Friday, 30 March 2012

Loch Eriboll, Sutherland, 1945, Operation Deadlight...


On this years summers holidays i will spend a bit more time exploring around Loch Eriboll on the North West coast in Sutherland, Scotland, before heading to the East Coast for some beachriding and camping.
Loch Eriboll is a stunningly scenic Loch. It is 10 miles long and the deepest sea loch in Scotland. The coastal road follows the loch side which is quiet today...





However in 1945 the Loch was the scene of the secret surrender of 33 German U Boats...
One of Germany's most terrifying and devastating weapons of WW2.
The vessels that surrendered here were responsible for sinking or damaging 59 merchant ships and 14 warships — 300,000 tonnes of Allied shipping...

This 5 part Documentary on youtube is worth watching if your interested in the U boat war...




Loch Eriboll 1945...


The Highland Loch, close to Durness, was the only Scottish rendezvous point for U-boats. In the space of two weeks, from May 10 to May 25, 1945, it turned into the biggest single gathering of the German submarine fleet anywhere in the world. The U-boats — nicknamed grey wolves — were part of Hitler’s plan to starve Britain of food, raw materials and equipment...





The surrender of German submarines in Loch Eriboll in Sutherland was one of the strangest episodes at the end of World War II. Locals were sworn to secrecy and it has often been assumed that only “two or three” crews gave themselves up in the sheltered inlet...





But in fact 33 U-boat commanders surrendered in the space of 12 days in the 10-mile long loch.
Each U-boat had between 30 and 50 crew. The crews were happy to surrender in Scotland, as it was the Russians they were worried about. They just didn’t want to give up to them...





The surrender included U-1231, which was used as the fleet’s “off-licence” and was laden with wine, and U-532 which had just returned from Japan and was carrying raw rubber, quinine and other war supplies...



Fifteen U-boats were brought under convoy from Norway by Canadian warships and all were disarmed within hours.
Explosives and other armaments were dumped over the side in Loch Eriboll and they were then re-routed to locations including Lochalsh in Wester Ross, where the crews were arrested, the loch’s seabed to this day is littered with explosives and armaments...



As part of Operation Deadlight, the U-boats were scuttled in the Atlantic, with 121 of the 154 U-boats that surrendered being sunk in deep water off Lisahally, Northern Ireland, or Loch Ryan, in the west of Scotland in late 1945 and early 1946...



Loch Eriboll was chosen because of its isolation and deep anchorage. It also limited any opportunity for a last show of defiance from the U-boat commanders.
There was one incident, when U-295 rammed a Canadian escort ship, HMCS Nene, punching a hole in the starboard side. The U-boat captain claimed it was an accident...



The U-boat captain read a message to his ship’s company telling them that they were leaving their boat and I imagine there were a few tears of these very brave men...

The story of the fear the U boats brought to shipping is well known, spare a thought for the nerves of the young crews who manned them, The excellent German film `Das Boot` captures the claustrophobic atmosphere, and fear they endured... definitely watch the German un dubbed version with subtitles...

1 comment:

  1. Very nice Bruce. Das Boot - a classic and you're right definitely the original with subtitles - the only way to go.....

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