Navy

Altmark Rescue: WWII Sailors Who Stormed German Tanker Remembered

The team from HMS Cossack rescued 299 prisoners from a German tanker while in a Norwegian fjord.

A service of remembrance has taken place at HMS Raleigh to honour the bravery of a Second World War boarding team.

Eighty years ago, sailors from HMS Cossack stormed Altmark, a German tanker, rescuing 299 British prisoners.

The German vessel was hiding in a Norwegian fjord when it was raided by Royal Navy personnel.

Three officers and 30 sailors armed with rifles, bayonets and a cutlass were the ones involved in the rescue operation.

"I can imagine it would have been quite daunting, eery, quite exciting for those guys, and to take those vessels into a fjord," Chief Petty Officer Gary Stones said.

"Navigationally would have been very difficult.

"But to be up so close, jumping from one ship to another ship... I can only imagine a mixture of excitement and fear may have been going through their minds," he added.

Their courage was remembered at the special service, but it is also remembered in its own way on a daily basis at HMS Raleigh.

HMS Cossack silver platter given by prisoners to sailors 170220 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
The rescued prisoners presented HMS Cossack with a silver platter.

The Cossack building is a mock-up of a ship, and is where Royal Navy sailors are trained in boarding techniques.

"They do this training as part of Phase 3 Training," Captain Anthony Swan said.

"It is quite relaxed and perfect for the Royal Navy personnel that do that style of boarding, then it moves on to the search phase."

A silver platter presented to HMS Cossack by the prisoners remains on display at the Board and Search School as an inspiration to future generations.