Submarine involvement in WW1

Discussions on all aspects of the First World War not covered in the other sections. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
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Spitfire10001
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Submarine involvement in WW1

Post by Spitfire10001 » 29 Jun 2007 15:01

Hello, this is a topic on the submarine involvement in WW1 or basically a queries page on the subject

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phylo_roadking
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Post by phylo_roadking » 29 Jun 2007 23:22

Google on Naismith and E-11 for British sub operations, here with particular respect to E-11's foray into the Sea of MArmara at the time of Gallipoli

Dave Bender
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Submarine involvement in WW1

Post by Dave Bender » 30 Jun 2007 13:42

Wikipedia article which provides a nice overview.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Batt ... e_Atlantic

The best single source for U boat information during both world wars.
http://uboat.net/

Some good statistics on U boat numbers in service at a given time.
http://www.u-boot-net.de/index.php

German submarine losses.
http://www.gwpda.org/naval/sml00001.htm

Import statistics.
http://www.gwpda.org/naval/stats001.htm

Shipping losses by month.
http://www.gwpda.org/naval/stats002.htm

Merchant Vessel Construction
http://www.gwpda.org/naval/stats003.htm

Shipping gains and losses by month.
http://www.gwpda.org/naval/stats004.htm

Analysis of shipping losses by cause.
http://www.gwpda.org/naval/stats008.htm

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Regulus 1
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Location: Flanders coastal area, Jabbeke, at the home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I - Belgium

Post by Regulus 1 » 01 Jul 2007 14:34

THE FIRST U-BOATS IN FLANDERS

Starting half October 1914, the biggest part of the coastline of the Belgian province of West-Flanders became occupied by the German Marinedivision, the future Marinekorps Flandern. From the Dutch border till Lombardsijde was now occupied, including the important harbours of Zeebrugge, Oostende and Brugge. The Germans originally had hoped to come also into the possession of Dunkirk and Calais, but this finally had been nothing more than some serious wishful thinking.

The importance of the Belgian harbours was very quickly discovered by a number of personalities of the German admiralty who were looking at the possibilities of using the ports. The harbours of Zeebrugge and Oostende each had a canal leading to the port of Brugge in the hinterland of the province, making Brugge an ideal base for submarines and torpedoboats, destroyers.

On the 15th November a second Marine Division was added to the first one and the Marinekorps Flandern became a fact, under the command of Admiral Ludwig von Schröder, also called the ‘Löwe von Flandern’ or the Lion of Flanders, who was exactly 60 years old.

Already on the 9th of November a very first U-boat entered the harbour of Zeebrugge, which had been completely cleared of mines two days earlier. It was the U12 which ran out again the next morning for an operation before Dover. On the 11th it sank the torpedogunboat Niger near the Deal LV, returning the next day to Zeebrugge because of bad weather. The first victim of the U-boat offensive from a Belgian port was a fact. On the 16th U12 ran out again towards Boulogne.

On the 26th also U11 ran in about 1600 hours. The orders of her CO, Kap.lt. von Suchodoletz, were very clear, he was to operate from Zeebrugge.

On the 11the December U12 returned together with the U5. In the mean time U11 was already active on the North Sea and had not been heard of since some days before. The next day some Allied papers mentioned the sinking of a U-boat. It became very clear that this had to be the U11. In fact she ran on a mine on the 9th while surfaced near the Oostende bank at 1335 hours. The wreck is located and identified.

On the 13th U5 and U12 ran out from Zeebrugge but had to return because of the weather.

On the 23rd December U12 was at sea, but found no enemy activity. The next day also the U24 entered Zeebrugge and ran out again on the 27th. She was to return on the 9th of January 1915 and this was a reason for celebrations as she sank the British battleship Formidable on the 1st off Portland Bill.

Another big success from the Flanders harbours and for von Schröder reason enough to make a remark in the Kriegstagesbuch of the naval units of the Marinekorps Flandern, in fact asking for more U-boats and torpedoboats that were to operate from Flanders at the Admiralty staff in Berlin.

On the 10th U12 ran out for a long distance operation but had to return after two days because of bad weather again. Clearly showing how vulnerable these early U-boats were at the time.

On the 14th U24 was leaving for operations near Boulogne and U12 near Wandelaar LV. On the 22nd both ships just escaped damage in the Zeebrugge harbour during a bombing raid. The next day U12 returned to Helgoland.

On the 27th U29 ran into the port of Zeebrugge and the next day U24 ran out again. On the 30th U29 was to operate in the Channel but had to return again because of the weather.

On the 11th of February von Schröder received some bad news. The Admiralty in Berlin had no plans at all to station any U-boats at Flanders ports. They found the harbours not safe enough, to close to the enemy and only to be used in case of need. In other words the U-boats operating from Flanders remained under the command of Berlin and not of von Schröder.
The British seemed to confirm one of the arguments by paying a visit to the Belgian coast with a rather large fleet.

The 15th U8 entered Oostende. Three days later the U-boat started war against merchant vessels near the British coast. U8 ran out on the 21st, returning with the U20 on the 26th.

The 4th March was a day with good and bad news. The Admiralty in Berlin had decided to start with the preparations to station a few smaller types of U-boats at Flanders. On the other hand U8 was lost that day.

This decision needs some more background information. Fact is that the Belgian coast was very often the target of British ships, shelling the city of Oostende most of the time. However early 1915 was taken a start with the construction of a large number of coastal batteries between Raversijde and the Dutch border. Starting with smaller calibres such as the 5, 8.8 and 10.5 cm and ending with the enormous 38 cm guns of for example the Deutschland battery at Bredene or the Pommern at Koekelare. About 44 of these emplacements were to rise at the coast, protecting in a very effective way the coastline from further Allied shipping visits. And if it was the case, they were very short visits !

On the 10th of March the U29 left Oostende, the ship of the famous Lt.z.S. Otto Weddingen who sank on the 22nd of September 1914 the British cruisers Aboukir, Hohue and Cressy in less than an hour. Eight days later U29 became a victim of the HMS Dreadnought and the early U-boat weapon lost it’s first living legend.

The same day U28 entered bringing along two Dutch ‘Beuteschiffe’.

On the 21st and 24th March U28 ran out for small operations. On the 27th of March, we read, underlined in pencil in the Kriegstagesbuch of von Schröder : UB10 als Erste der kleine U-boote in Brugge. Two days later UB4 followed. Von Schröder notes : U-Flottille Flandern in Dienst gestellt. U-boat Flott. Flandern enters service…



U-BOOTFLOTTILLE FLANDERN

In reality the U-Bootflottille Flandern was officially erected two days later, and Korvetten Kapitän Karl Bartenbach became the unit’s commanding officer.

Early 1915 were also made the plans to make of the Flemish harbours real warbases. In Brugge for example no less than 14.000 people worked at the harbour on the Kaiserliche Werft. Many of them were civilians (over 4000), German technical personnel and harbourspecialists (over 5000). They started with laying electricity, construction of U-boatbunkers, bunkers, drydocks, floating docks, storage hangars,…
The U-boat bunkers were the most spectacular realisations together with the floating docks. Also in Zeebrugge and Oostende were constructed a number of U-boatshelters and in Oostende also some new drydocks.
Needless to say that all these installations did attract a large number of enemy planes and bombardments. To give just an example, about 6000 bombs fell on Brugge, killing 123 civilians and wounding 243. About 700 civilian houses were destroyed or badly damaged. The damages in the harbour itself were most of the time zero ! In a number of cases some ships got damaged as did smaller unimportant installations.

During April 1915 still other U-boats used the Flanders ports. U24, U28 and U31 were amongst them. On the 2april UB5 also arrived at Brugge. In fact these ships came from Germany in parts. They were reassembled at Hoboken, Antwerp and taken from there on pontoons to Brugge by the canals. The 8th of April also UB15 arrived and the next day UB ran out towards the Noordhinder LV. On the 10th of April at 1024 hours it torpedoed a steamer which sank immediately. The first victim of the U-bootflottille Flandern was a fact. Two days later UB15 was back in. The next day one of the most famous ships, not to say one of the legendary ships of the unit left port to operate on a line between Outer Gabbard and the Noordhinder LV, it was the UB10. However this operation was not successful and they returned two days later. That same 15th of April UB5 sank another steamer at 0715 hours and came back in the same afternoon.

More and more ships arrived. UB13 on the 16th and on the 19th the UB6. In may also arrived the first U-boats of the UC I class in Brugge. The very first minefield to be layed by these minelaying U-boats was located south of the Goodwin LV and was the so called Sperre 1. It was layed by the UC11 on the 31st May 1915. Not even 24 hours later it took it’s very first victim, the British destroyer Mohawk. The British admiralty was quite puzzled with the fact that they could not find out how this mine came here.

A whole number of other minefields followed in the three months to come, and the results were quite good as no less than 23 merchant vessels, 16 fishing boats and 2 British torpedoboats went to the bottom of the North Sea. Not talking about the 5 merchant vessels and 2 destroyers damaged ! And the British Admiralty still remained with the same questions : where did these mines come from ?

Only the incident with the UC2 would change this matter. The U-boat sank on the 2nd July 1915 by accident and was raised by the Royal Navy, who soon discovered that this was no ordinary submarine, but a complete new type of minelayers. So if you ever heard that British Intelligence and other spies did a tremendous work, forget about it !

In October 1915 no less than 16 U-boats were operational from the Zeebrugge and Oostende harbours. The ships came now directly over the sea from Germany to Flanders.

On the 6th of November would also be the first U-boat crew interned in the Netherlands. The UC8 of W. Schmidt ran on a sandbank off Terschelling due to bad navigation and the Dutch thankfully took over the U-boat in service of their own majesty, the queen as the M1.

Three days later the UB17 sank the French destroyer Branlebas. Even after the war the French and British were convinced that it had ran on a mine and that in no way a torpedo did sink it !

Also worth mentioning meanwhile is the fact that the U-boats were escorted by the seaplanes of the Seeflugstation Flandern at Zeebrugge when they entered or left the harbours at Flanders. This gave them the necessary protection against enemy planes and was able to warn them in case of enemy naval activity in the area.

In the beginning days of the submarine war, things very often were still very chivalresque, as the crews of merchant vessels very often did get some time to leave their vessel, after which it was or torpedoed or blown to pieces with charges if it was a smaller ship, as torpedoes were after all still very expensive weapons, not to waste on any kind of ship.
Sometimes this knightly behaviour went even further as the sloops often received emergency rations and sometimes even were towed into the neighbourhood of friendly coasts.

Some commanders did have a very good reputation on that matter, others had a one that was really bad.

In 1916 the U-boat war started to gain speed from the Flemish harbours and this can also clearly be remarked by the numbers of losses concerning BRT’s.

On the 24th March the UB29 torpedoed the packet-boat Sussex, but the ship didn’t sink very fast and was able to reach a safe harbour. First they had thought that they had run onto a mine, but once they could inspect the damage it became very clear that they had been hit by a torpedo which had led to the loss of 50 human lives and a whole bunch of protests followed immediately at the address of Germany. Also from the side of US president Wilson over the loss of American lives on the ship.
The result was that of the 27th of March only military targets could be attacked by submarines. This kind of doing and the yes you did, no I did not mentality between Germany and the US still went on for some time until in 1917 the unlimited U-boat war was declared.

On March the 29th, the very first anniversary of the U-Flottille Flandern, one of the most renown U-boat commanders ever, Kap.Lt. Otto Steinbrinck received the Pour le Mérite, Germany’s highest decoration from the emperor Wilhelm II.

On the 27th of April a quasi completely intact UC-boat fell in British hands. The sources vary on what really happened. Some say that the U-boat had stranded on a sandbank, other say that the boats was floating adrift because of damage sustained from running on a sandbank. Whatever may be the truth, fact is that the HMS Firedrake took the whole crew prisoner. The last man on board had still tried to blow up the ship but all he achieved was blowing a hole in the hull, and the fact that the mines came loose in their racks. UC5 was towed to a dry-dock at Harwich for restoration and finally was displayed to the public at Temple Pier on the Thames river for propaganda purposes. Later the U-boat even was moved to New York, and stood there in three pieces exhibited again for propaganda purposes and more especially to sell more Liberty Bonds.

Sometimes U-boat crews were very inventive in times of need. On the 25th of July the UC6 experienced engine trouble and still had 90 miles to go to Zeebrugge. They started sailing home with a self constructed mast and sail ! UB19 took them on tow for the last part of their journey.

On the 14th August the merchant ship war retook and neutral and other vessels could again be attacked.

In September also new U-boats were delivered in Flanders from the UCII type. Not only had these more storage room for mines (18 instead of 12) but they also were armed with torpedoes. Nothing luxurious as already half of the UCI type submarines had been lost, in most of the cases due to the fact that these were as good as unable to defend themselves.
On the other hand the successes booked with the mines were to big to stop this kind of warfare. Statistics showed clearly that in the period May till July 1916, about 49.700 BRT were lost and from August till September again 60.000 BRT.

In the same time the chivalry at sea started to disappear. And this had it’s very good reasons. The British made more and more use of the so called Special Service Ships and Q-ships. Very often smaller vessels, looking quite helplessly so that the U-boat commanders decided not to waste a torpedo on them but to sink them by other means. So they went quite closely to them to finish them with charges or the deck gun. Once in range a sloop was no sloop, or a construction on the deck was nothing else than a good camouflaged gun. Some carried even a few guns.

However the q-ships were not always as successful as they are shown in many books and other stories. Very often it came to a gun battle between the subs and the Q-ships, very often undecided, and in a number of cases a torpedo was fired at the target, eliminating the small vessel. In a number of cases the Q-ships were sunk by gunfire also.
Still quite a considerable number of U-boats were sunk by the Q-ships. In a number of cases the U-boat crews were really slaughtered by the crews of these ships, even personnel that was drifting helpless in the water. It looks clear that way that on both sides of the front there were war criminals active that were never brought to justice.

For the U-boat commanders the solution was very simple. No more mister nice guy, no more warnings so no more time for the ship crews to leave safely their vessel that was about to be sunk. It just made the war even more inhuman then before. Just the way the U-boat war had started. The British had decided to block Germany and especially all shipping to Germany, starving the German population and what was more the civilians, the result was that the Germans started to use fully the potential of their U-boat weapon. This only resulting in still more casualties, not only on the front, but also in the homes of those who were not fighting. Thanks to the Q-ships more victims fell at sea also.
In the mean time the U-boats of Zeebrugge and Oostende started to operate further and further away from their home-bases. The Gulf of Biscaj and the southern Irish sea were no longer exceptions.

In the winter of 1916-1917 more and more subs of the UC type arrived at the Flemish harbours. 1917 would become a wonderful year concerning the results booked from the ports in Flanders. More ships clearly meant more possibilities and in January 1917 the Flandern Flottille had at it’s disposal no less than 22 submarines and in March already 38. Also to keep in mind was the unlimited submarine war that Germany had declared on the 1st of January 1917 !

However, the same year the German U-boat weapon would also have to pay a toll. Between January and April 1917 only 4 submarines were lost in Flanders. But starting from the month of May these figures became more dramatic and sometimes 4 submarines were lost each month ! Fact was that the torpedo-boats of the Flandern Flottille spent already most of their time in clearing and destroying minefields, laid by the British. Not only minefields had to be destroyed but also a large number of net-barrages. For these last ones a special torpedo had been developed from German side to enable the submarine to get free when trapped in one. There was also a net-cutter on the bow of the submarines.

In April 1917 alone no less than 621.645 BRT was sunk by the U-boats. Needless to say that for the Allies it became more then time to do something about it if they still wanted to win the war.

The British commander Haig, had the idea that it had to be possible to start a new offensive in Flanders, his favourite territory to do so, break through the German lines and grasp the Flemish harbours or at least Oostende, leaving Zeebrugge also to close to the Allies to be still of use to the German imperial navy. Anyone would and could have known that such a plan was pure madness, except the British command, which was nothing else then the result of all kind of political games were each and everyone was trying to put it’s good friends on high military posts. In the night of the 6th on the 7th of June 1917 all hell broke loose and the ridges of Mesen and Wijtschate were taken by the Allies. On the 12th of July the Allies tried to force another breakthrough with the use of mustard gas, however without any results. On the 15th Allied artillery started to batter the German lines. On the 31st an offensive was started between Diksmuide and Leie, but it was doomed to fail as it was and had been raining cats and dogs. The third battle of Ypres became a catastrophe. On the 30th of October started the famous battle of Passendale, which was taken on the Germans on the 6th of November. Four days later the offensive came to an end, with a result of maximum 10 kilometers advance in only one small area ! Haig had failed deeply !

Between June and September more and more new U-boats arrived in the mean time in Flanders. Also a number of the brand-new UBIII class, the numbers 54 till 57. Also the rest of the year new subs kept arriving, most of them being UB types who came in newly build or from other units. However in the same period many submarines were lost and also many famous names of U-boot commanders who often had become also living legends in their ranks. And with them also the knowledge disappeared that they otherwise were sharing with the many newcomers.

On the 1st of October 1917 also a second U-Flottille Flandern followed, and from that moment on Korv.Kap. Bartenbach could call himself Führer der Unterseeboote Flandern. His work was clearly appreciated in the fatherland as he received Germany’s highest decoration, the Pour le Mérite on the 17th of October the same year. It has to be said that Bartenbach was very respected by his men and commanders, especially this was the case in the early war years. Later it became more difficult to get to know his crews, as some of them disappeared after only one or a few missions, not allowing them to get to know each other.

Early 1918 can be suspected also some battle fatigue. Some U-boats and their crews surrender rather easily while others have themselves interned for not very clear or not really dramatic reasons. Spain seemed to have been quite popular for this.

In April 1918 the most successful and most renown U-boat commander of the Flandern Flottilles retired from active service at sea. Otto Steinbrinck was near complete physical exhaustion and became 1st Admiral staff officer with the Führer der U-Boote Flandern, Bartenbach.

Many other U-boat commanders received Germany’s highest decoration the Pour le Mérite as Steinbrinck had doe before them. Amongst them were Kap.lt. Paul Hundius on the 18th August 1918, Oblt.z.S. Reinhold Saltzwedel on the 20th August 1917, Obt.z.S. Johannes Lohs in April 1918, Kap.lt. Ralph Wenninger on the 30th March 1918. Wenninger was also the only one of these to survive the war…

It is clear that more and more losses were suffered. On the 23rd of April 1918 there was the famous raid of St.-George’s Day by the British, in which was attempted to block the harbours of Zeebrugge and Oostende by sinking block ships in the harbour mouths. At Oostende this failed catastrophically while Zeebrugge became partly blocked. Also a second attempt on the 10th of May in the harbour of Oostende ended in catastrophe with the HMS Vindictive.

It is and remains one of the holy houses what concerns the Zeebrugge story in Great-Britain. The British war office spend so much propaganda on the matter that the inventors of it started to believe themselves that they had succeeded. Even nowadays the Imperial War Museum has a top secret list with propaganda books on which also a few on Zeebrugge are mentioned.
The very best example of this way of doing is The Glory of Zeebrugge by Keeble Howard, published in London by Chatto and Windus in 1918. The so called Official Narratives mentioned in it are indeed authentic and nothing else then pure propaganda.

Fact is also that when Admiral Keyes returned with his fleet at Dover harbour, the medals and decorations were already official even on a moment that it was not know if the operation was a success and what exactly had happened at Oostende !
In one operation more Victoria Crosses were awarded than that had received some units during the complete duration of the war ! It is unbelievable this could happen, the more as that the day following the first raid, one of the smaller U-boats left en re-entered the Zeebrugge harbour !
Fact however was also that Germany was winning the war on that moment on the land front and that the British and the Allies needed very desperately a victory. Zeebrugge most certainly was a moral victory, so the real facts of what happened at Zeebrugge were to be forgotten.
They even went that far in their story telling that they claimed that even of the harbour of Oostende was completely blocked, the German ships all were trapped in the harbour of Brugge. They even went further saying that the German commanders had forged their logbooks when they wrote down their operations from the Zeebrugge and Oostende harbours after St.-George’s Day.

However anybody with a little brains could quickly start demanding himself why the Allies continued bombing the locks at Zeebrugge, other parts of the harbour and the harbour at Brugge. After the war it became even more difficult explaining how the destroyers and U-boats that were trapped at Zeebrugge possibly could have returned to Germany. Seems that they all of a sudden had vanished into the air of Flanders…

By the end of September 1918 the subs from the U-Flottille Flandern 1 and II started indeed to return to Germany.
Shortly afterwards the installations of the ports of Zeebrugge, Oostende and Brugge were destroyed by the German’s while retreating.

No less than 2554 merchant vessels (or about 4.5 million BRT) were destroyed by the U-boats of the both Flandern Flottilles, not even mentioning the warships that they had taken out of action or destroyed.

It is the more unbelievable that the story of these U-boat crews is almost forgotten although they were more successful concerning number of ships sunk then the crews of WW II.


THE U-BOAT BASES OF BRUGGE, ZEEBRUGGE AND OOSTENDE

When we talk about U-boat bases we immediately think about the enormous U-boat bunkers of the second World War at for example Saint Nazaire. However we forget that the U-boat bunker is not something that was invented in this period of time, but in the 1st World War.

The Flanders harbours would become very important U-boat bases, but the nerve centre of the triangle Oostende-Brugge-Zeebrugge would become the harbour of Brugge.

BRUGGE HARBOUR

First of all a number of floating docks were prefabricated in Germany an than brought in pieces to Brugge Harbour where they were constructed. A total of eight big ones and three small ones were delivered each of them having an independent pumping installation. They were to be used not only for the U-boats but also for the torpedo-boats and destroyers.

Floating dock N° 1 had a length of 50 meters by 15 meters
N°2 was 100 meters by 17 meters
N°3 was 100 meters by 23 meters
N°4 was 100 meters by 15 meters
N°5 was identical to N°4
N°6 was 60 meters by 12 meters
N°7 was 100 meters by 20 meters but was still in construction by the end of the war. So was N°8.
The numbers 9, 10 and 11 were much smaller types and were used for the U-boats.

In the Groot Handelsdok (Big Trade dock) came two ‘Kragunterstanden’. These were in fact two enormous roofs of metal and concrete hanging over the water of the dock under which the U-boats had some degree of safety against aerial attacks. Let’s say that they were not strong enough to resist a direct hit.

Facing the canal Brugge-Zeebrugge, the one on the right side was 73 meters long, the one on the left side 200 meters long. Between the two other docks, on the left side of the canal there was some kind of a peninsula in which two large concrete U-boat bunkers were constructed each measuring 70 on 10 meters. But the most important construction was an enormous bunker with 8 compartments called the 8 Blessings by the local population. Construction of it started in 1917 and it was big enough to house 8 of the large UBIII class submarines.

Two very large bunkers were constructed in the harbour area measuring 17 on 26 meters and 26 on 36 meters who served as assembly hall for respectively the sea-mines and the torpedo’s. The small number of doors and windows in it could be protected from air raids by concrete panels of 40 cm thick which ran on small rails. Both bunkers were just next to a real railway.

There were also two underground gallery’s. A first one of 350 meters and a second one of 200 meters.

Around these installations stood 13 AA batteries.

Until today there have been discussions between historians if there were yes or no a number of these so called Kragunterstanden along the canal from Brugge to Zeebrugge. And although many have suggested there were a number of them for protection against enemy planes we have never seen any of these of photographs from that time. So it still remains some kind of mystery even today.

ZEEBRUGGE HARBOUR

One should expect very important installations in this harbour as most of the shipping-traffic was coming from this harbour, but that was not the case at all. Of course there were the existing installations on the harbour mole but not much was added to them especially for the U-boats. More value was given here to the protection of the seaplane base on it.

On the eastern side of the mole was also a Kragunterstand. We don’t know it’s measurements but expect it not to be larger than the smallest one at Brugge, 73 meters in total.

In what is now the military port of Zeebrugge there was also a very large concrete U-boat bunker. Although bunker is not the exact word for it. It looked more like a construction of concrete piles with a thick concrete roof over it. No measurements are known but it should have been in the area of 80 by 10 meters.

OOSTENDE HARBOUR

This city always has been trouble concerning it’s history. The people from the city just don’t seem to bother to care, not even a little bit, for their historic documents. Old maps of the harbour are very big curiosities and photo’s are even harder to find. And concerning the installations of the Kaiserliche Marine it was no better…

Fortunately the Belgian government cares more about it’s papers and so we were able to trace back a few things.
Fact is for example that there was constructed a floating dock of 2000 tons. It was in the dock of the former Belgian Navy.

On one side of the dock were the existing workshops of the Belgian navy. On the same side there was also a Kragunterstand, probably not even 50 meters long.

On the other side were constructed two dry-docks that were long enough to have two submarines in them one behind the other.

Protection of the harbour installations was done by the Battery Gross Herzog that could be found at two places in the harbour. The southern part had four 8.8 cm guns, reduced to two by the end of the war. Two other pieces stood closer to the north near the sea. There was also a third location with AA guns more specific also four 8.8 cm guns which listened to the name Friedrich.

It could be very busy in the harbour of Oostende. For example in November 1917 there was the visit of 63 submarines and 36 torpedo-boats for repairs or revision. There were also 55 other vessels visiting the harbour on their way back home or joining their units.

Jabbeke, 25th November 2002

Copyright Johan R Ryheul

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Post by Sewer King » 23 Jul 2007 04:47

Regulus 1 wrote:]THE U-BOAT BASES OF BRUGGE, ZEEBRUGGE AND OOSTENDE

When we talk about U-boat bases we immediately think about the enormous U-boat bunkers of the second World War at for example Saint Nazaire. However we forget that the U-boat bunker is not something that was invented in this period of time, but in the 1st World War.

The Flanders harbours would become very important U-boat bases, but the nerve centre of the triangle Oostende-Brugge-Zeebrugge would become the harbour of Brugge...

...In what is now the military port of Zeebrugge there was also a very large concrete U-boat bunker. Although bunker is not the exact word for it. It looked more like a construction of concrete piles with a thick concrete roof over it. No measurements are known but it should have been in the area of 80 by 10 meters.


I have seen what I take to be well-known photographs of the eight-pen U-boat bunker at Brügge. These are in Möller and Breck's The Encyclopedia of U-Boats from 1904 to the Present (English translation of original 2002 German, Greenhill Books, 2004), page 199; also Mallory and Ottar's The Architecture of War (UK: Architectural Press and US: Panthoen Books, 1973), page 70.

The U-boat pen at Brügge was very distinctive, in one way even more so than the stronger and more famous pens of WW2. They were built on great concrete piers rather than piles as Ryheul described it. These piers reached up to the roof and looked like the columns of a classic Greek temple, also allowing more natural light inside. But unlike a temple these piers were built over water, so that their reflections in calm water made them look taller and even more striking.

From Mallory and Ottar (page 69):

...at Bruges a large submarine shelter was built with 9-metre by 76-metre pens for eight submarines. It was this shelter which was the forerunner of the numerous German pens of the Second World War.

It was the forerunner in two ways. Firstly in the roof construction: the closely spaced pre-cast reinforced beams, with a 750mm covering slab of reinforced concrete, were the basis of the construction using pre-stressed trusses and in situ concrete developed and used in pens 20 years later. Secondly in appearance: the Bruges pen, described in the 1920 edition of the [Royal Institute of British Architects] journal as having the 'greatness of a classic temple,' possessed the same monumental or neo-classical appearance which later featured so strongly in [other fortifications built under] Hitler. The significance of the Bruges pens was much more general than this however. Strategic bombing had been born and more diverse forms of fortification were to be evolved. These pens were the forerunner of not only [future] submarine pens but also underground factories, flak towers, and both civilian and military shelters.


As it turned out, Möller and Breck wrote (page 199), the Brügge pens themselves were never actually tested by Allied bombs.

But what happened to these pens after World War I? Unless I missed something in the references, I cannot find what becarme of them. It would seem to me that Allied intelligence would have been all over the U-boat facilities to learn what they could after the war ended

Did the Belgians put these pens to any uses of their own? Tearing down such massive concrete structures is a great effort anywhere.

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Regulus 1
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Post by Regulus 1 » 05 Aug 2007 08:14

You might be surprised, but Ryheul actually has made copies of the original plans of these pens... He even has photo's taken from the inside. Now that I come to think of it... Ryheul... hey,... that's me ! :-)

They were destroyed somewhere in the 1950's as far as I remember for the construction of a new part of the harbour. The smaller submarine bunkers had been destroyed by the Germans themselves.

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Post by Pips » 05 Aug 2007 10:59

Two books that provide an excellent overview of submarine actuvity are:

A Damned Un-English Weapon
The Killing Time

Both by author Edwyn A Gray

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Post by Regulus 1 » 05 Aug 2007 14:51

BTW Sewer King, the bunker I mentioned at Zeebrugge and the one at Brugge are very different from one another and are not the same bunker. The plans I have and inside views are from the one at Brugge. The one at Zeebrugge has also been destroyed. I have only seen two photo's of it in the last 24 year's that I'm working on the Marinekorps Flandern. Will see if I can find where I parked my scans on the net.

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Post by Regulus 1 » 05 Aug 2007 14:54

Image

Zeebrugge and Oostende construction looked like this construction

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Post by Regulus 1 » 05 Aug 2007 14:56

Image

Image

Image

This is the Brugge construction

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Re: Submarine involvement in WW1

Post by tigre » 20 Dec 2015 12:54

Hello to all :D; an interesting article as a complement.........................

DIE FORMEN DES UBOOTKRIEGES. [Types of submarine warfare.] Admiral Spindler, Retired

The German blockade announcement of 4 February 1915 and the accompanying note of the German government clearly indicated that submarine attacks were only planned against hostile vessels, and that "German naval forces have been instructed to avoid any violation of neutral shipping, in so far as it can be recognized as such." The German admiralty was convinced at that time that the merchantmen of the Entente would in a very short time be-sailing under neutral colors, and that neutral and hostile ships would be difficult to tell apart. Furthermore, it was not believed that submarines should be expected to carry out careful search in order to determine the proper or improper use of neutral flags, inasmuch as it was
definitely expected that these merchantmen would be armed and capable of offensive action and other resistance against submarine control. The
erroneous sinking of neutral merchant ships would therefore appear inevitable. But intentional destruction of neutral shipping-this characteristic-of unrestricted submarine warfare-was never even considered throughout the conferences between the Navy Department, the Foreign Office, and the Chancellor (November 1914-February 1915). When the government launched itself into the unknown sea of submarine warfare it did so with the understanding that everything possible would be done from a naval viewpoint to prevent the sinking of neutral shipping except as an unavoidable accident. If Admiral Bauer, who at that time was in command of submarine activities, had other ideas as to the intent of the governmental policy, then such a mistaken conception is the fault of the Admiralty itself. But all these details, including the attitude of Admiral von Pohl, are fully explained in the work of the Naval Archives, and there should be no question as to facts. In 1915, unrestricted submarine warfare was not planned, but on the other hand it was planned to sink hostile merchant ships without warning, and to proceed against neutral ones in accord with existing international law.

As previously indicated, the opening phases of the submarine campaign in 1915 were groping into an unknown sphere. There were certain suppositions as to what the enemy might do. Only the actual course of events would indicate what he really would do, and how to proceed further.

Immediately upon the very first venture, the initial experience, corroborated as time went on again and again, and more and more emphatically, the fact that all these suppositions had been erroneous. A misuse of flags was practically non-existant. Hostile merchantmen were readily discernible by the fact that they carried no flags, had painted over all names, and when challenged, always sought safety in flight. Neutral ships were recognized by the fact that they carried their national flag, bore other plain markings, and usually complied readily with the orders of the submarine commanders. Furthermore, hostile steamers were not armed for several months.

The result of these unexpected developments was that submarine commanders began to use their guns more and more, that is, to operate on the surface, and to avoid using the difficult underwater torpedo. The gun was far more effective in the campaign against merchant ships, much quicker, and the risks connected therewith were far less than had been assumed at least for several months. Also the danger of submarine traps, which were quickly recognized after their initial surprise effect, had been exaggerated.

Therefore, the methods of submarine warfare were adapted to the situation. This was not the situation anticipated, and throughout the summer of 1915 it developed smoothly into submarine warfare in accordance with international law.

All that was necessary at that time was to confirm this status by means of an official order. The diplomatic advantages of such an order can hardly be overestimated. This type of submarine warfare complied with the laws of seizure and search; there was no sinking of ships without warning, and it complied with all diplomatic demands. Even the fundamental understanding with the United States would have been possible. The last "Lusitania Note" of 21 July 1915, indicated unmistakably such a solution. A great opportunity was permitted to pass by. It was so because the German government at that time lacked understanding, unity, and strength necessary to coordinate the military and diplomatic features and to guide them both with a strong and determined hand.

Instead there was only internal conflict. Submarine warfare was entirely suspended in English waters for almost a whole year, with the exception of a short period of activity in the spring of 1916.

The results in sinkings between October 1916 and January, 1917, at which time the German submarines operated in accordance with international law, by Navy Department orders, and by which time the situation with regard to the arming of merchantmen had been completely altered, indicate that very decisive results could have been obtained after the summer of 1915, if the submarine campaign would have been continued, and conducted in accordance with international law.

After the merchant ships of the Entente had been armed, that is in general around 1 January 1916, the effectiveness of submarine warfare was considerably reduced as long as they complied with the laws as to seizure and search. The German government announced in February 1916 that armed merchant ships would thereafter be treated the same as war vessels, that is, attacked without warning.

Source: DIE FORMEN DES UBOOTKRIEGES. [Types of submarine warfare.] Admiral Spindler, Retired.Periodical Articles-Catalog. RML Nº 66. Sep1937.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

Feliz Navidad - Feliz Natal - Frohe Weihnachten - Joyeux Noël - Merry Christmas - Wesołych Świąt!. :D
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Re: Submarine involvement in WW1

Post by tigre » 24 Dec 2015 14:24

Hello to all :D; a little more.........................

DIE FORMEN DES UBOOTKRIEGES. [Types of submarine warfare.] Admiral Spindler, Retired

This phase of the German submarine warfare, however, also ran a most unhappy course. Immediately after the published order with reference to armed merchantmen went into effect, a secret order was published which meant a return to the procedure of the summer of 1915-in other words, the sinking of all hostile ships in the war zone without warning. even the unarmed ones. In accordance with this order the unarmed passenger ship "Sussex" was erroneously torpedoed on 24 March 1916. This was followed by the sharp American ultimatum of 18 April 1916, and thereupon again the cessation of submarine warfare against England. The German interpretation of international law, of declaring all armed merchant ships as being classified as ships of war, was never argued out and brought to a decision.

By strange coincidence the American government expressed the idea that submarines, whose employment in the campaign against merchant ships was acknowledged, could not be expected to proceed against merchantmen by halting them and searching them, if they were armed, at the same time that the German government was proposing just such a suggestion. A follow-up of the German proposal would have therefore found encouragement in the United States. To what extent the American government was committed against the principle of arming merchantmen may be gathered from the fact that when a submarine torpedoed the armed British passenger steamer "Persia" on 30 December 1915, with a loss of 334 lives, among them two Americans, no protest was made by the American government. But on the other hand when the unarmed "Sussex" was torpedoed , the above mentioned ultimatum was presented, although no American lives were lost thereby, and the only thing that happened was that several American passengers were injured. There were also other modifications which pointed to the expectation that the American government would consider the German viewpoint as to the treatment of armed hostile merchant ships.

The military results would have been excellent. We would have been able to conduct what would amount to unrestricted submarine warfare, without being forced to enunciate that dangerous phrase. Against unarmed ships, and against all neutral vessels, the procedure was to be according to international regulations; hostile armed ships could be torpedoed without warning. Unrestricted, submarine warfare as practiced in 1917 and 1918 was not much different in practice. Even while engaged in unrestricted submarine warfare, experienced submarine commanders used their surface weapons as much as possible, in order to achieve the greatest possible economy of ammunition and effectiveness; the difficult torpedo was only used when there was no other choice, or when there was a favorable opportunity for using them against large valuable steamers, which were always heavily armed, secured by accompanying warships, or travelling in convoy.

The argument will now be propounded that convoys, after the fall of 1917; were the most important objectives in the Atlantic. A submarine complying with the regulations as to seizure and search cannot halt a vessel in convoy. Convoys could only be attacked by submarines because we claimed the right to do so in the blockade zone as a reprisal.

The answer to this argument is that the classification of vessels, hostile as well as neutral, sailing in hostile waters, as well as their treatment by submarines, is a question of international law, which has never been settled any more than the problem of the armed merchant vessel. However, with the same legal right, by which the German government denied the privileges of merchant vessels to those which were armed, and classifying them as ships of war, the German government could have announced that it would consider all vessels under armed convoy in the same category. It is to be assumed that when a neutral vessel places itself under the armed protection of one of the belligerents, that it is planning on resisting search by the other side. The German government therefore should have announced at the appropriate momet, that it would consider all vessels, even neutral ones, sailing under armed convoy of the enemy, in the same category as armed vessels of all sorts.

Source: DIE FORMEN DES UBOOTKRIEGES. [Types of submarine warfare.] Admiral Spindler, Retired.Periodical Articles-Catalog. RML Nº 66. Sep1937.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

Feliz Navidad - Feliz Natal - Frohe Weihnachten - Joyeux Noël - Merry Christmas - Wesołych Świąt!. :D
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Re: Submarine involvement in WW1

Post by jluetjen » 24 Dec 2015 22:56

An important point to keep in mind is that the UBoats based in Flanders were the significantly smaller "coastal" U-Boots, and generally operated in the channel area. The larger classes of U-Boots were used for patrolling out into the Atlantic and on the other shores of British Isles.

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Re: Submarine involvement in WW1

Post by tigre » 27 Dec 2015 19:58

Hello to all :D; thanks for that tip jluetjen :wink:. A little more.........................

DIE FORMEN DES UBOOTKRIEGES. [Types of submarine warfare.] Admiral Spindler, Retired

The argument briefly outlined above may be summarized as follows:

Procedure according to the laws of seizure and search should have been the basis and the starting point for the conduct of the submarine warfare. The arming of merchantmen and the movement in convoy should have been treated as exceptions to the general rule. So, by gradual expansion of existing law, and by means of logical adaptation to the changing situation, the submarine campaign would have arrived step by step at a point, which would have approximated unrestricted warfare. The complaints of interference with neutral trade would have been voiced in an entirely different tone. The necessity of applying the right of reprisals, which in its very essence acknowledges illegality, would then have been unnecessary. Furthermore, it appears to me that the published restriction of large sea areas which was received by the entire world, especially by the United States, as a challenge, would have been unnecessary. The initiation of a submarine campaign proceeding in accordance with international law requires no announcement either for military, legal, or diplomatic reasons. The special treatment of armed ships and convoys does not have to be restricted to certain sea areas; it can be applied everywhere with the same legality. Consider, for example, that the United States used the harsh words of "strict accountability" when the original restricted zone was announced by Germany in 1915, and emphasized its position, so that when on 31 January 1917 the unrestricted submarine warfare was announced, after all that had preceded this event, the entry of that country into the war was inevitable. It merely indicates how the course of events might have been guided by a clever evaluation of foreign psychology, in the careful choice of phrases, and the sound, legal progression to stricter forms of submarine warfare.

The possibility of a satisfactory settlement with America was clearly indicated. Opinions may differ as to the chances of success along those lines. This much, however, is certain: The immensity of the objective warranted at least an attempt.

These considerations can not be concluded without briefly discussing, the frequently advanced theory that the entry of the United States into the war was caused by economic pressure and not by the submarine situation, and for that reason any discussion about it was beside the point. Even Admiral Bauer in his article favors such a hypothesis based in certain statements made by President Wilson in 1919 when in answer to senatorial questions, he supposedly indicated that America would have entered the war even without the submarine question being an issue.

As to the statements of President Wilson, he did say, when cornered in regard to the League of Nations, that in his opinion public sentiment in America had sufficiently condemned the"Injustice of the German War," to have brought the United States into the conflict, even if it had not been directly afected by it. In this connection it is necessary to state that the "Injustice of the German War" was based largely, in American eyes, upon the activities of the German submarines. Also the context of President Wilson's testimony indicates that he had no intention of denying the influence of the submarine warfare on America's attitude.

Source: DIE FORMEN DES UBOOTKRIEGES. [Types of submarine warfare.] Admiral Spindler, Retired.Periodical Articles-Catalog. RML Nº 66. Sep1937.

It's all folks. Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

Feliz Año Nuevo - Happy New Year - feliz Ano Novo - gluckliches Neues Jahr - Bonne Année - Felice Anno Nuovo - Szczęśliwego nowego roku!! :thumbsup:

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Re: Submarine involvement in WW1

Post by tigre » 31 Dec 2015 11:51

Hello to all :D; a little more..................................................

Dangerous areas declared in WWI.

Source: http://net.lib.byu.edu/estu/wwi/comment ... /CRB08.jpg

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

Feliz Año Nuevo - Happy New Year - feliz Ano Novo - gluckliches Neues Jahr - Bonne Année - Felice Anno Nuovo - Szczęśliwego nowego roku!! :thumbsup:
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