WWII submarine could be on Foyle river bed

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A group of local divers will take to the Foyle later this week in a bid to identify the mystery wreck discovered on the river bed.

Paschal Lawrence, one of the divers set to explore the wreck, says it is still too early to be sure what type of vessel has been found in the Foyle.

Initially it was thought the wreck could have been a German U-boat, but doubt has since been cast on that notion.

Now, it seems more likely the wreck is that of a X-craft, a World War II British submarine.

“It’s just too early to be sure,” Paschal told the ‘Journal’ yesterday.

“We can not be 100% sure about what exactly it is. Hopefully this week we will get a camera down there and go and have a closer look,” he says.

The wreck was discovered by a dive team from Cork, who were working on an unrelated operation on the bed of the Foyle, around three weeks ago.

It is understood to be around 50ft in length - the size of the British X-Craft.

The local dive team have also been in contact with the Royal Navy Museum in Gosport as they attempt to identify the wreck. Paschal says things should become clearer once they revisit the wreck site,

“It’s a very exciting find but at this stage we just can not say exactly what it is,” Paschal says.

X-Craft’s were commonly used during the Second World War to attach mines to German vessels.

It could be quite possible - considering the key role Derry and the Foyle played in the Battle of the Atlantic - that the wreck is a British World War II sub.

The Foyle, it has been said, was one of the best kept secrets of the war and the fact that Derry was spared aerial bombardment from the Luftwaffe - except for a single attack on Messines Park - was crucial to the Allied success in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The port city’s proximity to vital merchant convoy routes and the feared German u-boat fleet in the Atlantic was vital - a fact not lost on Admiral Sir Max Horton, who had commanded the struggle against the u-boats.

To mark the importance of Derry in the Battle of the Atlantic, it was decided that the German u-boat fleet be forced to formally surrender at Lisahally rather than at Liverpool or another British or European port.

Admiral Horton was at Lisahally on May 14, 1945 when a token force of eight Kreigsmarine U-boats were escorted up the Foyle.

The vessels were followed by 34 more before the end of the month and later a further 30 arrived in the port before being scuttled off the coast of Malin Head.

The location of the recently discovered wreck found in the Foyle is currently being kept secret.