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18 September 2014
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Click to listen to Maureen and Bob's story
The Surrender of the U-Boats at Lisahally

As you know I spent the war playing football and working for Harland and Wolff ship repair yard in Derry. One day near the end of the war the boss Mr Mc Comisky said to me did I want to go over to Lisahally to see the German U-Boats coming in – they were surrendering you see.

German U-Boat at Lisahally
U-Boats surrending at Lisahally


So I went over and I was standing there amongst all the VIPs in uniform when the uboats started to come into sight – one after the other – as they came closer you could see the crews were out on the deck and as they pulled along side the submariners were guided off one by one onto dry land – I was struck by how young they were. I suppose they were glad to be safe but it was a sad day.

Aerial shot of U-Boats docked at Lisahally
Aerial shot of U-Boats docked at Lisahally
Courtesy of David Fitzsimons

As one young blonde lad got off the submarine he handed me something as he passed by. I put it into my pocket so no one else would see. They were all led away to a compound on the grounds of Lisahally.

Submariners book showing the name of the owner
Submariners book showing the name of the owner

Later on I looked at the object he‘d given me – for all the world it was like a prayer book or diary – inside the front cover was written the lads name and address and then as I thumbed through the pages I realised the book was entirely in German but luckily there were a lot of pictures and diagrams so I could get a sense of what it was – it was a manual showing maps, diagrams of all the ships in the allied fleets, torpedoes and shipping lanes. It was kind of like an instruction book.

extract from Hitler's speech
Extract from Hitler's speech

At the front there was a forward from Hitler himself. I couldn’t understand why the lad had given it to me – I finally concluded he must have wanted me to send it to his parents so they’d know he was safe.

Map showing the Atlantic ocean and shipping routes

Map showing the Atlantic ocean and shipping routes

In those days you wouldn’t have wanted to be sending letters to Germany so I regret I never did contact the family. I always wondered about that boy and have kept the book all these years. I always imagined maybe Id be in Germany sometime and I’d try to find him but I never did.

A few months ago my Grandson came to the house with a young German friend and I showed her the book. She knew the town the submariner came from and took a note of the address. She recently reported back that she tracked down the family. Sadly, the man is now dead but his family were able to tell her that he’d spoken about coming into Derry at the end of the war.


Eddie Davis

 

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