Operation Lil

'Lil' was a German naval minelaying operation in the Gulf of Finland (11/12 December 1944).

Undertaken in the period in which Finland was compelled by the terms of its September 1944 peace agreement with the USSR to expel the Germans, previously co-belligerents of the Finns against the USSR, the operation was designed to lay a minefield which would close access to the northern part of the Baltic Sea from Tallinn (German Reval), the capital and main port of Estonia, 'Lil' involved the destroyers Z 35, Z 36 and Z43 of Kapitän Friedrich Kothe’s 6th Zerstörer-Flottille as well as the torpedo boats T 23 and T 28.

As a result of a navigational error in the area to the north-east of Tallinn, the German ships inadvertently entered an earlier German minefield, in which Z 35 and Z 36 hit mines and sank, though the other three other ships managed to save themselves at the last minute. Some 630 men were lost, but a few survivors reached managed to reach the Finnish coast in freezing weather after 30 hours drifting on life rafts, and others were rescued by Soviet motor torpedo boats.