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The loss of the Dutch submarine Hr.Ms. O13 in June 1940.

Even a formal letter dated April 1946 from the Dutch Admiralty received by relatives of the O13 crew speaks about an attack by German Navel forces somewhere in the neighbourhood where the O13 was on patrol. Later investigation pointed out that this attack most probably concerned the english submarine the "Porpoise".

The question now is, is there any knowledge somewhere about what happened with submarine O13 and her crew in 1940 and about the position all this should have occured?

Since some years one can read information concerning the War Cabinet meetings. Some facinating notes concerning the O13 and other submarines have been posted here .....

The following more or less formel information about the loss of the Hr.Ms. O13 can be found on the internet:

  1. According the Royal Navy Historical Branch the Dutch submarine O13 was lost in a British minefield, on 13 June 1940, around 5700N 0340E, in the same field that claimed the Polish ORP Orzel. This information is recorded in the Public Records Office under Class Mark ADM 199/1925.

  2. The Dutch authorities however say that the O13 was lost in a German minefield 16B at about 5655N 03E. This German minefield was at that time unknown to the Allies.

  3. On the site "Seekrieg 1940, Mai" one can read:
    Die dt. Minenleger Roland, Cobra, Preußen und 
    Kaiser laufen, gesichert von den 
    Zerstörern Richard Beitzen, Hermann Schoemann, Bruno Heinemann 
    und Torpedoboot Greif, zum Auswerfen der 
    Minensperre 16 westl. der Great Fisherman’s Bank. 
     .. but, the british fleet approaches .... 
    Rechtzeitig meldet die 1. S-Flottille den Gegner 
    und der Minenverband kann abdrehen ....
  4. Then on "Seekrieg 1940, Mai" it says:
    17.– 20.5.1940
    Minenunternehmungen mit Kreuzer Köln, Aviso Grille sowie 
    den Zerstörern Bruno Heinemann, Hermann Schoemann und 
    Richard Beitzen, die in den Nächten 
    vom 17./18.5. und 19./20.5. in 2 Teilabschnitte die 
    Minensperre 16 als Verlängerung der Westwall-Sperre werfen. 
    Auf Sperre 16A (Position 56.45n 03.26e) sinkt 
    wahrscheinlich Anfang August 1940 das britische U-Boot Thames
  5. On the site "WW II Day by Day" on the page "25.Mai 1940" the German mine fields 16A en 16B are mentioned, as follows:
    Gruppe West reports location of Barrier 16A and 16B:
                    16A: from 56°37’N 3°33’O to 56°51’N 3°24,5’O
                    16B: from 56°54’N 3°42’O to 57°08’N 3°36’O
                    The barrier is set at 3m under M.Spr.N.W., 
                    Explosive-buoies 6 – 8m under M.Spr.N.W.
  6. A mister Marek Twardowski on a Polish forum claims the following:

    H.T.Lenton in "Navies of the Second World War - Royal Netherlands Navy" stated that on 13.06.1940 RNN O-13 was lost on mines in the North Sea. That version was given also in "Warships Supplement" 82 (p.9) and the position given is 57oN/3o40E. I understand this was an official version and both the date and position are only approximations. In "Warships Supplement" 84 Mr L.L. von Munching published corrections to the above, stating that O-13 was rammed by WILK on 20.06 in position 56o50N/3o57E. That rumour emerged already in June 1940, but was disregarded by official historians. Nevertheless it is repeated until today.

  7. On "Seekrieg 1940, Mai" the Polish ORP Orzel is also mentioned:
    27.5.– 14.6.1940
    Auf einer weiteren Minensperre vor Südwestnorwegen 
    geht am 25.5. (brit. Minensperre 57.00n 03.40e) oder 
    am 8.6. (dt. Minensperre 16 B) das poln. U-Boot Orzel verloren.

As far as I know the exact position and time were unknown at that time, and still are today.
Therefore, apart from the official statements, alternatives are possible too.

As long as nobody knows what happened, there will circulate serious but exiting articles on the internet (e.g. from Miltiades Varvounis) based on events of other submarines like the Polish ORP´s Wilk and Orzel, but also the German U-BOATS U-122 and U--99, and may be even the British submarine Porpoise.

Stories and articles about supposed deliberate ramming between submarines, about subs behaving like a shot animal, about long signals, running on a rock or may be even striking a mine, about deckguns and yellow flares, about unexperienced officers, etc.......

But there are also plenty of exiting historical articles and stories on the internet about the adventures of the Polish National symbol: the ORP Orzel and her crew.
Even articles on the invasion of Norway by the Germans (e.g. Weserubung) are interesting to see some of the facts in a historical perspective.

(See this site´s startpage for external links to all these interesting stories.)

Some of the questions those stories call for could be;

  1. Is the O13 attacked by German Arado planes and may be sunk by bombs?
  2. Was the O13 perhaps torpedoed by a German ship?
  3. Did the O13 really strike a mine and if so was it in a british or in a German minefield?
  4. Did the Wilk ramm the (may be even damaged) sub O13 or just a rock?
  5. Was there a pennant number painted on the cunning tower? And if so, was it O13 or N13?
  6. Did a Dutch submarine (O13?) shoot the Polish ORP as suggested on a forum?
  7. Or did the departing O13 even come into collision with the returning Orzel?

Sometimes the information on the internet doesn´t seem to be very reliable. Following are some wrongly cited summaries for the loss of the O13 : (see the startpage for links to these sites)

  1. On Naval_History.net on page "Norwegian Campaign, Juni" the following can be read:

    20th - Dutch submarine “0-13” also on passage to her
    Norwegian patrol area is torpedoed in error by Polish “Wilk”.
    More recent research suggests she was more likely
    sunk 13 June 1940 in a German minefield in 56º55'N-03º40'E.

  2. In "WW II day by day", paragraph "Norwegen" can be read:

    The danish submarine O13 is lost while heading from England to Norway.
    Probably it hit a mine after attacked by the polish submarine “Wilk” by mistake.

  3. And in "Seekrieg 1940 - juni", paragraph "12.— 20.6.1940 Norwegen":

    Auf dem Ausmarsch nach Norwegen geht am 13.6. das niederl. U-Boot O 13 verloren, vermutlich gerät es nach einem irrtümlichen Angriff des poln. U-Bootes Wilk auf eine Mine.

(Following subject is just an example to show that O13 sunk by Wilk is not purely academic.)

HMS Oxley sunk by HMS Triton. (See this site's start page for some external links)

  • Directly after the start of the invasion of Poland by Germany the British Navy started to patrol by airplanes and submarines at the south west coast of Norway

  • The first ship sunk by a British ship was the British submarine Oxley sunk by submarine Tritan because the commander did not regognise the Oxley, which was on patrol on the nearest patrol area. The Oxley also did not react to signals from the Triton.

  • Directly after this incident on 12 september 1939, the Royal Navy decided to lenghten the distances between submarine patrol area's from 12 to 16 miles.


remarks or suggestions ?

GENERAL: Dutch version |

(This page from 2005 was last updated on 17 may 2012).