Werner Töniges

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Werner Töniges
Born (1910-01-07)7 January 1910
Died 25 January 1995(1995-01-25) (aged 85)
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Kriegsmarine
Years of service 1935–45
Rank Korvettenkapitän
Unit Schleswig-Holstein
pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee
Commands held Schnellboot "S 24", "S 26" and "S 102"
Battles/wars Spanish Civil War
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Werner Töniges (7 January 1910 – 25 January 1995) was a Korvettenkapitän with the Kriegsmarine during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He sailed with the Schnellboot "S 24", "S 26" and "S 102", sinking eighteen ships on 281 combat patrols, for a total of 86,200 gross register tons (GRT) of Allied shipping.

Military career[edit]

Werner Töniges transferred from the Handelsmarine to the Kriegsmarine in 1935. In 1937 he was promoted to Leutnant zur See. On board of the German pocket battleship "Admiral Graf Spee" he participated in Spanish Civil War. He then transferred to the Schnellboot service. The German naval force had sunk 23 vessels by the end of 1940.[1]

English Channel[edit]

On 5 July Töniges commanded "S-19" on a patrol in the Portland and Isle of Wight area. He claimed a 3,000-ton ship sunk 30 nautical miles south of the Isles of Wight. No British loss matches the claim.[2] On 24 July 1940, Töniges, aboard "S-19", sortied with "S-1" and "S-27" into the English Channel. The mission made headlines over the world. They intercepted and sank a French steamer, SS Meknes, and sank the ship, killing 416 men, which was carrying repatriated French soldiers to Vichy France. The survivors were rescued by the British. The British said it was flying French national colours, a charge the Germans denied. The British condemned the attack in the House of Commons as an example of Nazi callousness.[3] On 25 July 1940 Töniges left port aboard "S-19" on another patrol. The group claimed three ships sunk—"S-19" torpedoed SS London Trader (646t). The German crew reported it as a 10,000t steamer and all of the ships were reported to have been much larger and heavier than they were.[4]

On 19 February 1941, Töniges sortied with "S-28" and "S-101". He spotted a freighter in the Thames Estuary, and claimed it sunk. British losses show the vessel to be Algarve (1,335t).[5] All 21 crewman were lost. "S-102" fired on a second ship that could be seen through the fog via the fog-lamps. An explosion was heard and Töniges claimed it sunk; no further British loss was recorded.[6] He commanded the Schnellboote "S 24", "S 26" and "S 102". Töniges was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross after 88 combat patrols on 25 February 1941.[7] On 18 March 1941 the group engaged convoy FN34. The French steamer SS Daphne II (1,970t) was badly damaged by Töniges. It was placed under tow but broke apart in the Humber days later.[8]

Black Sea[edit]

Töniges was relocated to the Eastern Front and operated in the Black Sea. On 27 June 1942, Töniges sank the passenger ship SS Belostok (2,034t) which was evacuating wounded soldiers from Sevastopol.[9] On 7 August 1942 Töniges sank the Sevastopol (1,339t).[10] On 31 August he claimed a 3,000-ton freighter. On 3 September he claimed a 2,000-ton ship and two 1,200-ton light freighters. The claims are hard to substantiate, but by the 5 September 1942 the German vessels claimed to have sunk 20 Soviet ships evacuating Red Army forces on the Taman Peninsula.[11]

He soon also received the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross on 13 November 1942, the first in the Schnellboot service. At this point Töniges had sunk 18 war and merchant ships plus two U-boat hunters. He was transferred to the Naval Academy Mürwik (Marineschule Mürwik) in Flensburg-Mürwik as company commander at the end of September 1942. Here he received the Fast Attack Craft War Badge with Diamonds. As of September 1943 he served as a training officer in the Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine, where he was promoted to Korvettenkapitän on 1 January 1945.



  1. ^ According to Scherzer as commander of Schnellboot S-102.[15]



  1. ^ Smith 2007, p. 156.
  2. ^ Paterson 2015, 68.
  3. ^ Paterson 2015, 72.
  4. ^ Paterson 2015, 73.
  5. ^ Smith 2007, p. 156.
  6. ^ Paterson 2015, 100.
  7. ^ Paterson 2015, 100.
  8. ^ Paterson 2015, 104.
  9. ^ Paterson 2015, 237.
  10. ^ Paterson 2015, 240.
  11. ^ Paterson 2015, 241.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Dörr 1996, p. 296.
  13. ^ a b Thomas 1998, p. 384.
  14. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 424.
  15. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 747.
  16. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 62.


  • Dörr, Manfred (1996). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Überwasserstreitkräfte der Kriegsmarine—Band 2: L–Z [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Surface Forces of the Navy—Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2497-6. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [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. 
  • Paterson, Lawrence (2015). Schnellboote: A Complete Operational History. Barnsley, England: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-083-3. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Smith, Peter. (2007). Naval Warfare in the English Channel: 1939–1945. Pen and Sword, London. ISBN 978-1-844155-804
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of 3. Schnellbootflottille
15 May 1940 – 23 May 1940
Succeeded by
Kapitänleutnant Friedrich Kemnade