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Knight's Cross And Oak-Leaves Recipient Rudolf Petersen

Discussion in 'German WWII Medals and Awards' started by Jim, Sep 12, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    via War44
    Korvettenkapitan Rudolf Petersen

    Petersen was born on 15 June 1905 in Atzerballig. He joined the Reichsmarine at the age of 20 in 1925 and progressed rapidly. By 1938 he held the post of Chief of 2.Schnellbootsflotille. This flotilla was initially equipped with a version of the E-boat equipped with extremely unreliable MAN diesel engines. Petersen and his flotilla were based in Heligoland at this time. The poor-quality boats were passed over to the training flotilla and new boats allocated to 2.Schnellbootsflotille but extremely bad weather conditions and the re-equipping with the new boats kept the flotilla out of action for the remainder of 1939. By the spring of 1940, 2.Schnellbootsflotille was operating out of Borkum, attacking Allied shipping, and often coming under fire from RAF fighter bombers on their way to and from operations. Despite numerous claims, no British ships were sunk at this time though the E-boats' 'nuisance' effect was considerable. On 29 May, however, acting alongside vessels from l.Schnellbootsflotille, Petersen's boats were responsible for sinking the British destroyer HMS Wakeful On the following day, the French destroyers Siroco and Cyclone also fell victim to the E-boats. Following the successful conclusion of the campaign in the West, however, the Kriegsmarine was presented with a number of operational bases on the Channel coast, and began regular operations against British shipping. Throughout June, Petersen's boats were in action against British convoys, notably sinking the 3,000-ton steamer Roseburn. Throughout July and August, 2 S-Bootsflotille was heavily involved in minelaying operations, carrying out 11 separate sorties and laying over 130 mines. On 8 August 1940, Kapitan zur See Petersen was decorated with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in recognition of the performance of the flotilla under his command. Although at this time the flotilla had not yet sunk a huge tonnage of enemy shipping, the E-boats were proving to be a considerable thorn in the side of the British and greatly stretched British resources by requiring protection for shipping.

    Rudolf Petersen, the Commander of E-boats, was a highly skilled officer, both as commander of his own boat, and later at flotilla and higher levels. Petersen was also involved in redesigning the war badge issued to E-boat crews when a new version was produced in 1943.


    As the war progressed, the E-boats would be second only to the U-boats in the tonnage of enemy shipping sunk, though much of this would be lost to mines laid by these boats rather than torpedo attacks. On 1 October 1941, Petersen was posted to the Admiralty Staff as Fuhrer der Torpedoboote. Petersen returned to the E-boats on 20 April 1942 when he was appointed Fuhrer der Schnellboote. It is also interesting to note that when the war badge issued to E-boat crews was redesigned in January 1943, Petersen was consulted and contributed his thoughts to the new design. On 13 June 1944, Petersen received the Oak-Leaves addition to his Knight's Cross in recognition of the continued high level of performance by units under his command. He was also only one of a tiny handful of expert E-boat commanders to receive the rare solid-silver version of the E-boat War Badge with diamond-studded swastika, a personal gift and token of esteem from the C-in-C Navy, Grossadmiral Raeder. He survived the war, a highly respected naval commander, and died in Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, in 1983.

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