The first use of a Do-24 by the German Seenotstaffeln:

It all started when a call came in at the Norderney Seenotstaffel station that a Heinkel He-111 had to ditch in the middle of the North Sea in the evening of August 16th 1940. The last contact was somewhere in the region of the Doggerbank. Shortly thereafter a distresscall SOS came in. It was not an easy mission to get the four crewmembers out of there because they landed in the middle of a minefield. Two Heinkel He-59 floatplanes were sent out to search the bomber in the given region. When reaching the place they quickly found the remains of the bomber (only a few oilstains on the surface) and radioed the location in. Time was running out as it was quickly getting dark and a landing in a minefield in the dark was out of the question. Shortly before nightfall the call came in, lifeboat with four crewmembers found, going in to land, sealevel 3 (the strength of the waves, 3 being the maxium when a He-59 could land). As the first He-59 landed the second got a call that there was another emergency and flew away from the scene. The landed He-59 manouvred to get the lifeboat between the floats to pick up the He-111 crew. When the four men were on board the He-59 crew heard an aircraft approaching, it was not quit dark yet and they could see an English Bristol Blenhiem, a twinengined heavily armoured reconnaissance plane. The Blenhiem came closer and turned on it’s searchlight. The white He-59 was caught in the searchlight and clearly visible were the red crosses on the wings and fuselage. The Blenheim turned away and the He-59 crew thought they were safe. The Blenheim crew thought differently and turned around and fired at the He-59, despite it carrying the red crosses of a medical flight. During the first attack the commander of the He-59, Leutnant sur See Boerner was badly injured and shortly thereafter died, the radiooperator also got injured and the fueltanks were badly hit. The german crewmembers were outraged and grabbed their handpistols they carried in case of an overagressive enemy they had to rescue would turn on them. They fired when the Blenheim returned for a second attack but it was of course futile, their pistols were no match and could never bring any plane down. During the second attack one of the floats was hit and begane to take on water, the He-59 began to go under. Quickly the crew checked their own three lifeboats, of which two were shot up. The third was let in the water and as it was only able to carry four people the crew of the He-111 were put in it. Round this time the injured radiooperator of the He-59 died of his wounds. The He-59 was almost completely under the waterline and only the second float stayed up, the two remaining crewmembers of the He-59 hanging on to it for their lifes. At that time they thought that the controlstation at Norderney was not yet radioed about the situation, the radiooperator was hit in the first attack and the second He-59 was called away beforehand, so the only thing they could do was wait and wait. After a few hours the second He-59 returned at Norderney, where the tension was rising quickly because nothing was heard of the first He-59 for a long time, but it often happened that the radio on these old planes failed. When the first daylight came round 04:00 Karl Born, Staffelkapitan, ordered four He-59’s to start a search for the missing He-59, he himself went along with the brandnew Do-24N-1 D-APDA (former Do-24K-2 X-37, which was almost ready for it's first flight when Germany invaded The Netherlands). It became a troublesome flight because during the night the wind had gone from force 3 to force 6. After an hours flying the left plane spotted the wreck, you can imagine the horror when finding the He-59 upside down in the water with only two men hanging on to it when there should be eight! Shortly thereafter Born in his Do-24 found the lifeboat with the four He-111 crewmembers. The men were in the water now for hours on end and had to be rescued, but they were still in the minefield and the waves were getting higher and higher. The He-59’s were not able to land, because with these waves the floats would brake immediately, the only thing remaining was to set the Do-24 down on the water, Born had no choice, peoples lives were at steak. Born had never landed a Do-24 in this weather before. The crew of the Do-24 was ordered in the part of the plane where they would be safest and Born started the approach, full plaps and just above stallspeed he approached the first wave, the wave hit the Do-24, which was pushed back in the air, only to hit the second wave with full weight. There was a lot of noise, craking of the fuselage, and when the aircraft was almost still all three engines broke loose and came down. Waves of water overran the boat and it took a few moments before Born realised he was very lucky, the middle engine had come down just behind him, missing on with a few inches. After his first relief he became aware that he was caught and if the plane was to go down he would drown. Fortinately the rest of the crew were already working from behind te free Born from the cockpit. The hull was punctured and was taking on water, oil was coming out of the wings and covering the crew, they had to leave the sinking Do-24 quickly, Luckyly the remaining watertight compartments held the Do-24 up. The four circling He-59 floatplanes were able to do nothing but call in for help from the naval part of the Seenotstaffel, which went out a fast rescueboat. After two hours the boat arrived, but was able to do nothing yet, because both aircraft were still floating in the minefield, the He-59 turned over and the Do-24 with it’s remaining watertight compartments still upright. Around that time the lifeboat with the He-111 crew was withing 30 meters of the Do-24 and the Do-24 crew were able to shoot a rope at the lifeboat to bring the deadly tired He-111 crew on board of the Do-24. A direct communicationsline was set up between the boat and the Do-24 and the boatcrew mentioned that the He-59 wreck was at the edge of the minefield and slowly drifting clear. With the wind strong it went all quickly, although it still took some three hours before the He-59 was out of the minefield. One half night, one full day and again a half night the two remaining He-59 crewmembers had to hold on to the ropes on the float of their plane, but the survived. Only 10 minutes after the crew were rescued the He-59 wreck sank! Directly the boat went to the Do-24 to get the people out of there, which proved to be difficult, because of the high waves. All the remaining people were saved and the last to leave the Do-24 was Karl Born who reached up for a helping hand to pull him aboard the boat and looked straight in the eyes of his old time friend Heini Behnsen, whith who he had trained on the trainingship Oldenburg 13 years before. The Do-24 was towed away to Borkum where the boat and all rescued crewmembers were put on land. The Do-24 never came that far, because somewhere along the way the line broke and the Do-24 went down in the sea. Thus came an end to the first use of the Do-24 by a Seenotstaffel