Disaster at High Seas
On 1 March 1943 Beaufighter O/235 Squadron (t/o 0730 Landed 1225) saw a 600 tons trawler it was searching lying low in the water with life boats full of people round it and an enemy aircraft shadowing it in the position HBJT 4848, which means 56 48N 02 48E 1). O/235 attacked and shot down one Ju 88 and made an unsuccessful attack on a second enemy a/c. The vessel was Norwegian and there was something special in it. 235 Sqn flew 11 sorties to find it on 1 March. Also one Hanpden/455 Sqn carried out a special patrol to find the vessel. And of course more planes may have been participated from other stations. The pilot of the O/235 Sqn was Sgt. Vandewater, who claimed as destroyed a Ju 88 at 1100 hrs over the North Sea according to Coastal Command records and the claim was accepted. The Luftwaffe aircraft seems to have been Ju 88 D-5 (W.Nr. 430 206) of 1.(F)120 flown by Oberfeldwebel Hans Schubert which disappeared due to unknown causes at Pl. Qu. 2719/05 Ost with all the crew listed as missing. Crew was:
Ofw. Hans Schubert (F)2) Missing
Ofw. Heinfried Eskuche (B) Missing
Fw. Heinrich Schumacher (Bf) Missing
Fw. Friedrich Neumann (Bs) Missing
the LUMA tool translates the Luftwaffe square as 56° 49 Min. 23 Sec N 2° 21 Min. 15 Sec E. so it is near the position gave by the Beaufighter crew. Thinking the accuracy of overseas navigation of the day IMHO it is very possible that the Ju 88 was victim of Sgt Vandewater. Of course it is impossible to be sure without more information.
And the reason for this action was, thanks for pointing this to me goes to Laurent Rizzotti and his message at 12 O’Clock High!, the Operation Carhampton, an attempt to take over a German shipping convoy.
In this operation Odd Kjell Starheim and 40 other Norwegian soldiers were landed near Abelsnes in Vest-Agder by the Norwegian auxiliary minesweeper Bodø. Thirty of Starheim’s men were from NOR.I.C.1( the SOE branch called Norwegian Independent Company 1), while the remaining 10 belonged to the Royal Norwegian Navy. The first attempt, on 10 January 1943, at capturing a convoy failed when the coordination of the various groups was lost. A second attempt on 17 January ended in a gunfight between the commandos and German guards. The group’s cover blown, the Norwegians were hunted by large German forces and had to be assisted by local resistance people in order to survive. After an aborted attempt at attacking the strategically significant mines at Knaben3) the whole operation was called off. The leadership in London had not supported the plans to attack Knaben, instead approving of an attack on the titanium mine Titania in Sokndal, and the capture of a 10,000 ton ship in the Jøssingfjord. The commandos were supposed to have escaped Titania by using the mine trolleys. Starheim and 12 other Carhampton members hijacked the 732-ton Norwegian coastal passenger/cargo steamship SS Tromøsund on 28 February in an attempt to bring the ship over to Scotland, but Tromøsund never reached the UK, being sunk by German aircraft the next day. One of the bombs went down the funnel, and the boilers probably blew up. Two lifeboats with 8 men in each were also sunk.
All those on board, including the 13 commandos, the 26 crew, two passengers and three German prisoners of war, lost their lives when Tromøsund sank. Starheim and the ship’s captain were the only ones whose bodies were recovered, drifting ashore on Tjörn near Bohuslän a few weeks later, and an empty lifeboat from the ship was found on a beach in Jylland. Of the members of the operation who did not sail on Tromøsund 16 made their way to West Hartlepool in North East England by a fishing boat, four men were given new missions in Norway and the rest made their way to neutral Sweden. Starheim was buried in his birthplace Lista. In addition to his British DSO, he was awarded the Norwegian War Cross.
One can see a picture of SS Tromøsund here: https://www.ads.no/arendals-dampskibsselskab/the-arendals-dampskibsselskab-fleet-over-the-years/
AIR28/462 Operations Record Book R.A.F. Station Leuchars 1943 at National Archives, Kew
At 12 O’Clock High!: Leo Etgen, Chris Goss and Laurent Rizzotti
At rafcommands.com: Ross McNeill
The exterior of a Junkers Ju 88D-5 was almost identical to this Finnish Air Force Ju 88A-4, serial JK-268, but the undernose 20mm MG FFM carried on this bomber. Of course national markings and camoflage were different on a Luftwaffe plane. Junkers Ju 88D-5 was a reconnaissance version of the A-4 subtype, carrying extra fuel in the bomb bays and reconnaissance cameras behind the after bomb bay. SA-kuva 153346