Operation Zauberflöte (i)

magic flute

This was the German naval undertaking to return the damaged heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen from the Norwegian port of Trondheim to Kiel in Germany for repair (16/18 May 1942).

After reaching Germany from north-western France in ‘Cerberus’, Prinz Eugen departed Germany for Norway on 21 February 1942. Two days later she was torpedoed by the British submarine Trident, the torpedo’s detonation destroying much of the cruiser’s stern. After some preliminary repairs (including the cutting away of much of the damaged area and emergency work on a rudder) in Trondheim, the cruiser steamed to Kiel from 16 May to receive a new stern.

In this passage, the heavy cruiser was escorted by the destroyers Paul Jacobi and Z 25, and the torpedo boats T 11 and T 12. Off Lister on the following day, Prinz Eugen came under attack by 27 British torpedo bombers and 19 bombers, which failed to score any hits, and the vessel reached Kiel on the next day.

The repairs to the ship had been effected by October 1942, but Prinz Eugen remained in German waters and was not fully operational again until January 1943, when on the third attempt she was finally returned to Norwegian waters in ‘Paderborn’.