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THE LOSS OF THE
RUTLANDSHIRE

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KAMPFGRUPPE 100
GRUPPENKOMMANDEUR HAUPTMANN
ARTUR VON CASIMIR

Some 430 miles to the south of Namsos on the morning of the 20th April 1940, Kampfgruppe 100 (KGr. 100) comprising approximately 15 Heinkel 111H’s departed Aalborg, Denmark for Namsos. KGr. 100 was stationed at Aalborg from the 16th April to 2nd May 1940.



Heinkel 111H


Power Plant: Two 1,350 hp Junkers Jumo 211F-1 e
Span: 74ft 13/4in (22.60m)
Length: 53ft 91/2in (16.39m)
Max Speed: 270 mph (435 km/h) at 19,685 ft (5,995m)
Armament: 1 x 20mm MG FF Cannnon
  1 x 13mm MG 131 Machine Gun
  7 x 7.92mm MG 15 and/or MG 81 Machine Guns
Bomb Load: 1 x 4,409 lb bomb (carried externally) and
  1 x 1,102 lb bomb (carried internally) or
  8 x 551 lb bombs (all carried internally)
Crew: 5 - Pilot and two gunners/navigator/bomb-aimer

In command of KGr. 100 was Hauptmann Artur von Casimir – he was appointed to this position on the 16th February 1940 and initially stationed at Lueneburg.

Kampfgruppe 100
Gruppenkommandeur Hauptmann
 Artur von Casimir
 Photograph taken in 1936 – rank
shown First Lieutenant. Photograph
given as a gift in June 2005.
An extract from Artur von Casimir’s flying log for the period 7th – 25th April 1940.

Artur von Casimirs’ flying log entry for the 20th April 1940 confirms that his plane designated 6N+NH, departed Aalborg at 0730hrs. Flying at approximately 225mph (365kph), Artur von Casimir would have arrived at Namsos some time between 0930hrs – 0945hrs.



A sketch of Artur von Casimir's Heinkel 111H 6N + NH as it would have appeared on the morning of the 20th April 1940. The artwork contained in this page is entirely the personal work and property of ©Kjetil Aakra and has been reproduced here with his kind permission. Un-authorised publishing on any other website is strictly forbidden.



A Heinkel 111 from KGr. 100 taken by Artur von Casimir, perhaps on the morning of the 20th April 1940 on route from Aalborg to Namsos.



Three photographs given to me as a gift by Artur in August 2005.

In the top left is Kampfgruppe 100 Gruppenkommandeur Hauptman Artur von Casimir and Hauptman Hermann Schmidt, Staffelkapitan1, Vaernes May 1940.

The photograph above and to the left were both taken in May 1940



BUILD UP TO THE ATTACK


The following sequence of events surrounding the attack and eventual grounding of the Rutlandshire have been derived from the available Admiralty reports, the eyewitness accounts provided by my grandfather, Chief Engineer Winney to the Peoples Journal and the Grimsby Evening Telegraph respectively, the report provided by the Norwegian pilot, discussions with Artur von Casimir and, countless interviews with Mr Jens-Anton Andersen; a local historian and resident of Namsos. Mr Andersens' father, Henrik Andersen, was the Namsos harbour master at the time of the bombing on the 20th April 1940.

 

Further details regarding the movements of the crew following the grounding of the Rutlandshire and their eventual rescue by H.M.S. Nubian, have been derived from discussions with the residents of Skomsvoll, Otterøya and Hovika who to this day, can still recall the event some 60 years on.

 

With the above information and with the use of the map below, I have attempted to re-trace the movements of the Rutlandshire and her crew.

 

With convoy F.P.1 having cleared the fjord entrance at 0410hrs, the Rutlandshire returned to Namsos. With a top speed in the region of 11kts (I've assumed that she was sailing as near as possible to top speed given the current hostilities) and with the Namsen Fjord some 40 - 50km in length, it is reasonable to assume that the jetty referred to by both my grandfather and the Chief Engineer would have come into sight or have been berthed alongside, at approximately 0700hrs on the morning of the 20th April 1940.

At approximately 0900hrs, the bell in Namsos’ church sounded the alarm of the approaching HE111’s. Yngvar Ottesen, the Norwegian pilot stated in his account that “After breakfast on board at 0800 I turned in. Tired after the night’s incidents, I quickly fell asleep. A short time after I had fallen asleep, the alarm was sounded.” The first of the bombs fell on the town of Namsos at approximately 0905hrs, probably from HE111’s belonging to KGr. 26 or KGr. 30 based in Trondheim. During by discussions with Artur von Casimir in August 2005, he confirmed that when he arrived over Namsos, the town was already under attack with fires started, particularly in and around the harbour area. His decision was to attack any allied shipping in the Namsen fjord.

Having cast-off from the Namsos jetty at approximately 0900hrs, my grandfather reported that the attacking aircraft were at a height of between 1500 and 2000 feet (460 - 610 metres); a height confirmed by Artur von Casimir – he reported flying at a height of 500m since there was no substantial AA protecting the town of Namsos.
 

Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
WFA Nr. 827/40g. Kdos. Abt. L
Berlin, den 19.4.40
 
12. Ausfertigungen
10. Ausfertigung

 GEHEIME KOMMAND OSACHE

Der Führer und Oberste Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht hat der Luftwaffe befohlen, Orte außerhalb der von uns besetzten Küstenplätze, die von den Engländern besetzt sind oder durch englische Verlautbarungen als besetzten gemeldt werden, ohne Rücksicht auf die Zivilbevölkerung zu zerstören.
Zunächst ist dies vom Führer für Namsos und Andalsnes angeordnet. Hier sollen auch die Bahnen und Straßen möglichst nahe diesen Punkten unter-brochen werden.

 Der Chef des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht

(gez.) Keitel

 
Main command of the Wehrmacht
WFA Nr. 827/40g. Kdos. Abt. L
Berlin, 19.4.40
 
12. copies
10. copy

 Secret "command-activity"

The Fuhrer and supreme commander of the Wehrmacht has ordered the Luftwaffe to destroy locations (villages, cities) outside those coastal areas occupied by us, which are either occupied by the English or declared by British announcements as British occupied, without consideration of the civil population.
So far this has been ordered by the Fuhrer for Namsos and Andalsnes. For these areas, also railways and streets as close as possible to these locations shall be destroyed.
 

The head of the main command of the Wehrmacht.

  (signed) Keitel

 

A copy (with English translation below) of the German communiqué issued by General Keitel on the 19th April 1940, on behalf of Hitler to bomb Namsos and Åndalsnes "………without consideration of the civil population. "The 20th April 1940 was Hitlers 51st birthday. My thanks to Jens-Anton Andersen for providing me with a copy of the above.

 

Please contact f.wilson@royal-naval-reserve.co.uk for further information regarding this site.

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