Sunday, 23 May 2010

The German Invasion of NZ

A chance encounter with the plaque on the above photo started a conversation about the German "invasion" of New Zealand at the end of WWII. It transpires that a daring Kapitan Timms, Commander of a German U Boat landed a party of his able seamen off the Hawkes Bay coast in Napier. The submarine had some farm boys amongst its crew, and they nipped ashore to milk a few cows, returning to the sub with the milk. The tale is told by one of our most honoured military commanders, Air Marshall Sir Rochford Hughes, who evidently met with the U Boat's commander in the 1950s when Germany and Britain had become Nato allies.
The U Boat captain told him that they had been close to the Australian coast and were sent to Napier after an intelligence report that a freighter was loading meat there for the war effort.
“Among the crew were several young men brought up on farms in Germany. According to Kapitan Timms, fresh milk was a welcome change, though they complained about doing it all in the dark. I don’t think we were invaded, but it seems we had some milk taken which wasn’t paid for."
“Kapitan Timms was the sort of chap I believed implicitly. His knowledge of the coast and admiration for the country was also impressive.”
The NZ Ministry of Defence has no record of the landing, but there was some record of a German submarine in the Tasman sea at the end of 1944.
“On December 24 of that year the American steamer Robert J. Walker was torpedoed and sunk 200 miles [320 kilometers] south-east of Jervis Bay, NSW.” NZPA.

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