World War I U-Boat wreck discovered off Scotland

The wreck of what is believed to be UB-65, a World War I German U-Boat lost in 1918, has been uncovered by divers laying an undersea power cable off the coast of Stranraer, Western Scotland.

Dr Innes McCartney, a historian and nautical archaeologist, told the BBC;

The submarine was caught on the surface at night, recharging its batteries. It saw the patrol ship coming. It attempted to do a crash dive to get away. Once the submarine was under water, it rapidly started flooding from above so they had no option but to blow all the compressed air they had, bring the submarine to the surface at which point all they could do was surrender.

The U-Boat then sank again for the last time.

The wreck was discovered by engineers involved in the £1bn Western Link project which involves laying a 239 mile sub-sea power line between Ayrshire and the Wirral that will carry renewable energy produced in Scotland to England and Wales. The engineers found the wreckage 120m north-west of the centre of the planned route. It is hoped further investigation of the wreck will confirm its identity.

Advertisements

Boeing gearing up to start construction of RAF Poseidons

Boeing P-8I Poseidon

Representatives of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command based at Patuxent River Naval Air Station announced last week that a $68.4 million order has been placed with Boeing for the initial parts needed to start construction of the first four P-8A Poseidon aircraft destined for the RAF. The RAF has nine Poseidons on order which will restore the service’s independent maritime patrol and anti-submarine capability which it has lacked since the retirement of the Nimrod MR.2 and the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA.4 in 2010.

The P-8 is a militarised version of the Boeing 737 airliner and is optimised for the maritime patrol role featuring a stronger structure and the ability to carry weapons. At the heart of the mission system is the APS-137D(V)5 radar which provides Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) capabilities for imaging stationary vessels as well as conducting coastal and overland surveillance. It also has high-resolution Imaging Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) for imaging surfaced submarines and fast surface vessels operating in coastal waters where surface clutter is high.

The withdrawal of the Nimrod has forced the RAF to rely on the Royal Navy’s vessels and their helicopters for the maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine roles. However this was proven to be woefully inefficient and left the UK’s coastlines extremely vulnerable causing the MoD to embarrassingly have to ask for help from NATO allies on a number of occasions.

 

 

News Round-Up – July 27th 2016

Red Arrow

Red Arrows (MoD)

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines.


British Army News

Soldiers set fire to British Army barracks after ‘firing FLARES at each other’
(Mirror)

Regiment with NI links to be first to have close combat women
(Newsletter – Northern Ireland)

SAS combat ‘major terror attack’ in top secret training exercise with police and fire crews
(Mirror)

1st All Guard International Shooting Competition in 10 Years
(DVIDS)


Royal Air Force

Red Arrows to perform in China for first time EVER
(Lincolnshire Echo)

Suspect in RAF kidnap attempt may have facial injury after headbutt
(The Guardian)

Travellers pelt air cadet pilots with stones fired from slingshots, RAF claims
(Mirror)


Royal Navy & Marines

Royal Navy Moves to Repair Damaged Submarine
(Maritime-Executive)

Fears new ships to back up Royal Navy will be built overseas
(Telegraph)

Relatives who claim French trawler was accidentally sunk by a Royal Navy sub off the coast of Cornwall 12 years ago welcome new inquest
(Daily Mail)


Disclaimer: all news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them.

Italian diver claims to have found lost Royal Navy submarine

HMS P311 T-class submarine.jpg

An Italian diver has claimed to have discovered the wreck of HMS P311, a British T-class submarine lost during World War II, off the coast of Sardinia. The diver, Massimo Bondone, stumbled upon the wreck laying at a depth of 262ft off the island of Tavolara.

HMS P311, under the command of Commander Richard “Deadeye Dick” Cayley, disappeared sometime between December 30th 1942 and January 8th 1943 having been part of an operation to attack two Italian cruisers anchored at La Maddalena in Sardinia. It has long been suspected the sub was lost to an Italian mine. The vessel was due to be given the name HMS Tutankhamun after a directive by Churchill that all British submarines were to have names to distinguish them from German U-boats in the eyes of the British public but was lost before the renaming ceremony could take place.

The Royal Navy told the BBC that they are investigating the claim by Bondone.

Five Of The Most Significant Submarine Attacks In History

SM_U9_Postcard

The development of the submarine changed the very nature of naval warfare forever. Suddenly, the huge fleets of yesteryear found their supremacy threatened by an unseen force and for a long time they were largely defenceless to the new weapon. However, it took a certain type of courage to volunteer for submarine duties especially in the early days when their vessels were often as dangerous to their crews as to the enemy. As a result of this courage submarine commanders and their crews were often exceptionally daring in their efforts to fight the enemy.

Here are five of the most significant submarine attacks in history.


 

  1. The First Ever Submarine Attack in History

Submarine Turtle Eagle 1776Largely thought of as a 20th century invention, primitive submersibles have actually been around since the 17th century. On September 7th 1776 the submarine Turtle designed by American inventor David Bushnell was given over to the American patriot cause for use against the British in the American Revolution. Piloted by Ezra Lee, the submarine approached the British 64-gun warship HMS Eagle and attempted to plant a bomb on it. However, he was unable to secure it to his target’s hull and it fell off the British ship before detonating which saved the Eagle from destruction. Although a failure, Lee’s mission is considered the first submarine attack in history.


 

  1. The Cressy Catastrophe

HMS CresseyUpon the outbreak of World War I, Britain’s Royal Navy had the most powerful surface fleet in the world and the British people were confident that they were safe on their island nation as a result. That confidence was shattered on September 22nd 1914 when German U-Boat U-9 attacked a formation of three Cressy-class heavy cruisers – Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue.

When the first ship, the Aboukir, was hit the crews of the other two cruisers believed that the explosion was caused by an accident onboard and went to assist them. Seizing the opportunity, U-9 attacked the Hogue and sank it. The remaining British ship, Cressy, attacked U-9 before returning to rescuing survivors of the other two ships. U-9 attacked again and sank Cressy. In all 1,450 British sailors were killed in what was at that time an unprecedented victory for a submarine.

For more on this read The Cressy Catastrophe


 

  1. The Submarine That Sent A Nation On The Path To War

RMS LusitaniaOn May 7th 1915 the British liner Lusitania was travelling south of Ireland on a route from New York to Liverpool when it was spotted by the German U-Boat, U20, which was taking part in an attempt to blockade Britain’s sea lanes. At the time the US was neutral in the First World War but despite being warned by the Germans that they reserved the right to attack any ship heading for British ports a large number of Americans were aboard believing that the Germans would never target an ocean liner with 2,000 people on it.

They were wrong.

Shortly after 2pm, U20 fired on the ship and in the resulting explosion and sinking, 1,198 people were killed including 128 Americans. The attack outraged the American people who were at that time largely oblivious to the war in Europe and pushed America closer to the Allies before they eventually declared war on Germany in 1917.


 

  1. Submarine vs. Submarine

HMS VenturerContrary to the myth perpetuated by Hollywood movies, submarines sinking other submarines has only happened in exceptionally rare cases. In all but one of these incidents the target submarine was on the surface when it was attacked. The exception occurred on February 9th 1945 when the British submarine, HMS Venturer, detected the German U-Boat U-864 on the surface with engine trouble. The U-Boat was actually on a highly secretive mission to deliver two scientists and several key jet engine components to Japan, Germany’s ally, for use in their own jet fighter program.

Realising he had been spotted by a British submarine the captain of U-864 dived to escape. The captain of Venturer, 25-year old Lieutenant Jimmy Launders, attempted to match the U-Boat’s dive and by estimating the approximate position of the German vessel, fired a spread of six torpedoes in to its vicinity. One of the torpedoes successfully struck the U-Boat destroying it and its precious cargo. It remains the only time in history where one submarine has deliberately sunk another in combat while both were submerged.

For more on this read The Only Underwater Submarine-to-Submarine Kill in History


 

  1. The MV Wilhelm Gustloff

MV Wilhelm GustloffFrom the outbreak of World War II Germany’s navy, the Kriegsmarine, exercised a policy of unrestricted U-Boat warfare against the Allies. This in turn dictated a similar policy amongst the Allied navies and the oceans became a brutal killing ground as a result. In January 1945 this policy was about to reach its bloody climax and it would actually be the Germans who would be on the receiving end. The MV Wilhelm Gustloff was a cruise liner requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine for service as a hospital ship when the war broke out. When it became clear the vessel could no longer safely go to sea it was held in port at Gdynia in German-occupied Poland where it was painted in naval grey and used as an accommodation ship for trainee U-Boat crews.

By the start of 1945 the Soviet Red Army was pursuing the retreating German Army across Eastern Europe and so the ship was pressed back in to service to evacuate thousands of German troops, Gestapo officers, officials and civilians who had made a life in occupied Poland. On January 30th 1945, the ship along with another liner, the Hansa, and a torpedo boat made their breakout attempting to reach Germany through the Baltic. Official records show that over 6,000 people were onboard but the actual number was closer to 11,000 as a large number of civilians desperately crammed aboard and in the chaos of the boarding the crew simply gave up counting.

Shortly after leaving port the Hansa had to turn back because of mechanical problems but the Wilhelm Gustloff continued on before it was discovered by the Soviet Navy’s S-13 submarine. The S-13 torpedoed the overloaded vessel which quickly sank taking around 9,500 people with it of which nearly 5,000 were children.

It remains the biggest loss of life at sea in a single incident.

 

Lt Cmdr Basil “Byng” Boulding’s Logbook, December 1941 (No.812 NAS)

One of the best things about undertaking a project such as Defence of the Realm is hearing from the people who were actually there, their friends/comrades and their families. This week I was contacted by David Boulding whose father served with No.812 NAS of the Fleet Air Arm during the first half of the war. The squadron operated off the carrier HMS Ark Royal before the vessel was torpedoed by a U81 on November 13th 1941.

From then on the squadron operated from Gibraltar flying their Fairey Swordfish aircraft primarily on anti-submarine operations to protect the entrance to the Mediterranean. December 1941 was a particularly busy time for the squadron and David’s father was in the thick of it as his logbook shows which David has kindly contributed a picture of.

On December 22nd, a Swordfish from No.812 NAS attacked and sank a U-boat operating under the cover of darkness using radar to detect it. This signalled the turning of the tide in the war against the U-Boats (see Denying Dönitz the Dark ).

Normally, to save space I scale down the images I use on the site but in this instance I have uploaded the original image so this piece of history can be examined in detail.


 

This is a snap of my father, Lt Cmdr Basil “Byng” Boulding’s log book for 812 SQR operating out of North Front not long after the sinking of the Ark Royal (he told me he didn’t get his feet wet and flew off). That month he flew 72 hours 25 minutes. It must have been exhausting! Sadly his first log book went down with the Ark because he was active right from September 1939 in one of the first events of the war.

He made several attacks on submarines including one confirmed hit Dec 16th. You’ll see the note on the 20th December where he flew with Lt Philips and PO Reason.

No.812 NAS Fairey Swordfish HMS Ark Royal

I found a note about that period at North Front in an article about his TAG (P Reason) on the internet when he or his family were selling his medals (sad that). I have also a photo (above). My father is second left (the small one) and his TAG, Reason extreme right. This was when he was awarded his DSC. This photo is to be found on the Imperial War Museum website.

– David Boulding

I would like to thank David for sharing this piece of his family’s history.


 

If you have photographs or have a family story you wish to share on Defence of the Realm than you can email defencerealmyt@gmail.com. You will of course be given full credit for your contribution and can even promote your own website or social media account.