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15 October 2014
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Visit to a U-Boat

by BBC Radio Foyle

Contributed by 
BBC Radio Foyle
People in story: 
Bernard Mc Cormack
Location of story: 
Derry, Northern ireland
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
10 November 2004

A Visit to a U — Boat
by Bernard Mc Cormack

When I first glimpsed at the V — Boat, it lay moored to a Jetty in the Waterside part of town and quite close the L.M.S. Railway Station. It lay low in the water and did not look in the least menacing. Even so I could scarcely hide my excitement.

The only raised part of the vessel was the conning tower which was in effect the nerve centre of the boat. The captain and officers slept there and it was here they made all their decisions and worked out their strategies in this confined space. On entering the ship ones attention was immediately held by a strong smell of rubber which seemed to be an integral part of the ventilation. I could scarcely believe my eyes when I saw the size of the captain’s cabin. It was so tiny that it seemed fitter for a midget. I was even more surprised when I saw the blue and white checked curtains that ran the length of the bunk. I had not expected such a homely touch! The only other furniture was a small writing desk. A captain’s white peaked cap with the badge hung on a hook. It made me think that the captain had just gone out of the cabin and would be back any moment.

The walls of the boat seemed covered with brass gauges of every description. Each instrument was neatly labelled in a beautiful gothic lettering. This lettering fascinated me but was totally incomprehensible. I regretted this very much since I did not know a single word of German. This sort of script has long since gone out of use in Germany.

Exploring the ship was quite strenuous. One had to penetrate so many bulkheads in a very cramped space.

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