German U-boat signal books to go on display

One of the u-boats surfacing on the River Foyle during the surrender.

One of the u-boats surfacing on the River Foyle during the surrender.

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Derry’s Visitor Information Centre on Foyle Street is to display German U-Boat signal books used during the Battle of the Atlantic.

The signal books will go on display from afternoon (Wednesday, 22 April) through to 16 May.

The centre will have on display two of the signal books.

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest running campaign during WW2 and the war ended when the German U-Boat fleet in the Atlantic surrendered at Lisahally Docks in Derry on May 14, 1945.

Around a dozen boats came alongside for that official surrender,which was officiated over by Admiral Sir Max Horton in the presence of US, Canadian and Republic of Ireland commanders.

The other U-boats arrived over the next several weeks, and eventually all were dispatched to sea and sunk, many of them off the coast of Malin Head in Inishowen.

A scene captured during the surrender.

A scene captured during the surrender.

The outcome of the battle was a strategic victory for the Allies - the German blockade had failed.

However the Battle of the Atlantic came at a great cost. A total of 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships were sunk compared to the loss of 783 U-boats.

Catherine Crawley, Visitor Services Officer, at the Derry centre said:

“Visit Derry is delighted to have such important artefacts available for visitors to see.

Surrender of 8 German U-boats at Derry. Admiral Horton and Sir Basil Brooke, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland at the time, examine the captured subs on 14 May 1945.

Surrender of 8 German U-boats at Derry. Admiral Horton and Sir Basil Brooke, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland at the time, examine the captured subs on 14 May 1945.

“These Signal books are a real rare find and a must-see attraction.”

A spokeswoman for the Centre added: “One of our kind Visit Derry members Tony Henderson, from ‘Derry Walls’ walking tours, has lent them out from the family collection to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the surrender of the German U-boats in Lough Foyle in 1945.”

One of those boats which lie off Malin Head was the Nazi’s U-778 Kriegsmarine, which had only completed one combat patrol and sank no Allied ships. She was surrendered to the Allies at Bergen on the 8 May 1945 and on on 4 December 1945, she was being towed offshore, to be scuttled as part of Operation Deadlight, but foundered and sank before reaching the scuttling ground 16 nautical miles North East of Malin Head in 230 ft of water.

The wreck was rediscovered by marine archaeologist Innes McCartney back in 2001.

U-boats lined up at Lisahally.

U-boats lined up at Lisahally.

In 2007, Derry City Council announced plans to raise this boat to be the main exhibit of a new maritime museum.

In October 2007 a diver, Michael Hanrahan, died whilst filming the wreck, as part of the salvage project.

Derry City Council later announced the project had been cancelled for cost reasons.

Visit Derry is opened Monday to Friday from 9am to 5:30pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm.