The tale of a gun

Today the remaining 12,7cm SK c/34 at The former Norwegian coastal battery at Fjøløy, south-western Norway, looks quite peacefull. This was not the fact 60 years ago, when the gun was placed at “Marine küstenbatterie Egersund”, close to one of the most used convoy routes for German shipping.

MKB 4/503 was operational in July 1941, serving under the Marine artillerieabteilung 503 lead by Kapitän Zur See Böhme. The battery was commanded by Kptl. M.A.Lohse. The battery was first equipped with rather old guns captured on various Norwegian warships in 1940. ( 2 x 12cm Armstrong L/44 + 1 x 12 cm Nordenfeldt L/44). The battery had a quiet start, whith only a few passing RAF airplanes looking for German ships. As the situation in Europe started to change, and the British navy started hunting German convoys closer to the Norwegian coast, a urgent need for modernisation of the battery was requested. By the summer of 1943, the battery recieved 4 of the modern 12,7cm Sk c/34 in M.P.L c/34 guns, which were originally meant for destroyers. As airprotection, 4 new 2cm Flak were brought in.  For rangefinding, a new “Entfernungsmesser 6M” by Zeiss was placed on a nearby hilltop. In addition to these weapons, the battery also recieved 4 60Cm and one 120Cm floodlights, which is unusually much for a coastal battery. As close defence, several machingun nests, anti tankguns and flamethrowers were erected on strategic points.

On the 12 November 1944, a German convoy consisting of 4 Merchantmen, “Cournouaille”, “Palermo”, “Greif” and “Rosenberg 1” escorted by M-427, M-446, M-416, UJ-1713, UJ-1221 and UJ- 1223 got under attack just south of the battery. The attacking ships were ships were the 2 British cruisers “Kent” and “Bellona” supported by 4 destroyers “Myngs”, “Varuland”, “Zambesi” and Algonquina”. The British warships fired flaregrenades, and after only a few minutes, the merchantmen “Cournouaille” and “Greif” were sunk. The convoy broke up in panic, and the German ships were trying to eacape into the nearby fjords. In the chaos which followed, M-416, M-427, UJ-1713 and UJ-1223 were sunk. As the British ships went further north, they were spotted by the lookout at MKB Stapnes. The battery had been radioed about the attack, and were ready to fire as the ships came closer. An “ES” (Erkennungssignale) was sent with a request for all ships to identify themselves. When no reply was given, the battery opened fire. The warships immideatly answered by opening fire towards the battery. Several 15 and 21 cm grenades expoded in and around the battery area, but only one grenade was reported as “near miss” On of the guns at MKB Egersund were fireing flares, while the 3 other fired 61 grenades against the fleet. The battery reported several hits on the British ships.

Next morning, Several German minesweepes were patroling up and down the coast, searching for survivors. Suddenly “out of nowhere” 18 Mosquitos from Royal New Zealander Sqn 489 attacked the ships again. This time, the “FLM529” and “Raumboot 32” were sunk. At the same time, the AA crew at MKB stapnes spotted a large formation of heavy bombers approaching at 12000 meters height. Becouse of the high altitude, the battery opened fire with it`s 12,7 cm guns, loaded with time fuzed shells. The battery reported 3 downed planes, and 4 possible kills after this attack. On the 12 January 1945,  another convoy got unter attack in the same area. This time the 2 British cruisers “Bellona” and “Norfolk” supported by the destroyers “Onslaught”, “Onslow” and “Orwell” formed the British force. The German convoy consisted of the merchantmen “Bahia Camarones”, “Wesermarch” and “Charlotte” together with the escort M-456, M-253, M-273, M-436 and the submarine U-427. “Bahia Camarones”, Charlotte” and M-273 were sunk within minutes, and allmost the same scenario happened over again, but this time the British ships were tracked by 2 Würzburg Riese radars. In the following artillery duels between the battery and the British ships, one of the guns at MKB Egersund suffered a malfunction. The outcome of the battle is not found in German documents, as they were probably destroyed in May 1945.

On the 30 January 1945, “Admiral der Norwegischer westküste”, Admiral Cilax personally visited the battery. Commander Lohse was promoted and transferred to an operational staff in the OKM. In addition, Cilax awarded 16 EK2, and 130 “Kriegsabzeichen für Marine artillerie” for outstanding service.

After the war, MKB Egersund was closed down by the Norwegian navy, and the guns were transferred to a battery noth of Stavanger, where they were operational until 1995. One gun was kept, while the other 3 were given to various museums in Norway. The remaining gun was made at Bochumer Verein,  production number 373

Sources:

- Alarmküste

- Senkninger og forlis 1939-45

- Tyske kystfort i Norge

- Klar til strid

By

Erik Ettrup

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