The last U-Boat

This is the home of what remains of U534, the last U-Boat ever to set sail. On May 5th 1945, the day after all German forces had surrenderd U534 was spotted sailing of the Danish coast and was sunk by an RAF Liberator. Amazingly all the crew escaped but sadly two died waiting to be rescued.

What she was doing has remained a great mystery over the years. Was she making a run for it with nazi art and gold ? Was she to pick up surviving high ranking German Officials and take them to Argentina ? Why didn’t she surrender like all other U-Boats ?

The gold question was answered when she was discovered by divers in 1992. Nothing but documents were found on board but the other questions remain. She certainly had enough fuel and food on board to get to Argentina.

In 1996 she was salvaged and for some strange reason ended up here in Birkenhead, England. A lot of the local population at that time still remembered the war and weren’t welcoming. Local politics and under financed owners doomed the remains of this U-Boat as surely as that Liberator back in 1945. She was left, abandonded on wasteland for the next 12 years. A folly and an insult.

So in 2008, a company called MerseyTravel, the people who run our local transport, aquired the rusting carcas. Such was the state of the remains they appear to have had no choice but to cut her into 3 pieces and move her to not so much a new home as just a home.

It is now an exhibit on the banks of the River Mersey. She stands overlooking the very city that provided the HeadQuarters of our fight against U-Boats. How ironic that the final U-Boat should publicly crumble in front of the port that 80 years ago provided their greatest target. It feels like a punishment and is an insult to all the brave souls who not only sailed in them but also the memories of their casualties. One of which was my own granfather Second Mate William Stevenson Simpson who died on board SS Hatasu on the night of October 2nd 1941. This piece is written in his memory.

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