Archiver > MARINERS > 2002-01 > 1012227130

Subject: Re: [Mar] Reappearing U-boat
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2002 09:12:10 EST

In a message dated 28/01/2002 00:55:02 GMT Standard Time,
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There were three U Boats lost on the Goodwin Sands in WWI, namely U48
24/11/1917) UC 46 (08/02/1917) and UC 63 (01/11/1917). The most likely
candidate for the one that you mentioned is U48 which was seen in 1921 and
again in 1973 when a concerted effort was made by divers to remove almost all
of the artefacts before she became buried again.

U48 departed Wilhelmshaven on 21 November 1917 bound for the coast of Ireland
via the Dover Strait. On the afternoon of the 23rd when sixty miles from
Dover she had almost reached the bottom to wait for nightfall when an
aeroplane dropped a bomb which exploded close by. About 1930 the same evening
she was heading for the Dover Strait with a view to crossing the net barrage
in the vicinity of the 2a buoy. However her reckoning was adrift and she was
too far to the westward and fouled the net barrage of the North Goodwin. Due
to the fouling of her propellors with the net the oil engines gave trouble
and she had to run on her electric motors although not submerged.

At 3am she struck the NW corner of the Goodwin Sand. Attempts to bring her
off on her engines failed and sixty tons of fuel and a large quantity of
fresh water was discharged overboard as well as ready use ammunition and
three torpedoes.… This lightened the craft but the falling tide meant that
she came fast on the sand again. She floated again at 0630 (twilight),
however the drifter patrol from Ramsgate was approaching form the NW to sweep
the channel, these being HM Drifters Majesty and Paramount. Coming up from
the south was the trawler Meror which sighted the submarine at less than a
mile and a half away, hurrying north she began firing. Almost simultaneously
the drifters slipped the sweep wire and together with HM Drifters Present
Help, Acceptable and Feasible began pursuing the enemy. At one stage Feasible
stood in so close that she bumped the sand some thirty yards from the
submarine. Armed only with 3pdr guns and the 6pdr maxim guns the small ships
were outgunned by the submarines heavier 4.1 inch and 22 pdr guns. Shells
were falling all around the drifters and Paramount was hit. Just after 0700
the destroyer Gipsy arrived from the north and opened fire at 2000 yds range
with her 12 pdr and 6 pdr, the fourth and all subsequent shots being hits,
the U boat had now been hit thirteen times. After 15 mins the commanding
officer (Lt Cdr Edeling) ordered confidential books destroyed and gave the
order to abandon ship and explosive charges to be set. The crew leapt
overboard and the submarine blew up, one officer and twenty one men of the
complement of 43 being rescued.

When first sighted the submarine had been heading SW but on being shelled by
the drifters had altered course and got aground again. Throughout the
engagement the drifters cared nothing for the enemy's shells, the off watch
engineman assisted in passing up shells. On breaking off the engagement the
drifters returned to the work of sweeping the channel. Admiral Bacon was
pleased with the drifters gallantry remarking that 'it is one more example of
how the Ramsgate drifters and the Auxiliary Service of the Navy know how to
meet and fight the enemy.'

The Admiralty awarded £1000 to be divided between Present Help, Paramount and
Majesty. Lt Cdr F W Robinson RNR of the Gipsy received the DSO, Skipper Hemp
of Paramount, Skipper Barker of Majesty and Skipper Lane of Present Help were
all awarded the DSC.

Source: The Auxiliary Patrol published London 1923

After publicity in the press about the reappearance of the wreck in 1973 a
letter appeared in a London newspaper from the son of the submarines captain.
He recalled details of the sinking and dispelled the myth that Capt Edeling
had slit his throat rather than be taken prisoner.

(Source: Shipwrecks of the Goodwin Sands ISBN 0948193 840)


213 ft long. maximum surface speed 14kts, could cruise for 7600 miles at
10kts on the surface. Armament 1 x 4.1", 1 x 22pdr, six machine guns and six
torpedo tubes.

I have a plan of the action on that day which I am copying and will send to
you privately if you wish.

Hope that this helps.


Andy Adams

Harwich UK

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