The Golden Cruiser

Causes of World War 1

Unlike WW2, Causes of WW1 have been constantly debated.

uboat Archive Germany

Brithish – Russian

HMS Edinburgh, Britsh and Russian destroyers and QP 11 and PQ 15


U 88, 251, 405, 436, 456, 589 and 703

3 German destroyers

A Cruiser filled wit gold. In 1942 Allied convoys sailed the Arctic Seas moving supplies to Russia. The Arctic saw many ferocous naval and air battles for these convoys.

On April 25th 1942 – 5 tons of Russian Gold loaded onto Edinburgh, in Murmansk Russia, as payment for Allied Arms. The were packed in plain boxes.

Convoy QP11 lead by Edinburgh departed from Murmansk leading a convoy of 13 merchant ships. Torpedoed by U 456 at 0400 hours. Kapitänleutnant Martin Teichert commanded the uboat.

At about the same time convoy PQ 15 left Iceland heading for Russia with supplies.  These two convoys drew the attention of the combined German uboat force, land based aircraft and surface ships in the area.

Uboats involved in the attacks on both convoys were all Type VIIC boats.    U 88, U 251, U 405, U 436U 456U 589 and U 703

On 29 April 2942 Germain air reconnaissance made contact with both convoys and began the process of a coordinated hunt by uboats on both convoys.

At 1120 in the morning on the 29th, while cruising on the surface, U 456 lookouts sighted a British “Belfast” class cruiser.  This was the Edinburgh. 

Kapitänleutnant Martin Teichert followed HMS Edinburgh and over the next few hours attempted to either line up an attack on the cruiser or follow it back to the convoy but neither occurred.   Then at about 1610 hours the cruisers zig zag move brought it directly towards U 456 and the uboat prepared for a torpedo attack.  Recognizing that the cruiser was fairly fast and would attempt to evade a torpedo attack, Kapitänleutnant Martin Teichert fired a spread of 3 torpedos from tubes 1, 2 and 4.  He felt this spread would have the best chance of hitting the cruiser.

At 1632 hours two of the three torpedos struck the cruiser. Kapitänleutnant Martin Teichert eventually surfaced his uboat with the thought of finish off the damaged cruiser but was unable to as three British destroyers were seen quickly closing in on them.

Two days later HMS Edinburgh was still afloat if just barely and sailing with the assistance of friendly destroyers. An amazing effort was made by both British destroyers and Russian destroyers to keep HMS Edinburgh afloat and sailing home.  On 2 May 1942, the severely damaged cruiser and supporting destoyers were attacked by three German destoyers. These were Z 7, Z 24 and Z 25.  German command had ordered these destroyers to the area with the mission of finishing off the British cruiser.  There was a brief but fierce exchange of gun fire between the British cruiser, British and Russian destoyers against the three German destoyers.  The German destoyers were out gunned by a lot, and one destroyer took heavy damage.  All three German destroyers withdrew, but not before one of them was able to launch torpedos at the cruiser. One torpedo hit HMS mid ship as she was unable to take evasive action.  It became clear that the damage of the torpedo was causing the Edinburgh to break apart and sink.  Allied destroyers began taking survivors from the cruiser as the order to abandon ship was given my Captain Hugh Faulkner.

Unexpectedly, the German destroyers came back for another round of the fight for two reasons.  The first was to attempt another attack on the British cruiser and the second was to recover sailors from the one German destroyer which had taken the most damage from the previous fight.  The Hermann Schoemann destroyer was sinking.  The German destroyers were successful. They heavy damaged one British destroyer and they recovered the crew of the sinking German destroyer.

At this point the fate of HMS Edinburgh was set and Rear Admiral Bonham_Carter ordered a British destroyer to fire a torpedo and sink the Edinburgh.  With this final blow HMS Edinburgh capsized and went down in about two minutes. Unknown to most who sailed on her, 5 tons of Russian gold went down with her also.

As can easily be imaged many people over the years have thought of trying to retrieve the gold.  However, England declared the site a war grave and made it illegal to disturb.  All of this of course is easy and declare and enforce in the beginning but as technology has improved over the years the ability to retrieve the gold became easier and less costly and more countries and private company began to have the means of going after the gold.

In September and October of 1981, a Scottish salvage company was authorized to retrieve the gold.  431 gold bars were recovered.  159 bars were given to the Soviet Union and 272 kept by England.  In 1986 divers recovered another 29 gold bars and to this day there are still 5 gold bars missing.

Max-Martin Teichert went on for another five combat uboat patrols until on 12 May 1943 U 456 was sank by a B 24 Liberator in the arctic sea.  There were no survivors.

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