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horoscope sign

German auxiliary cruiser Widder

Widder (HSK 3) was an auxiliary cruiser (hilfskreuzer) of the German Navy that was used as a merchant raider in the Second World War. Known to the KM as Schiff 21, to the Royal Navy she was Raider D. The name Widder (Ram) represents the constellation Aries in the German language. The name was given after the horoscope sign of the ship's master, Kapitan zur See Helmuth von Ruckteschell.

Early history

Built for HAPAG, the Hamburg America Line, at Howaldtswerke, Kiel, she was launched in 1930 as the freighter Neumark. After an uneventful career she was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine for use as a commerce raider. She was converted for this purpose by Blohm and Voss in the winter of 1939, and commissioned as the raider Widder on 9 December of that year. She sailed on her first and only raiding voyage in May 1940.

Raider voyage

Widder sailed as part of the German Navy’s first wave of commerce raiders, sailing on 6 May 1940 under the command of KK (later FK) Helmuth von Ruckteschell.

Leaving Germany on 6 May 1940 she slipped through the Denmark Strait, and made for her patrol area in the Atlantic. Over a 5 ½ month period she captured and sank ten ships, totalling 58,644 GRT.

Having completed her mission, she returned to occupied France on 31 October 1940.

Later history

Deemed unsuitable as a merchant raider, Widder was re-christened Neumark, and used as a repair ship in Norway. After the war she was taken into British service as Ulysses, then sold back to Germany as Fechenheim in 1950 before being wrecked off Bergen in 1955.

She was one of only two German auxiliary cruisers to survive the war, after one 1940 cruise. Her captain, Kapitän zur See Helmuth von Ruckteschell, was one of only two German naval commanders convicted of war crimes at the end of the war.

Raiding career

References

  1. Paul Schmalenbach (1977). German Raiders 1895–1945. ISBN 0 85059 351 4.
  2. August Karl Muggenthaler (1977). German Raiders of World War II. ISBN 0 7091 6683 4.
  3. Stephen Roskill (1954). The War at Sea 1939–1945 Volume I.

External links

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