Operation Herbstreise (i)

autumn journey

'Herbstreise' (i) was a German unrealised plan for a diversionary operation by naval units during the implementation of 'Seelöwe' (September/October 1940).

Two days before the real landings, the light cruisers Emden (Kapitän Hans Mirow), Nürnberg (Kapitän Leo Kreisch with Vizeadmiral Hubert Schmundt, the Befehlshaber der Kreuzer, on board) and Köln (Kapitän Ernst Kratzenberg), the gunnery training ship Bremse and other light naval forces would have escorted the liners Europa (49,746 tons), Bremen (51,656 tons), Gneisenau (18,160 tons) and Potsdam (12,835 tons), together with 11 other transport vessels, in a feint simulating a landing on the English east coast somewhere between Aberdeen and Newcastle.

The operation would have been based on the movement of four convoys. Konvoi I would have comprised the steamers Stettiner Greif, Dr Heinrich Wiegand and Pommern loading troops of Generalleutnant Hermann Tittel’s 69th Division at Bergen and later offloading them at Bekkervig, both in German-occupied Norway; Konvoi II would have comprised the steamers Steinburg, Bugsee, Ilse L. M. Russ and Flottbeck loading troops of Generalleutnant Max Horn’s 214th Division at Stavanger and offloading them at Haugesund, again both in Norway; Konvoi III would have comprised the steamers Iller, Sabine, Howaldt and Lumme loading other troops of the 214th Division at Arendal and offloading then at Kristiansand, again both in Norway; and Konvoi IV would have comprised the liners Europa and Bremen simulating the loading of troops at Wesermünde and the liners Gneisenau and Potsdam loading unspecified troops at Hamburg and offloading them at Cuxhaven, both in Germany.

After turning about, the force would have attempted the diversion again on the next day if necessary. The object of the undertaking, as planned, was to draw British naval forces, stationed at Dover and Harwich, away from the English Channel and thus facilitating the delivery of the real invasion on the southern coast on England, which was to be undertaken largely by barge.