Monday, 2 March 2015

Helmuth Brinkmann

Helmuth Brinkmann


Branch: Kriegsmarine
Born: 12 March 1895 in Lübeck.
Died: 26 September 1983 in Dießen, Bavaria.

Kapitän zur See
Oberleutnant zur See
Leutnant zur See
Oberfähnrich zur See
Fähnrich zur See

Iron Cross 1914
2nd Class 10 October 1915
1st Class 24 July 1920
Honour Cross for Combatants 15 October 1934
Anschluss Medal
Sudetenland Medal
Commander of the Order of the Crown of Italy 8 October 1937
Clasp to the Iron Cross 1939
2nd Class 3 June 1941
1st Class 9 June 1941
High Seas Fleet Badge 5 April 1942
Order of Michael the Brave 3rd Class 30 May 1944
German Cross in Gold on 25 March 1942
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 17 May 1944

Prinz Eugen
Takes command on 1 August 1940
Ends command on 1 August 1942

Personal Information:

Helmuth Brinkmann was born on 12 March 1895 and became a Vice Admiral in the Kriegsmarine during the World War II who captained the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. Prior to World War II he commanded the Aviso Grille, Adolf Hitler's state yacht. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Helmuth Brinkmann was captured by British troops in 1945 and was held until 1947.

The goal of Operation Rheinübung (Rhine Exercise) was for Prinz Eugen and the battleship Bismarck, under the command of Helmuth Brinkmann's Crew 1913 classmate Captain Ernst Lindemann, to break into the Atlantic and attack Allied shipping. Grand Admiral Erich Raeder's orders to the task force commander, Admiral Günther Lütjens, the Chief of Fleet aboard the Bismarck, were that the objective of the Bismarck is not to defeat enemies of equal strength, but to tie them down in a delaying action, while preserving combat capacity as much as possible, so as to allow Prinz Eugen to get at the merchant ships in the convoy and The primary target in this operation is the enemy's merchant shipping enemy warships will be engaged only when that objective makes it necessary and it can be done without excessive risk.

Helmuth Brinkmann was commander of the Aviso Grille 20 May 1935 to 6 May 1938. At 02:00 on 19 May 1941, Bismarck and Prinz Eugen left Gotenhafen and proceeded through the Baltic Sea and out towards the Atlantic. Unknown to Günther Lütjens, the British had intercepted enough signals to infer that a German naval operation might occur in the area. The German task force was first encountered by the Swedish seaplane-cruiser Gotland on 20 May heading north-west, past Göteborg. The British Admiralty was informed through a Norwegian officer in Stockholm who had learned of the sighting from a Swedish military intelligence source. Alerted by this report, British Admiralty requested air reconnaissance of the Norwegian coast. A Spitfire reconnaissance aircraft found and photographed the German task force in the Grimstad fjord (60°19.49'N 5°14.48'E? / ?60.32483°N 5.24133°E? / 60.32483 5.24133), near Bergen, at 13:15 on 21 May. On the evening of 23 May at 19:22, the German force was detected by the heavy cruisers HMS Suffolk and Norfolk that had been patrolling the Denmark Strait in the expectation of a German breakout. Bismarck fired five salvos without scoring a direct hit. The heavily outgunned British cruisers retired to a safe distance and shadowed the enemy until their own heavy units could draw closer. However, Bismarck's forward radar had failed as a result of vibration from the heavy guns firing during this skirmish, and Günther Lütjens was obliged to order Prinz Eugen to move ahead of Bismarck in order to provide the squadron with forward radar coverage.

The hydrophones on Prinz Eugen detected a foreign ship to port at 05:00. The Germans sighted the smokestacks of two ships at 05:45. The British ships started firing at the German task force at 05:53. Vice-Admiral Lancelot Holland planned on targeting Bismarck first, but due to the reversed battle order, HMS Prince of Wales and Hood opened fire on the Prinz Eugen instead. The commander of the Prince of Wales, Captain John Leach, detected this error and ordered his guns swung around to fire on Bismarck. The German task force was still waiting for the order to commence firing, which Admiral Günther Lütjens did not give immediately. Two minutes into the battle Bismarck and Prinz Eugen started firing at Hood. At 05:57 Hood was hit by Prinz Eugen, igniting reserve ammunition stored on deck, and starting a fire. The fifth salvo by Bismarck, fired at a range of about 180 hectometres (18,000 m 20,000 yd) at 06:01, was seen to hit Hood abreast her mainmast. It is likely that one 38-centimetre (15 in) shell struck somewhere between Hood's mainmast and 'X' turret aft of the mast. A huge jet of flame burst out from Hood from the vicinity of the mainmast. This was followed by a devastating magazine explosion that destroyed the aft part of the ship. This explosion broke the back of Hood, and she sank in only three minutes, her nearly vertical bow last to descend into the water.

Following the explosion, Prince of Wales was targeted by both German ships and disengaged from combat after seven direct hits, four by Bismarck and three by Prinz Eugen, at about 06:09. In the afternoon of 24 May, Admiral Günther Lütjens, ordered Prinz Eugen to break away from the battleship Bismarck and operate independently against the enemy's merchant shipping. Prinz Eugen and Bismarck separated at 18:14 that evening. Bismarck was sunk by the concentrated effort of the Royal Navy on 27 May 1941 while Prinz Eugen arrived safely at Brest, France on 1 June 1941.
Helmuth Brinkmann received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 17 May 1944 for the evacuation of the 17. Armee (17th Army) from the Crimean peninsula. The actions of the Kriegsmarine in the evacuation of the Crimea were thoroughly investigated after the operation, and the commanders-in-chief of the Heeresgruppen and Armies gave the Kriegsmarine a negative performance evaluation. The commander-in-chief of the 17th Army, General der Infanterie (General of the Infantry) Karl Allmendinger, described the presentation of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross to Helmuth Brinkmann and to Konteradmiral (Rear-Admiral) Otto Schulz as a bitter outrage to every German soldier who had fought on the Peninsula. In a letter to the Heeresgruppe Südukraine, they accused the naval leadership of providing deliberate misinformation, of panicking and disorganisation


Other: Personnel


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