U-47's journey back home was one of celebration; this time was well utilised by First Officer Endrass, who ordered the painting of the now well-known "Snorting Bull" emblem on the conning tower in honour of his illustrious skipper, who was soon to become known as Der Stier von Scapa Flow, or "The Bull of Scapa Flow". This entire artistic operation was carried out without the skipper being aware of it, and when this new emblem was finally revealed, Prien was said to have been pleased with the result.
Left: U-47, with crew on the deck, arrives back at base in Wilhelmshaven on 17 October following the sinking of the Royal Oak at Scapa Flow. (Thanks to Ivan for this image) Right: The victorious crew offer the salute to the welcoming crowd on 23 October at Kiel.
On arrival at Wilhelmshaven on 17 October Prien and his crew received the much-expected heroes' welcome and were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd, a ceremonial guard of honour and U-boat commander Dönitz himself. This was to herald the beginning of a hectic few days for Prien and his crew: having taken the short journey to Kiel, they then found themselves being flown onto Berlin for lunch the following day with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. Prien, having been informed of his being made the first recipient of the coveted Knight's Cross or Ritterkreuz, travelled in Hitler's personal aircraft.
Left: The Kriegsmarine Guard of Honour stands at the ready for the arrival of U-47 at Wilhelmshaven. Right: U-bootwaffe Commander-in-Chief Karl Dönitz aboard U-47, meeting the crew. Günther Prien is standing to his left. (Thanks to Ivan for both of these images)
Celebration in Berlin
The three aircraft carrying Günther Prien and his crew arrived at Berlin's Tempelhof airfield at 1100 on the morning of 18 October, and having been met by naval officials proceeded to make their way to the Reichskanzlei. As the procession of cars made their way through the streets of Berlin, the crew of U-47 and its celebrated skipper were met by yet more enthusiastic crowds lining the route. After meeting Hitler and making the obligatory opening speeches Prien was presented with his Ritterkreuz. The other crewmembers had been awarded with the Iron Cross, either first or second class, by Dönitz the previous day. Prien himself, already a holder of the Iron Cross second class, received the had also received the first class award the previous day.
Prien in Berlin. Left: The U-47 motorcade leaves Tempelhof aerodrome in Berlin, and Kapitänleutnant Prien greets the enthusiastic crowd. Right: Prien's car arrives at the Chancellery. (Thanks to Ivan for this image)
Günther Prien and the crew of U-47 are received by Adolf Hitler in the Reichskanzlei in Berlin on October 18 1939, the day after their return from Scapa Flow. Prien was awarded his Knight's Cross, and the rest of the crew were all decorated with the Iron Cross.
Having been presented with their awards, Prien and the crew of U-47 continued their victory celebration by taking lunch with Adolf Hitler, followed by their being presented to press chief Otto Dietrich and yet more speeches. During a press conference in the afternoon, Prien reiterated his belief that he had also struck the Repulse during the attack - though it has been said that he was somewhat reticent to expand more on the subject. The day's events were capped off with a gala evening at the Wintergarten theatre where more cheering crowds had gathered both inside and out. Prien and his crew were fêted upon like film stars and besieged by armies of autograph hunters, young and old, male and female. Everyone was quick to jump on the Snorting Bull's bandwagon - during the show the crowd called upon Prien to deliver a speech, which in turn was broadcast to the nation on the popular radio programme Wunschkonzert.
Prien at lunch with Hitler. There doesn't appear to be much talking going on; both Prien and the usually animated Führer look decidely uncomfortable. One can only assume that the tough seahand didn't take too well to Hitler's vegetarian menu and the likely lack of alcohol at the table. The crewman to Hitler's left looking equally unimpressed - or perhaps overawed - is Masch. Ob. Gefr. Ernst Schmidt, wearing his freshly awarded Iron Cross second class.
The following morning the crew were woken up by a band of the Marine Hitler Youth, and were entertained by Luftwaffe chief Hermann Göring before making their way back to the airfield and the return flight to Wilhelmshaven. After yet more enthusiastic crowds, the crew were finally able to return to some semblance of normality when they made their way from Wilhelmshaven back to Kiel, where U-47 would undergo a well-earned rest and refit.