Langsdorff of the Graf Spee at grafspee.com
Home Blog Buy the Books The Graf Spee Adminral Raeder's Navy

Sincere thanks to readers of my published books. Also, my appreciation to many professional associates during twenty-five years of research into the 'Admiral Graf Spee' saga.

I believe that the 'Scheer' cruise was carefully managed to shield a diesel engine problem in the pocket battleships. Also to invigorate SKL's land-based control of German warships' missions at sea. Captain Krancke's publication "Pocket Battleship" is a reliable source that I am using to review the 'Admiral Scheer' raiding mission.

I hope you may find this interesting. 24 March, 2019 Joseph Gilbey.

SEGMENT #7. MAJOR ENGINE REPAIRS - AT SEA!

In the South Atlantic, south of the line, Krancke ordered a northeast by north course. On 18 December the Arado pilot spotted a freighter - with a rear gun visible. As the mast tips appeared, 'Scheer' advanced to make a challenge. Immediately, RRR – RRR – RRR went into the airwaves. Krancke ordered a shot-over-the-bows.

British wireless at Freetown acknowledged the freighter's S.O.S and 'Scheer' fired a second warning. The ship 'hove to' and a prize crew boarded the refrigerator vessel 'Duquesa'.

Loaded with 9,000 tons of meat and fruit plus 900 tons of eggs she was a prize worth keeping. Commander Schwartzlosen, supply officer of Scheer, selected fruits, vegetables, and meats of all kinds plus - eggs and more eggs - to be transferred to his pantries aboard 'Scheer'.

As a coal burner, any chance of getting 'Duquesa' to Germany was slim but her presence at 'Andalusia' would augment the rendezvous's 'raison d'etre' . Krancke had the prize crew install a German flag at the stern and ordered 'Duquesa' to make 'Andalusia' – 45*W/25*S.

Captain Krancke's raider 'menu' now called for a fast move away from the South Atlantic. Sailing on a south- south-easterly course Scheer made top speed. She would join 'Duquesa' and others at 'Andalusia' later. SKL would then schedule the auxiliary cruiser 'Pinguin' and 'Scheer' into the Antarctic searching for the Norwegian whaling fleet.

But the 'Scheer' engines had clocked two months running time – greatly exceeding the dock yard check at 1000hrs recommended in M.A.N. manuals. Engineer-Commander Ewe understood it was time to ensure the engines were in satisfactory condition.

En route to Andalusia, Ewe gathered his engineering officers and leading mechanics in his command station. He explained his intention to make a complete engine overhaul - a very hazardous and difficult job at sea. But Engineer-Commander Ewe had especially planned and prepared for 'repairs at sea' when preparatory loading in 'Gotenhaven' . Spare parts and special tooling was now available on board 'Scheer'. They would split the work into two stages, with one week of rest between.

The means on board 'Scheer' enabled the removal, overhaul and replacement of a main cylinder during the extensive overhaul. This required precision details at one hundredth part of a millimetre. Eng.-Cmdr. Ewe's expert engineers tackled and completed the extremely difficult piston work.

When the overhaul was finished the engines were 'good as new'. Specific details of the work were added to a daily log that Ewe meticulously kept throughout the mission. Every tiny item concerning the engine operations went into this log. Naval research and development on shore would screen the log after the fact.

On Christmas Eve lazily heading south, a few miles below the Tropic of Cancer, 'Scheer' celebrated in style with abundant good food, the captain's festive greetings and the ship's band playing 'holy night'. Christmas day gave duty-free hands a chance to relax and enjoy a warm comfortable sun, shining down from directly above.

Next day, lookouts spotted masts that soon emerged as the auxiliary cruiser 'Thor'. She was wearing a Jugoslavian flag and boldly displaying the name 'Vir'. Captain Krancke and Captain Kaelhler ('Thor') were old friends and enjoyed a renewal aboard 'Scheer'.

Boxing day 1941 gave an extra edge to the Krancke/Kaehler meeting at sea. The on board 'propaganda' film unit made it a very special occasion. The Chief Boatswain, amidst full dress salutes and regulatory respects, piped the 'Thor' captain aboard 'Scheer'. Much back slapping and comradely greetings followed, then a lavish breakfast. This gave the film crews a wonderful documentary opportunity.

Please stay in touch for Segment #8. Joseph Gilbey, Hillsburgh, Ontario, 24 March, 2019

Content ©2006, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12 Joseph Gilbey.