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    Flak Ship 'Thetis' - Tirpitz's Babysitter

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    Recently I managed to obtain a handful of Kriegsmarine Soldbücher including one for a crewman on the Tirpitz. But the one I was really pleased to get was to a flak crew member who served on the floating battery 'Thetis' which was used to provide additional AA support to Tirpitz both in Altafjord and Tromso. Thetis was originally built by Armstrong Whitworth in 1896 as a cruiser for the Norwegian Navy, serving under the name of Harald Haarfagre. When the Germans invaded Norway in 1940 they captured the ship and converted it into a Flak ship to be used at the main fleet anchorages in that country.

    Thetis was present at all the air attacks on the Tirpitz while she was at anchor and was present for the final attack that capsized her. In fact the sailor received the EK II on 4th November 1944 which would tie in with the attack by 9 & 617 Squadrons on 29th October 1944 (operation Obviate). this attack saw no direct hits with the Tallboy bombs due to cloud cover, but just 8 days after his award of the EK II the Tirpitz was finally sunk by multiple Tallboy hits when 9 & 617 Squadrons returned.

    During his service he was also awarded the Minesweeper Badge & the Coastal Artillery Badge. Judging by a slip of paper fixed into the Soldbuch he served with Marine-Flak-Abt 709 which was stationed on Thetis. The Soldbuch contains the signature of Otto Messtorff who commanded Marine-Flak-Abteilung 709 as well as the signatures of two of the Commanding Officers of Thetis - Helmut Steib and a Kapitänleutnant Spott. 









    I have also been able to find two photos on the internet ( http://www.bismarck-class.dk/tirpitz/miscellaneous/tirpitz_kaafjord_then_and_now/tirpitz_kaafjord_then_and_now.html ) that show Thetis in close proximity to Tirpitz in Kaafjord providing a duty that would today be called a Goalkeeper role in the Royal Navy.



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