On November 12th, 1944, the German battleship Tirpitz was bombed by Lancasters of 9 and 617 Squadrons in a Norwegian fiord, finally capsizing and sinking. She had previously been damaged by a mine placed by an X-craft midget submarine of the Royal Navy, besides being attacked on previous occasions by Halifaxes of 10 and 35 Squadrons, R.A.F. On this day, incoming Luftwaffe fighters of JG-5 had been scrambled too late to help.
Sub Lieutenant Richard H. Kendall was a Royal Navy diver and member of a four-man crew on one of the midget submarines (call X-craft). These vessels were towed to Norway by a mother submarine and launched to sink the Tirpitz. After his boat's gyrocompass failed, his crew armed the sub's explosives. After scuttling the X-craft near the Tirpitz, he and his crew were taken prisoner aboard the battleship. They were all on board when the explosives detonated underneath the Tirpitz, crippling her for the duration of the war. He remained a prisoner until 1945. Richard Kendall received the D.S.O. for this heroic attack.
Oberleutnant Kurt Schulze began his service as a cadet in 1939. As a wireless operator, he flew in Me 110's over southern Russia with 3.(F)11. From 1942 - 44 he was Communications and Navigation Officer of 1/KG-2 and flew night missions to England as a navigator in Do 217's. While with KG-2, he became a pilot and in 1944, flew Me 109G's with III.JG-5 from northern Finland and Norway. There, he participated in photoreconnaissance missions over Murmansk, (F)124. He flew from Bardufoss, Norway, on November 12, 1944 when the Tirpitz was attacked by Lancasters off Tromsoe. He was scrambled too late to intercept the bombers. In early 1945 he commanded 1/JG-51 in Gdansk, where he flew the last of his 103 missions and ended the war commanding 13/JG-5 in Norway. He was credited with 3 victories and holds the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class, Flight Clasp, etc. After the war, he spent two years as a P.O.W. in France.
Alfred Zuba was a Midshipman aboard the Tirpitz for one month before its sinking, at the foremost firing control station. Although he survived, he was trapped for ten hours within the wreckage until rescued. The Tirpitz had capsized and he was pulled from a hole cut into the hull. Alfred was one of fewer than 90 of the rescued survivors, from a total of 1,000 men on board when she was attacked by Lancasters.
Harry Haxby joined the R.A.F. in February 1938 and trained as an aero-engine fitter. He volunteered for Flight Engineer in 1942 and joined 35 Squadron for his first tour of operations. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in 1942. By 1943, Harry was commissioned and completed his second tour with the Pathfinders. Forty-six of his operations were with Reg Lane as his Captain. He flew two missions against the battleship Tirpitz. On leaving Bomber Command, Harry flew in York types with Transport Command on the England/Middle-East/Ceylon route. Also, he had one side trip to Russia to take the Marshall of the R.A.F. (Lord Tedder) to Yalta prior to the conference of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. F/L Haxby was awarded the 1939-1945 Star, Aircrew Europe Star with France-Germany Bar, the Defence Medal and the War Medal.
Tony Iveson's first tour of duty was in Fighter Command. He flew as a Sergeant pilot with 616 Squadron flying Spitfires out of Kenley during the Battle of Britain and was shot down in the English Channel. He instructed pilots in Rhodesia and South Africa. Commissioned in 1942, he did his second tour with Bomber Command, flying with 617 (Dambuster) Squadron. Tony Iveson was to become one of 617 Squadron's most prominent pilots and flew on the squadron's three missions against the Tirpitz. The final mission sank the battleship with a 12,500 lb. 'tallboy' bomb, designed to exceed the speed of sound at terminal velocity before penetrating the ship's deck.
Terje Jacobsen was a courageous young civilian in the Norwegian underground during the war. He was a messenger and was also responsible for reporting on the condition of the Tirpitz after one of the X-craft attacks. He and his mother were later discovered by German counter-intelligence and had to flee to neutral Sweden. He continued in Intelligence afterwards in England, returning to Norway at war's end.
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