Last week we looked at the story of the sinking of UC-44 in Dunmore East in August of 1917. This week I wanted to complete the account with a look at what subsequently occurred to the salvaged sub and her crew.
The U boat was thoroughly examined and the design and features noted. Once completed, some have said that she was towed upriver and used as a foundation in a breakwater in Duncannon. Stokes however has a different account, and perhaps this is where the confusion lies. Her engine apparently lay in a garage in Duncannon for years afterwards, and rusted and worn, was dumped into a new breakwater. (Stoke: p193)
|Salvage operation at Dunmore via Paul O'Farrell|
on the Waterford Maritime History page
|An intact mine being unloaded (1 of 9 remaining aboard) note Dunmore|
Lighthouse to the left. via Paul O'Farrell on the Waterford Maritime History page
Some mementos still exists of the U boat however. For example this piece from USA shows how important the event was and to the Americans who were there to assist aboard the USS Melvile. And they also have memento in the Imperial War Museum in London. I wonder are there any still remaining in Dunmore, Duncannon or elsewhere?
|An inscribed memento of the event via the Imperial War Museum|
link above, passed on to me by James Doherty
Tebbenjoahnnes was cared for in Dunmore overnight, but next day journeyed on to Waterford and then Cork and from there to Dublin for the short sea journey to Holyhead and subsequently to London for interrogation and life as a POW. (Ibid). The actual telegram and other correspondence can be viewed online! Stokes relates an interesting anecdote about Tebbenjoahnnes' journey. He boarded the RMS Leinster under escort for the trip across the Irish Sea. He was sitting in the saloon with a British officer having a drink, when Captain Birch, the ships captain, approached the party and remonstrated with them. Captain Birch stated that he would clap them both in irons if the German was not immediately confined. Tebbenjohannes was led to his cabin, and there he sat out the remainder of the journey, apparently in an unlocked and unguarded cabin, while his escort went back to the saloon. He'd given his word not to try and escape! (Stokes p.198) The RMS Leinster would be sink following a U Boat attack in October 1918 and the good Captain along with 500 other souls would die. (Hutchinson: pp 77-84)
His "interrogation" in London seems to have been a conversation, at least when you read the actual report. He gives a good description of the event including his position; 52 07' N - 06 59' W, fixed with Hook light and Dunmore prior to laying mines. He also gives a list of the crew but this seems to be incomplete. There is a short piece online looking for further information on him, which suggests that he went into banking after the war, and in WWII played a role with the German Navy. It appears he was still alive in the early 1960's, but nothing else seems to be known.
Of his fellow crew mates, less is known unfortunately. Richter's corpse washed up on Wexford shore in the following weeks and was buried in Duncannon. It was re-interred after the war to the German Military Cemetery at Glencree Co Wicklow. Bahnster was the name given in several sources as the other man. However I'd like to set the record straight on this, his surname was Fahnster. Its a typical name of Northern Germany, which was revealed to me by a German friend, Nicki Kenny. Joahnn Fahnster's body was not recorded as ever being found, as far as I can see.
UC-44 had 30 men aboard on the night that she sank. Having traced three we still have twentyseven souls unaccounted for. There is a thread online claiming that 19 bodies were contained in the submarine when she reached Dunmore, undoubtedly the others would have washed out of the damaged hull. The reference for this claim is cited as Robert Grants book the U Boat Hunters. Some claim that in line with Naval policy, they were taken out and buried at sea. It has been speculated that to inter so many in a cemetery on land would draw attention to the fact that the U-boat had been salvaged and thus loose an advantage to the Germans. (Stokes: p.192-3). Many accounts don't even mention the crew, their average age being 20!
|Sunrise at Dunmore East last Sunday morning|
Maybe by not knowing these men makes it easier to forget them, Well thanks to Nicki, who I have already mentioned I can at least reverse that small omission. The names and ranks of those lost are listed at the following link and below. With the anniversary coming up next year, we may have an opportunity to remember this event, and deepen our understanding of our harbours history and heritage.
Rank Surname Christian name
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Thanks to Nicki Kenny and her husband Mick for assisting me with the German research this week. Also to James Doherty for allowing me to wreck his head and to Paul O' Farrell for some of the images.
Here's a great link to a blog post by Roy Stokes on UC 44 and others, most of which is similar to what os contained in his book referenced below.http://lugnad.ie/flanders-u-boat-alley/
Another interesting blog post highlighting the sinking and a memento sculpted from the starboard propeller to the inventor of the depth charge Herbert Taylor:
Hutchinson. S. Beware the Coast of Ireland. 2013. Wordwell. Dublin
McElwee. R. The last voyages of the Waterford steamers. date unknown. The Book Centre WaterfordStokes. R. Between the tides; Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast. 2015. Amberly. Gloucestershire.
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