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The U-Boats that Surrendered - The U-Boats Allocated to the UK in 1945 (Version 2)

by Derek Waller

This article is a major revision of a article published on 13 Dec 2010


Introduction

1. The 1945 post-war Potsdam Agreement signed on 2 August 1945, which included the requirement to allocate 10 U-Boats to each of the three Allies (USA, UK and USSR), led to the creation of the Tripartite Naval Commission (TNC), which was charged with determining exactly which U-Boats would be allocated to each country. Thus, representatives of the TNC visited the UK in August and September 1945 to inspect all the surrendered U-Boats held in the UK, mainly at Lisahally and in Loch Ryan. As a result, they decided which U-Boats should be recommended to the Commission for formal allocation and therefore transfer to each of the three Allies.

The TNC Inspection Visit

2. The TNC Inspection visit to the UK took place between 29 August and 21 September 1945, and during that time the inspection team viewed 136 U-boats at four separate locations: Lisahally - 52, Loch Ryan - 78, Holy Loch - 4 and Barrow - 2.

3. Each of the U-Boats was assessed for its serviceability, and therefore the likelihood of being suitable for retention by one of the Allies for technical assessment and experimental purposes as specified in the Potsdam Agreement. There were three categories of serviceability:

a. Cat A Good condition
b. Cat B Could be made operational with 3-6 months work
c. Cat C Bad condition/heavily damaged

4. Of the nine UK-based U-Boats eventually allocated to the UK, all were Cat A, except for the two Type XXIs (U-2518 and U-3017) which were Cat B, and the Type XVIIB (U-1407) which was Cat C. All 12 of the new, large, high-speed, ocean-going Type XXI U-Boats which had surrendered, and in which all three Allies had a special interest, were graded as either Cat B or Cat C; not one was in a good condition.

The TNC Allocation to the UK

5. The initial allocation to the UK, which was agreed at the 13th Meeting of the TNC on 10 October 1945, was as follows:

U-712, U-953, U-975, U-1108, U-1171, U-1407, U-2326, U-2348, U- 2518 and U-3017

6. It was however accepted that there should be a degree of flexibility, and the Minutes of the 13th TNC Meeting record that:

bi-lateral exchanges of individual ships and craft [could be] made as desired.

7. Thus, a number of agreed changes were effected, and there are differences between the original lists of the 10 U-Boats allocated to each of the three Allies (including the UK) and those that were finally implemented.

8. In respect of the UK, there was just one change to the original TNC proposal, with the formerly unallocated U-190 (which had surrendered in Canada) being allocated to the UK, and with U-975 which had been allocated to the UK being added to the list of the unallocated U-Boats which were to be sunk in Operation Deadlight.

9. The original proposal for this change was made on 16 November 1945 when the Senior British Representative on the TNC wrote to his American and Russian colleagues saying:

I have received information that His Majesty’s Government approves the allocation of the ten submarines to each Power as recommended by the Tripartite Naval Commission.

The British Admiralty are however desirous of exchanging two of their submarines for two now in Canada [U-190 and U-889] and are now in communication with the Canadian Government.

10. The response to this proposal from the Senior American Representative on the TNC was received on 29 November, and said:

U-889 and U-190, former German submarines, are located in Canada. I have been advised that the United States Navy Department desires to retain former German submarine U-889 in the United States allocation, but [has] no objection to the exchange of the former German submarine U-190.

11. This was immediately followed-up by the Senior Russian Representative on the TNC, who said on 30 November that:

If you wish to take submarine U-190, which was found in Canada, in place of one of the submarines allocated to you, there will be no objection from the Soviet side.

12. These proposed changes to the UK allocation were not however immediately implemented, and it was not until almost the end of Operation Deadlight, on 23 January 1946, that a formal request was made to the TNC for the specific change to be approved. The UK submission, which was now restricted to just one of the two U-Boats in Canada, stated that:

The British Admiralty desires to substitute U-Boat U-975 of the British allocation for U-Boat U-190 listed under the unallocated submarines afloat.

I would be grateful for your concurrence to this proposal, and subject to this U-Boat U-975 will be sunk by the 15th February 1946.

13. The response from the American TNC Representative was made on 25 January, saying:

I concur in the proposal of the senior British Representative that U-Boat U-190 be transferred from the list of unallocated submarines to replace U-Boat U-975 in the British allocation, and that U-975 be destroyed by 15 February 1946.

14. Similarly the Russians agreed with the proposal saying, on 31 January, that:

In reply to the letter … from the Senior British Delegate I am informing you that Admiral Levchenko agrees to transfer to the United Kingdom the submarine U-190 from the number of un-allocated submarines afloat. This is in exchange for the submarine U-975 with the condition that U-975 shall be destroyed by 15 February 1946.

15. After this very last-minute amendment to the UK allocations, the final list of the 10 U-Boats which were allocated to the UK therefore comprised the following:

U-190, U-712, U-953, U-1108, U-1171, U-1407, U-2326, U-2348, U- 2518 and U-3017

16. When the TNC inspection teams visited the UK in August and September, and Canada in September 1945, five of the U-Boats which were finally allocated to the UK were moored at either Lisahally or Loch Ryan, two (U-1171 and U-2326) were in Holy Loch, Scotland, and two (U-1407 and U-3017) were at Barrow-in-Furness in the UK. The remaining one (U-190) was in Halifax, Nova Scotia:

U-190 Type IXC/40. Surrendered from sea on 14 May in Bay Bulls, Newfoundland, Canada. Transferred to Halifax on 25 May.
U-712 Type VIIC. Surrendered on 9 May in Kristiansand(S), Norway. Transferred to Loch Ryan on 31 May.
U-953 Type VIIC. Surrendered on 9 May in Trondheim, Norway. Transferred to Loch Ryan on 29 May.
U-1108 Type VIIC/41. Surrendered on 9 May in Horten, Norway. Transferred to Lisahally on 27 May.
U-1171 Type VIIC/41. Surrendered on 9 May in Stavanger, Norway. Transferred to Lisahally on 27 May. Temporarily in Holy Loch, Scotland at the time of the TNC inspection on 11 September.
U-1407 Type XVIIB. Surrendered in Cuxhaven on 5 May, but scuttled on 7 May. It was raised on 1 July and towed to the Howaldt-Werke Shipyard in Kiel. At the end of August it was towed to the Vickers Shipbuilding Yard in Barrow-in-Furness.
U-2326 Type XXIII. Surrendered from sea in Dundee, UK on 14 May. Moved to Loch Eriboll, arriving on 18 May. Transferred to Loch Alsh on 18 May, and then moved to Lisahally by 23 May. Temporarily in Holy Loch, Scotland at the time of the TNC inspection on 11 September.
U-2348 Type XXIII. Surrendered on 9 May in Stavanger, Norway. Transferred to Loch Ryan on 27 May.
U-2518 Type XXI. Surrendered on 9 May in Horten, Norway. Transferred to Lisahally on 3 June.
U-3017Type XXI. Surrendered on 9 May in Horten, Norway. Transferred to Lisahally on 3 June. Temporarily in Barrow at the time of the TNC inspection on 6 September.

Royal Navy U-Boat Tests Prior to the TNC Allocations

17. As a result of the early unilateral UK decision in May 1945 to move all the U-Boats which had surrendered in Norwegian and German posts to Lisahally and Loch Ryan for safe keeping prior to the Potsdam discussions and the subsequent TNC allocation process, the Royal Navy decided not to wait for any joint Allied decisions about the future use or disposal of the U-Boats.

18. Instead, the Royal Navy’s plans for the testing of U-Boats, particularly the latest Types, were put into almost immediate effect. The latter started with a meeting held in London on 25 June 1945, chaired by Admiral George Creasy (Admiral Submarines), to discuss Trials to be carried out in, and with, U-Boats. The Minutes of the Meeting record the following opening statement:

Rear Admiral Creasy emphasised that, in considering what trials could be carried out with the U-Boats, two things must be taken into consideration:

  1. That the Admiralty was acting as caretaker on behalf of the United Nations and that, therefore, the greatest care would have to be taken during trials that no damage was caused to the U-Boats.
  2. That owing to the manpower situation only a very limited number could be manned for trials……He had been able to earmark four complete British submarine crews to man U-Boats for trials, one Type XXI, one Type XXIII and two Type VIICs (one rubber covered).

Type VIICs - U-1105 and U-1171

19. In respect of the Type VIIC U-Boat, U-1105, which was allocated to the USA by the TNC, there had been competition between the Allies, each of which wanted it for testing. This was because the U-Boat’s hull was covered with rubber sheeting. The Admiralty had known about this development since 1944, but it was unsure as to its purpose, although it was thought that it was to help avoid detection by either radar or sonar. Thus there was considerable interest in the modified U-1105. Both the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force (Coastal Command) were very keen to check the implications of the rubber coating and so, together with U-1171, which was a standard (unmodified) Type VIIC U-Boat, U-1105 was included in the Royal Navy’s early testing programme. There was nothing particularly special about U-1171, other than the fact that it was one of the newer of the Type VIIC U-Boats in British hands. However, a standard Type VIIC was required to take part in the important comparison tests with U-1105 before the latter departed for the USA.

20. Whilst neither of these U-Boats was formally commissioned into the Royal Navy, even though they both had RN COs and crews, they were nevertheless allocated N-series Pennant Numbers. To this end, the two U-Boats, the rubber-covered U-1105 (N.16) and the standard U-1107 (N.19), arrived with the 3rd Submarine Flotilla (HMS Forth) in Holy Loch from Lisahally on 29 June 1945. The trials with U-1105 and U-1171 were conducted in several phases. The first phase was conducted in the sea area to the south west and west of Scotland, with the two U-Boats operating out of Holy Loch. After that, trials were carried out with Coastal Command at Tobermory and Londonderry, before returning to Holy Loch on 18 and 19 August for further trials. Thereafter both U-Boats were allocated to the 5th Submarine Flotilla (HMS Dolphin) on 2 October, and moved to Fort Blockhouse at Gosport prior to further tests. These too were conducted off western Scotland, with the U-Boats being based at Rothesay on the Island of Bute. After all the noise and detection tests were complete, after U-1105 had departed for the USA in December, and after spending Christmas 1945 in Holy Loch, U-1171 was returned to Lisahally on 3 February 1946 for de-commissioning and storage pending its final disposal.

Type XXIs - U-2502 and U-3017

21. Following the meeting on 25 June 1945, the Royal Navy proposed to conduct formal First of Class trials on the Type XXI U-Boat, U-2502, and it was agreed that they should take place in and around the south west of Scotland. Thus U-2502 was moved from Lisahally to Holy Loch on 6 July. Unfortunately, the experience with U-2502 proved to be very disappointing. The U-Boat suffered from a whole series of defects, which required it to be docked in the Cammell Laird Shipyard at Birkenhead for inspection and repair before the trials could begin. It arrived in Birkenhead on 22 July 1945 prior to its inspection but, on 23 July, its starboard main motor’s insulation caught fire and the starboard auxiliary motor suffered from overheating. The proposed trials with U-2502 were therefore cancelled, and it was returned to Lisahally on 2 August. U-3017 (N.41) was selected for the Type XXI First of Class trials instead.

22. Unfortunately U-3017 fared no better than U-2502 as, after leaving Lisahally on 8 August 1945 for docking and inspection in the Vickers Shipyard at Barrow, there was a battery explosion on 29 August during the initial hydrogen content trials. This incident injured eight members of the crew and caused considerable damage, including severe fuel leaks and numerous other defects, all of which combined to put it out of commission. As a result all trials with the Type XXI U-Boats were cancelled, and U-3017 was returned to Lisahally on 21 October. A note on the Minute Sheet of Admiralty File M.06993/45 dated 2 November 1945 by the Director of the Operations Division (D.O.D.) records that:

U-3017 and U-2518 [the other Type XXI U-Boat allocated to the UK by the TNC] are receiving Care and Maintenance [at Lisahally], but both would require a large refit before any trials could be carried out.

Type XXIII - U-2326

23. In pursuance of the proposed Royal Navy trials with the Type XXIII U-boats, U-2326 (N.35) was moved to Holy Loch on 6 July, prior to the commencement of its First of Class trial. Time was limited, so it was agreed that the trials should take place in and around the south west of Scotland - hence the transfer to 3rd Submarine Flotilla in Holy Loch. Unfortunately, however, as with the Type XXI, the trials with the Type XXIII also proved to be disappointing.

24. U-2326 suffered from both engine and schnorkel defects, it did not complete its first dive until late July, and the First of Class trial, which took place between 27 and 31 August, revealed that its speed was less than anticipated. Also, there was a lack of on-board accommodation, and it suffered from poor sea-keeping qualities. Thus, once this and other trials had been completed by the beginning of October, U-2326 was returned to Lisahally on 15 October and reduced to care and maintenance status, where it remained until its subsequent transfer to the French Navy in February 1946.

Summary of the 1945 Trials

25. The result of these early Royal Navy trials with the surrendered U-Boats was that, by the time that the TNC made its initial allocation to the UK in October 1945, three of the U-Boats (U-1171, U-2326 and U-3017), had already been used for technical assessment and experimental purposes. Additionally, a file minute from Admiral (Submarines) on 16 November 1945, said:

All the technical requirements of Admiral (Submarines) for the U-Boats have been completed with the exception of U-1407… and a few weeks more trials with U-1171 (Type VIIC).

26. Thus in practical terms, by the end of 1945, except for U-1407, the Royal Navy had no further need for any of the other nine U-Boats that had been allocated to the UK. U-190 remained in Canada and was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) on long-term loan, U-2326 and U-2518 were transferred to France on long-term loan, and there was no remaining requirement for the other six U-Boats.

U-190 (Canada)

27. After the Type IXC/40 U-Boat, U-190, had surrendered from sea in Newfoundland and been moved to Halifax, it was commissioned into the RCN. Its initial task in summer 1945 was to undertake a publicity tour of the ports and communities along the St Lawrence River and in the Gulf of St Lawrence. It was then inspected by the Tripartite Naval Board for the Western Hemisphere but, unlike the other U-Boat that surrendered in Canada (U-889), it was not included in the USA’s allocation. Thus it became, by definition, an unallocated U-Boat and was scheduled for disposal by sinking not later than 15 February 1946.

28. However, neither the Royal Navy nor the RCN wished to see this happen, hence the UK’s very late formal request in January 1946 for U-190 to be added to the UK’s list of allocated U-Boats in exchange for U-975. Almost as soon as this happened, U-190 was gifted to Canada by the UK (officially on a 2-year loan) in recognition of the part played by the RCN in the Battle of the Atlantic, thus accounting for subsequent confusion as to why U-190 remained in Canada after the war. Thereafter, operating out of Halifax, it was used by the RCN as an anti-submarine training vessel.

29. U-190 was finally paid-off by the RCN on 24 July 1947, and on 21 October 1947 (Trafalgar Day) it was towed to the exact position where, on 16 April 1945, it had torpedoed and sunk the minesweeper HMCS Esquimalt. The ceremonial sinking was designed as a publicity event involving a joint air and sea assault, however U-190 sank less than 20 minutes after the start of the operation, and before the surface forces had a chance to become involved.

U-2326 and U-2518 (France)

30. In the course of debates which led to the Potsdam Agreement, France had been keen to be allocated a share of the surrendered German fleet, but whilst the UK had considerable sympathy with the French request, it was vetoed by the USSR. During the same debates, the French Navy had indicated informally that it was anxious to obtain the 16 partially completed U-Boats found in the Deschimag AG -Weser Shipyard in Bremen, a survey of which indicated that the majority could be launched within two months, and that they could all be completed within six months. However, this suggestion also failed to gain Allied support. Thus the French Navy was allocated no U-Boats by the TNC.

31. Nevertheless, after the formal transfers to the Allies had taken place in late 1945, the UK decided that it did not need all 10 of the U-Boats that it had been allocated, and so the Royal Navy agreed that one of its Type XXIII U-Boats (U-2326) and one of its Type XXI U-Boats (U-2518) could be transferred to the French Navy on a 2-year loan. The move of U-2326 and U-2518 from the UK to France was code-named "Operation Thankful". The two U-Boats left Lisahally on 5 February 1946 and arrived in Cherbourg on 13 February, where they were handed over to the French Navy.

32. Of these, U-2326 was used by the French Navy for schnorkel trials, but was lost with all hands on 6 December 1946 when it failed to surface after a deep diving test off Toulon. The other U-Boat, U-2518, remained in France after the 2-year loan period expired, and was commissioned into the French Navy as the Roland Morillet on 9 April 1951. It was used operationally until 15 April 1967, when it was placed in reserve. It was decommissioned on 12 October 1967 and sold to ship breakers in La Spezia, Italy for scrapping on 21 May 1969.

U-1407 (HMS Meteorite)

33. In the case of U-1407, the Royal Navy was very attracted by the possibility of High-Test Peroxide (HTP) being an air-independent propulsion option. Thus, after arriving secretly at the Vickers Yard in Barrow under tow and in a generally poor condition internally, it was allocated Pennant Number N.25 on 25 September 1945, and then formally commissioned as HMS Meteorite on 26 August 1947. Subsequently it was repaired, modified and refitted with a new HTP Walter turbine engine, which itself had needed further repairs and development under the personal supervision of Professor Helmut Walter and a small team of German engineers who had been taken secretly to Barrow to assist with developing U-1407 for the Royal Navy.

34. The initial intention was that U-1407 was to be used purely experimentally and that, if the planned trials were successful, a decision would then be taken as to its future use as a possible high-speed anti-submarine target for training purposes. The refitting of the submarine was however a particularly lengthy business which involved a complete overhaul, its re-equipment with new components brought from Germany, and a number of other major changes to the original U-Boat. They included the fitting of a new escape system, a complete change of the ventilation system, the replacement of all electrical equipment, and the removal of the torpedo tubes.

35. However, no sea-going trials took place until 1948 after completion of the two and a half year overhaul, refit and upgrade. Indeed, the full operational trials did not take place until March and April 1949 and, though these were generally successful, the submarine was decommissioned on 8 July 1949 shortly after the trials report had been submitted.

36. Thereafter, the submarine that was once U-1407 was handed over to the British Iron and Steel Corporation (BISCO) for scrapping, the result of which was that it was moved from the Vickers Shipyard at Barrow to the Thomas Ward Ltd Ship-Breaking yard at Barrow on 7 September 1949, and was broken up for scrap during the remainder of 1949.

U-712, U-953, U-1108, and U-2348

37. There were then four other U-Boats which had been allocated to the UK by the TNC which had not been used by the Royal Navy for any trials or other experimental uses. The four U-Boats were:

  1. U-712, U-953 and U-2348 which had been moored in Loch Ryan, but which were transferred to Lisahally in December 1945. They were never used in any trials.
    1. Their departure from Loch Ryan was reported by Captain S/M Loch Ryan on 28 Dec 45: Only U-Boats now remaining are the 3 chosen for retention. U-712, U-953 and U-2348 which will be sailed to Lisahally, weather permitting, on Sunday 30th.
    2. Their arrival at Lisahally was reported by Captain S/M Lisahally whose Monthly General Letter for December 1945 reported that: "[On 31st December] U-712, U-953 and U-2348 arrived from Loch Ryan and were taken over by B Group".
  2. U-1108 which had been berthed at Lisahally, but never used in any trials.

The Six Remaining UK U-Boats (U-712, U-953, U-1108, U-1171, U-2348 and U-3017)

38. After the trials with U-1171 had been completed, other than U-1407, the Royal Navy had no further trial or experimental use for the remaining six U-Boats that were now at Lisahally. The six U-Boats were:

  1. U-1171 which had been returned to Lisahally on 3 February 1946.
  2. U-712, U-953 and U-2348 which had been transferred to Lisahally on 31 December 1945.
  3. U-1108 which had been berthed at Lisahally since May 1945.
  4. U-3017 which was returned to Lisahally on 21 October 1945 after an explosion in August 1945.

39. In relation to these six U-Boats, the February 1946 Monthly General Letter from Captain (Submarines), Lisahally said:

In addition, one Reserve Group is responsible for the six remaining German U-Boats of the British allocation. Four of these U-Boats have been hulked, only two being maintained to keep the remainder afloat.

40. On 11 September 1946, the Admiralty "Special Military Branch Acquaint" (SMBA) 3060 said that:

[The 6 U-Boats at Lisahally] U-712, U-953, U-1108, U-1171, U-2348 and U-3017 have been allocated to the Ship Target Trials Committee as target ships.

41. A personal recollection obtained in July 2011 from a Sub Lt, RNVR, who served at Lisahally from May to November 1947, confirms that the U-Boats were still tied up to the jetties at Lisahally when he arrived there. However, in late May or early June 1947 he was part of a 3-man crew on-board one of the U-Boats when it was towed up-river to Londonderry for berthing.

42. The Minutes of a Meeting of the Admiralty Ship Target Trials Committee on 1 July 1948 record that it:

had no proposals for the 6 ex-German U-Boats.

43. The Admiralty "Acquaint" SMBA 3597 dated 15 December 1949 said (very much after the event) that:

The following ships have been handed over to the British Iron and Steel Corporation [BISCO] for breaking up: U-712, U-953, U-1108, U-1171, U2348 and U-3017.

44. It is therefore clear that these 6 U-boats were never used for ship target trials (or any other trials) after February 1946. They were all berthed at Lisahally from February 1946 until mid-1947, and then towed up the River Foyle and berthed at Londonderry from mid-1947 until they were authorised for disposal by scrapping in April 1949, after which they were towed to the ship-breaking yards to which they had been allocated by BISCO.

45. The process for scrapping Royal Naval vessels at that time was that they were handed over by the Admiralty to BISCO, which then allocated the vessels to suitable ship-breakers, after which they made arrangements to deliver the vessel to the nominated ship-breaker, usually under tow. The ship-breaker was just a sub-contractor, and so - by definition - most surplus warships were not sold to any specific ship-breaker. Rather they were allocated the vessels by BISCO, which made all the necessary disposal arrangements, and eventually reimbursed the Admiralty.

46. After they had been authorised for scrapping, the final fates of the 6 U-Boats were as follows:

U-712Arrived at the Thomas Ward ship-breaking yard at Hayle, Cornwall on 26 June 1949, and broken up during 1949/1950 (but see below).
U-953 Towed from Londonderry on 30 May 1949 by the tug Guardsman. Arrived at the Clayton and Davie ship-breaking yard at Dunston-on-Tyne, Newcastle on 4 June 1949, and broken up during 1949/1950 (but see below).
U-1108 Arrived at the Thomas Ward ship-breaking yard at Briton Ferry, Glamorgan, S Wales on 12 May 1949, and broken up during 1949.
U-1171 Towed from Londonderry on 9 June 1949 by the tug Guardsman. Arrived at the Thomas Young’s ship-breaking yard in Sunderland on 13 June 1949, and broken up during 1949/1950.
U-2348 Allocated for scrapping to the John Lee and Co ship-breaking yard at Belfast (Larne) in April 1949.
U-3017Arrived at the J Cashmore and Co ship-breaking yard in Newport, S Wales on 25 October 1949, and broken up during 1949/1950.

The Final Uncertainty

47. In relation to the scrapping of the Type VIIC U-Boats, U-712 and U-953, recently discovered evidence suggests that the U-Boat scrapped at the Clayton and Davie ship-breaking yard on the River Tyne in 1949 was U-712, rather than U-953. The facts are:

  1. BISCO allocated U-953 to Clayton and Davie at Dunston (as per the BISCO records).
  2. The United Towing Co was contracted to tow U-953 from Londonderry to the Tyne (as per the UT records).
  3. The UT tug "Guardsman" left Londonderry with a U-Boat in tow on 30 May 1949. The pair arrived in the Tyne on 4 June 1949.
  4. The U-Boat that arrived had no identification marks, nor does any of the surviving Clayton and Davie paperwork indicate the U-Boat’s number.
  5. The Tyne Improvement Commission’s (TIC) archives for 1949 record the U-Boat that arrived there on 4 June 1949 as being U-192. However, this was not possible as U-192 was a Type IXC/40 U-Boat which had been sunk in the Atlantic in May 1943.
  6. The U-Boat contained a number of artifacts from the Type VIIC U-Boat, U-1052. But the U-Boat on the Tyne could not have been U-1052, as this U-Boat was sunk in Operation Deadlight in Dec 45.
  7. A slightly blurred (and not generally available) photograph shows that the U-Boat on the Tyne had a modern schnorkel and a "normal bow line". U-953 had neither of these features, having an old-style schnorkel installation with the outside fresh air tube along the conning tower, and an "Atlantic bow". In contrast, both the U-Boat in the photograph and U-712 had a "normal bow line" and a modern schnorkel, which had been fitted to U-712 in March 1945.
  8. Between June and December 1945, all three U-Boats (U-712, U-953 and U-1052) had been moored in Loch Ryan. The U-Boats at Loch Ryan were moored in groups - called "Trots". Trot K.5 comprised U-712, U-1052, U-1104, U-1163 and U-1271. Of these U-Boats, U-712 was retained, and the other four were sunk in Operation Deadlight.
  9. U-1052 appears to have been used as the "Trot" accommodation boat. This establishes that there was a direct association between U-712 and U-1052 in Loch Ryan, and thus various artifacts could have been transferred to U-712 (for possible later recovery). U-953 was on a different "Trot" in Loch Ryan. So, whilst there is a direct link between U-1052 and U-712, there is no such link between U-1052 and U-953.

49. As the U-Boat on the Tyne could not have been U-953 because of its bow shape and schnorkel installation, because of the confusion in the TIC records, because of the lack of any identification details in the Clayton and Davie paperwork, and because of the previous association between U-712 and U-1052 in Loch Ryan, the balance of probability suggests that the U-Boat on the Tyne in 1949 must have been U-712. If so, the unmarked U-Boat must have been "picked-up" in error from Londonderry by the United Towing Co’s tug and, by definition, delivered to the wrong ship-breaking yard.

50. The corollary is that the U-Boat scrapped at Hayle in Cornwall was U-953, not U-712.

Conclusion

51. In accordance with the Potsdam Agreement, 10 U-Boats were allocated to the UK in 1945 for technical assessment and experimental purposes. Of these, one had surrendered in Canada (U-190) and was transferred on loan to the RCN. Of the remaining nine, the Royal Navy conducted trials on three of them in 1945 (U-1171, U-2326 and U-3017) even before they had been allocated to the UK by the TNC. The only one that attracted the long-term interest of the Royal Navy was the Type XVIIB HTP-powered "Walter" boat, U-1407, which was commissioned as HMS Meteorite, repaired and subjected to trials in 1948 and 1949.

52. After 1945, the Royal Navy no longer retained any serious interest in any of the other eight U-Boats in its inventory, and two of them (U-2326 and U-2518) were transferred on loan to the French Navy. The, by then, six surplus U-Boats (U-712, U-953, U-1108, U-1171, U-2348 and U-3017) were berthed at Lisahally from February 1946 until mid-1947, when they were towed to Londonderry for storage. In mid-1946 they had been designated as target ships, but they were never used for that purpose. Instead, they were declared as surplus to Royal Navy requirements in early 1949, the result being that they (as well as U-1407) were then allocated to a variety of ship-breaking yards in the UK, where they were all scrapped in the second half of 1949 and the first half of 1950.


This article was published on 9 Oct 2011.

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