26 March 1941 – today in history…

by on Mar.26, 2018, under Allgemein

Siluri_Umani_MAS_600x600During the winter of 1940-1941 the human torpedo attacks were suspended, at least until the following spring. A detachment of MT explosive boats was based in the Dodecanese, where it trained under the command of Vittorio Moccagatta on the island of Leros with the objective of attacking Souda Bay and the British traffic to Greece.

Vittorio Moccagatta was ordered back to Italy on 23 January 1941, where he became the commander of the 1st MAS Flotilla in La Spezia. His suggestions to the Italian naval commando assumed in the result that the 1st MAS Flotilla became the 10th MAS Flotilla – the Decima MAS – on 15 March 1941, which was divided into two divisions from that time:

Souda_Bay_Sketch_600x600The surface division – Mezzi di Superficie – under the command of Capitano di Corvetta Giorgio Giobbe with a fleet of various explosive boats (category MT, MTM shown by the historic sketches on the left, MTR, MTS, MTMS, SMA, MTL) and motorboats for sabotage operations.

The underwater division – Mezzi Subacquei – under the command of Capitano di Corvetta Junio Valerio Borghese operated the diving School in Livorno, the SLC training base at Bocca di Serchio, the remaining transport submersibles Scirè and Ambra and the frogmen of the “Gruppo Gamma”. On a side note, in early 1941, the two initial transport submersibles for SLC devices, Iride and Gondar, were already lost with the failure of „Operazione G.A.1“ and „Operazione G.A.2“ in August and September 1940.

Souda_Bay_Map_600x600On 26 March 1941, the surface division – Mezzi di Superficie – of the Decima MAS achieved initial successes: six MT-type explosive boats broke through the blockades in Souda Bay (Crete, see historic map on the left) damaging the heavy cruiser York and the tanker Pericles.

During the night, the servicemen Luigi Faggioni (commander), Angelo Cabrini, Tullio Tedeschi, Alessio De Vito, Lino Beccati and Emilio Barberi) were transported to the target area aboard the destroyers Crispi and Sella. These two destroyers were equipped with electrically powered cranes for placement of the MT-type explosive boats on the water, which was carried out in just a few minutes, ten miles from Souda’s entrance, at 2330 hours on 25 March 1941. Unnoticed by the enemy, the MT-type explosive boats managed to cross three barricades and reached their targets in the early hours of the morning of 26 March 1941.

Souda_Bay_MT_600x600Two MT-type explosive boats attacked the York (the pilots abandoned their boats 80 meters before hitting the ship, see historic photos on the left). Another two MT-type explosive boats attacked the Pericles. Commander Faggioni tried to hit the Coventry but his boat missed the cruiser and exploded on the coast. The sixth MT-type explosive boat missed its target too, but remained intact and was captured by the British. All six pilots of the explosive boats survived the attack and became POW.

Read more about the timeline of the missions during the Second World War in chapter II.I on page 106-146. Vittorio Moccagatta is featured on page 112-113, the attack in Souda Bay is featured on page 108-109.

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One more 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” surfaced

by on Feb.28, 2018, under Allgemein

Rahmen_Bild_2018_DrCrott_TypeD_4Another Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” with anonymous dial has been added into our database: The first specimen of this number group in the year 2018. The watch with Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 movement comes with anonymous sandwich dial, blued steel hands and onion shaped Rolex crown (Type 11). Dr. Crott Auctioneers recently gave us a head-up on this Ref. 3646 / Type D, which has been consigned for auction by the family of the first owner, a German “Kampfschwimmer” during the Second World War. Read more about the watch in our watch point.

Vintage Panerai watches of the Reference 3646 / Type D are featured in our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s in chapter II.IV (page 398-531).

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Training scene in the summer of 1944

by on Feb.22, 2018, under Allgemein

Rahmen_Bild_2018_1000x700_Training_1944A few days ago we received an interesting photo from the grandson of a German “Kampfschwimmer”. With his support we were able to add the Ref. 3646 / Type B “Radiomir Panerai” into our database last year – read more here.

Actually, the photo is not new to us. It has been published many years ago in Cajus Bekker’s book “Einzelkämpfer auf See” in 1968 and again in 1978. However, there were never published names of the frogmen in the captions of these two books. Until now: The backside of the original paper photo showed pencil written names of the men which were captured in the photo, which helped us now to identify and link them to other photos in our archives. We have published a photo, taken from a slightly different perspective, showing the same training scene, in chapter V of our book “History2” on page 460.

The photos were taken in the summer of 1944 on the island of San Giorgio (south-west of Venice harbour), showing the training in hand-to-hand combat, which was a fixed part of their training along with other different sporting disciplines. One of the frogmen in the photo is the first owner of the Ref. 3646 / Type B watch on the left.

Rahmen_Bild_2018_1000x700_Training_1944_RSRead more on the activities on the island of San Giorgio in chapter I of our book “History1” including rare historic documents and aerial photographs from the Allied Forces intelligence.

Our special thanks to the frogman’s grandson who provided the photo above (including the additional informations on ist backside in shape of handwritten names), on which he placed the Ref. 3646 / Type B “Radiomir Panerai” of his grandfather. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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…soldered or solid lugs?

by on Feb.14, 2018, under Allgemein

soldered_or_solid_900x900No matter what’s your favourite Vintage Panerai case design, our book set “The References” features both versions: soldered lugs and solid lugs – 70 watches on 1392 pages.

The tag 696 is connected with all stories published about the first volume on 696 pages: watches, history, instruments and straps of the 1930’s-1940’s. The early References 2533 (chapter I) and 3646 (chapter II) are explained and with rich reference to several variants by their number groups. This overview is complimented by the legendary Mare Nostrum chronograph (chapter III), rare compasses (chapter IV) used in the Second World War and some of the few straps and buckles which rarely survived after more than 70 years (chapter V).

The tag 1392 is connected with all stories published about the second volume on the follwing 696 pages (from page 697 to page 1392): watches, history, instruments and straps of the 1950’s-1960’s. The References 6152 (chapter VI) and 6154 (chapter VII), are followed by Reference 6152/1 with the famous crown-protecting device are explained in detail and many variations in chapter VIII. Followed by the Reference GPF 2/56 with Angelus movement (chapter IX), “The References” 1950’s-1960’s features in chapter X the Modified References 3646, Transitional 3646 and Modified Reference 6152/1. Chapter XI is about compasses and depth gauges, followed by the last chapter XII, an overview of the straps and buckles used on watches and instruments from Guido Panerai & Figlio in this era.

Visit our bookstore and enjoy reading soon!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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“Like Men From Mars!”

by on Jan.21, 2018, under Allgemein

In addition to the story published at Fellows, Revolution and wornandwound.com about the Ref. 3646 / Type C watch, which Sgt. George W. Rowson brought home from his service in the 43rd (Wessex) Reconnaissance Regiment, we have gathered some information about the attemp of twelve German “Kampfschwimmer” units (three teams of four) to attack both bridges across the river Waal at Nijmegen in the night of 28/29 September, 1944. The first team was sent to attack the railroad bridge, the second and third team to attack the road bridge.

The story of Sgt. Rowson’s “Radiomir Panerai” is matching with information on the capture of both, second and third team which failed to attack the road bridge of Nijmegen. These eight “Kampfschwimmer” units (of which one of them belonged the Ref. 3646 / Type C) were: Orlowski, Ohrdorf, Weber, Schmidt, Kolbruch, Dyck, Gebel and Halwelka (two KIA, six POW).

Rahmen_Bild_2018_1000x700_Nijmegen_drawingThe caption of a drawing by War Artist Captain Bryan de Grineau of the British Army in Holland, to which we give our credits, published in an undated British newspaper (part of a collection of documents, provided to us by German frogmen veteran Karl-Heinz Kiefer during our research of the book “History1”) reads as the following:

“Like men from Mars! Amphibious German assault troops captured near Nijmegen, presenting a fantastic appearance in skin-tight rubber suits, extraordinary rubber flappers, rubber skull-caps, and oxygen masks. The whole denoted a daring night attemp to blow up the Nijmegen bridges, the men being detected struggeling upstream in the early morning.”

Furthermore, in this interesting story, the attack of the two Nijmegen bridges, with a focus on the attack of the road bridge (located around 500 metres before the railroad bridge) is written below:

“One of the most daring enemy acts of the war was an attempt on the night of September 28 to blow up the Nijmegen railroad and road bridges spanning the Waal. If successful it would have cut communications between the British troops each side of the river. The men selected for the task – twelve in all – were first-class swimmers who underwent three months special training at Venice. They wore rubber skull-caps, rubber skin-tight suits, and paddle-shaped rubber flaps attached to their boots, which enabled them to cut through the water downstream with remarkable speed. They were also equipped with rubber masks which enabled them to swim long distances under water, being connected with oxygen flasks. Entering the Waal 17.5 miles above Nijmegen at night, they carried three floating charges of powerful Hexanite explosive, each like a twin torpedo, and split up into three parties, one making for the railway bridge, the other two for the road bridge, each charge provided with a time fuse. They were nearly successful but the strength of the eight-knot current prevented them from fixing the charges quite successfully. They made the mistake of swimming back upcurrent. After covering 6.25 miles exhaustion forced them to rest in the shallows. British soldiers saw them and fired, killing two. The remainder surrendered. Our War Artist at Nijmegen illustrates the prisoners coming in. The first charge exploded by the road bridge, doing little damage, the second was heroically rendered harmless by a naval lieutenant who dived under the bridge.”

An interesting photo of the attacked railroad bridge (dated 30 September 1944), attacked by the first group of four German “Kampfschwimmer” units (Bretschneider, Jäger, Olle and Wolchendorf), can be found in the archives of the Imperial War Museum here. Only Bretschneider and Jäger returned to their lines, while Olle and Wolchendorf were caught after the attack and became POW.

The_Frogmen_sketch_600x600Another small but interesting detail (in terms of the Panerai watches worn by the frogmen of the second and third team) of the well documented attack of the Nijmegen bridges, can be read in the book “The Frogmen” by Waldron & Gleeson, published 1954 and part of our library, on page 119:

“The minutes ticked by as the other eight swimmers sat huddled on the bank conversing in low tones, and glancing often at the luminous dials of their underwater watches. When the time came, they put on their oxygen sets and slipped quietly into the water.”

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First 2018 “new entry” in our records: a Ref. 3646 / Type C

by on Jan.20, 2018, under Allgemein, Watch Point

wornandwound.com published a Ref. 3646 / Type C  watch and its interesting history behind earlier this week. The Vintage Panerai watch with “Radiomir Panerai” dial and Rolex 618 / Type 1 movement marks the first “new entry” in our database in 2018, being another piece of the puzzle added into our records of today known Ref. 3646 / Type C watches. The “Radiomir Panerai” with deep red numbers and markers, blued hands, remaining original strap and nickel-plated brass pin buckle will be auctioned at Birmingham (UK) based Fellows on 30 January, 2018 (lot 188). Read more in their blog here. Revolution also reported about the watch in January here.

In our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s the watches of the entire reference 3646 are featured in chapter II with more than six hundred pages in the chapters II.I-II.VII. The seven different variations (including the number group 3646 / Type C – page 248-397 – to which this watch belongs) can be found in our reference quickfinder on page 14-20. Pin buckles like the remaining one which comes with this watch are featured in chapter V (page 677-691).

We hope that this watch will find a good new home and remains surfaced in the Vintage Panerai collectors world. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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Farewell, Jochen!

by on Jan.10, 2018, under Allgemein

Sad news arrived us in January. German veteran Jochen Burnus, one of the last remaining WW2 frogmen, died on 30 December 2017 at the age of 94. We send our condolences to his Family.

Jochen Burnus’ personal story as a frogmen was featured in chapter V of our book “History2” with information and documents he provided us during several meetings and interviews between 2010 and 2013.

The chapter on Jochen Burnus described his period of duty as a frogman, from his posting away from Yugoslavia in 1944 and his training in northern Italy to his missions at the Elbe, where he ended up in American captivity in April, 1945. After his release he worked in the Hamburg Harbour as a recovery diver (photo). In 1949 he ended his career as a recovery diver and worked afterwards as a mechanic and boiler maker for the German Railways in Zwickau. In 1951 Jochen Burnus commenced a graphics course at the Robert Schumann Academy in Zwickau, and switched from there to the master school in Berlin in 1952. In 1953, Jochen Burnus resumed his activities as a diver. In the disarmament of Potsdam he was in the Brandenburg on the search for remnants of the Second World War and removed unexploded bombs, weapons and munitions from lakes, rivers and fields, and also helped to defuse them as an explosives assistant. In 1957 he transferred to the main waterways department in East Berlin, where he worked as a diver in facilitating shipping once again, which had collapsed in 1945 in Berlin and the surrounding waterways. Divers carried out works over weeks and months with salvage ships on the Spree. In 1960 Jochen Burnus returned to the shipyards in Hamburg. After around a year of work as a diver in the Hamburg Harbour, which was greatly expanded during this time, He became site supervisor for a Hamburg based company, and worked in many harbours and rivers across Europe in the field of culvert construction (a special procedure to lay pipes below dykes or shipping channels). Until his retirement in 1988, Jochen Burnus worked for two more water construction companies as a site manager. In 1972 he moved from Hamburg to the Cologne for four years, and laid pipes for water, power cables and telephone lines in the rivers Lippe, Main, Danube, Elbe and Rhine, as well as in the North Sea. In 1976 he moved to a company in Munich, where he was active in culvert construction in many rivers, but also in the construction of the 90 km-long Ring Canal, to save the Chiemsee, which was threatened by incoming wastewater. Towards the end of his career, in 1985, Jochen Burnus was involved as site manager in laying an 8 km long gas pipe through the Tegernsee Lake.

The element of water, whether sea or river, has had a special significance in the life of Jochen Burnus. Whether as a ship’s boy in the 1930s, as a frogman in the Second World War, a professional diver in the post-war-era – water always had a special role. We are glad that we had the chance to meet Jochen Burnus in person several times, where we listened to his very personal experiences of his time when he was a frogman and from his life as a professional diver in the post-war era. We have lost a great source of information and a good friend.

“Auf Wiedersehen!” – farewell, Jochen – rest in peace!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann] 

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In stock: our coffee table books

by on Jan.06, 2018, under Allgemein

Rahmen_Bild_2018_1000x700_in_stockOur four books are in stock and can be shipped immediately – just visit our bookstore. Use the browse by tags function to get further information about the content in each of the four books.

“History1” (420 pages)
“History2” (480 pages)

“The References” 1930’s-1940’s (696 pages)
“The References” 1950’s-1960’s (696 pages)

Rahmen_Bild_2018_1000x700_in_stock2Each of our books comes with a hardback jacket (leather and canvas, black and blind embossed) in a slipcase (canvas, black embossed). The page size is 10.2 x 10.2″ / 26 x 26 cm.

All books are published trilingual (German, Italian and English language). Read how to place your order in our bookstore right here.

Visit our bookstore and enjoy reading soon!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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Seasons Greetings from Germany!

by on Dec.24, 2017, under Allgemein

Rahmen_Bild_2017_1000x700_seasons_greetingsFrohe Weihnachten! Buon natale! Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël! ¡Feliz Navidad! Ĝojan Kristnaskon! ’N geseënde kersfees! З Рiздвом Христовым! Gëzuar Krishtlindjen! Eguberri on! Nedeleg laouen! Весела Коледа! Chúc mừng Giáng Sinh! Glædelig jul! Häid jõule! メリークリスマス Gleðilig jól! Hyvää joulua! Καλά Χριστούγεννα! Mele kalikimaka! חג מולד שמח Selamat Hari Natal! Nollaig shona! Gleðileg jól! Bon Nadal! 메리 크리스마스 Schéin Krëschtdag! 圣诞节快乐Zalig kerstfeest! Wesołych świąt! Feliz Natal! Crăciun fericit! Счастливого Рождества! Христос се роди! Veselé Vianoce! Maligayang pasko! Veselé vánoce! God Jul! Noeliniz kutlu olsun! Noeliniz kutlu olsun! Kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket! Са святам Божага Нараджэння!

Seasons greetings from Germany!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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18 December 1941 – today in history…

by on Dec.18, 2017, under Allgemein

After the failed missions in August and September 1940, the Decima MAS returned to the eastern Mediterranean in order to make another attemp to attack the Harbour of Alexandria with SLC devices of the Mezzi d’Assalto: “Operazione G.A.3”, carried out by Tenente di Vascello Luigi Durand de la Penne and Capo Palombaro I Emilio Bianchi (SLC 221), Capitano Genio Navale Antonio Marceglia and Sottocapo Palombaro Spartaco Schergat (SLC 222), Capitano Armi Navale Vincenzo Martellotta and Sottocapo Palombaro Mario Marino (SLC 223).

Alexandria_GA3_12-1941_600x600What turned out to be one of the most famous SLC missions in the Second World War has been announced in the Italian War Bulletin N. 585 of the 8th of January 1942: “On the night of the 18th December assault craft of the Italian Royal Navy entered the Harbour of Alexandria and attacked two British battleships anchored there. It has only just been confirmed that a battleship of the Valiant class was seriously damaged and put into dock for repairs, and is still there.”

Bulletin N. 586 of the 9th of January 1942, added the following: “In the Operation conducted by assault craft fo the Royal Italian Navy in the Harbour of Alexandria and reported in yesterday’s Bulletin we now have definite further intelligence that, in Addition to the Valiant, a second battleship of the Barham class was also damaged.”

img_0628_600x600Winston Churchill announced in a speech before a secret session of the House of Commons on the 23rd of April 1942: “A further sinister stroke was to come. On the early morning of December 19 half a dozen Italians in unusual diving suits were captured floundering about in the Harbour of Alexandria… Four hours later explosions occurred in the bottoms of the Valiant and the Queen Elizabeth, produced by limpet bombs fixed with extra-ordinary courage and ingenuity, the effect which was to blow large holes in the bottoms of both ships and to flood several compartments, thus putting them both out of Actions for many months…”

Read chapter II.I of our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s to find out what happened on 18 December 1941 (page 118-125). More on the historic content in our “The References” book set with a total of 1392 pages can be found here and here. You can purchase “The References” 1930’s-1940’s  in our bookstore. Enjoy reading!

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