Thursday, December 19, 2013

The U Who

German U-Boat © Airads
It's been a fine day and as you can see from the first photo, I've been busy looking for the wreck of the recently exposed German U-Boat on the Hoo Peninsula, near Sheerness.

From the air, you can gain a much better idea of it's condition now the tidal surge has freed most of its structure from the mud. There's also a link to the Daily Mail story where you can find my other photos of the wreck.

What the submarine's story was is still to be revealed but if you know, perhaps you can share it here. It must have a a history and there must be records of its crew and actions in World War One.

KLM Flight Departing
Over at Manston I spotted the KLM flight returning to Amsterdam, as well as an RAF Tornado blazing through at low level. One had a bird-strike yesterday and I'm wondering if it was the same one returning home. It led me to speculate that at the present rate of attrition we will soon have more operational Spitfires in private hands than front-line fighters in the RAF.


MAC said...

The U Boat is not that much of a discovery, but I guess it's a bit more obvious following the recent surge.

The following from the World Naval Ships Forum, sheds some light:

were brought into the submarine base at Harwich, and on the 21st November 1918, the first batch of ten U-Boats arrived under the control British crews flying the White Ensign from the conning towers. Over the next two weeks, 122 submarines and other associated craft arrived in Harwich. The German crews were returned to their own country.

Out of the 176 (accounts vary on the precise number) surrendered submarines, some were distributed to allied navies (some to France and six to the USA), others sunk under tow, or were scuttled. The Admiralty decided that a number of the U-Boats should be taken around Britain and displayed to the public. Among these places were Portsmouth, Devonport, Great Yarmouth, Cardiff, Bristol, and London.

It seems that 26 of the submarines were bought by a cement works for their diesel engines and generators, and afterwards the hulls were bought by a scrap company who, in 1920, moored them in the River Medway, awaiting scrapping. (One account says they were blown onto the mud flats by strong winds, whilst being towed for scrapping). Unfortunately, the price of scrap steel plummeted and in 1923, the scrap dealer went bankrupt before the submarines could be broken up. Whether they were moved again or not, it is not clear, but it does seem that were either scuttled, or just allowed to rot at their moorings.

Of the twenty-six, only three remain on the Medway mud flats. There doesn’t seem to be any record of the other twenty three, but it is suggested that they may have been subsequently towed away for scrapping. Alternatively, they may have rotted away and slipped beneath the mud

One of the three boats sits on its own in Damhead Creek, near Humble Bee Creek, East Hoo, the other two are some 1400 feet away, and lie close together in Slede Creek, near Oakham Ness jetty. There is not a lot left of the Slede Creek boats after some further salvage during WW2.

There is some argument over the identities of these submarines. The Damhead Creek boat has been identified as a type UE2 - U122 or U123, and also as type UBIII - UB122, due to its size being to short for a UE2. U122 is recorded as being grounded on the East coast on 9th December 1917 whilst on her way to the breakers, with U123 suffering the same fate on the 26th January 1918. So there is a bit of a mystery there. No record of the identity of the other two boats.

Michael Child said...

Thanks for that Simon much appreciated, do you know if there are any complete restored U-boats?

Simon Moores said...

Thanks for the information Mac.

Michael, I have seen a couple of WW1 submarines and been in one in Helsinki but they are very rare as one might expect.

Anonymous said...

MAC thanks for that enjoyable read and the well researched facts.