German auxiliary cruiser Widder
|Fate:||1939 requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine|
|Builder:||Blohm & Voss|
|Recommissioned:||9 December 1939|
|Reclassified:||Auxiliary cruiser, 1939|
|Fate:||Wrecked near Bergen, 1955|
|Class & type:||Merchant vessel|
|Length:||152 m (499 ft)|
|Beam:||18.2 m (60 ft)|
|Draught:||8.3 m (27 ft)|
|Speed:||14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)|
|Range:||34,000 nmi (63,000 km; 39,000 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)|
|Aircraft carried:||2 × Heinkel He 114B|
Widder (HSK 3) was an auxiliary cruiser (Hilfskreuzer) of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine that was used as a merchant raider in the Second World War. Her Kriegsmarine designation was 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, Kapitän zur See Helmuth von Ruckteschell.
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 & 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.
Leaving Germany on 6 May 1940, she made for Bergen, in Norway. On 13 May the Widder confronted the British submarine HMS Clyde on surface, enjoining an exchange of gunfire which lasted for over an hour, with no hits for either side. After the engagement, the cruiser sought shelter in Sandsfjord. On 14 May she sailed to open sea, crossing the Arctic Circle the next day. On 21 August 1940, 800 miles west of the Canary Islands, she sank the SS Anglo Saxon, which had been carrying a cargo of coal from Newport, Wales, to Bahía Blanca, Argentina. After refuelling from the auxiliary ship Nordmark, she slipped through the Denmark Strait. Over a 5½ month period she captured and sank ten ships, totalling 58,644 GRT.
The Widder was reported to have machine-gunned the crew of the SS Anglo Saxon in their life-boats; one jolly boat with seven crewmen got away. Over two months later, on October 27th, the last two survivors in the boat landed in the Bahamas after a 2,275 mile voyage. One of the two died when his new ship was torpedoed in 1941, the other survived the war and testified against von Ruckteschell, who was sentenced to seven years for his war crime.
Having completed her mission, she returned to occupied France on 31 October 1940.
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. Her hull was scrapped shortly after.
She was one of only two German auxiliary cruisers to survive the war, after one 1940 cruise. Her captain, Helmuth von Ruckteschell, was one of only two German naval commanders convicted of war crimes at the end of the war.
|13 June 1940||British Petrol||United Kingdom||6,891 GRT||Sunk|
|26 June 1940||Krossfonn||Norway||9,323 GRT||Captured|
|10 July 1940||Davisian||United Kingdom||6,433 GRT||Sunk|
|13 July 1940||King John||United Kingdom||5,228 GRT||Sunk|
|4 August 1940||Beaulieu||Norway||6,114 GRT||Sunk|
|8 August 1940||Oostplein||Netherlands||5,059 GRT||Sunk|
|10 August 1940||Killoran||Finland||1,817 GRT||Sunk|
|21 August 1940||Anglo-Saxon||United Kingdom||5,596 GRT||Sunk|
|1 September 1940||Cymbeline||United Kingdom||6,317 GRT||Sunk|
|8 September 1940||Antonios Chandris||Greece||5,866 GRT||Sunk|
- Paul Schmalenbach (1977). German Raiders 1895–1945. ISBN 0-85059-351-4.
- August Karl Muggenthaler (1977). German Raiders of World War II. ISBN 0-7091-6683-4.
- Stephen Roskill (1954). The War at Sea 1939–1945 Volume I.