Photo taken April 1941 upon his promotion to Konteradmiral.

NAME: Admiral Theodor Krancke

PW NO:          A451684

RANK:            Admiral

CAPTURED:   Norway

DATE:             27 August 1945

DATE OF BIRTH:      30 March 1893

PLACE OF BIRTH:    Magdeburg

DATE OF DEATH:    18 June 1973

PLACE OF DEATH:  Wentorf bei Hamburg

NATIONALITY:        German

RELIGION:                Evangelical

OCCUPATION:        Naval Officer

HEIGHT:                    5'9"

WEIGHT:                   178lbs

HAIR COLOUR:        Dark Brown
EYE COLOUR:         Grey

NEXT OF KIN:         Gunny Kranke, (British Zone)




A talented and respected naval officer, Admiral Theodor Krancke planned the naval portion of Operation “Weserübung,” the German invasion of Denmark and Norway in April-May 1940. As commander of the heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer, Krancke conducted a highly successful raiding cruise into the Atlantic and Indian Oceans that accounted for 17 Allied ships sunk and/or captured (see below for details). He then served as the Permanent Representative of the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy at Adolf Hitler’s Military Headquarters.

As Commander-in-Chief of Navy Group Command West headquartered in Paris, Admiral Krancke controlled all German naval vessels in France, as well as the various land-based naval units and the naval coastal artillery and antiaircraft batteries along the French Atlantic coast. At the time of the Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944, Krancke’s available naval forces consisted of only smaller vessels, including five destroyers, about ten torpedo boats and 50 to 60 motor torpedo boats (S-Boats), which lay in Normandy ports. Without any heavy ships available or Luftwaffe air support, the German Navy was not able to stop the massive Allied invasion fleet or effectively interdict the flow of supplies to the Allied armies in Normandy.  

On 26 April 1945, Admiral Krancke succeeded Admiral Otto Ciliax as Commander-in-Chief of Navy High Command Norway, thus becoming the final German naval officer to hold that position. On 9 May 1945, General der Gebirgstruppe Franz Böhme, the Armed Forces Commander of Norway, surrendered the 375,000 German troops in Norway. Admiral Krancke remained in command of German naval forces in Norway for several months after the surrender to oversee the removal of German sea minefields and the demilitarization of naval shore facilities.     


Commands & Assignments:


English convoy engaged. At right, the auxiliary cruiser “Jervis Bay” with its muzzle flashes
“Admiral Scheer’s” artillery on target – direct hit on the auxiliary cruiser.
A towering salvo destroys the auxiliary cruiser.


Generaloberst Hans Jeschonnek (left), the Chief of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe, converses with then Vizeadmiral Theodor Krancke at Adolf Hitler’s military headquarters.
Hitler is just visible in the background between the two officers. Note Krancke’s High Seas Fleet War Badge displayed on his left side.

Decorations & Awards:

Cruise of the Admiral Scheer, 23 October 1940-1 April 1941

On 23 October 1940, the Admiral Scheer began a break out into the Atlantic at the start of what would ultimately become a far-ranging and successful commerce raiding cruise. Shortly after passing through the Denmark Straits, Kapitän zur See Theodor Krancke, commander of the Admiral Scheer, planned to attack convoy HX.84 on 5 November 1940. Outward bound from Halifax, the convoy consisted of 38 merchant ships escorted by a single warship, the auxiliary merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay commanded by Captain Edward S. F. Fegen. Spotting the German warship, Captain Fegen made straight for her hoping to draw fire and buy time for the convoy to scatter. In a hopelessly one-sided battle that lasted nearly one half hour, Krancke pounded the Jervis Bay from a range that prevented the British gunners from effectively replying. Ablaze with all guns out of action, Jervis Bay finally sank with the loss of 190 of her crew including Captain Fegen. The sacrifice of Jervis Bay allowed most of the convoy to escape although Krancke managed to hunt down and sink five of their number and damage three others later in the day. On 22 November 1940, Captain Fegen was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroism in the face of hopeless odds.

After sinking four merchant ships and capturing two others in the mid- and South Atlantic, Krancke cruised into the Indian Ocean where he sank three merchant ships and captured another off Mozambique. Ordered to return to Germany, the Admiral Scheer evaded a force of British cruisers and an aircraft carrier and passed through the Denmark Straits, arriving at Kiel on 1 April 1941. During the five-month-long raiding cruise, the Admiral Scheer sank 13 merchant ships, one armed merchant cruiser (Jervis Bay) and captured three merchant ships representing 115,195 tons of Allied and neutral shipping.


Name of Ship


5 November 1940


5,389 tons

5 November 1940

Jervis Bay

14,164 tons

5 November 1940


7,908 tons

5 November 1940


5,201 tons

5 November 1940

Kanbane Head

5,225 tons

5 November 1940


10,042 tons

5 November 1940

Fresno City

4,955 tons

24 November 1940

Port Hobart

7,448 tons

1 December 1940


6,242 tons

18 December 1940

Duquesa (captured/later scuttled)

8,561 tons

18 January 1941

Sandefjord (captured)

10,000 tons

19 January 1941


5,200 tons

19 January 1941


5,600 tons

20 February 1941

British Advocate (captured)

6,994 tons

21 February 1941


2,546 tons

21 February 1941

Canadian Cruiser

7,178 tons

23 February 1941

Rantau Pandjang

2,542 tons

Total Tonnage:

115,195 tons