UK hands back WWI U-boat propeller to Germany

A World War One U-boat propeller was handed back to the German Navy on August 31 following a joint operation between the UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency, Historic England and North Wales Police.

The propeller was formally handed over onboard FGS Bonn, a German replenishment ship which is currently based in Plymouth for training.

It is one of two propellers found at a storage unit in Bangor, Gwynedd, North Wales in September 2017 that were believed to have been illegally recovered from the wreck of the submarine UC-75 by a diver.

The German submarine UC-75 was built and launched in 1916 and credited with sinking 58 ships including two warships and damaging a further eight, either by torpedo or by mines laid.

UC-75 was rammed and sunk by the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Fairy in May 1918. Seventeen German crew members died, while fourteen survived.

One of the propellers will be returned to Germany, with the second one destined for display at the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth.

In November, two Remembrance ceremonies, one in Germany, one in the UK will be held at the same time to honor the fallen of both sides.

“These propellers tell a story of bitter conflict and human loss, but also of bravery, selflessness and love. It is fitting that they will now serve to remind citizens in both our countries of the realities of war and the personal sacrifices that inevitably follow,” Vice Admiral Sir Alan Massey, CEO of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, said.

“The propeller witnessed the struggle for life 100 years ago. It will come home. It will be officially handed over to the Naval Museum in Laboe on the occasion of Armstice Day in November,” Captain Matthias Schmidt, German Naval Attache, commented.

Photo: Photo: HM Coastuard