Seenotdienstführer 3 

     

 

The Seenotdienstführer 3 was formed in Paris in August 1940 under the original name of Seenotdienstgführer Luftflotte 3. On 5 June 1941 it was renamed Seenotdienstführer West, only to have its name changed again on 1 June 1942 this time in Seenotdienstführer 3.

In September 1940 the headquarters were moved from Paris to Cherbourg.

Its mission was the rescue of German Luftwaffe aircrew downed over the Channel and the Atlantic, although allied aircrew were also often rescued in the process. To carry out this mission, both aircraft and boats were used. This was not without risks as the allies unequivocally considered both the rescue planes and boats as military targets to be destroyed if possible, leading to the loss of German rescue personnel.

The unit was disbanded on 19 August 1944 in the face of the Allied advance, together with all of its sub-units.

Not much is known about the commanders of the unit. From 1 December 1942 until an unknown date thereafter the commander was Oberstleutnant Friedrich Buddenbrock.

 

An important period to remember in the history of the unit is June 1942, which period saw a renaming of the sub-units. In essence, before 5 June 1942 the major constituting units were the Seenotzentralen (L), of which there were 4: Seenotzentralen (L) Bretagne, Normandie, Kanalküste and Holland, based in Brest, Cherbourg, Boulogne and Utrecht, respectively. Each of these consisted of Seenotbezirkstellen (L) and individal units called Seenotstaffel or Seenotflottille. These were:

  • Seenotzentrale (L) Bretagne (called Seenotzentrale (L) Brest until 5 June 1941):

    • Seenotbezirkstelle (L) Royan

    • Seenotbezirkstelle (L) Brest

    • Seenotstaffel 1 in Brest

    • Seenotflottille 1 in Brest-l'Aberwrach

    • Flugsicherungsschiff Tschirschhky in Brest

  • Seenotzentrale (L) Normandie (called Seenotzentrale (L) Cherbourg until 5 June 1941), commander Major Fritz Gruhne:

    • Seenotbezirkstelle (L) Cherbourg

    • Seenotbezirkstelle (L) Le Havre

    • Seenotstaffel 2 in Cherbourg

    • Seenotflottille 2 in Cherbourg

    • Seenotbojenkommando A in Cherbourg

  • Seenotzentrale (L) Kanalküste (called Seenotzentrale (L) Boulogne until 5 June 1941):

    • Seenotbezirkstelle (L) Dieppe

    • Seenotbezirkstelle (L) Boulogne

    • Seenotstaffel 3 in Boulogne

    • Seenotstaffel 3 (detachment) in Oostende (until September 1942)

    • Seenotflottille 3 in Boulogne

    • Seenotbojenkommando B in Boulogne

    • Seenotbojenkommando C in Calais

  • Seenotzentrale (L) Holland in Utrecht (formed in November 1940)

    • Seenotbezirkstelle (L) Holland

    • Seenotstaffel 3 (detachment) in Schellingwoude (from December 1941)

    • Seenotflottille 4 in Schellingwoude (from November 1940)

  • Werftdienststelle

  • Luftnachrichtenzug

We can also mention that in the period 11/40 - 4/42 the Seenotstaffeln 1-3 were part of the I/Seenotgruppe in Cherbourg.

 

The above situation changed after 5 June 1942, when most units were renamed (until mentioned otherwise all units were disbanded in 8/44):

  • Seenotbereichskommando I in Brest, commander Oberstleutnant William Freudenberg (23.3.44 - 19.8.44):

    • Seenotkommando 1 in Royan (disbanded 12/43)

    • Seenotkommando 2 in Brest

    • Seenotstaffel 1 in Brest (disbanded 7/44)

      • Seenotflugkommando Hourtin

    • Seenotflottille 1 in Brest-l'Aberwrach

  • Seenotbereichskommando II in Cherbourg, commanders Major Carl Hess (13.7.42 -  11.9.42), Oberstleutnant Julius von Fedrigoni Edler von Etschthal (11.9.42 - 1.3.43), Oberstleutnant Edmund Eiffe (1.3.43 - ?)

    • Seenotkommando 3 in Cherbourg (disbanded 7/44)

      • Strandbootkommando St Vaast

      • Strandbootkommando Raverville

    • Seenotkommando 4 in Le Havre (disbanded 7/44)

      • Strandbootkommando Caudebec

    • Seenotkommando 5 in Dieppe (disbanded 7/44)

      • Strandbootkommando Le Tréport

      • Strandbootkommando Cayeux

    • Seenotstaffel 2 (detachment) in Cherbourg (established 12/42; disbanded 7/44)

    • Seenotflottille 2 in Cherbourg (disbanded 7/44)

  • Seenotbereichskommando III in Wimereux (disbanded 3/44): commanders Oberstleutnant Ernst Siepermann (11.7.42 - 4.12.43), Major Christian Poessel (4.12.43 - 23.3.44), Major Max Buddich (23.3.44 - 4.44)

    • Seenotkommando 6 in Boulogne (disbanded 3/44)

      • Strandbootkommand0 1

      • Strandbootkommando 2

    • Seenotkommando 7 in Calais (disbanded 3/44)

      • Strandbootkommando 3

    • Seenotkommando 8 in Oostende (disbanded 3/44)

      • Strandbootkommando 4

    • Seenotstaffel 3 in Boulogne (disbanded 3/44)

    • Seenotstaffel 3 (detachment) in Oostende (disbanded 9/42)

    • Seenotflottille 3 in Boulogne (disbanded 3/44)

  • Seenotbereichskommando IV in Utrecht (moved to Schellingwoude in 2/44): commanders Major Heinz Klamke (13.7.42 - 4.12.43), Major Christian Poessel (4.12.43 - 19.8-44)

    • Seenotkommando 8 in Oostende (established 3/44)

    • Seenotkommando 9 in Schellingwoude

    • Seenotstaffel 2 in Schellingwoude (established 12/42)

    • Seenotstaffel 3 in Schellingwoude (disbanded 12/42)

      • Seenotflugkommando Ostende

    • Seenotflottille 4 in Schellingwoude (established 11/40)

  • Seenotbereichskommando XIII in Berre (established 12/42)

    • Seenotkommando 24 in Port vendres

    • Seenotkommando 25 in Antibes

    • Seenotstaffel 3 in Berre

    • Seenotflottille 13 in St. Raphaêl

  • Werftdienststelle in Paris

  • Luftnachrichtenzug

For further details on the organisation and other elements of the Seenotrettungsdienst we refer the interested reader to the great and very detailed website Luftwaffe-zur-See.de

 

On 26 July 1942 the Fliegerbergungsboot 603, also referred to as Flugsicherungsboot 603 was sunk when attacked at sea by enemy aicraft, while it was looking for the pilot of a  FW 190 who was seen using his parachute to evacuate his aircraft. All 12 crew members of the boat, as well as two war reporters perished. The Fliegerbergungsboot 419, which was deployed to lend assistance, was also attacked by enemy aircraft while en route and returned to port with one lightly-injured sailor.