Friedrich Bonte

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Friedrich Bonte
Born (1896-10-19)19 October 1896
Potsdam
Died 10 April 1940(1940-04-10) (aged 43)
Narvik
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Kaiserliche Marine
 Reichsmarine
 Kriegsmarine
Years of service 1914–1940
Rank Kapitän zur See
Unit SMS Vineta
SMS Derfflinger
SMS Lützow
SMS Seydlitz
SMS Markgraf
Commands held Führer der Zerstörer und der Kampfgruppe Narvik
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (posthumous)

Friedrich Bonte (19 October 1896 – 10 April 1940) was the German naval officer commanding the destroyer flotilla that transported invasion troops to Narvik during the German invasion of Norway (Operation Weserübung) in April 1940.

Naval career[edit]

Born in Potsdam, Bonte joined the Imperial German Navy as a midshipman in April 1914 and was commissioned Leutnant zur See in July 1916. He was retained in the drastically reduced post-war German navy, where he had a steady career. He was promoted to Oberleutnant zur See in September 1920, Kapitänleutnant in April 1926, Korvettenkapitän (Lieutenant Commander) in September 1933, and Fregattenkapitän (Commander) in April 1937. In November 1938, he was given command of the Second Destroyer Flotilla, and in April 1939 he was promoted to Kapitän zur See (Captain). On 24 October 1939, Bonte was appointed type commander of torpedo boats (Führer der Torpedoboote) and two days later also type commander of destroyers (Führer der Zerstörer) of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine. He relinquished command of the torpedoboats at the end of November 1939, but held the command over the destroyers until his death. On 10 February 1940 he was promoted to Commodore.

Narvik[edit]

During the German invasion of Norway, Bonte commanded the ten destroyers carrying General Dietl's mountain troops to Narvik on 9 April 1940. On the morning of 10 April, the flotilla was attacked in Narvik fjord by British destroyers under the command of Commodore Bernard Warburton-Lee. In the ensuing battle, Bonte's flagship, the destroyer Wilhelm Heidkamp, was hit by a torpedo and exploded. Bonte and most of the crew perished. Bonte was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

Awards[edit]

References in the Wehrmachtbericht[edit]

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Sunday, 14 April 1940 Deutsche Zerstörer unter Führung des Kommodore Bonte, die die Landung in Narvik und die erste Einrichtung der Truppen gesichert hatten, bestanden in den letzten Tagen, unterstützt von deutschen Unterseebooten und Flugzeugen, schwere Kämpfe gegen die wiederholten Einbruchsversuche der englischen Streitkräfte.[3] German destroyers under the leadership of commodore Bonte, which secured the landings and stations of troops at Narvik, prevailed in the past few days, supported by submarines and aircraft, heavy combat against repeating intrusion of English forces.
Wednesday, 17 April 1940 Bei der Verteidigung von Narvik fiel der Führer der Zerstörer, Kapitän zur See und Kommodore Bonte, in heldenmütigem Kampf gegen britische Übermacht. Rund zwei drittel der Besatzungen der beschädigten und nicht mehr gefechtsbereiten Zerstörer, die ihre Munition restlos verschossen haben, wurden in die Verteidigung Narviks zur Verstärkung der im dortigen Raum eingesetzten Heerestruppenteile eingegliedert.[4] The leader of the destroyers, Captain and Commodore Bonte, was killed in action in a heroic struggle against British supremacy in defense of Narvik. About two-thirds of the crew of the damaged and no longer combat-ready destroyers, their ammunition expended completely, were incorporated in the defense of Narvik to reinforce the army deployed in the vicinity.

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dörr 1995, p. 68.
  2. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 139.
  3. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 109.
  4. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 114.
Bibliography
  • Dörr, Manfred (1995). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Überwasserstreitkräfte der Kriegsmarine—Band 1: A–K [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Surface Forces of the Navy—Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2453-2. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Range, Clemens (1974). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Kriegsmarine [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Navy]. Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-87943-355-1. 
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 1, 1 September 1939 to 31 December 1941] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 

External links[edit]