Battle of the Barents Sea

Battle Of The Barents Sea

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Battle of the Barents Sea

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The Battle of the Barents Sea took place on 31 December 1942 between German surface raiders and British ships escorting convoy JW 51B to Kola Inlet in the USSR. The action took place in the Barents Sea north of North Cape, Norway.


Convoy JW 51B comprised fourteen merchant ships carrying war materials to the USSR — some 202 tanks, 2,046 other vehicles, 87 fighters, 33 bombers, of fuel, of aviation fuel and just over of other supplies. They were protected by the destroyers , , , , and ; Flower-class corvettes and ; the minesweeper ; and trawler Vizalma and Northern Gem. The escort commander was Captain R. St.V. Sherbrooke RN (flag in Onslow). The convoy sailed in the dead of winter to preclude attacks by German aircraft like those that devastated an earlier Arctic convoy, PQ-17.

In addition to the convoy escort, two cruisers — and — and two destroyers were independently stationed in the Barents Sea to provide distant cover. These four ships, known as "Force R", were under the command of Rear-Admiral Robert L. Burnett, in Sheffield.

The German forces included the heavy cruiser ; large cruiser Lützow; and destroyers Friedrich Eckholdt, Richard Beitzen, Theodor Riedel, Z 29, Z 30 and Z 31. These ships were based at Altafjord in northern Norway, and were under the overall command of Vice-Admiral Oskar Kummetz, in Hipper.

Convoy JW 51B sailed from Loch Ewe on 22 December 1942 and met its escort off Iceland...
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