Timeline for the German Commerce Raider Schiff 16 - HSK 2 Atlantis  
   
   
   
  The German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis, known to the Kriegsmarine as Schiff 16 and to the Royal Navy as Raider-C, was a converted German auxiliary cruiser or commerce raider. During the Atlantis travelled more than 100,000 miles in 602 days and sank or captured 22 ships totaling 144,384 ton. The Atlantis was sunk on November 21, 1941 by the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire in the South Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantis was commanded by Kapitän zur See Bernhard Rogge, who received the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.  
  Thursday, December 16, 1937  
  The 7,862-ton freighter Goldenfels was launched at the Bremer-Vulkan Werft in Bremen-Vegesack. The Goldenfels would be requisitioned by the Kreigsmarine in 1939 and be recommissioned the Schiff 16-Atlantis.  
   
  Tuesday, December 19, 1939  
  The Goldenfels was commissioned into the Kriegsmarine as Schiff 16. Her commander was 40-year-old, newly-promoted Captain, Bernhard Rogge. The newly converted ship was armed with six rapid-fire 150mm L/45 C/16 guns, one 75mm cannon, two 37mm flak guns, four 20mm flak guns, four 53.3cm torpedo tubes, with 24 torpedoes, two Heinkel He-114 A-2 seaplanes, and carried 92 sea-mines. As it was the privilege of each raider captain to name his ship, Rogge informed his 346 hand-picked officers and crew that he would be naming her the Atlantis.  
   
  Monday, March 11, 1940  
  The Schiff 16-Atlantis and two other German commerce raiders - Schiff 21-Widder and Schiff 36-Orion - set sail through the Kaiser-Wilhelm canal into the North Sea.  
   
  Saturday, March 23, 1940  
  The Schiff 16-Atlantis anchored in Süderpiep Bay, Norway and adopted her first operational disguise as the Norwegian motorship Knute Nelson.  
   
  Monday, April 1, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the 5,114-ton Russian Fleet Auxiliary Kim and escorted by the torpedo-boats Leopard and Wolf and the submarine, the U-37 set sail into the North Sea. The Atlantis would evade the Royal Navy and make it into the Atlantic Ocean on April 8.  
   
  Friday, May 3, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Japanese passenger freighter Kasii Maru, fired upon, stopped and boarded the British freighter Scientist in the southern Atlantic Ocean. The Scientist was en route from Durban to Liverpool via Freetown carrying a mixed cargo of maize, chromium, copper bars, asbestos, zinc concentrate, flour, jute, hides, and tanning bark. Of the Scientist’s complement, 3 died and 76 were taken prisoner. When explosive charges failed to sink the ship the Atlantis used a torpedo to complete the job.  
   
  Friday, May 10, 1940  
  Over a period of four and a half hours in the evening the German commerce raider Atlantis laid ninety-two horned magnetic contact mines off Cape Agulhas (the official dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans) in South Africa, to disrupt the Allied shipping lanes around the Cape. The mines were laid in a way to suggest that a U-boat has laid them. The minefield was successful, but the deception was foiled and the ship's presence revealed several days later by a German propaganda broadcast boasting that "a minefield, sown by a German raider" had sunk no fewer than eight merchant ships, three more were overdue, three minesweepers were involved, and the Royal Navy was not capable of finding "a solitary raider" operating in "its own back yard."  
   
  Monday, May 20, 1940  
  A report sent from Ceylon was intercepted by the Germans. The report was sent to the Admiralty by the master of the City of Exeter, warning shipping of a German commerce raider disguised as a Japanese ship in the southern Atlantic and Indian oceans. This caused Captain Rogge to switch disguises to the Dutch motor vessel Abbekerk.  
   
  Thursday, June 6, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch freighter MV Abbekerk, fired upon, stopped, and captured the 7,230 ton Norwegian freighter Tirranna in the southern Atlantic Ocean. The Tirranna was en route from Mombasa from Australia, with a cargo of wheat, flour, bales of wool, 178 army trucks, beer, tobacco, canned peaches, and jam for the Australian troops fighting in the Middle East. Of the Tirranna’s complement, 5 died. A prize crew was put on board but due to the vessel having insufficient fuel to make it back to Europe, she was sent south to wait until the Atlantis could capture a tanker.  
   
  Thursday, July 11, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch freighter MV Tarifa, fired upon, stopped, and sank the 7,506 ton British freighter City of Bagdad in the southern Atlantic Ocean. The City of Bagdad was bound for Penang, Malaysia from the United Kingdom carrying steel, chemicals and machinery. The City of Bagdad’s complement of 81 was taken prisoner. The City of Bagdad was sunk with explosives. Papers were found on the City of Bagdad that described the Atlantis in minute detail. These papers cause Caprain Rogge to alter the Atlantis’ profile by adding two masts.  
   
  Saturday, July 13, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch freighter MV Tarifa, fired upon, stopped, and sank the 7,769 ton British freighter City of Kemmendine in the southern Atlantic Ocean. The Kemmendine was bound for Rangoon from Glasgow via Gibraltar and Cape Town and was carrying a crew of one hundred and twelve and thirty-five passengers, including five women and two children, and a small cargo of whiskey, beer and piece goods. The crew and passengers were taken prisoner. The City of Bagdad was sunk with two torpedoes.  
   
  Monday, July 29, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis rendezvoused with the captured Norwegian freighter Tirranna and began transferring 400 tons of fuel and various supplies, and approximately 300 prisoners to the ship. The crew also began maintenance on the two ships.  
   
  Friday, August 2, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch freighter MV Tarifa, fired upon, stopped, and sank the 6,732 ton Norwegian freighter Talleyrand in the southern Atlantic Ocean. The Talleyrand was bound for Sydney to the United Kingdom via Fremantle and was carrying a crew of 36 and a a cargo of steel, wool, wheat, and teak. The crew and passengers were taken prisoner. The Talleyrand was briefly used as a target-ship and then scuttled.  
   
  Monday, August 5, 1940  
  The refitted Tirranna set sail for France w a nineteen-man prize crew and 274 of the Atlantis’ 365 prisoners. On the night of August 10 the Tirranna narrowly avoided a lethal encounter with the German commerce raider Pinguin but the Pinguin thought that she could have been a British armed merchant cruiser and avoided her. The Tirranna was sunk on September 23 off the coast of France near Bordeaux by the submarine HMS Tuna. 86 of the captured prisoners and one of the prize crew were killed.  
   
  Saturday, August 24, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch freighter MV Tarifa, fired upon, stopped and sank the 4,744-ton British freighter King City with gunfire in the southern Atlantic Ocean. The King City was bound for Singapore from Cardiff and was carrying a cargo of coal and coke. Six of the King City’s crew died.  
   
  Monday, September 9, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch freighter MV Tarifa, fired upon, stopped, and sank the 9,557-ton British motor tanker Athelking with gunfire in the eastern Indian Ocean. The Athelking was bound for Sydney to the bound for East Africa from Australia and was carrying oil. Three of the crew died and the other 40 were taken prisoner.  
   
  Tuesday, September 10, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch freighter MV Tarifa, fired upon, stopped, and sank the 5,800 ton British freighter Benarty by demolition charges in the eastern Indian Ocean. The Benarty was bound for Liverpool from Rangoon via Durban and was carrying lead, zinc, and wolfram. The 49-man crew was taken prisoner.  
   
  Friday, September 20, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch freighter MV Tarifa, fired upon, stopped, and sank the 10,061 ton French passenger liner Commissaire Ramel by gunfire in the eastern Indian Ocean. The Commissaire Ramel was carrying steel, wheat, soap, leather and fruit. The survivors were taken prisoner.  
   
  Tuesday, October 22, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch freighter MV Tarifa, fired upon, stopped and captured the 5,623 ton Yugoslavian freighter Durmitor in the eastern Indian Ocean near the Sunda Strait. The Durmitor was bound for Japan from Spain with a cargo of salt. When it was established that Durmitor had enough coal on board to get her as far as Japan, Captain Rogge decided to use the vessel as a prison ship. Rogge sent the Durmitor to a rendezvous point while the Atlantis sent into the Sunda Strait in search of a ship with provisions.  
   
  Saturday, October 26, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, unable to find a ship with additional provisions to capture, rendezvoused with the captured Yugoslavian freighter Durmitor in the eastern Indian Ocean. 216 prisoners were transferred to the Durmitor along with as much food and water as could be spared to cover the estimated three-week journey to Italian-occupied Somaliland. Lack of proper supplies caused the Durmitor to become a “hell-ship.” The Durmitor would arrive off the port of Warsheik, 45 miles north of Mogadishu, Italian Somaliland on November 22, and in the absence of a pilot to take her in the Durmitor initially was run aground and then “taken prisoner” by the Italians. The ship was refloated, the prisoners transferred, and the freighter taken down the coast to the port of Kismaayo where control of the vessel was given to the Italians.  
   
  Saturday, November 9, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, claiming to be the British auxiliary cruiser HMS Antenor, stopped and sank the 6,748 ton Norwegian tanker Teddy by demolition charges in the Bay of Bengal in the eastern Indian Ocean. The Teddy was bound for Singapore from Abadan and was carrying fuel oil and diesel oil. A prize-crew was put on board and the Teddy was sent five hundred miles to the south where the precious diesel oil could be safely transferred into the Atlantis’ bunkers. The capture of the Teddy’s oil would effectively extend the Atlantis’ raiding cruise by two months.  
   
  Sunday, November 10, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, claiming to be the British auxiliary cruiser HMS Antenor, stopped and captured the 8,306 ton Norwegian tanker Ole Jacob in the eastern Indian Ocean. The Ole Jacob was bound for Suez from Singapore and was carrying high-octane aircraft. A prize-crew was put on board and the Ole Jacob was sent south rendezvous with the captured Norwegian oiler Teddy off Christmas Island.  
   
  Monday, November 11, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, claiming to be the British auxiliary cruiser HMS Antenor, stopped and sank the 7,528 ton British freighter Automedon by demolition charges in the the Sunda Strait in the eastern Indian Ocean. The Automedon was bound for Singapore from Abadan and was carrying a cargo of military and technical goods for the Allied war effort, that included aircraft, cars, machinery spares, medicines, service uniforms, bicycles, cameras, microscopes, steel, copper sheet, textiles, whiskey, beer, cigarettes and one hundred and twenty bags of mail. The Automedon was also carrying Top-Secret documents and fifteen bags of Government mail and because all but one of the officers had been killed during its capture, these documents had failed to be thrown overboard and wre captured. They included notes of the military defenses of Singapore, details of Naval and Royal Air Force deployment and strength in the Far East, Port defense layouts, Merchant Navy decoding tables and cipher pages, Royal Navy fleet orders, and many other top-secret documents prepared by the British War Cabinet. Eighty-seven people including twenty survivors of the sinking of the British freighter Anglo-Saxon and three passengers were taken prisoner.  
   
  Saturday, November 16, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis rendezvoused with the captured Norwegian tankers Teddy and Ole Jacob. After using the Teddy’s cargo of diesel fuel to refuel, the Teddy was sunk using demolition charges. The Ole Jacob would be sent to Japan with her entire load of high-octane aircraft fuel along top-secret documents about the defenses of the port of Singapore and other information about British military situation on the Far East captured from the British freighter Automedon. Because of this action the Japanese Government granted the Germans the use of Muag Island, a small island in the Mariana Islands, as a rest-refitting-replenishment area for raiders and blockade runners.  
   
  Friday, November 22, 1940  
  The Yugoslavian freighter Durmitor arrived off the port of Warsheik, 45 miles north of Mogadishu, Italian Somaliland and in the absence of a pilot to take her in the Durmitor initially was run aground and then “taken prisoner” by the Italians. The Durmitor had been captured by the Atlantis on October 22 in the eastern Indian Ocean near the Sunda Strait and became a prisoner ship for 216 seamen of ships captured or sunk by the Atlantis. The lack of supplies caused the Durmitor to become a “hell ship” during the journey across the Indian Ocean.  
   
  Sunday, December 8, 1940  
  The German commerce raiders Atlantis and Pinguin rendezvoused in the Indian Ocean. The ships were awaiting the arrival of the captured Norwegian tanker Storstad which had a cargo of 10,000 tons of diesel oil. The two ships would use the Storstad’s cargo to refuel.  
   
  Monday, December 9, 1940  
  The German commerce raiders Atlantis and Pinguin rendezvoused in the Indian Ocean with the captured Norwegian tanker Storstad. The two German raiders would use the Storstad’s cargo of 10,000 tons of diesel oil to refuel their vessels.  
   
  Tuesday, December 10, 1940  
  While the German commerce raiders Atlantis and Pinguin rendezvoused in the Indian Ocean with the captured Norwegian tanker Storstad a signal was received from Berlin announcing the awarding of the Ritterkreuz, the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, to Captain Bernhard Rogge of the Atlantis. The Atlantis and Pinguin were using the Storstad's cargo of diesel oil to refuel. After refueling the three ships went their separate ways. The Atlantis set course for the remote Kerguelen Islands, where there were countless inlets and bays in which they could lay up unobserved to give the crew leave and to take on a supply of fresh water. The Pinguin headed south and would capture a Norwegian whaling fleet including 3 whale factories and 11 whale catchers in a single day in the Antarctic Ocean. The Storstad set sail for France.  
   
  Saturday, December 14, 1940  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis reached Kerguelen, an archipelago situated midway between Africa, Antarctica and Australia. A heavily-armed landing party ashore at Port Couvreux to make sure that the settlement there was uninhabited. Once it was determined that that the port was unoccupied (it had been deserted since 1936) the Atlantis moved into the natural inner harbor but hit a hidden rock, tearing a hole in her outer hull. The ship would remain stuck fast on this rock for nearly three days. The Atlantis would remain at Port Couvreux until January 11, repairing and replenishing her damaged hull and fresh water tanks, and carrying out an engine overhaul and some general maintenance.  
   
  Friday, January 24, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Norwegian freighter Tamesis, strafed with its Heinkel seaplane, fired upon, stopped and sank by demolition charges the 5,144 ton British freighter Mandasor in the Arabian Sea. The Mandasor was bound for the United Kingdom from Calcutta with a cargo of pig iron, tea, and jute fiber. Six of the crew died and the other 82 were taken prisoner. The Heinkel seaplane was lost in the action.  
   
  Friday, January 31, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Norwegian freighter Tamesis, fired upon, stopped and captured the 5,144 ton British freighter Speybank in the tanker lanes off the Persian Gulf. The Speybank was bound for New York from Cochin, India with a cargo of manganese ore, monazite, ilesite, carpets, teak and shellac. Captain Rogge considered the Speybank an ideal candidate for conversion into a naval auxiliary and was dispatched south to the Saya de Malha Bank to await further orders. The Speybank would be converted into the auxiliary minelayer, Schiff 53 /Doggerbank.  
   
  Saturday, February 1, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Norwegian freighter Tamesis, had a brief contact with the British steamship Troilus in the tanker lanes off the Persian Gulf. The Troilus escaped while repeatedly transmitting that she was being followed by a ‘suspicious’. The British immediately sent a task force, code-named Force K, to locate and intercept the Atlantis which was fast becoming a thorn in their side, consisting of the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable and the heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins. On finding the Troilus safe and sound both warships returned to base.  
   
  Sunday, February 2, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Norwegian freighter Tamesis, fired upon, stopped and captured the 7,031 ton Norwegian tanker Ketty Brøvig in the tanker lanes off the Persian Gulf. The Ketty Brøvig was bound for from Bahrain to Lourenco Marques, Mozambique with a cargo of fuel and diesel oil. A prize crew was put aboard the Ketty Brøvig and sent to a rendezvous point to meet with the previously captured Mandasor.  
   
  Monday, February 10, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis rendezvoused off the coast of East Africa in the western Indian Ocean with the supply-ship Tannenfels and with the captured British freighter Speybank and the captured Norwegian tanker Ketty Brøvig. Over the next forty-eight hours these four ships exchanged essential supplies until all four were restocked for basic operational requirements.  
   
  Friday, February 14, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis accompanied by the supply-ship Tannenfels and with the captured British freighter Speybank and the captured Norwegian tanker Ketty Brøvig rendezvoused off the coast of East Africa in the western Indian Ocean with the heavy cruiser SMS Admiral Scheer. The SMS Admiral Scheer, the Atlantis, and the Tannenfels would all be refueled from oil from the Ketty Brøvig. The SMS Admiral Scheer and the Atlantis would depart for separate zones of operation and the Tannenfels was dispatched to France with the raider’s prisoners The Ketty Brøvig would be dispatched to join the German steamer Coburg to serve as an auxiliary supply-ship for the raider Pinguin. The Coburg and the Ketty Brøvig would be ambushed in the Indian Ocean on March 4 south of the Seychelles by the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra and light cruiser HMS Leander and scuttled to avoid being captured. The ambush was made possible because the German supply ship transmission codes had been broken.  
   
  Thursday, April 17, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Norwegian freighter Tamesis, fired upon, stopped and sank the 5,144 ton Egyptian passenger liner ZamZam in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. The ZamZam was bound for Cape Town from New York with a cargo of lubricating oil, tin plate, ambulances, trucks, steel bars, radios, batteries, typewriters, cosmetics, girdles and Coca-Cola, 202 passengers, and a crew of 129. Among the passengers were Charles J.V. Murphy, editor of Fortune Magazine, and a major contributor to TIME and LIFE magazines, as well as LIFE magazine photographer, David E. Sherman. Accordingly, Captain Bernhard Rogge instructed his officers and crew that these people were to be treated with generosity and kindness, so that they might at least limit the inevitably unfavorable news coverage. Unknown to Rogge, Sherman had taken a full-length photograph of the raider ‘Tamesis’ from one of the ZamZam’s lifeboats, a photograph which would ultimately play a significant role in the Atlantis' destruction.  
   
  Saturday, April 19, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis rendezvoused with the supply ships Dresden and Alsterufer and transferred the crew and passengers of the Egyptian passenger liner ZamZam sunk on April 17. Captain Rogge instructed the captains of the Dresden and Alsterufer that these people were to be treated with generosity and kindness as two of the captives were American newspaper correspondents and Rogge wanted to limit the inevitably unfavorable news coverage. The Atlkantis also took on three new, crated, Arado Ar-196 seaplanes.  
   
  Wednesday, May 14, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch motor-ship Brastagi, sank by gunfire the 5,144 ton British freighter Rabaul in the shipping lanes off the west coast of Africa. The Rabaul was bound for Capetown, South Africa from the United Kingdom with a cargo of coal. Seven of the crew died and the other 58 were taken prisoner. The prisoners would be transferred to the blockade-runner Dresden, which safely reached Bordeaux, France some weeks later.  
   
  Sunday, May 18, 1941  
  Just after midnight the German commerce raider Atlantis narrowly missed being spotted by the battleship HMS Nelson (28) and an aircraft carrier that were on their way to Gibraltar to join Force H, being assembled to assist in the pursuit of the battleship Bismarck. The British warships passed as close as 7,000 meters of the Atlantis without spotting her.  
   
  Saturday, May 24, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch motor-ship Brastagi, sank by gunfire and torpedoes the 4,530 ton British freighter Trafalgar in the shipping lanes off the west coast of Africa. The Trafalgar was bound for Capetown, South Africa and Alexandria, Egypt with a cargo of coal and two aircraft. Twelve of the crew died and the other 33 were taken prisoner.  
   
  Tuesday, June 17, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch motor-ship Brastagi, sank by gunfire the 4,762 ton British freighter Tottenham in the shipping lanes off the west coast of Africa. The Trafalgar was bound for Capetown, South Africa and Alexandria, Egypt with a cargo of supplies for the British army in Palestine including aircraft, aircraft spares, ammunition, tractors, trucks and cars. 29 of the crew were taken prisoner.  
   
  Sunday, June 22, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch motor-ship Brastagi, sank by gunfire the 4,530 ton British freighter Balzac in the shipping lanes off the west coast of Africa. The Trafalgar was bound for Liverpool from Rangoon, Burma with a cargo of rice, ‘vast quantities of beeswax’ and other mixed cargo. Four of the crew died and the other 48 were taken prisoner.  
   
  Monday, June 23, 1941  
  The account of the sinking of the Egyptian passenger liner ZamZam on April 17 by the German commerce raider Atlantis by Charles J.V. Murphy accompanied by photographs taken by David E. Sherman appeared in June 23 issue of LIFE magazine. The photographs of the Atlantis disguised as the Norwegian freighter Tamesis later helped the British identify and destroy the Atlantis.  
  Tuesday, July 1, 1941  
  The German commerce raiders Atlantis and Orion rendezvoused with each other north of the island of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean and began refueling from supply ship Anneliese Essberger.  
   
  Sunday, July 6, 1941  
  The German commerce raiders Atlantis and Orion ended their rendezvoused with each other north of the island of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantis headed for the South Pacific Ocean and the Orion headed west towards the coast of South America.  
   
  Wednesday, September 10, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis, disguised as the Dutch motor-ship Brastagi, captured the 4,793 ton Norwegian freighter Silvaplana between New Zealand and the Society Islands in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. The Silvaplana was bound for New York from Singapore with a cargo of crude rubber, coffee, Balinese carved wooden idols, and a valuable mixed cargo of hides, tin, copper, wax, sago, vanilla and spices, plus a full deck cargo load of teak. Rogge decided to keep the Silvaplana as a prize dispatched her to Bordeaux, France where she arrived safely on November 17, 1941.  
   
  Wednesday, October 29, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis rounded Cape Horn and entering the South Atlantic. The Atlantis had returned from the Indian and South Pacific Oceans having spent several fairly fruitless months spent searching for targets having captured only one ship. The Atlantis was now scheduled to return to Germany.  
   
  Saturday, November 8, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis was given orders to rendezvous first with the submarines U-68 and later with the U-126. These orders would prove to be the undoing of the Atlantis as the British Intelligence services had begun to reap the benefits of the equipment and code-books from the captured U-110, plus the fact that with their detailed knowledge of the characteristics of the South Atlantic, they had a fairly good idea where supply-ships were most likely to rendezvous with the U-boats.  
   
  Thursday, November 13, 1941  
  The German commerce raider Atlantis rendezvoused with the submarine U-68 southwest of the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic in order for the Atlantis to transfer fuel oil to the submarine as the Atlantic was now scheduled to return to Germany.  
   
  Thursday, November 20, 1941  
  A heavy landing caused the scouting plane of the German commerce raider Atlantis to be put out of action. This deprived the Atlantis of any long range spotting, which may have been useful in avoiding the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (39) on November 22.  
   
  Saturday, November 22, 1941  
  While transferring fuel oil to the submarine U-126 the German commerce raider Atlantis was spotted by a Walrus seaplane from the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (39). The Atlantis immediately cut the fuel lines and presented her stern to the HMS Devonshire try to hide the U-126 from the cruiser’s seaplane. However the seaplane spotted the U-126 and radioed the HMS Devonshire of its presence. Captain Rogge of the Atlantis knew that his only hope was to lure the HMS Devonshire closer, within range of his guns and torpedoes or into a position where the lurking U-Boat might get a shot at her. The Devonshire fired two shots across the Atlantis’ bow to which the Atlantis responded by stopping, signaling RRR, and identifying the ship as the Dutchman Polyphemus.  
   
  Having been informed that there was a U-Boat about, and because the Atlantis had signaled with only three Rs instead of the required four, the HMS Devonshire’s commander, Captain R. D. Oliver, remained cautious, calling up the C-in-C South Atlantic to make sure that the suspicious ship was not the Polyphemus. Keeping his ship out of range, his seaplane circled above the raider with its crew comparing the ship below with a photograph they had received. The photo was of the Atlantis when it was disguised as the Norwegian freighter ‘Tamesis’ taken by LIFE Magazine photographer David E Scherman, from one of the Egyptian passenger liner ZamZam’s lifeboats that was sunk by the Atlantis on April 17, published in the magazine in June, and later given to all Allied intelligence services.  
   
  The Devonshire stood off for over an hour until Captain Oliver finally received confirmation that the Atlantis could not possibly be the Polyphemus. The Devonshire then straddled the Atlantis with three 8-inch salvos, scoring two hits, followed by further salvos into the now helpless and almost stationary ship, registering more hits. With his ship clearly doomed, Rogge reduced speed and ordered a smokescreen, life boats were launched, explosive charges were set and the Atlantis was scuttled.  
   
  350 survivors of the raider’s crew and their one remaining prisoner, plus Kapitänleutnant Bauer of the U-126, and the seven members of his crew that had been on the Atlantis when the attack started, were the water or in the lifeboats or rafts. With a U-Boat still in the vicinity, Captain Oliver took HMS Devonshire away northwestwards at top speed. When Leutnant Neubert finally brought the U-126 to the surface, his furious commander berated him for not attacking the HMS Devonshire. Neubert explained that having come up to periscope depth to assess the situation, just as one of the cruiser’s 8-inch salvos exploded in the water around the boat, he believed he was being depth charged and crash dived.  
   
  Captains Rogge and Bauer decided that the best of option was to make for the coast of Brazil, more than 900 miles away, with the U-126 towing four overcrowded steel boats and five rubber rafts. As this was a voyage of at least two weeks under the blistering South Atlantic sun, the Bauer signaled Admiral Donitz’ at his HQ to appraise him of the situation and to request fuel, assistance and supplies. The reply confirmed that two further U-Boats the U-124 and the U-129 would be diverted from the central Atlantic operational area to assist with the rescue.  
   
  Monday, November 24, 1941  
  The U-Boat supply tender Python picked up the crew of the German commerce raider Atlantis, which had been sunk on November 22. The crew had been rescued up the U-126 and was being towed in four overcrowded steel boats and five rubber rafts. The Python then set sail for France.  
   
  Sunday, November 30, 1941  
  The U-Boat supply tender Python was in the process of transferring provisions to the submarines U-68 and U-A when the three German vessels were approached by the heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (40). The U-A attempted a torpedo attack on the HMS Dorsetshire but missed with 5 torpedoes. Having noticed the frenzied activity all around the Python as he approached her, the HMS Dorsetshire’s commander, Captain A.W.S. Agar signaled to the fleeing supply-ship, demanding her identity. On receiving no reply, he fired two warning shots, straddling the ship, causing the Python to heave to and its captain to give the order to abandon ship. The Python was then scuttled leaving 414 men adrift in eleven open boats and seven rafts. Certain that the sinking ship was a naval supply vessel, and fearing a counter attack from the U-Boats, the HMS Dorsetshire sped away southwards at top speed. Many of the men on the Python were survivors of the German commerce raider Atlantis which had been sunk on November 22. Informed of the sinking of the Python, the SKL notified Admiral Karl Dönitz, who re-directed two further U-Boats, the U-129and the U-124 to proceed immediately to assist in the rescue effort.  
   
  Saturday, December 6, 1941  
  By this date all the survivors of the German commerce raider Atlantis and U-Boat supply tender Python had been transferred to four U-boats: U-A, U-126, U-129, and the U-124. Each U-boat was crammed with an extra hundred men, the performance and operational capabilities of these U-Boats were effectively reduced to nil, and conditions on board quickly became unbearable for all concerned.  
   
  Friday, December 12, 1941  
  Each of the four U-boats carrying all the survivors of the German commerce raider Atlantis and U-Boat supply tender Python were instructed to rendezvous with Italian submarines off the Cape Verde Islands to offload some of their passengers. Between December 13 and 17, each of them established contact with the Italian boats. Each Italian boat took up to seventy men, greatly easing the claustrophobic conditions on board the U-boats.  
   
  Tuesday, December 23, 1941  
  The Italian submarine Luigi Torelli, carrying some of survivors of the German commerce raider Atlantis and U-Boat supply tender Python arrived at the port of Saint-Nazaire.  
   
  Thursday, December 25, 1941  
  The German submarines U-68 and U-A and the Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli, carrying some of survivors of the German commerce raider Atlantis and U-Boat supply tender Python arrived at the port of Saint-Nazaire.  
   
  Saturday, December 27, 1941  
  The German submarine U-129 and the Italian submarine Pietro Calvi, carrying some of survivors of the German commerce raider Atlantis and U-Boat supply tender Python arrived at the port of Saint-Nazaire.  
   
  Sunday, December 28, 1941  
  The Italian submarine Giuseppe Finzi, carrying some of survivors of the German commerce raider Atlantis and U-Boat supply tender Python arrived at the port of Saint-Nazaire.  
   
  Monday, December 29, 1941  
  The German submarine U-129 and the Italian submarine Pietro Calvi, carrying the last of the survivors of the German commerce raider Atlantis and U-Boat supply tender Python arrived at the port of Saint-Nazaire.  
     
   
  German Commerce Raiders  
   
     
   
 

The objective of WW2Timelines.com is to provide a day by day account of the events that lead up to and were part of the greatest conflict known to mankind. There are accounts for the activities of each particular day and timelines for subjects and personalities. It is the of this website intent to provide an unbiased account of the war. Analysis, effects caused by an event, or prior or subsequent pertinent events are presented separately and indicated as text that is italicized.

 
   
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