Pat Winship

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May 14, 1999
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I had missed Senan's posting of the article about Lightoller's sinking of the UB 110 until this morning. The report of the demise of the entire crew is greatly exaggerated. This is the entry on UB 110 from uboat.net


"UB 110
Type UB III
Shipyard Blohm & Voss, Hamburg (Werk 316)
Ordered 23 Sep, 1916 Laid down
Launched 1 Sep, 1917 Commissioned 23 Mar, 1918
Commanders 23 Mar, 1918 - 19 Jul, 1918 Werner Fürbringer

Career 2 patrols 27 Jun, 1918 - 19 Jul, 1918 Flandern II Flotilla

Fate 19 Jul, 1918 - Damaged by D/C attack, she surfaced and was rammed by HMS Garry at 5439N 0055E.. 13 dead, unknown number of survivors.

http://uboat.net/wwi/boats/index.html?boat=UB+110

One of the survivors was her commander, Werner Fürbringer, who was instrumental in the clandestine rebuilding of the German submarine service after World War I. Fürbringer also published his memoirs, which have been translated into English, and his account of the sinking of UB 110 makes an interesting counterpoint to Lightoller's.

According to Fürbringer, all his crew got out alive, and were fired on in the water. It isn't clear whether it was the Garry's crew doing all the shooting; the convoy was heavily escorted by a lot of smaller craft who got into the act. It's fair to say that they did some of it, however.

World War I submarine warfare could get ugly on both sides. The Germans had Helmut Patzig who torpedoed a hospital ship, let its crew take to the lifeboats, and then decided it wasn't a good idea to leave witnesses. The Brits had Godfrey Herbert of the Q-ship Baralong, who pursued some of the crew of a sunken German sub onto a merchant ship, hunted them down and killed them.

Submarine warfare was new, it challenged the traditional rules of naval combat, and there was uncertainty whether submariners were soldiers or terrorists, right to the end of the War. Fürbringer and his prison camp room mate,Robert Moraht, neither of whom had any Patzig-style atrocities on their war records, were told they were going to be tried as war criminals in London, before they were finally released at the end of 1920.

Lightoller's attitude toward them was typical of a British destroyer commander of his time. No better, no worse.

Pat W
 

JHPravatiner

Member
Nov 2, 2001
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Aha, so I *have* converted you to the dark side, Pat...you're speaking U-boat like a pro!

I'm pretty sure Fips wrote about 13 survivors, not 13 casualties; uboat.net's good but not perfect.

The majority of the U-boat men were released in autumn 1919 as I recollect; Fürbringer and Moraht in October. Not as bad as 1920, but still far, far after the Armistice.

Lights' attitude was typical for during the war, but it sticks with me that he was still extremely vitriolic towards them even in 1933, going so far to say as he would have none of that "hands-up surrendering business" from them, which is a sentiment that could have a great deal read into it. The majority of his naval comrades had long since moved on past such sentiment, with even the famous Gordon Campbell openly admitting his admiration for the gallant fight Reinhold Salzwedel's U-boat had given his own Q-ship, Dunraven. (I think that was 1927?)

If you want a measuring stick of the progress made, "Raiders of the Deep" had been a bestseller only 5 years before "Titanic and Other Ships" was published, and it says much that a bare 10 years after a lot of Americans and Britons wanted to see all U-boat commanders hung as war criminals, they were eagerly reading the submarine tales told to Lowell Thomas.

Just seems a bit peculiar that Lightoller, who seems to have generally been a big-hearted man, couldn't find it in him to move past those sort of sentiments, particularly in a thoroughly defeated and downtrodden enemy.

Heck, he was even appalled with his grandson being a submariner...seems he was still very cranky about subs and their fellows long after the war. ;-)
 

Pat Winship

Member
May 14, 1999
441
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There's a story, Joan, that his grandson didn't even tell his grandpa that he was going into subs.

And thanks for the corrections to my post! :)

Pat W.
 

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