U-Boat under Coronation Park Dartmouth
I was interested and amused to see from the letters page of Soundings 86 that the story of a U-boat buried under Coronation Park in Dartmouth is still going the rounds.
One way and another, with Sea Scouts, the College and post war yachting I have been associated with the town of Dartmouth more than 70 years, and have always assumed the U-boat story, which was very freely banded about in the 30’s, was just a leg pull for the benefit of gullible schoolboys.
Whilst it is true that a good deal of land reclamation and improvements to the river frontage were carried out in the years following the First World war, and doubtless all sorts of rubbish was dumped as fill in those less particular days, the idea of dumping several hundred tons of high grade steel simply does not make sense.
Further, from an engineering point of view a submarine hull would corrode and finally collapse causing settlement and damage at ground level.
However an equally interesting story or myth concerning the area, which may just possibly have, or may even have given rise to the above, concerns the German undersea merchant vessel the Deutschland which was built to run the British blockade and carry vital war material back to Germany from the States, before the latter entered the war, and which finally finished by being cut up at Phillip's dry(floating) dock at Sandquay, then disappearing from history forever.
I have often heard both stories repeated down the years and like the correspondent would very much like to know the true facts, so I am looking forward to seeing what may come to light.
For an absolutely true story of a ship being buried under dry land (now a golf course) just look to Sutton Bridge, where one of the first three ships to enter the brand new dock failed to get out when the dock wall collapsed suddenly, leaving her stranded where she lay, and where she remains to this day.
[Do any members know more of this ? I would add I can’t entirely agree with Paul on the scrap value of U boats. Despite acute shortages, after both wars, a fair number of the surrendered U boats were sunk, sometimes for target practice. Underneath the decision to sink rather than cut up valuable assets, I suspect lay an especially deep loathing for the U boat. Ed ]
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From Paul Bell
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