15 January – Today in German History


  • Cruiser Köln was commissioned into service with Fregattenkapitän Ludwig von Schröder at the helm.


  • Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein became a group leader (Kameradschaftsführer) in the Hitler Youth organization.


  • Hermann Göring met Benito Mussolini; when Göring brought up the topic of the German wish to annex Austria, Mussolini showed disapproval.


  • Kapitän zur See Ernst Kretzenberg took command of cruiser Köln.
  • German submarine U-44 torpedoed and sank Norwegian steamer Fagerheim in the Bay of Biscay at the early hours of the day, killing 15. The 5 survivors were taken to Vigo, Spain. At 0700 hours, U-44 fired shots at Dutch merchant freighter Arendskerk; realizing his ship could not outrun the German submarine, captain of the Arendskerk gave the abandon ship order. Arendskerk was subsequently torpedoed and sank, but all 65 of her crew members survived, rescued by Italian steamer Fedora.


  • Overnight, Wellington bombers of No. 57 Squadron RAF attacked Emden, Germany while 76 RAF bombers attacked Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
Erich Topp (r) on U-552 in St. Nazaire in October 1941.


  • The German Armeegruppe Mitte began to fall back from the Kaluga area, forming new defensive lines 20 miles to the west.
  • German submarine U-552 sank the ship Dayrose at 0138 hours with 38 dead and 4 survivors. To the south, German submarine U-123 sank British tanker Coimbra off Sandy Hook, New Jersey, United States at 0941 hours with 36 dead and 10 survivors. At 1134 hours, again off Newfound, U-203 sank Portuguese trawler, Catalina, killing all aboard. Near the end of the day at 2317 hours, U-553 blew the bow off of the tanker Diala with 57 dead and 8 survivors and the wreckage of Diala remained afloat.
  • British destroyer HMS Hesperus rammed German submarine U-93 while the submarine attempted to attack Allied convoy HG78 580 miles west of Gibraltar, followed by gunfire and depth charge attacks, leading to the submarine being abandoned with 6 dead and 40 survivors. HMS Hesperus would reverse course for Gibraltar to receive repairs.
  • A British Swordfish aircraft sank German submarine U-577 with depth charges 60 miles north of Sollum, Egypt, killing all 43 aboard.


  • German aircraft raided Telepte Airfield in Tunisia three times and Youks-les-Bains Airfield in Algeria once. A total of 15 German aircraft were shot down during these attacks.


  • Soviet forces launched a new offensive near Leningrad, Russia.
  • German XIV Panzer Corps abandoned Monte Trocchio, Italy and fell back across the Rapido River while the US II Corps would capture Monte Trocchio later on the same day. Meanwhile, General Juin’s French troops captured Monte Santa Croce.


  • Adolf Hitler ordered Panzerkorps Grossdeutschland to move from East Prussia, Germany to Poland to counter the Soviet Vistula-Oder Offensive. This counterattack would be repulsed by the Soviet 1st Byelorussian Front.
  • Adolf Hitler departed the Adlerhorst headquarters in Wetterau, Germany, and returning to Berlin.
  • German V-2 rocket hit Rainham, London, England, United Kingdom at about 2345, killing 14 and seriously injuring 4.


  • Hellmuth Felmy was released from imprisonment.