| Is the German submarine mystery about to
Divers have discovered the wartime
graves of 58 German submariners on two wrecked submarines in the North
Sea. It's a mystery waiting to be solved.
For the last ten years, teams of divers have scoured
waters off the North East and Yorkshire Coast looking for the last few
missing German U-Boats from World War I.
Eight of the German submarines were sunk off north Yorkshire
between 1917 and 1918 and until last summer two remained lost.
But divers Andrew Jackson and Carl Racey uncovered the
two wrecks within two days.
The Royal Navy’s first submarine was Holland I.
It was launched in 1901.
During World War 1, German submarines sank 6.5
million tons of allied merchant shipping.
It is estimated that 50% of the 74 Royal Navy submarines
lost during World War I fell prey to mines.
By the end of the World War II, British submarines
had sunk two million tons of enemy shipping and fifty seven major
The exact locations of the wrecks are closely guarded
secrets, shared only with the U-Boat archive in Germany.
The German government is now planning to officially declare
them war graves.
Curator Horst Bredow from the U-boat Archive in Cuxhaven,
Germany, was amazed to hear of their discoveries.
He says, "It is important for the relatives and for our
records to know where these U-boats are."
It could mark the end of 90 years of speculation about
the whereabouts of the U-boats
UB41 was found first. Her last sighting was by the SS
Melbourne on October 5 1917 off Scarborough. The divers were unable to
tell whether she’d struck a mine or suffered an internal explosion.
a German U-boat
UB75 was found later, upright and intact with very little
evidence of damage.
She left Borkum on November 29, 1917 for the Whitby area.
She succeeded in sinking four ships but never made it back home.
Carl explains the large amount of wrecks in the North
"During World War One, the North Sea was more like what
the Atlantic was to World War Two, a hunting ground for U-boats".
"The early submariners of World War One were true pioneers
of submarine warfare, especially on this scale. These vessels were hard
mistresses to the crew and officers alike, often referred to as ‘iron
coffins’ or ‘sisters of sorrow," says Andrew.
The wrecks lie in more than 60 metres of water and can
only be examined by highly trained divers for 15 minutes at a time.
They are 30 miles away from where they were thought to
have gone missing and within one mile of each other.
|Diver Carl Racey
discovered the wrecks with Andrew Jackson
The first discovery, the UB41, was found when Andrew
and Carl targeted a wreck off Robin Hood’s Bay that had been updated to
more appropriate size in a recent hydrographic survey.
Because they did not have the equipment to film the wreck
at that time, the divers tried a different target the following day.
It turned out to be UB75 - a remarkable discovery.
Be A Deep Sea Explorer
Why not become a deep sea explorer yourself?
The Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, Hampshire, has a variety of
The museum’s exhibits include the original Holland I,
recovered after 70 years on the seabed, and HMS Alliance, a World War
II diesel submarine.
Further details and archive material can be viewed on
their website (see links below).
You might even make a discovery as important as that
made by Carl Racey and Andrew Jackson.