7 Apr 1940

  • In the morning, the first German naval forces set sail for Operation Weserbüng. The huge Frorce was split into 10 groups under overall command of Admiral Rolf Carls. In the force were the old battleship Schleswig-Holstein, the heavy cruisers Hipper, Blücher and Lützow, with light cruisers Köln, Königsberg and Karlsruhe. There were also over 20 destroyers, mineseepers and torpedo boats, as well as tenders and transports. Admiral Karl Dönitz made up 9 submarine groups to accompany the surface vessels, 31 submarines in all; the U-boat operations would end as a total failure: despite good conditions the torpedoes showed defects in the depth-keeping mechanisms and the magnetic fuses failed, ending in only 6 Allied sinkings at the cost of 4 submarines. At 1325 hours, Hudson reconnaissance aircraft of No. 220 Squadron RAF spotted a part of German Marine Gruppe 1 and reported the presence of 1 cruiser and 6 destroyers at 1325 hours, sailing in a northward direction; 12 Blenheim and 24 Wellington bombers were dispatched to attack this group but the attack was not successful. The British Admiralty, receiving reports of major German naval movements, incorrectly assumed the Germans were launching a major attack into the Atlantic Ocean. The Home Fleet departed from Scapa Flow at 2115 hours, while the 1st Cruiser Squadron disembarked the troops already on board in order to prepare for a battle on the open seas. Nevertheless, British submarines continued to patrol the European coast for German activity rather than going out to the open seas; HMS Shark and HMS Seawolf departed Harwich naval base to patrol off Dutch coast, while HMS Clyde and HMS Thistle departed Scapa Flow to patrol the coast of Norway. ww2dbase [Invasion of Denmark and Norway | CPC, HM]
Photo(s) dated 7 Apr 1940
Settsu at anchor, Kure, Japan, 7 Apr 1940

Timeline Section Founder: Thomas Houlihan
Contributors: Alan Chanter, C. Peter Chen, Thomas Houlihan, Hugh Martyr, David Stubblebine
Special Thanks: Rory Curtis

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"Since peace is now beyond hope, we can but fight to the end."

Chiang Kaishek, 31 Jul 1937