German auxiliary cruiser Michel

"Michel" (HSK-9) was an auxiliary cruiser of the German Navy that operated as a merchant raider during World War II. Built by Danziger Werft in Danzig 1938/39 as the freighter "Bielsko" for the Gdynia-America-Line (GAL), she was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine at the outbreak of World War II and converted into the hospital ship "Bonn" and in summer 1941 into auxiliary cruiser "Michel", commissioned on 7 September 1941. Known to the KM as Schiff 28, her Royal Navy designation was Raider H.

Construction and conversion

After the AMC "Widder" returned to Germany, her engines were worn out. As replacement for her the hospital ship "Bonn" was converted as AMC and used the weapons of her predecessor.

First raiding voyage

Although "Michel" was scheduled leave at the end of November 1941 she was unable to depart before March 1942 due to reconstruction delays. After moving under heavy escort through the Channel to a port in occupied France, "Michel" sailed on 20 March 1942 under the command of FK (later KzS) Helmuth von Ruckteschell (who had previously commanded HSK 3, the raider "Widder").

"Michel" grounded at the attempt to run through the Channel and had to return but managed to reach the Atlantic on 20 March after a second try. Thereby on 14/15 March the cruiser and the escorts were repeatedly attacked by British forces, without success. "Michel" was to operate in the South Atlantic and first sunk the British tanker "Patelle" (GRT|7469|metric|first=yes) on 19 April. On 22nd her small torpedo boat sunk the US tanker "Connecticut" (GRT|8684|metric) but on 1 May an attack on the faster British freighter "Menelaus" failed. After its warning the Royal Navy sent out the cruiser HMS "Shropshire" and two AMCs. But "Michel" sunk the Norse freighter "Kattegat" (GRT|4245|metric) on 20 May.

LS 4 "Esau" discovered the struggling US Liberty ship SS "George Clymer" (GRT|6800|metric) and scored two torpedo hits but the freighter refused to go down. The nearby British AMC "Alcantara" dashed forward and rescued the crew but the ship had to be abandoned. The Germans retreated when the British ship came in sight but nevertheless both British and US never saw a ship and thought the "George Clymer" was attacked by a submarine.

Various other successes followed, as "Michel" operated in the South Atlantic and Indian oceans. After a successful cruise of eleven and a half months, "Michel" arrived in Japan in March 1943.

In 346 days she encountered and sank 15 allied ships, totalling 99,000 tons (GRT).

econd raiding voyage

After refit, "Michel" sailed from Yokohama on 21 May 1943, this time under the command of KzS Günther Gumprich, who had previously commanded "Thor" on her second voyage.Cruising the west coast of Australia, and crossing the Pacific Ocean to the coast of South America, "Michel" encountered and sank 3 ships in a 5 month period, before returning to Japan.

Fate

On her return to Japan, just Convert|50|mi|km out from port, "Michel" was spotted by US submarine "Tarpon", who attacked in one of the few instances of American submarines attacking a German vessel during WWII, hitting her with three torpedoes. "Michel" sank, with 290 of her crew, including her captain. The survivors, 116 in total, were able to reach Japan after a three day journey in open boats.

Raiding career

First cruise:

* 1942-04-19 "Patella" GRT|7,468|metric
* 1942-04-22 "Connecticut" GRT|8,684|metric
* 1942-05-20 "Kattegat" GRT|4,245|metric
* 1942-06-07 "George Clymer" GRT|7,176|metric
* 1942-06-11 "Lylepark" GRT|5,186|metric
* 1942-07-15 "Gloucester Castle" GRT|8,006|metric
* 1942-07-16 "William F Humphrey" GRT|7,893|metric
* 1942-07-17 "Aramis" GRT|7,984|metric
* 1942-08-14 "Arabistan" GRT|5,874|metric
* 1942-09-10 "Empire Dawn" GRT|7,241|metric
* 1942-09-11 "American Leader" GRT|6,778|metric
* 1942-11-02 "Reynolds" GRT|5,113|metric
* 1942-11-29 "Sawokla" GRT|5,882|metric
* 1942-12-08 "Eugenie Livanos" GRT|4,816|metric
* 1943-01-02 "Empire March" GRT|7,040|metric

Second cruise:

* 1943-06-15 "Hoegh Silverdawn" GRT|7,715|metric.
* 1943-06-17 "Ferncastle" GRT|9,940|metric
* 1943-09-11 "India" GRT|9,977|metric

References

*cite book|author=Erich Gröner|title=Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815–1945 volume 3|publisher=Bernard & Graefe Verlag|location=Bonn|id=ISBN 3-7637-4802-4
*cite book|author=Zvonimer Freivogel|title=Deutsche Hilfskreuzer des Zweiten Weltkriegs|publisher=Motorbuch Verlag|location=Stuttgart|id=ISBN 3-613-02288-5
*cite book|author=Paul Schmalenbach|title=German Raiders 1895–1945|year=1977|id=ISBN 0 85059 351 4
*cite book|author=August Karl Muggenthaler|title=German Raiders of World War II|year=1977|id=ISBN 0 7091 6683 4
*cite book|author=Stephen Roskill|title=The War at Sea 1939–1945 Volume I|year=1954
*cite book|author=Stephen Roskill|title=The War at Sea 1939–1945 Volume II|year=1956

External links

* [http://www.bismarck-class.dk/hilfskreuzer/michel.html Hilfskreuzer Michel] on Bismarck & Tirpitz, with list of all captured ships.


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