Blyth Docks, Northumberland: The Submarine Cover-Up

In October 1918, British submarine; the J6, was attacked and sunk off the Northumberland coast by a British Q ship; the Cymric, which had mistaken her for a German U-boat.

Fifteen men died but the incident became classified information and the relatives were simply told there had been a collision.

Q-ships were small freighters or trawlers loaded with hidden weapons and the Cymric was on patrol when she spotted the J6. Some witnesses at a subsequent enquiry claimed that an object may have been hanging over the letter J on the submarine making it appear more like a U. In addition, the Cymric had no idea there were friendly submarines in the area.

In 2011, divers discovered the location of the J6 off the coast near Beadnell and at the request of some of the relatives later returned to conduct a service and lay a wreath in memory of those who died, many of whom had gone down inside the submarine.

Location: Blyth Docks, Northumberland NE24 3PB
Image courtesy of Beamish Museum

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