Volume 3, Chapter 41
“Terrific! This is too spectacular, it is like a scene out of the Battle of Jutland.” Colonel Muller exclaimed as he stood in the bunker, watching over the British ships exploding twenty kilometers away.
“Yes, Colonel. This is the dream of the navy, to finally see this scene, it makes us officers elated. We have long wished the British fleet destroyed. We’ve been waiting for much too long.” A young Kriegsmarine Lieutenant Colonel excitedly answered.
“Surely you won’t be angry that they were defeated at the hands of the Army right? Haha.” Muller joked.
“How could that be? Haha. Colonel, the navy has long since approved of the operation. We would not be stupid enough to engage in a costly battle with the British for the sake of honor. The results already speak for themselves. The main force of the Royal Navy has been taken care of and we didn’t even lose a single torpedo boat. How could we not be satisfied? Moreover, the navy could also be considered as playing a pivotal role. The artillery management and target acquisition were all completed by us. You could say that we, along with the Luftwaffe have an equal share in the glory. Haha.” The Lieutenant Colonel happily said.
“Yes, haha. That is true, Siegfried. I take back my words from earlier, these warships should be the common achievement of the Wehrmacht. Oh! A hit!” Muller said as he looked at a distant warship explode into a fireball.
Muller felt that it was worthwhile to witness the scene personally. After all, it took a lot of hard work to set everything up. Three days ago, Muller received a notice from the General. It told him to go to a temporary station to receive the first batch of heavy weapons. At the time, he had no idea what types of weapons he would actually be receiving.
Waiting at the station, the train’s first shipment of weapons finally stopped. It was a huge train; the back was all covered with a thick array of camouflage. However, Muller could recognize with a glance what these were. Rather, Muller was afraid to believe his own eyes. The command would even send four huge K5(E) 280mm railway guns. This was simply too exaggerated, right? It was already enough for their artillery to blockade the port, what would such a terrible weapon be used for?
Then he read the letter the General wrote for him. Finally understanding the ultimate goal. With a good explanation, it reasoned that since warships carried armor as strong as concrete bunkers, only these cannons could deal with them. In the letter, it carefully introduced his action plan and how the British may respond. Giving specific responses and times. Making Muller admire the young commander’s military wisdom even more.
The next two days, the huge railway guns and the supporting hydraulic turntable had to be moved. The same went for the huge shells and ammunition. This left Muller and his men busy placing positions, laying rails, and creating foundations. Also, setting the hydraulic turntable, ammunition depots, and everything else had to be completed within a certain time frame. The result was that half the infantry became engineers to get it finished.
Then the personnel from the Kriegsmarine finally arrived. The navy sent a whole lot of people as support for the upcoming operation. The leader of which was Lieutenant Colonel Siegfried von Lohengramm. In addition to the target determination, they are also responsible for the command and coordination of the guns. Muller was stunned. The navy even brought over a naval rangefinder from a ship. Muller quickly arranged for them to scout the coast. They needed to quickly select the location for the observation station, camouflage it, and so on.
Finally, the army completed all of the work on time. After everything was done, Muller looked at the large group of railway guns in awe.
Now that all of the guns arrived, it brought the total up to forty-six railway guns of varying calibers. Then they were sorted by their size and effective range. Forming ten groups. Each giving off a majestic yet formidable aura. Six of these were the K5(E) from Germany. The rest were captured from France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The calibers ranging from 240 millimeters to 370 millimeters. There were twenty 320mm, with most of the guns being over 300 millimeters. The ammunition was also very adequate. Muller jokingly said that they could fire until the barrels were worn out and still have some left over.
Following the General’s command, each railway gun was assigned three times the staff. Each was also given a dedicated mechanical crane and ammunition cart. All to increase the firing rate several times. Some models, the fastest became a shot every minute. Even the largest 370mm guns can fire every two minutes. The navy formulated a firing system based upon some precise calculations. This allowed for the guns to take turns shooting and allow for uninterrupted bombardment. From the results, the Navy’s organization power was really efficient.
As for the order of their counterattack, the first to fire would be the 210mm heavy howitzers. This kind of gun usually only has a range of 18,000 meters. However, that’s only under normal circumstances. With a stronger charge, the range can, in fact, be extended to 22 kilometers. However, the artillery teams rarely do this unless the situation absolutely requires it. This is because this aggressive load will destroy the rifling in the barrel. The maximum shots were around one hundred shots before the barrel’s completely bald. In the current situation, it wasn’t too big of an issue. To bring down the British navy would certainly be a worthwhile compensation.
The first volley was really wonderful. The goal being the destroyers in front of the British fleet. This also had a slight alternative function. It allowed for the spotters to calibrate a standard distance for the railway guns. The primary result left Muller feeling very satisfied. All six destroyers were hit and consistently sent to the bottom of the sea.
The next volley enveloped the British warships. Within two rounds of shelling, three warships were seriously damaged. Two more destroyers were sunk. Muller felt that it was simply a miracle that the German army could place the Royal Navy in such a situation.
“Lieutenant Colonel, why did that ship stop?” Muller asked with a puzzled tone.
“I’m not too sure either. They may be experiencing problems. Siegfried said as he looked out to sea. A few moments later, he shouted out: “Colonel! Something’s happened! … The Rodney exploded!”
“What? Let me see.”
Muller quickly leaned into another high-powered telescope and looked towards the British fleet.
“God, it’s really spectacular. A ship must truly be very careful about their ammunition. It really is terrible about how quickly ships sink like that. There is no way for anyone to survive that explosion. Good God, she’s turned over. The pillars of smoke are over a thousand meters now. Really, I have no words to describe it.”
The HMS Rodney’s explosion was both a spectacular and somber sight.
“Colonel, the Nelson’s command flag has been lowered. Judging from the smoke in the rear cabin, it is likely we hit the engine room. That should explain why she stopped and lowered the flag. Haha, we have really good luck. Well, the Nelson’s finished. Without power, it’s nothing more than a target boat. Now it’s necessary to see which warship takes up the responsibility of flagship.”
“Where is the command flag?”
Muller asked as he scanned every ship for the banner.
“Sigh, it’s still down, I can’t find it right now.”
“Oh, in fact, it’s… Oh! I found it. So, it was the Hood. She’s probably the only warship equipped with flagship equipment.”
Siegfried quickly ran to the phone and connected to the artillery commander. Loudly commanding, “The enemy has replaced the flagship. Focus fire on the Hood. Yes, she has already humiliated the German Navy for twenty years. It is her time, yes. Redesignate the artillery of the Nelson and Rodney to focus on the Hood. Yes, let us hope it will be spectacular.”
A minute later, Lieutenant Colonel put down the phone and immediately ran back to the observation post and asked Muller.
“Colonel, when will the Luftwaffe make their appearance?
“They just arrived when you were making that call. Those fighters are doing a good job containing the British planes and anti-aircraft fire. The bombers can finally do their part. For even one of those ships to make it out now would require divine intervention. Haha Oh, their coming.” He said with a slight grin.
The situation at sea was incredibly chaotic. The sheer number of blasts into the sea were almost generating waves of their own. Whereas, the warships were being targeted non-stop and the sound of explosions were occasionally heard as ships dashed about. But the main focus of the shelling was the poor HMS Hood. A whole cluster of 210mm armor-piercing shells along with some 300mm shells smashed open the deck of one of the world’s premier battlecruisers.
The single volley, caused water to blow up in that entire area of the ocean, virtually hiding the whole 260m length from sight. As the curtain of water fell into mist, the once most elegant battlecruiser became unrecognizable. The armor on the deck was only thirty millimeters at the thinnest and seventy millimeters at the thickest. There was no way she could withstand the armor-piercing rounds shot at it. The superstructure was mangled and flaming. The whole warship was now turned into a pile of floating scrap metal. The new flagship never had a chance to assume command before being beat beyond recognition.
In a short span of fifteen minutes, the British fleet has been dealt a terrible blow. A battleship was sunk. Two flagships were crippled. Most of the destroyers have lost combat effectiveness or were directly sunk. The entire fleet lost its command structure.
With no fleet commander, the captains began to consider the issue of retreating. Honor was currently moot in the face of such destruction. Their only desire was to escape this trap, this shelling hell. The warships that were still operation began to increase their speed. Leaving the two flagships, civilians, and stranded crewmen. Shells still continuously fell as they raced to the end of the passage.
However, they were a step too late. From the sea came a roar of engines. Closing the final chance of escape for the fleet.
The crew of the warships were horrified to see that on the distant sea were at least hundreds of German bombers. Arranged in a close, neat formation. Flying low to the sea, only several tens of meters above the surface. The majority of these bombers were the medium He111 and Ju88. The captains, with their telescopes, were horrified to see that underneath the belly of the bombers was hanging a gray torpedo.
This was a grave situation. Although the warships are designed to take one or two torpedoes without sinking, they stood no chance against so many.
They quickly called for the RAF fighters to block the fighters. However, the wing escorting the fleet has since engaged the German fighters. And those fighters over Dunkirk. They were dwindling and to turn back now, was to be shot down from the behind. Leaving no room to help with the fleet.
Now can only rely on their anti-aircraft guns. Something that the captains had confidence in.
The British Royal Navy’s rigorous training could finally be seen. The remaining destroyers in the absence of command, rushed to the front of the fleet. Their guns firing into the distant, yet approaching swarm.
However, they forgot one thing. The reason why the destroyers were able to survive was that they had been placed on the right side of the fleet. Mainly as precaution against submarines entering through the opening of the passage. However, their luck would not last so long. Now that they have rushed to the forefront, they time of reckoning has come. Within two minutes, two destroyers were hit by the German barrage of shells and sank. The most fortunate of them only lasted thirty seconds longer. With the destruction of the destroyer fleet, the only things that stopped the German bombers from the battleships were the leftover debris and floating oil.
Leaving only their own anti-aircraft guns to fight back. However, due to the German bombardment, most of the deck was completely destroyed. Sparing only a few lucky anti-aircraft guns. Now, the battleship’s point defense was much weaker than the destroyers before.
The Germans bombers had suddenly scattered into a formation three kilometers from the ships. Dividing into groups, they each chose a ship before entering into the charge.
As the ships struggled, they fired all the weapons they had against those oncoming bombers.
The bombers started to turn and climb or drop as they moved to avoid the shells and bullets. As long as a plane was not in the sea, they insisted on pushing towards the target.
The first row of bombers dropped their torpedoes and immediately pulled up. Turning their noses back towards the coast. This was repeated by the following planes.
The Germans basically didn’t even need to aim. The several dozen torpedoes wove underneath the sea as they went towards their ships.
Followed by a several huge columns of waters. Causing the previous explosions to pale in comparison. The Battle of Dover Strait reached its conclusion.
As the water fell, the pride of the Royal Navy was extinguished.
MD: Yes, the person’s name is Siegfried von Lohengramm. (TLed: Siegfried Von Luo-Yan-Kram) Now, the only place I’ve ever seen the name Lohengramm (Which is such a distinct name) is LOGH. So, the Author may or may not be alluding to that series. (Plz no spoilers in the comments)