- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Kapitän zur See (Captain Royal Navy)
- 2. Sicherungs-Division
- Awarded on:
- November 15th, 1941
The following report was written by Friedrich Ruge after Weniger's death and details his combat record, including the actions that would lead to his Knight's Cross...
"Kapitän zur See Weniger began the war as commander of the 1. Minensuchflottille. He escorted the battleship "Schleswig-Holstein" near Danzig to counter anticipated Polish naval action. His minesweeping flotilla, under his energetic leadership, was instrumental in the rapid and successful conclusion of the naval campaign against Poland.
Following the departure of German destroyers from the area his flotilla was the only German unit available for the blockade against Poland. The flotilla participated in numerous artillery battles off the coast of Hela and in the bay of Danzig, conducted harassing actions against important war convoys to Poland and destroyed several Polish submarines.
Weniger proved himself in these battles as a ruthless frontline commander who brought the best out of his troops.
On 9. December 1939 Weniger was appointed as 1st Admiralstabsoffizier, later as chief of staff of the B.S.N. Here he also proved himself in the leadership of the German North Sea naval formations. At the beginning of the western campaign Weniger was commissioned to examine the harbor and mine situation as well as the possibility of transporting R-boats on canal routes to the area. Subsequently his task was to improvise new Minensuchflotillen from captured enemy vessels. Weniger was often the first naval officer to arrive in newly conquered ports and was able to intercepting retreating enemy ships several times.
He was the man who planned the seizure of the British Channel Islands by German naval forces.
It is thanks to him that the 2. R-Flottille successfully broke through the Strait of Dover on a clear day, the first German ships to do so.
He distinguished himself in the securing of large stocks of enemy war material and in discovering important information concerning enemy naval minefields.
With scant resources he oversaw the formation of the 2. F.d.M and was appointed its commander. He oversaw its continued expansion and later conversion to the 2. Sicherungs-Division. With this he became leader of a key formation in a very important area of naval operations in the western theatre, especially along the coast of Flanders and at the Strait of Dover.
In large part due to his direction the 36. and 38. Minensuchflottille were made battle-ready in a surprisingly short time. His goal was to clear the naval mine barriers in the English channel in preparation for a German invasion of the island. As a result of his superior knowledge in the area of naval mines the Channel could soon be reported mine free, and thus the first important prerequisite for a landing was created.
His reconnaissance sorties took him close to the English coast several times. He was always self-driven to personally get a feel for the state of the German mine-clearing and operations as well as to encourage the formations under his command by his presence in the battle area.
In July 1940 he directed the battle between the 4. R-Flottille and English destroyers in the English channel from his command post. He also conducted harassing missions at night between Dover and Calais with his minesweeping units.
Starting in February 1941 his main role shifted to protecting coastal German convoys through the installation of naval minefields and security against attacks from Allied aircraft, torpedo boats and submarines. He was constantly striving to discover new methods of ensuring the safe passage of important supply transports and warships through the Channel area. Due to the bitterness of the fighting and the superiority of the enemy in the air his abilities were tested to the utmost, and he proved largely successful in his efforts. With one exception, all of the convoys under the protection of the 2. Sicherungsdivision were able to pass through successfully. From June 1940 - September 1941 his units destroyed 61 aircraft and 8 torpedo boats. The result was a sense of justifiable pride on the part of Weniger and the formations of the 2. Sicherungsdivision.
The Oberbefehlshaber West wrote in his letter from 2.10.41 that, "The B.S.W. Associations deserve high recognition for their dedication." This praise mainly concerned the formations of the 2. Sicherungsdivision, which had borne the brunt of the combat. Its losses had increased considerably in the recent months as the enemy grew stronger. Nevertheless the fighting will of the men and the defensive successes in the air battles remained the same. Every soldier in the division knew that their commander committed himself to his duties ruthlessly and that he was personally involved on the frontlines.
In fulfillment of his duty and commitment to the men of the 2. Sicherungsdivision Weniger was killed during an air attack on 1.10.41 while commanding from the lead boat of an R-Flotille. In the Channel area a new enemy minefield was laid, threatening German operational freedom and blocking the convoy routes along the French coast. As such the removal of these mines was of crucial importance for the war in the west. In order to rapidly remove these mines a new approach in response to the increased English capabilities would be utilized, however it would require German forces to operate in the open ocean and under increased threat from attack. In order to ensure the success of his weakened forces during this operation Weniger decided to personally direct the operation from the frontlines. In the course of the operation the German ships came under repeated attack from enemy dive-bombers. 2 of these were shot down. The Germans suffered 3 R-Boats heavily damaged and three more lightly damaged. Weniger's ship was among those hit. Along with him the flotilla chief, his adjutant, a commander, 2 cadets and 5 men were also killed. 20 men were severely wounded and 16 slightly wounded. The flotilla suffered battle losses of 43%.
However through his leadership Weniger brought out the utmost from his attached ships. Despite the losses the Germans did succeed in reopening the convoy routes and eliminated the minefields despite intensive British attempts to interfere.
Weniger's actions, an example of rousing leadership and conscious sacrifice, was an extraordinary act of valour of crucial importance. Weniger received the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 16.9.39, the Iron Cross 1st Class on 21.5.40."