the Norwegian Tamerlane, and claiming that she was being attacked by a German warship, his wireless operator reported that the signals were being sent on a British Merchant Navy transmitter, reinforcing his concerns that she just might be what she claimed to be.

Breaking radio silence to instruct the pilot of the circling Walrus to inform the ‘Norwegians’ that the ship bearing down on them was British and to order them to heave to, the cruiser’s captain watched as the freighter adopted the classic defensive response of presenting her stern.

Closing to within 20,000 metres, he signalled to her three times by lamp ordering her to ‘Heave to, or I fire!’ followed by one 8-inch warning shot fired high and the left of the fleeing ship.

At this point Krüder knew that there was no alternative but to fight, but hoped to keep up the neutral pretence until the thin-hulled Kent-class cruiser came within range of his big guns, at which point, with a little luck, he might just hurt her.

With all his 8-inch and 4-inch guns manned and loaded, Manwaring was reluctant to open fire on an innocent ship, and was also aware that even if this was the elusive German raider there would certainly be British prisoners on board, and chose instead to repeat the warning signal and fired another warning shot.

At the same time he had his second Walrus prepared for launching, armed with two 250-pound bombs with orders to drop the first one in front of the fleeing ship, and if that failed to bring her to a halt, to drop the other on her forecastle.

Closing to 12,000 metres he was only too aware of the dangers of coming too close, but still felt that he needed to correctly establish the identity of the freighter before opening fire on her in earnest.

It was beginning to look as if Ernst-Felix Krüder might just get his wish.

Although completely outclassed by such a powerful enemy, at 1714 hours, as the range dropped to 8,000 metres and the cruiser reduced speed, Krüder dropped his disguise, ran up his battle flag, turned sharply to port to bring his full broadside to bear and opened up with five guns simultaneously, straddling her.

At precisely that point the Cornwall suffered a failure in the electrical circuit that controlled the training of her main gun turrets, leaving Manwaring with no alternative but to break off and quickly retire out of range of Krüder’s all too accurate and effective gunners to carry out repairs.

As he did so, the cruiser suffered a complete breakdown in the telephone link between the bridge and the guns, followed by the line to the aircraft catapult also going dead, leading him to dispatch an officer aft to order the waiting Walrus aloft to bomb the raider.

As the officer reported back with the news that the aircraft had suffered splinter damage and was unable to take off, the Pinguin registered her first direct hit, putting the cruiser’s engine-room telegraph out of action and severing crucial wiring in her steering system, putting her completely out of control, followed by another hit that started a small fire.

Although it briefly seemed as if she was losing control of the entire situation, by now she safely out of range of the Pinguin’s biggest guns, the damage to her turret circuits had been repaired, and with the first Walrus spotting for them, the Cornwall’s gunners soon began to straddle the fleeing ship.

Although she had still to sustain a single hit, Krüder, realising that as it was only a matter of time before the Pinguin suffered the brunt of a full broadside, and as he was no longer able to fire back, decided it was pointless to continue.

As the Cornwall registered her first hit, bringing down the foremast, he gave the orders to release the prisoners, set the scuttling charges and abandon ship.

Unfortunately there was to be no time for these final orders to be carried out.

At that very moment a four-gun salvo from the Cornwall’s 8-inch forward turrets destroyed his ship.

The first shell struck the foredeck, wiping out the two 155mm guns on the forecastle head and their crews, the second hit the meteorological office and shattered the bridge, killing Krüder and all but one other instantly, while the third devastated the engine room.

But it was the fourth shell that spelled the end for Schiff 33.

Exploding in Hold Number 5, it detonated the 130 high-explosive mines stored there in a cataclysmic explosion that literally ripped the after part of the ship to pieces, sending sheets of flame thousands of feet into the air, and scattering fragments far and wide across the surface of the sea.

With the after section disintegrating and sinking instantly, the fore part of the ship seemed to continue on for a moment before heeling slowly to starboard and sliding backwards under the waves.

She was gone within five seconds.

From beginning to end the action had lasted just 27 minutes.

The Pinguin had fired over 200 shells at the Cornwall which replied with 136.

Having watched the volcanic destruction of the enemy, Manwaring was anxious to retrieve the Walrus before he picked up the survivors floundered in the oily water among the debris, but his ship was once again in serious difficulties.

With the telegraphs still out of action, he sent a messenger to the engine-room to instruct them to reduce speed to 12 knots before stopping, unaware that the engine-room and boiler spaces had been plunged into darkness by a short circuit in one of the ship’s dynamos.

Caused by the flooding in the room hit by the Pinguin’s first direct hit, exacerbated by the violent movements of the ship during the fighting, this had led to some of the steam valves being shut off in error, causing the other two dynamos to slow down, which in turn stopped the engine-room extractor fans.

As the temperature in the engine-room and boiler rooms soared beyond human endurance to over 200°F, with several men collapsing from the heat, one of whom died later, the Chief Engineer was forced to evacuate both areas.

With the engine-room effectively a no-go area, the cruiser ploughed on out of control past the seaplane, sweeping around in a huge circle, while emergency crews brought her engines under control and finally switched them off, bringing her to a standstill, disabled amongst the debris of the Pinguin.

* Given how soon after the hit on the Pinguin’s mine store this sequence of events crippled the Cornwall, it could be said that Krüder and his men were extremely unlucky to die the way they did.

Before night fell the Cornwall’s boats picked up sixty members of the Pinguin’s crew and twenty-four of her former prisoners.

Of the 401 Germans on board, three officers, one prize officer and fifty-seven petty officers and men survived, while of the 238 prisoners, only nine officers and fifteen seamen lived to tell the tale.

Two hundred and fourteen prisoners, and three hundred and forty-one of the Pinguin’s crew were lost, including her humane and popular captain.

Ernst-Felix Krüder’s Schiff 33, the raider Pinguin, had sailed over 59,000 miles, more than twice the circumference of the Earth, in 357 days at sea, sinking or capturing 28 ships, for a total of 136,642 gross register tons, of which 52,000 tons was sent back under prize crews to Germany.

With a further four ships being sunk by mines for a total of 18,068 tons, the Pinguin’s grand total amounts to 154,710 gross register tons.

The Pinguin was the first of the Kriegsmarine’s Auxiliary Cruisers to be sunk.

* Less than a year later, on Easter Sunday, April 5 1942, HMS Cornwall, with HMS Dorsetshire, was sunk by Japanese dive bombers 200 miles southwest of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) with the loss of 424 men.

Ernst Felix Krüder
1897 - 1941
Commander
HK Pinguin – 1940 /1941

Born on December 6 1897, the Pinguin’s captain was the least well known of the five ‘top commanders’ as he was the only one to die in action.

Of all the Hilfskreuzer commanders, he was the top performer in a single cruise, 32 ships captured or sunk, either directly, or by mines, totalling 154,710 tons, after 357 days at sea.

Even more important for Germany was the quality of his prize ships - three whaling factory ships, fully loaded with whale oil that, having made it back to Bordeaux, satisfied German margarine requirements for many months.

Even better, he acquired all of this without firing a single shot.

On May 5 1941, the Pinguin met the British heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall, who’s seaplane located her from forty miles away, and after hours of pursuit at full speed, the distance between the ships was down to 8,000 metres.

Krüder opened fire hoping that a lucky shot might score a fatal hit on the lightly armoured ‘Washington Treaty’ cruiser, and his gamble nearly paid off, as his first salvo temporarily put the Cornwall's steering gear out of action, but there was no time for a second salvo.

As the cruiser retired beyond the range of her guns, a salvo hit the Pinguin’s mine storage hold which contained 130 mines, with disastrous consequences.

A colossal explosion ripped the raider to pieces, and within seconds she was gone, taking 341 Germans and 214 of their former prisoners with her.

The British rescued 24 British and Indian prisoners and 60 German sailors.

Ernst-Felix Krüder was not among them.

Having been awarded the Knight’s Cross in December 1940, Ernst-Felix Krüder was posthumously awarded the Oak Leaves in November 1941.

PRINCIPAL SOURCES
Ghost Cruiser HK33 – Jochen Brennecke
Beware Raiders! - German Surface Raiders – Bernard Edwards
Deutsche Hilfskreuzer des Zweiten Weltkriegs – Zvonimir Freivogel
German Raiders of World War II – August Karl Muggenthaler
The Secret Raiders – David Woodward
German Raiders – Paul Schmalenbach
Hitler’s Secret Pirate Fleet – James P. Duffy
Das Grosse Abenteuer - Deutsche Hilfskreuzer - Jochen Brennecke
U-Boat Fact File 1939 – 1945 – Peter Sharpe
German Warships of World War II – J.C.Taylor
Norwegian Website www.warsailors.com

Notes on the Ships Captured or Sunk by Hilfskreuzer Pinguin - 22 June 1940 to 8 May 1941
1 - Domingo de Larrinaga

Having passed through the Denmark Strait on July 1, and rendezvoused with the U-A (Frkpt. Hans Cohausz) on July 17, to replenish her with fuel, torpedoes and stores, the first time a U-Boat was re-fuelled at sea by a raider, Pinguin continued to the south, where on July 31 near Ascension Island, this 5.358-ton British freighter on her way from Bahia Blanca to Newcastle with 7.500 tons of grain, and a crew of thirty-six, was sighted.                                                                                                  On seeing the raider, the freighter turned away, sending a QQQ signal.

While trying to jam the distress signals, Krüder gave chase for over two hours, closing to within range, and ordered his gunners to fire a warning shot across the enemy’s bow, at which point her radio operator began transmitting details of the raider’s appearance and silhouette.                                                                                                                                   Attempting to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, Krüder ordered two more warning shots fired, but the distress signals continued  and her crew were seen manning their stern gun.                                                                                                       Pinguin immediately opened fire on the freighter’s bridge, scoring several hits.                                                                  With a fire started near the bridge, the freighter’s crew were seen to abandon ship in three boats.

The boarding party having found four men dead, the survivors were taken on board Pinguin, and their blazing ship sunk by torpedo after the demolition charges attached to the hull failed to explode.

This was extremely fortunate for the terrified boarding party, which included the raider’s surgeon and two sick bay attendants sent to care for the wounded, sitting virtually on top of the charges, as the engine on their motor cutter refused to start as they prepared to leave with the fuses on the charges set to explode after nine minutes. The engine didn’t start until twelve minutes had elapsed!

On the night of August 10, west of the Cape, a large merchant ship was sighted heading north, but fearing the dark stranger might be a British Armed Merchant Cruiser, Krüder decided not to risk attacking her.                                                             It was just as well, as she was in fact Atlantis’ prize, the 7.230-ton Norwegian cargo liner Tirranna, on her way back to France with an 18-man prize crew, under Leutnant zur See Waldmann, and over three hundred of Rogge’s prisoners, including many women and children, on board.

Her luck was to run out however, as she was sunk off the estuary of the Gironde by the British submarine HMS Tuna on September 22, with sixty men, women and children losing their lives.

2 - Filefjell

On August 26, one of the Krüder’s two Heinkel seaplanes was launched and, on finding this 7.616-ton Norwegian tanker, dropped a message in English onto her deck ordering her to alter course as a German raider was operating in the vicinity!    The tanker appeared to obey, but later in the day was found to be trying to escape, at which point the plane was re-launched, and on finding her again, ripped away her radio aerials, strafed her bridge with cannon and machine gun fire and landed, ordering her, again in English, to ‘remain stopping here, the cruiser Cumberland will go with you’ and that she show her lights.

Within half an hour, the Pinguin arrived on the scene, and it was found that she was under charter to the British Admiralty with a cargo of 10.000 tons of high-octane aviation fuel and 500 tons of oil from the Gulf to Cape Town, and unarmed.                   Her captain, having been warned that a German raider, Atlantis, was operating near the Equator, had chosen not to pass the news on to his crew, who were already nervous enough about living on a floating bomb in a war zone.                                

Realising the extremely valuable nature of the cargo, a prize crew were placed on board, but before any decision could be made as to her fate, another vessel was sighted, sailing without lights, and so, probably an enemy.

Leaving the tanker where she was, Pinguin set out to intercept the newcomer, which was the British Commander.                

3 - British Commander

After a brief chase, this 6,901-ton British tanker, in ballast from Falmouth to Abadan via Cape Town, was commanded to stop.

Although obeying this command, she immediately began transmitting distress signals, giving her position and a description of her attacker.

Pinguin opened fire, hitting her several times, causing the forty-six-man crew to abandon ship, although her radio operator continued to send right up to a point just before she was sunk by shell fire and a torpedo.

4 - Morviken

Within five minutes of the sinking of the British Commander, this fine new 5,008-ton Norwegian freighter bound from Cape Town to Calcutta came into view, and once within range, Pinguin fired a warning shot, bringing her to a halt.

Once her 35-man crew had been taken on board the raider, and, much to the distress of her captain, who begged Krüder to put a prize crew aboard, describing her as the finest ship in the Norwegian Mercantile Marine, and even offered to take her to Germany himself, she was sunk with demolition.

As so many distress signals had been sent giving her position and describing her appearance, Krüder decided it was time to adopt a fresh disguise for his ship, and so, as the captain of the Morviken had initially taken Pinguin for a Wilhelmsen Liner, he chose to temporarily become the Norwegian cargo liner Trafalgar.

* The real Trafalgar was torpedoed by U-129 (Kptlt. Hans-Ludwig Witt) on October 15 1942 about 1.100 miles northeast of Guadeloupe, and should not be confused with the British freighter Trafalgar sunk by the Atlantis on November 24 1941.

Having dealt with the British Commander and the Morviken, Krüder reluctantly decided to remove the prize crew and sink the Filefjell, because of all the distress signals that had been sent, and the serious likelihood that enemy warships and aircraft would be rushing to the scene.                                                                                                                                       This was a decision he apparently later regretted, and for which he was heavily criticised by the SKL.

The scuttling party set the demolition charges, and the raider withdrew to a safe distance due to the dangerously volatile nature of the tanker’s cargo.

They were heard to detonate, but there was no explosion, and the tanker began to settle slowly by the stern.                         As she was still afloat five hours later, at one o’clock in the morning, Krüder decided to finish her off with 37mm gunfire, but she still refused to go down.

Two 150mm shells were then pumped into her, the second of which duly unleashed the expected result as the petrol ignited in such a cataclysmic display that Pinguin had to depart the scene at full speed.

5 - Benavon

On September 5, Krüder lost his operational seaplane when it was damaged by rough seas and sank, and with it he temporarily lost the ability to silence enemy radio operators by tearing away their aerials.

This meant that in future enemy ships that sent distress signals would have to be fired upon, increasing the likelihood of members of their crews losing their lives.

A week later, this prospect became a stark reality, when this 5.872-ton British freighter, on her way to London from Manila and Singapore, with a cargo of hemp, jute and rubber, and armed with one 4-inch and one 3-inch, was spotted on September 12, and when ordered to stop, immediately turned her stern to the raider, commenced signalling, opened fire and tried to escape.

After several near misses, she scored one hit, which ricocheted of the surface of the sea and penetrated the port side of the ship and ended up in the crew’s quarters, dangerously close to the mine storage compartment.                                          Fortunately for Pinguin and her four hundred and twenty-man crew, the shell, like all those fired by the freighter’s insufficiently trained gun crew, had no fuse cap fitted, and so failed to explode and was quickly thrown overboard.

The Pinguin’s gunners responded with a murderous fire, shattering the freighter’s bridge, killing her captain and twenty-three of his men, destroying most of her lifeboats, putting her 4-inch gun and her wireless out of action and setting her on fire.

Blazing fiercely, what was left of her crew abandoned her, and she was dispatched to the bottom of the ocean by gunfire.

6 - Nordvard

On September 16, this 4.111-ton Norwegian motor-ship bound for South Africa with a cargo of 7.500 tons of Australian wheat, was stopped without any signals being sent and consequently no gunfire.

This gave Krüder some time to consider what best to do with this fine ship and her valuable cargo, and so, with a prize crew and the raider’s one hundred and seventy-nine prisoners aboard, she was sent to Bordeaux, duly arriving on November 22.

On September 27, the sea was at last calm enough to allow the spare seaplane, also a Heinkel 114, to be brought from the ship’s lower hangar and assembled.

7 - Storstad

After the Nordvard had been sent on her way, and as Pinguin continued towards Australia, Krüder conceived and developed an ingenious plan with his navigator Leutnant Wilhelm Michaelson, to lay mines in six busy Australian and Tasmanian shipping channels, but realised he would need two ships to accomplish it.

The solution to his problem appeared on October 7, as this 8,998-ton Norwegian motor-tanker, loaded with 14.000 tons of diesel oil and 500 tons of coal, on her way from British North Borneo to Melbourne, was flagged down and ordered to stop with a warning shot.

Reluctant to attract any more fire, her captain decided not to transmit any distress calls, and so the vessel, which was on her way from British North Borneo to Australia, and ideal for use as an auxiliary minelayer, was taken undamaged.

For the only time in the entire cruise, Krüder left his ship, accompanied by his mine officer in a second boarding party to explore the possibilities of his prize.

Re-named Passat, the German word for ‘trade wind’, and under the command of former Nord-Deutsche Lloyd Staff Captain Erich Warning, she was extensively modified for her new role, and loaded with 110 mines, transferred with great care on floating mattresses from the Pinguin, which in turn, replenished her tanks with 2.000 tons of Storstad’s diesel oil, she departed for the waters of the Banks Strait and the east and west ends of the Bass Strait, while the raider ‘mother ship’ headed for the ports of Sydney, Newcastle and Hobart.

Between October 28 and November 7, both vessels laid their deadly minefields, meeting up again on November 15.

Pinguin's fields had less effect than Passat's, sinking only the 1,052-ton coaster Nimbin, and the 287-ton trawler Millimumul, while indirectly causing the loss of the Australian minesweeper Goorangai, which went down with all hands after colliding with the freighter Duntroon, while searching for the mines off Port Philip in late November.

The 10,925-ton Hertford was badly damaged by one of the raider’s mines, but was back in service a year later.                    On the night of November 7/8, the 10.846-ton British liner Cambridge hit one of the auxiliary minelayer Passat’s mines, and sank at the eastern approach to the Bass Strait.

Next day, on November 9, the 5.883-ton American freighter City of Rayville, which hit another of the tanker’s mines at the western approach, and went down with the loss of one man, was the first United States vessel to be sunk by belligerent action in World War Two.

8 - Nowshera

With three weeks to kill before heading south to search for the Antarctic whaling fleets, Krüder decided it was time to overhaul Pinguin’s engines, which had been running non-stop for five months.

On the evening of November 17, with these repairs nearing completion, and with both engines stopped, smoke was sighted.   On one engine, the raider started in pursuit as darkness fell, and later, with both engines running, caught up to this 7.920-ton British freighter around midnight, and stopped her in the glare of a searchlight.

On her way from Adelaide to Durban and the UK, she was carrying 4.000 tons of zinc ore, 3.000 tons of wheat and 2.000 tons of wool, and a mixed crew of one hundred and forty-five.

Although armed with a Japanese 4-inch gun and some protection, she had not resisted or attempted to transmit any signals, and so, having taken what goods and provisions his ship required from the freighter’s holds, Krüder, in order to save ammunition ordered her to be scuttled in a rather novel way.

With the scuttling party ordered to remain on board in case further charges were needed, aircraft bombs were suspended over the ship’s sides against her hull and detonated, causing her to jolt violently and then drop very suddenly.                                 As the startled scuttling crew rushed towards the rails, she steadied briefly, no doubt supported by air trapped under her hatches, with her decks awash, and about level with the surface of the sea.

The men needed no further orders as they scrambled into their waiting cutter!

9 - Maimoa

On November 20, with one engine still being run-in, Krüder set out to cautiously follow this 10.123-ton British refrigeration ship, en route to the UK from Fremantle, via Durban, which had been spotted earlier in the morning.

When she abruptly turned away and increased speed, the raider began what would be, given the delicate state of the newly repaired engine, a long chase.

Launching his seaplane, with orders to snatch the enemy’s wireless aerials, or, if necessary, bomb her, Krüder followed at his best possible speed.

Having hooked the aerial, and been fired upon in return, the seaplane’s crew dropped a message onto the enemy’s bridge commanding him to stop his engines and to maintain radio silence, or be attacked.                                                       Refusing to comply with these instructions, the British ship made smoke and commenced signalling with a spare aerial, giving her name and position.

As the aircraft had to set down on returning to the Pinguin, Krüder, ordered a cutter to be launched to remain with it until he could return to pick it up, and, frustrated that his operators could not jam the freighter’s distress signals, and distracted by a report from Storstad (Passat) of another ship sighted nearby, continued after the enemy ship, closing with her an hour later, and stopping her with two 150mm salvos.

Scuttling the ship, which had been carrying 5.000 tons of frozen meat, 1.500 tons of butter, 17.000 boxes of eggs, 16 million in all, 1.500 tons of grain and 100 tons of piece goods, her crew of eighty-seven were taken on board the Pinguin.

10 - Port Brisbane

Returning to pick up his plane early the following morning, Krüder received a repetition of the previous day’s report from the Storstad of another refrigerated freighter, the 8.739-ton British freighter Port Brisbane, with a cargo of 5.000 tons of frozen meat, butter and cheese, 3,000 tons of wool, lead and piece goods bound from Adelaide to Great Britain via Durban in apparent ignorance of what was going on nearby.

Closing with her late that evening, and fixing her in the glare of the Pinguin’s searchlight, Krüder ordered a warning shot fired, and morsed that she should stop and maintain radio silence.

Although armed with two 6-inch guns and one 3-inch anti-aircraft gun, the enemy’s sole response was to send an RRR call, which was surprisingly repeated by someone clearly quite close by, causing Pinguin to immediately jam the signal and open fire with 150mm and 37mm, scoring several hits, killing one of her officers, and destroying the bridge and the radio room.

Finally coming to a stop, the remainder of her crew abandoned ship, with sixty men, and one woman, being picked up by the raider, and the twenty-eight men in another boat being found later by the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra.

The demolition charges failed to sink her quickly enough, so she was finished off with a torpedo, and Krüder, disappointed that he had been unable to help himself to some of her tempting cargo, took his ship swiftly from the scene.

11 - Port Wellington

Heading south, then west, with Storstad/Passat following, Pinguin’s engineers carried out further repairs in anticipation of the orders to proceed south in search of the Antarctic whaling fleets.                                                                                     With the overhaul complete on November 28, and the ship’s appearance radically altered, Krüder received a sighting report from the tanker two days later, on November 30, of a freighter on the horizon.

Having sent the tanker to a rendezvous point, he stalked his prey until nightfall, and seeing that the ship was sailing without lights, he closed to within a mile, at which point the freighter turned sharply away and tried to escape.

Krüder opened fire without warning to prevent any signals being sent, the first salvo destroying the control centre, putting the ship’s steering gear out of action, and the radio room, killing the operator, and mortally wounding the captain.

The ship, the 8,303-ton British freighter Port Wellington, bound for England with 4.000 tons of frozen meat, butter, cheese and piece goods, and a sister of the Port Brisbane, hove to and was seen to lower boats.                                                        While engaged in the rescue operation, and with a boarding party already on the freighter, a ship, possibly a warship, was reported close by.                                                                                                                                                           

Fearing that it might be, Krüder took Pinguin away from the freighter in a wide arc, only to find it was merely a cloudbank.

Eighty-one crewmen, including the severely wounded captain, who would later lose his life on the raider, and the seven women passengers, were picked up, with the First Officer having to go back on board to collect clothing for the women who had arrived on board in their night attire.

With the number of prisoners on board now at an unsupportable four hundred and five, Krüder notified the SKL that he intended sending them all back to Europe, under the command of Leutnant Hanefeld, in Storstad, via ‘Point Andalusia’, as she still contained most of her valuable cargo of diesel oil, 3.000 tons more of which he took on board before she left.

The tanker's journey home turned into quite an adventure, receiving two hundred and eighteen more prisoners from the raider Atlantis while re-fuelling her, and becoming part of an impressive armada at ‘Point Andalusia’ with HK Thor, the Admiral Scheer, from which she took on even more prisoners, the tanker Nordmark, to which she transferred her remaining 6.500 tons of diesel oil, and the Scheer’s prize, the Duquesa, from which she received thousands of eggs.

Surviving two attempts by the prisoners, led by the British captains, to take over the ship, the journey concluded with her safe arrival in Bordeaux on February 4 1941.

On December 8, Pinguin and fellow raider Atlantis rendezvoused in the western Indian Ocean, and after two relaxing days of socialising, parted company, with Krüder taking Pinguin south for his rendezvous with the British-Norwegian whaling fleets in the Antarctic Ocean. On December 18, the SKL signalled that the fleets were to be found in the area around South Georgia, and the names of the factory ships involved.

On Christmas Eve, Krüder learned that he had been awarded the Knights Cross.

The uninhibited open frequency chatter between the ships of the whaling fleets, two large factory ships, the Ole Wegger and the Pelagos, and their fourteen attendant whalers, suggested to Krüder that they had little fear of the war coming their way, and that they were anxiously awaiting an overdue supply ship.

He also learned that Pelagos was running short of fuel, and that as Ole Wegger’s whale oil tanks were full to capacity, she was offering to transfer some of her surplus fuel to her, and so, he decided that he would wait until the two ships were engaged in this transfer before making any move on them.

13 - Ole Wegger/Solglimt

Having established that the approaching supply ship was in fact the Norwegian whale-oil tranport tanker Solglimt, and not, as feared, an American ship, Krüder began to close with the Ole Wegger on January 6.

With the Solglimt getting ever closer, first attending the Thorshammer, which was operating 400 miles to the south-west, he decided instead to wait for her arrival.

At last, on the night of January 13/14, as the two ships lay alongside one another, Krüder, approaching out of the morning dusk from the west, ordered them to maintain total radio silence and launched two prize crews, as both the 12.201-ton Factory Ship with 7.000 tons of whale oil and 5.500 tons of fuel and a crew of one hundred and ninety on board, and the 12.246-ton transport tanker with 4.000 tons of whale oil, 4,000 tons of fuel, and a crew of sixty, were ‘silently’ captured.

While three managed to escape, four catchers, the 274-ton Thorlyn; the 298-ton Pol VIII and the 354-ton Pol IX and Pol X were captured, as Krüder sent a signal telling them to continue with their whaling, adding that the German Reich would happily pay them for their work.

14 - Pelagos

To confuse the watching Norwegians, Krüder steamed Pinguin away from where he knew this 12,083–ton Factory Ship to be, and once out of sight turned and approached in the gathering dusk on January 14.

Busily engaged, with five of her catchers alongside, the Pelagos, with 9,500 tons of whale oil, 800 tons of fuel and a crew of two hundred and ten, was captured within minutes, as the raider came in at full speed to within 200 metres, signalled her warnings and lowered boats with the prize crews.

One catcher was used to round up the six others, as the captain of the Pelagos was told to order his remaining boats back.

The 247-ton Star XIV, Star XIX and Star XX; the 298-ton Star XXI; the 303-ton Star XXII; the 357-ton Star XXIII and the 361-ton Star XXIV, would make excellent anti-submarine vessels if they could be got back to Europe.

The operation against the British-Norwegian whaling fleets was the most successful performance by any German raider during the war, as 36,000 tons of shipping, eleven whale catchers, over 20,000 tons of whale oil, valued at about 4.1 million dollars, and about 10,000 tons of fuel oil were captured.

Ole Wegger’s three catchers that had managed to escape had obviously alerted the third factory ship, Thorshammer to the presence of a German warship, as when Krüder later tried to locate her, she was nowhere to be found.

It took Krüder two weeks to sort out and man his 15-ship squadron, and make provision for it’s hazardous journey to Europe. Ole Wegger’s whale oil was transferred to Solglimt’s storage tanks, and he prepared to dispatch Solglimt, Pelagos, and ten of the catchers to France.

Krüder then received orders from the SKL to bring Ole Wegger and the catchers to point Andalusia to rendezvous with the tanker Nordmark, after which the raider was to operate in the Indian Ocean, and so, Pelagos and Solglimt were released on January 25, reaching Bordeaux safely on March 11 and 16 respectively.

Having met with Nordmark, still towing the rapidly deteriorating Duquesa, on February 15, the prizes were sent home, except for the newest catcher, Pol IX, which was re-named Adjutant, after Krüder’s adjutant, Leutnant zur See Hans Carl Hemmer, and was, under his command, retained as an auxiliary minelayer.

All the catchers bar two, reached Bordeaux, with shortage of fuel having prevented the two from following the suggested route. Star XIX and Star XXIV, were intercepted by the British destroyer HMS Scarborough, the prize crews successfully scuttled them before they could fall into enemy hands.

On February 18, the supply ship Alstertor delivered a replacement seaplane, an Arado 196, and replenished Pinguin’s stock of torpedoes and mines, before departing with the Adjutant to a rendezvous point in the Indian Ocean.

February 18 was also the day upon which the by now dilapidated Duquesa, supplier of meat and eggs to half the German Navy, having completely run out of anything that could possibly be burned to keep her refrigeration plant working, including her entire bridge structure, her lifeboat derricks and all her teak decking, finally had to be sunk.

Before leaving, Krüder took 1.200 cases of eggs, twenty-three and a half cows, four hundred and ten sheep and seventeen sacks of oxtails from ‘the floating delicatessen’ made his farewells and headed east for the Kerguelen Islands where he stayed from March 12 to March 25.

Having carried out essential repairs, assembled his new seaplane and generally tidied up his ship, he then departed for a rendezvous with the tanker Ole Jacob, replacing the recently scuttled Ketty Broevig, the ship he was originally told to meet.

15 - Empire Light
On the morning of April 24, while searching for a tanker that would make a suitable auxiliary minelayer, to the north of the Seychelles, with the Adjutant, the little whale catcher reported a ship, and shadowed her below the horizon.

It took Pinguin until early the next day to arrive on the scene and open fire on this 6.828-ton British freighter, on her way from Madras to Durban , with a cargo of ore and hides, and a crew of seventy, shooting her wireless aerials away.

After three salvoes, Krüder ordered his gunners to cease fire, and as the freighter’s rudder had been put out of action, her crew were taken on board and she was scuttled with demolition charges.

16 - Clan Buchanan

Four days later, on April 28, the raider’s seaplane spotted a ship which was chased for five hours until another vessel came into view, at which point Krüder let the first vessel go, and started to chase this 7.266-ton British freighter, on her way to Madras from the United States, with a cargo of army and air force equipment, a chase that would last all night.

At first light, Pinguin opened fire from 5.000 metres, destroying the ship’s radio and putting her steering gear out of action, and although some signals were transmitted via some sort of auxiliary wireless, they were very weak, and therefore unlikely to get through to anyone.

Finally coming to a stop and being abandoned by her 110-man crew, it turned out that her steering gear had been fatally damaged, so she too had to be scuttled.

17 - British Emperor

With the Adjutant sent to a rendezvous point, Krüder decided to search for his tanker nearer to the entrance of the Persian Gulf, and here on May 7, he found this 3.663-ton British tanker, but there was to be no question of taking her as a prize, as she absolutely rejected all attempts to stop her, and continued sending out distress signals until she sank in a mass of flames.

These signals were picked up on board the 10.000-ton British County Class heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall, whose seaplane subsequently found Pinguin disguised as the Norwegian freighter Tamerlane, busily sending her own raider reports.     ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………   THE END OF THE PINGUIN           ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Uncertain as to the true identity of his quarry, the British captain spent most of the day shadowing the raider, until late in the afternoon he closed rapidly with her, leaving Krüder in no doubt that there was no alternative but to fight it out.

Armed with eight 8-inch guns, eight 4-inch guns, four 2-inch guns and eight heavy machine-guns, and carrying three aircraft she completely outclassed Pinguin, but Krüder, discarding his disguise and running up his battle ensign, opened a rapid and accurate fire, hitting the cruiser and temporarily putting her steering gear out of action.

Krüder also fired two torpedoes, both of which were easily spotted by the cruiser's seaplane and so missed their target.

With the Cornwall now moving out of range of his very accurate and effective guns, and, realising that it was all over, Krüder gave the orders to release the prisoners, set the scuttle charges and abandon ship.

But, there was no time for these orders to be carried out, as a four-gun salvo shook his ship as one of the Cornwall ’s 8-inch shells scored a direct hit on the raider’s mine storage compartment.

The resulting explosion ripped the Pinguin to pieces, sending flames and smoke thousands of feet into the air, and scattering fragments of the raider far and wide across the surface of the sea.

Heeling to starboard she slid down by the stern and was gone in five seconds.

Twenty-two prisoners, and sixty German crewmen were rescued.
Two hundred and three prisoners, and three hundred and forty-two of the Pinguin’s crew were lost, including her captain.

Ernst-Felix Krüder’s Pinguin had sailed over 59.000 miles, more than twice the circumference of the Earth, sinking and capturing twenty-eight ships, a total of 136.642 gross register tons, of which 52.000 tons was sent back to Germany as prizes.

Pinquin - War Records from 22-06-1940 to 08-05-1941
Number Prize Name Type Flag Date Tonnage Fate
1 Domingo de Larrinaga Freighter United Kingdom 31-07-1940 5.358 Sunk
2 Filefjell Tanker Norway 27-08-1940 7.616 Sunk
3 British Commander Tanker United Kingdom 27-08-1940 6.901 Sunk
4 Morviken Freighter Norway 27-08-1940 5.008 Sunk
5 Benavon Freighter United Kingdom 12-09-1940 5.872 Sunk
6 Nordvard Freighter Norway 16-09-1940 4.111 Captured
7 Storstad Tanker Norway 07-10-1940 8.998 Captured
8 Nowshera Freighter United Kingdom 19-11-1940 7.920 Sunk
9 Maimoa Freighter United Kingdom 20-11-1940 10.123 Sunk
10 Port Brisbane Freighter United Kingdom 21-22-1940 8.739 Sunk
11 Port Wellington Freighter United Kingdom 30-11-1940 8.303 Sunk
12 Ole Wegger Whaling Factory Ship Norway 14-01-1940 12.201 Captured
13 Solglimt Whaling Supply-ship Norway 14-01-1940 12.246 Captured
14 Torlyn Whaler Norway 14-01-1940 247 Captured
15 Pol VIII Whaler Norway 14-01-1940 298 Captured
16 Pol IX Whaler Norway 14-01-1940 354 Captured
17 Pol X Whaler Norway 14-01-1940 354 Captured
18 Pelagos Whaling Factory Ship Norway 14-01-1940 12.083 Captured
19 Star XIV Whaler Norway 14-01-1940 247 Captured
20 Star XIX Whaler Norway 14-01-1940 249 Captured
21 Star XX Whaler Norway 14-01-1940 249 Captured
22 Star XXI Whaler Norway 14-01-1940 298 Captured
23 Star XXII Whaler Norway 14-01-1940 303 Captured
24 Star XXIII Whaler Norway 14-01-1940 357 Captured
25 Star XXIV Whaler Norway 14-01-1940 361 Captured
26 Empire Light Freighter United Kingdom 25-04-1941 6.828 Sunk
27 Clan Buchanan Freighter United Kingdom 28-04-1941 7.266 Sunk
28 British Emperor Tanker United Kingdom 07-05-1941 3.663 Sunk
Subtotal 136.642
Ships Sunk by Mines
29 Cambridge Passenger Freighter United Kingdom 07-11-1940 10.846 Sunk
30 City of Rayville Freighter United States 09-11-1940 5.883 Sunk
31 Nimbin Freighter United Kingdom 05-12-1940 1.052 Sunk
32 Milimumul Fishing Trawler Australia 26-03-1941 287 Sunk
Subtotal (Mines) 18.068
Total 154.710
Notes to:
1 Sunk by torpedo.
2 Sunk by explosive charges.
3 Sunk by torpedo.
4 Sunk by explosive charges.
5 Sunk by gunfire. 21 dead.
6 Very valuable cargo of wheat. Dispatched to Bordeaux with 200 prisoners. Safely arrived. Later used as a blockade runner.
7 Converted in minelayer. Re-named Passat. Sent with 100 mines to Bass Strait. Then dispatched to Bordeaux.
8 Sunk by explosive charges. 113 prisoners.
9 Seaplane removes Radio Aerials. Sunk by explosive charges. Hundreds of tons of frozen meat, butter and eggs transferred to Pinguin.
10 Sunk by torpedo.
11 Sunk by gunfire. 82 prisoners including 7 women. There was now a total of 405 ‘guests’ on board. All were transferred to Storstad / Passat and dispatched to Bordeaux.
12 Dispatched to Bordeaux with a prize crew. It safely reach Bordeaux.
13 Dispatched to Bordeaux with a prize crew. It safely reach Bordeaux.
14 Dispatched to Bordeaux with a prize crew. It safely reach Bordeaux.
15 Dispatched to Bordeaux with a prize crew. It safely reach Bordeaux.
16

Converted into Auxiliary and re-named Adjutant.

17 Dispatched to Bordeaux with a prize crew. It safely reach Bordeaux.
18 Dispatched to Bordeaux with a prize crew. It safely reach Bordeaux.
19 Dispatched to Bordeaux with a prize crew. It safely reach Bordeaux.
20

Sunk by HMS Scarborough.

21 Dispatched to Bordeaux with a prize crew. It safely reach Bordeaux.
22 Dispatched to Bordeaux with a prize crew. It safely reach Bordeaux.
23 Dispatched to Bordeaux with a prize crew. It safely reach Bordeaux.
24 Dispatched to Bordeaux with a prize crew. It safely reach Bordeaux.
25 Sunk by HMS Scarborough. Meeting with supply ship Alstertor and the Duquesa. Receives a new Arado seaplane. Rests at Kerguelen Islands.
26 Sunk by explosive charges.
27 Sunk by explosive charges.
28 Prisoners taken on board. Pinguin sighted by HMS Cornwall. Sunk by gunfire after short fight. Only 22 prisoners and 60 Germans rescued. 203 prisoners and 342 of Pinguin’s crew, including her captain, go down with her.
29 Sunk by mine.
30 Sunk by mine.
31 Sunk by mine.
32 Sunk by mine.

Gallery

Chart
Click on the chart to see enlarged version
Chart: © Eric Leon

Credits
Alfonso Arenas, Spain Got the idea and founded the Hilfskreuzer section.
Jonathan Ryan, Ireland Creator of the Hilfskreuzer section, as it is today, based on his knowledge and private archive.