by Gareth Collins

Formed in October 1938 from the 1. & 3. Zerstörer-Divisionen. Dissolved in April 1940 with its subordinate Zerstörer moving to the control of 5. Zerstörerflottille.

On 19 February 1940 the destroyers Z-1 Leberecht Maass, Z-3 Max Schultz, Z-4 Richard Beitzen, Z-6 Theodor Riedel, Z-13 Erich Koellner and Z-16 Friedrich Eckoldt from the 1. Zerstörerflottille sortied into the North Sea in response to suspicious activities from British vessels at the Dogger Bank (Operation Wikinger) without the requested fighter cover.
A Heinkel He 111 from X Fliegerkorps on an anti-shipping operation passed the ships without giving any recognition signals so it was assumed to be a British aircraft and the ships opened fire, in return the aircraft assumed that the ships were British and attacked, sinking the Z-1 Leberecht Maass. The other destroyers attempted to rescue the crew and the Z-3 Max Schultz soon exploded and sank, probably after hitting a mine. A total of 578 German sailors was killed in this "friendly fire" incident due to lack of communication between the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe.


Kapitän zur See Wilhelm Meisel (26 Oct 1938-27 Oct 1939)
Fregattenkapitän Fritz Berger (28 Oct 1939-00 Apr 1940)

Korvettenkapitän (Ing.) Eugen Kannegiesser (00 Feb 1939-00 Apr 1940)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Knight's Cross (1)
- Berger, Fritz 04.08.1940 Fregattenkapitän Chef 1. Z-Flottille


Z-2 'Georg Thiele'
Z-3 'Max Schultz'
Z-4 'Richard Beitzen'
Z-14 'Friedrich Ihn'
Z-15 'Erich Steinbrinck'
Z-16 'Friedrich Eckholdt'

Sources used

Research by Gareth Collins
Cajus Bekker - Hitler's Naval War
Erich Gröner - Die Schiffe der deutschen Kriegsmarine und ihr Verbleib 1939-1945, J.F. Lehmanns Verlag, München (1976)
Hans H. Hildebrand - Die organisatorische Entwicklung der Marine nebst Stellenbesetzung 1848 bis 1945, Biblio-Verlag, Osnabrück(2000)
Hans H. Hildebrand & Ernest Henriot – Deutschlands Admirale 1849-1945, Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück (1989)
Hans H. Hildebrand, Albert Röhr & Hans-Otto Steinmetz – Die Deutschen Kriegsschiffe, Koehlers Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Hamburg (1980)
Walter Lohmann & Hans H. Hildebrand – Die Deutsche Kriegsmarine, Verlag Hans-Henning Podzun, Bad Nauheim (1956)

Reference material on this unit

- None known at this time -

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