Submarines in tow!!
Written and researched by Jamie Smith
There were four U Boats lost locally (to Newhaven) after their tow parted, two were washed ashore and two sunk.
The U 118 washed up on Hastings beach. Two people were killed when entering the submarine, due to inhalation of battery gasses. Another died later. The sub was later opened as a museum then broken up, with just the gun on display. This was later scrapped also as it reminded people of the war.
Photograph ‘U 118’.
The U 121 washed up under Bailey’s brow (Burling Gap). She lay next to the Oushla, an Italian tramp steamer.
The U 121 was broken up and some salvage work was done on her with the metals winched up over the cliff. At low spring tide you can still walk amongst the remaining wreckage. As for the Oushla she was also broken up by the same welsh firm. There is an uncharted mark to the east of the Devon coast, known locally as the stone boat. This mark is a single boiler, with no other wreckage around her. It is possibly from the Oushla.
Photograph ‘U 121’ and ‘Oushla’.
The UB 130 sunk after breaking her tow. She is due south of Beachy Head. Rubbings of the makers numbers on the props were produced which confirmed it to be the UB 130. She has been heavily salvaged. The props are gone and much of the superstructure. There is one 7 meter section intact. This has a hatch and is believed to be the section that would have been under the conning tower. The conning tower is now some 8 meters away.
We the Tunbridge Wells Dive Club, led by Roger Theobold, raised the deck gun (with permission) and donated it to the Newhaven Maritime Museum, where she can be seen on display.
The Imperial War Museum has one on display in original condition (see photographs below)
John Liddiard has done a write up of her in the Diver magazine as one of his wreck tours.
I was lucky enough to show him around on the wreck. Shame about the viz!
Holland 5 sank while under tow to the breakers in 1912. This is believed to be the most intact example left.
She can only be dived with permission from the NAS office as she is a protected archaeological site.
Acknowledgements for photographs:
Oushla and U 121 - Newhaven Maritime Museum
UB 130 deck gun - Alan Knight