War casualties or just victims of an arrogant Captain.
The long German war was nearly over and every one on board the five convoy ships was in a state of euphoria. Like ships before, celebrated by sending coloured rockets into the sky and singing popular patriotic songs. On the shore the jubilance raged as party mood struck a tired war weary nation.
Not far from the small convoy U-2336 lay in waiting in the cool May waters of the Firth of Forth. Midnight was close and the war would be legally ended.
A German submarine seemed out of place in the run of things. Kapitanleutnant Emil Klusemeier did not see things that way as it was his first and he knew his last patrol. He had knowledge of Adolf Hitler ending his life to save face. He was also aware the German Army in Italy had surrendered and the German European Army in disarray.
His new XXIII Class submarine had been categorically ordered to stay in port. That order came from Grossadmiral Karl Donitz who had succeeded Hitler instructed U boats had to cease war time operations The XXIII Class was a small electric powered submarine which was by design quiet and hard to detect. Klusemeier chose to ignore that order and set from Narvic to appear later in the Firth of Forth.
The convoy of nine ships was unperturbed and relaxed far from war alert idling near the village of Anstruther. The Avondale Park a 2,877 ton steamship built in Canada had served her country well as an emergency merchant ship. Help out as a goods carrier of Coal, Cattle cake and Roles of Mill paper.
She had sailed for Hull and on the way to the Isle of May in The Firth of Forth to form a part of the convoy.
Just after 11.00 pm on the 7th May less than one hour from the official surrender torpedoes fired from the U-2336 sought out the ships.
The first struck was the Sneland which instantly exploded setting the night aglow she lost seven of her crew including the Captain.
Next to be hit was the Avondale Park alarming the 28 man crew who thought they had struck a mine.
Listing heavily to starboard with smoke billowing from her wounded side she sunk in two minutes. Two men had been killed Engineer George Anderson and Boiler man William Harvey the rest used the Port life boat or jumped into the sea.
The sea was calm and night particularly dark as the fifty three survivors awaited rescue. They had not long to wait as the Trawlers Wolves, Leicester City and Angel came out of the dark with Klaxons hooting. In the distance depth charges fired from the Polish destroyer Stord in hope of catching the submarine.
Too late U-2336 had escaped and by the time it was noticed the war was over.
Kapitanleutnant Klusmeier surrender his vessel in Keel where it was disarmed finally.
The rescued crews were attended by the Ladies of the Flying Angel Mission who gave them food and drink. A local doctor worked his way through the wounded who suffered from hypothermia and Burns.
Further to the north, to the west of Bergen on the 7th May 1945, an RAF Catalina of No 210 Squadron on Northern Transit Area patrol destroyed U- 230 the very last U-boat casualty.
The country rightly celebrated the end of the long conflict comfortable that day on the 8th May ended the uncertainty and cruelty of the past.Divers now seek out Avondale Park where she lies near intact 55 meters down.
The deed of the German Captain Klusmeier could be compared with the Polish Captain of the submarine Orzel (Eagle).
When the Germans attacked Poland in September 1939 and surrender seemed inevitable Lt Commander Grudzinski managed to escape with his submarine to the Britain. Making her way through mine fields without the benefit of charts and dodging German air and sea power she joined with the Royal Navy.
In April 1940 Orzel sank two enemy troopships of the coast of Norway lessening the chance of the British invasion. Orzel disappeared soon after the successful operation and was never found.
Looking at these evens fairly one Captain could be considered a hero and the other a fanatic.
The Laws after an act of bellum are primarily interpreted by the victor who has the power and influence to punish or ignore such events. The answer whether Kapitanleutnant Klusmeier having full knowledge of the most of facts carried out the last torpedo operation of the last war is in your hands.