Daily Event for May 13

In the late afternoon of May 12, 1942 the last of the German raiders departed Rotterdam with the Atlantic and
commerce raiding as her goal... but first she would have to run the Channel. Originally named Cairo, the British caller her Raider J and the Kriegsmarine, Schiff 23, to her captain and crew she was the Stier. A converted merchant ship now with six 5.9" guns a few anti-aircraft guns and two torpedo tubes disguised behind false walls designed to be dropped as soon as the Kriegsmarine ensign was raised up the staff. But for the Stier the reign of the single commerce raider was coming to an end.

After the Channel dash in February the British, who had missed the opportunity to sink three heavy German ships, finally protected the English Channel with numerous destroyers and torpedo boat patrols. The month
before they had nearly caught the HSK Michel and the Germans knew that getting Stier into open water would
be even more difficult. When she left Rotterdam she was disguised as a Minesweeper (Sperrbrecher 171) and
was under heavy escort from sixteen minesweepers and four torpedo boats. Of course such a large contingent
of vessels sent the message to the British that there was an important target among the ships and so the
British began their attack plan.

An unknown number of torpedo boats moved in from several directions and encircled the German ships just
before entering the Straits of Dover. Shore batteries fired on them but they remained just out of range. At about
03:30 on May 13 the British made their move, first firing starburst shells to light up the night sky then with
torpedoes. The first victim was the German torpedo boat Iltis, she was hit by a torpedo from the HMS MTB-221,
broke in half and sank taking all 129 crewmen with her. Next came the end of the torpedo boat Seeadler, a ship
that carried the same name as the famous German commerce raider of the first world war. She was hit amidships by a torpedo fired from HMS MTB-219 and like the Iltis broke in half and sank quickly with most of
her crew. Before the German convoy reached the waters near Boulogne, France and the protection of German
shore guns the British lost a boat. HMS MTB-220 was the only British loss in the battle and only a few of her
crew were picked up by the Germans.

The heavy price paid by German sailors to get the Stier in to the Atlantic (almost 200 killed) did not result in a
big return. Stier was at sea for 142 days and only sunk four ships totaling 30, 728 tons. The last being the
SS Stephen Hopkins, a US Liberty ship. On the 27th of September the ill fated Stephen Hopkins happened on
the Stier and the Tannenfels dead in the water side by side. The Stephen Hopkins was ordered to stop but her
captain refused and tried to make a run for it. But it was not to be and a dramatic gun battle ensued and when
the smoke had cleared both the Stephen Hopkins and the Stier were on the bottom of the sea. The crew of the
Stier had lost three men and the survivors boarded the Tannenfels but the survivors of the Hopkins were no
where to be found. Those who had survived faced a thirty-two day ordeal at sea in an open lifeboat. Only 15
were still alive when they made land in Brazil, 1,800 miles away.

© 2007 Michael W. Pocock

HSK Stier.

2005 Daily Event
2006 Daily Event