German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

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Andy B
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German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by Andy B » Sat Aug 16, 2008 4:12 pm

Hi,

I have 2x questions which I hope someone may be able to help with.

My Grandfather, Eberhard Bopst, served as a watch officer aboard the Bernd von Arnim, right up to when she was scuttled in Narvik in April 1940.

My questions are thus...

1. Does anyone know the names of the other officers & crew that served on this destroyer, especially during the Narvik conflict?

2. My Grandfather was awarded the Spanish Cross in silver, however I can find no record of his ship being involved in the Spanish civil war, can anyone offer me some info/explanation on how he would of received this medal.

Grateful for any info/pics on this destroyer should anyone have some.

Cheers, Andy

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Dave Saxton
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Aug 17, 2008 4:35 pm

All I could find on the von Arnim crew was that Lieutenant-Commander Curt Rechel was the skipper.

The von Arnim(Z11) was assigned to Erich Bey's destroyer squadron at the beginning of the war and participated in the mining of British harbors and also escorted Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in some early forays. It was the von Arnim that was engaged by the British destroyer Glowworm while escorting the battleships in operation Wesserubung. Adm Luetjens sent back the cruiser Hipper to assist the von Arnim with it's superior firepower, resulting in Hipper being rammed and the Glowworm being sunk.

At Narvik the von Arnim was among three zerstroyers sent to disembark troops for the occupation of the harbor under the command of Commodore Bonte whom was on the Heidkamp. When challenged the von Arnim sank the Norwegian defense ship Norge in Narvik harbor.

The next day when the 2nd British destroyer squadron under the command of Warburton-Lee attacked the German destroyers in Narvik, the von Arnim had been positioned outside the inner harbor, and along with the Thiele under the command of Fritz Berger the von Arnim sortied from Ballangen fiord to join Erich Bey's group of three destroyers to cut off Warburton-Lee's egress from the main Narvik harbor.

The von Arnim and Thiele sank Warburtons-Lee's flag ship the Hardy. Warburton-Lee was killed in the action. Also sunk was the British destroyer Hunter.

I believe the von Arnim and other German destroyers were attacked by the battleship Warspite and nine British destroyers in Narvik harbor on the 13th of April leading to the scuttling.

The von Arnim may have been part of the escort for the Graf Spee during the Spanish civil war.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Andy B
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by Andy B » Sun Aug 17, 2008 5:02 pm

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your reply and idea about Graf spee, I'll look in to that.

Andy

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Dave Saxton
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Aug 17, 2008 5:09 pm

There's also the possibilty that your grandfather was on the another ship other than von Arnim during the Spanish Civil War, or even on the Graf Spee.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Andy B
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by Andy B » Sun Aug 17, 2008 5:29 pm

I have his service record and it only shows that for a short period in early 1940 he was on the Wilhelm Heidkamp, otherwise he was on the BvA :?

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RF
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by RF » Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:16 pm

I do recall some years ago reading a book dealing with the action between the GHlowworm and this destroyer and there was quite a bit about Rechel and the Bernd von Arnim. If you are interested I can do some digging for you to try and locate this book, which I think is many moons out of print.

There is also the German Navy website which deos give some info on individual destroyers, including CO's and technical specifications.
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Andy B
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by Andy B » Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:24 pm

Hi RF,

Thanks for your reply,

Yes would be interested to know name of book.

Read a very good book by RN Capt Peter Dickens called Narvik, Battle in the Fjords, which he wrote after talking to sailors from both sides. Gives a very good insight into the 2 battles.

Cheers, Andy

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RF
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by RF » Tue Aug 19, 2008 7:55 am

As I say this was years ago and off the top of my head I cannot recall title or author.

I will have a ''dig'' this coming weekend when I have some time and get back to you next week.
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Andy B
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by Andy B » Tue Aug 19, 2008 10:55 am

Cheers, really appreciate you taking the time to have a look

Andy

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RF
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by RF » Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:56 pm

Andy B,

I've had a look for this article and I just cannot find it. I think it goes back a lot further than I first thought.

I believe the article was published in Purnell's History of the Second World War, possibly around 1971 or 1972, the author I think was a retired RN officer called Lieut-Cmr Kemp. This person also contributed an article on the last hours of the Bismarck, an article somewhat critical of Admiral Lutjens and Raeder for allegedly abandoning that ship to its fate.

I am sorry I can't be any more help, as I am sure the article will be long out of print. I think your best bet is to see whether it has been reproduced on the internet, but I have already looked and it doesn't seem too hopeful.
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by BI Naess » Thu Nov 06, 2008 8:59 pm

Hi Andy,
My grandfather was on the BvA. He met my grandmother and they got a girl, my mother, during the war. Both my grandfather, grandmother and mother have passed away. But I have a photo album with pictures from Narvik during 1940.

I have not done any research before and have very few details.

Bjorn

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Andy B
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by Andy B » Fri Nov 07, 2008 5:44 pm

Hi Bjorn,

Have sent you an email, let me know if you do not received it.

Regards, Andy

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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by ewlcorvi » Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:10 am

My great uncle was a crew member on the Bernd von Arnim during the battle of Narvik. His name is Ob. Btsm. Bastiasn. He helped to rescue british sailors from the Hunter and Hardy during the first battle at Narvic. When they ran out of ammunition and torpedos during the second battle of Narvik they put up a smoke screen and went further up in the fjord. It was here that the ship was abandoned and he and Ob. Btsm. Weidkamp were responsible to ignite the explosive charges on the destroyer. They were the last to leave the ship. When they were in the water the british ships came through the smoke screen and were apparently mad because the remaining German Destroyers blew them selves up. So, they began to shoot the crew from the Arnim who were swimming ashore with rifle and machinegun fire from a distance of about 50 to 75 meters. My uncle said that the water from the blood of the casualties turned red. The british also fired shrapnel at the shore killing many of the survivors from the Georg Thiele. With this act the british navy contradicted their own concept of FAIR PLAY. Also the Captain of the Arnim was Korv. Kpt. Rechel.

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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by marcelo_malara » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:56 am

I don´t think British destroyers carried shrapnel. I must say too that I don´t remember in the bibliography I have, The German Invasion of Norway by Geirr H. Haarr , Narvik by Dickens (who relies on German´s sailors testimonies), and Hitler's Preemptive War: The Battle for Norway by Lunde, reading about such an incident. I accept the fact that none of them was written by German authors.

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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by ewlcorvi » Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:52 am

The shrapnel I am referring to are the the pieces of metal from the casing of a grenade after it explodes. I don't thinkthat the british navy had "VT" (variable timed) fuses for the shells on their battle ships, but I do know that "PD" (Point Detonating) fuses were used. According to my Uncles comments in his book he indicated that the british ships fired these shells at the german sailors fromn the Georg Thiele who were already ashore on the hillside and hanging on to the Ore Train. He also indicated the presence of Polish sailors who were with the british fleet. I wonder if this can be substantiated by others, and what prompted the british fo fire at the Arnim survivors who were swimming in the water?

Repectfully - elcorvi

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