Tirpitz Attack
Shetland "Hands Across the Sea" Norway
 

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The attempt to sink the TIRPITZ

One of the chariots

One of the bravest operations undertaken by the Norwegian Naval Independent Unit under British Command, was undoubtedly when the 19 meter fishing boat ARTHUR, armed with two two-man torpedoes (chariots), sailed against the might of the 42,000 ton German battleship TIRPITZ.

The TIRPITZ was anchored far up Trondheimfjord and was the greatest single threat to shipping arising from the German occupation of Norway - tying up the heavy metal of the British Navy in Scapa Flow.

Comparison in the size of the 'TIRPITZ' and
the 'ARTHUR' and one of its chariots

The CHARIOT was about 6 meters long, driven by electric motors. Its crew sat astride it in diving suits, protected by a type of 'windscreen' behind which were luminous instrument panels and controls. On its nose was a very large detachable warhead. The crew were to steer it below their target, unscrew the warhead, set a time fuse, attach the warhead to the bottom of the target with magnets, and then make their escape with the body of the torpedo.

The 'ARTHUR'

The ARTHUR, carrying a camouflage cargo of peat on deck to conceal the chariots, had a false bulkhead fitted with a secret door between the engine room and the hold, and in this 60cm wide space the crews of the chariots were hidden.

After a voyage fraught with danger, and the ARTHUR only a few miles from the TIRPITZ, a severe storm blew up causing the chariots to break loose and the mission was aborted.

The crew of the Arthur scuttled their boat before attempting to escape across the border into Sweden. During their escape run Able Seaman Robert Evans was taken prisoner and later shot by the Germans.

The map at right (click on it for a bigger version) shows the route of the ARTHUR towards the TIRPITZ, and where the chariots were broken loose.

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