Hitler’s Forgotten Flotillas (2017)

“This study of the Kriegsmarine’s Sicherungsstreitkrafte, their security forces, fills a gap in the study of the German Navy in World War II. This book describes the wide array of vessels including patrol boats, minesweepers, submarine hunters, barrage breakers, landing craft, minelayers, and even the riverine flotilla that patrolled the Danube as it snaked towards the Black Sea. These vessels may not have provided the glamour associated with capital ships and U-boats, but they were crucial to the survival of the Kriegsmarine at every stage of hostilities.

As naval construction was unable to keep pace with the likely demand for security vessels, Grossadmiral Erich Raeder turned to the conversion of merchant vessels. For example, trawlers were requisitioned as patrol boats (Vorpostenboote) and minesweepers (Minensucher), while freighters, designated Sperrbrecher, were filled with buoyant materials and sent to clear minefields. Submarine hunters (U-Boot Jaeger) were requisitioned fishing vessels. More than 120 flotillas operated in wildly different conditions, from the Arctic to the Mediterranean, and eighty-one men were to be awarded the Knight s Cross; some were still operating after the cessation of hostilities clearing German minefields. Paterson documents organizational changes, describes the vessels, and recounts individual actions of ships at sea. Extensive appendices are included.” (from Amazon.co.uk)

Published 18 April 2017.
Pen & Sword website page


A solid, well researched primer regarding the majority of Kreigsmarine forces and their actions during the Second World War. Paterson offers a well-researched narrative detailing both the large scale aspect of Security Forces operations interspersed with examples of key or typical engagement examples in a manner that helps give shape to the data in a way that a mere reiteration of facts is simply incapable of doing. His division of chronologies into theatre-specific chapters offers one not only the opportunity to examine the operations of the Security Forces in different areas of operation, but actively compare the situation between the different war fronts as well. With modern scholarship decidedly lacking in the realm of Security Force general histories, this work fills an informative gap in works regarding German naval warfare from 1939 to 1945.
International Journal of Maritime History, May 2018: reviewed by Charles Ross Patterson II – Yorktown, Virginia, USA.

This book is an excellent treatment of a side of naval warfare that is rarely given the attention it deserves. It is thus heartily recommended.
Warship annual, 2018 – reviewed by Aidan Dodson

This book contains extensive appendices, documents organisational changes, describes the vessels and recounts individual actions of ships at sea.
Thoroughly recommended.
Marine News

This is a well written book, with a good balance between background information, a good narrative framework of events and stories of individual incidents. While the topic is too big for a single book to cover every detail, this is an excellent study of a key part of the German Navy’s war effort.
History Of War

There are a number of maps which illustrate the various areas of operation, along with a number of diagrams, such as explaining the Oropesa mine sweeping arrangement and plenty of photos throughout the book, showing the ships and the men and their uniforms.  From purpose built vessels, to converted merchant ships and commandeered Trawlers, there is such a great variety of hundreds of these minor vessels which were employed by the Kreigsmarine throughout the war.  Add to all this the inclusion of plenty of stories about how operational events turned out, there is lots in here to enjoy, and certainly for me, to learn.
Robin Buckland’s Military Modelling Scene

This new book provides a detailed view of the Kreigsmarine Security Forces in WWII with many previously unpublished  images. It is an important addition to the pool of knowledge and the first substantial review of German naval security forces – Very Highly Recommended.

The author has clearly undertaken exhaustive research and assembled a vast amount of information on the German Naval Security Fleet, Sicherungsstreitkrafte, producing what is a unique review in depth. The main body of the book provides clear text with embedded images in illustration. There are a great many images and many have not been published before. Although British Coastal Forces have received less than their due in print, the German Navy has fared even worse and this book is a very welcome correction of this deficiency. To a comprehensive review has been added an equally comprehensive set of appendices, bibliography and index.


A very exciting and comprehensive book about these unseen units.

ModellWerft, September 2017 – reviewed by Oliver Bothmann

Additional Material
It is my intention to complete the appendices that I had hoped to include within the book. These are complete lists of the Security craft allocated to each flotilla. Space prevented its inclusion in the book itself, and I will add them as they are finished here on the website. As you can imagine – this will take some time.

Sperrbrecherflottillen (incomplete)

Errata for ‘Hitler’s Forgotten Flotillas’

On Page 188 I identified the aircraft shot down by Sperrbrecher 192 near Serbia’s Ram Fortress during the German retreat along the Danube as a Soviet one. It was actually Beaufighter MM383 of No.255 Squadron, RAF, shot down by fire from vessels Uta and Bechelaren. Oroginally misidentified as a Wellington bomber, both crew members – 127208 James Summers, Pilot, and 140887 Cecil John Sanders, Navigator/Radar Operator – were killed.

The research of this fascinating story was carried out by the 255 Squadron Association who have detailed it on their website here: http://www.255.org.uk/MM838-background.html

Further proof that there is always more information to be found 🙂