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Nazi U-boat found in Canadian river

The Local · 29 Jul 2012, 12:13

Published: 29 Jul 2012 12:13 GMT+02:00

The sonar images, depicting what searchers now say appears to be a German U-boat about 18 metres deep in the Churchill River in Labrador, were taken in 2010 during a search for three people who had drowned.

After reviewing the photos recently, the researchers say they can make out the deck of the ship, cables typically attached to the top of U-boats, a gun mount and snorkels used to bring in air without surfacing.

"We were looking for something completely different, not a submarine, not a U-boat - I mean, no one would ever believe that was possible," searcher Brian Corbin told public broadcaster CBC.

"We're pretty sure it is [a U-boat], and we've filed this with receiverships and wrecks, and I think they're confirming that it is possibly a U-boat."

Corbin said he hopes to return to the river to take a closer look with a robotic submersible while Canadian authorities try to authenticate the discovery.

German U-boats were known to roam off Canada's east coast during the Second World War, destroying a passenger ferry between Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island and 23 Allied cargo vessels and warships in the Saint Lawrence River.

In the 1980s, remnants of a World War II era German weather station were also discovered in Labrador.

The German government told Canadian media that about a dozen U-boats remained unaccounted for.

But an official at the German embassy in Ottawa added it would be "sensational and unusual" for one to have ended up so far inland, more than 100 kilometres from the ocean.

The find comes less than a week after a privately funded search group located a Nazi U-550 U-boat lying on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean 113 kilometres Nantucket in Massachusetts, USA.

Story continues below…

Historians say the U-boat torpedoed and sank the large US tanker Pan Pennsylvania before being attacked by convoy escort ships on 16 April 1944.

AFP/DPA/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

20:56 July 29, 2012 by DOZ
So much for Canada's Home Defense.
21:43 July 29, 2012 by IchBinKönig
That's why we have cables crossing the Hudson River.
22:34 July 29, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Here is the link to the CBC story with video, if anyone is interested:


The U-Boats were very active on Canada`s East Coast right up until the end of the Second World War. They prowled up and down the St. Lawrence River and were always lurking in front of Halifax for the convoys. Captured crews from boats that were forced to the surface were found to have had theatre tickets as well as local produce that English speaking sailors had bought while onshore in Canada. The ferry mentioned in the article was `the Caribou`, which was sunk with a minimal loss of life thankfully, as the waters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence were at their yearly warmest- around 12 degrees. Not to forget that the Germans set up a remote radio weather station on Labrador that was only discovered in the 90s.

Anyway, it is a very interesting part of the Battle of the Atlantic that has gone largely unnoticed outside of the region. :)
23:08 July 29, 2012 by wood artist
Clay Blair, in his wonderful two-volume set, details the entire U-boat war, essentially providing a complete story of each and every boat. Needless to say there are some holes and assumptions, simply because some "disappeared" without any matching action report from the allies.

In the book Shadow Divers, two American civilian divers discovered a wreck of the east coast of the US that wasn't supposed to be there, and after years of digging finally managed to identify the boat. It, apparently, didn't receive a message re-routing it elsewhere and ended up sunk in a "doubtful" encounter with US anti-submarine activity.

The whole of eastern Canada was busy with U-boats, and some were specifically tasked to enter rivers and even drop off spies. It will be interesting to see what boat this is, and it will certainly add a wonderful new story to the true history of the war. While the U-boats fought an ultimately losing battle, the men who manned them deserve our respect for their bravery and effort, regardless of which side they were on.

03:04 July 30, 2012 by catjones
wa...please, when doling out respect, speak for your equaling self. I can't think of a 'wonderful' war story.
03:53 July 30, 2012 by IchBinKönig
'I can't think of a 'wonderful' war story. '

Das Boot was pretty good.
07:00 July 30, 2012 by wood artist

I'm not suggesting that war is ever remotely pleasant, and that comes from first-hand experience. However, I do respect the men and women who served their countries. Those who served in U-boats were relatively free from the atrocities that occurred in the European land war, and while that may not make them "innocent" in the eyes of many, I think it's a significant difference.

In truth, anyone who tells a "true war story"...either in person or through film, ends up telling an "anti-war story." There is no glory to be had in battle. If you're lucky, you survive. Probably the closest thing I've ever seen to a "good war story" is the Christmas meetings in No Man's Land during WWI, where for a brief period of time men from both sides were able to set aside politics and simply acknowledge the mess they were all in. Too bad that didn't/couldn't have a happy ending.

I respect those men, even if I don't agree with the regime that caused them to be there. They did what they were asked to do, just as many others did. The land war and related events were a much different story, and my thoughts about that a much different also.

11:00 July 30, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@ wood artist

Thanks for taking the time to post your well-considered observations and opinions on the U-Boat men and war in general. I don`t always agree with you as I do here, but your comments come across as genuine and are worthy of our consideration. That is all that matters.

Your reference to the WW I Christmas truce reminds me of the scene in All Quiet on the Western Front, when Remarque and his comrades take the time to ponder who benefits from war. That is something that everyone should be doing right now before it is too late. Let`s give our young men and women a chance to grow up and see which way the wind is really blowing.

Anyway, thanks for sending along your book recommendations. As the King has pointed out here, Das Boot is a wonderful read. I would add to that `Die Festung`, which is also by Buchheim. For those unfamiliar with it, it is once again the story of Lt. Buchheim, `der Alter` and his crew; however unlike in Das Boot, in this novel they survive until the Allied landing in France. It is only available in German and is over 1400 pages but is well worth it, if you enjoy Buchheim`s style and have an entire summer to polish it off.

Peace :)
12:28 July 30, 2012 by wood artist

Thank you. We can disagree and still respect each other, and that's about the best anyone can hope for. I don't live in Germany, nor have I, and I recognize that ex-pats and those who have been there more often than I will have a better handle on how "Germany" might see this sort of thing.

I'm currently sitting about 1M away from Das Boot, and the DVD is only a bit further away. To me, based upon my other reading, the story rings true. I can also remember some of the same conversations found in Saving Private Ryan...regarding the meanings and implications of actions during war. In truth, on the ground, little of it makes sense, yet we continue to do it.

Although it's never easy, I have attempted to avoid the generalizations regarding Germany and WWII. I even found the headline "strange" in that it describes a "Nazi U-boot." I suspect that the men on board, who died at that place and time, were not terribly political. A few might have been, but for the most part they were likely doing what they saw as their duty, even if they privately questioned the whole idea. Those same thoughts certainly arose during Vietnam, although discussions were more open then, and the Gestapo certainly discouraged that sort of conversation, even on the most private levels.

Thanks again for considering different points of view.

19:31 July 30, 2012 by friedenstempel
It is disgraceful to describe an U-boat of the Reichsmarine as a "Nazi" submarine.
21:03 July 30, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@ wood artist

Yes wa, I agree. Respect is key and it is something that is often lacking today. Respect for one`s self and for others, including `the other`, as it were. I think that these threads are all about communication and establishing a dialogue with our fellow posters here. I am for free speech, so let`s enjoy it while it lasts. :)

Anyway, glad to hear that you have the book and the DVD of Das Boot. As I mentioned above, I am a big fan of Günther Lothar Buchheim`s writing and the film is one of my all-time favourites. The scene where the Old Man tells Lt. Werner to take pictures of the crew when they are returning to base instead of sortieing is particularly moving. He explains that then they will have beards and look like men instead of the children that they were and ends by calling it a Childrens` Crusade.

Buchheim was definitely a Francophile and one sees clearly that he held no animosity toward the `Tommy` either, whether he be English or Canadian for that matter, the `colleagues from the other side` were respected. Hardcore Nazis, SS Men and Party `Bonzen` especially are not portrayed in a very flattering light in his books. He has been accused of trying to distance himself from the NS regime through his writing but one has to judge Buchheim for himself here. I`ve heard it said that the U-Boot service was the least braun of them all, and for whatever its worth I take B. at his word.

And a last thought, I think that you have struck the right balance in your approach toward dealing with the Germans and WW2. As a sidenote, it turns out in the CBC story that most of the men on the `Nazi` boat left the Führer in the lurch and disappeared into the wilds of NFLD.

Have a good one, wa. :)
01:06 July 31, 2012 by Whipmanager
I must say I am very impressed with the decorum displayed here. the maturity is impressive. The U boats were quite a weapon and used quite efficiently and effectively. I do think that as professional soldiers, there were none better than teh German soldier, equals yes, but better, I think one would hav eto make a big stretch to prove otherwise. I am pro American, unlike WA, I lived and worked in Germany 14 years of my life and worked with the Bundeswehr and the Luftwaffe- often side by side. Professionals do what is demanded of them as long as it does not seem illegal.

and there are a great many good war movies.
10:33 July 31, 2012 by wenddiver
I can think of quite a few good war stories:

Das Boot

Company Aytcht!- The US Civil war , written by a Confederate Private is hilarious and stands on it's own as literature. Highly recommended.

The Cross of Iron- A really excellent movie about the struggle between natural leadrs and leaders appointed because of their conomic class, acted out on the Russian front.

Catch -22, US bomber crews. If you don't want to contiue risking violent death by by flying missions your obviously not insane, because sl-preservation is healthy.

Patton- Being crazy, doesn't necessarily make you a bad Army leader.

The Burma chapter of the BBC World at War Series.

The entire Victory at Sea TV series.

Farewell to the King- An American who escapes coorigidor and a british Commando team fight th Japanese with a native tribe. Questions imperialisms, war, civilization, nobility and is just a great all around adventure.

The Forgotten Soldier- A German Soldier on the Russian Front.

Frontsoldaten- Kentucky University examines the lettrs and writings of common German Soldiers in WWII.

A Wing and a Prayer- With the U.S B-17, bomber crews flying into Hitler's Fortress Europe in Broad daylight, at 236 miles an hour against jets, ramming suicide Squadrons and the vast majority of 88 Flak guns produced, then back through it all shot up and crippled.

Lawrence of Arabia- The conflict of fighting for another people while being a serving officer in an empires army.

All Quiet on th Western Front- Schoolboys slaughtersd in WWI. Worth it just for the conversation about who really wanted the war.

Henry the Vth- No other speech has ever defined what it means to be a Warrior quite as well. Made into an excellent movie with Kennth Branaugh.

Braveheart-Scottlands greatest warrior fights for Freedom, not Government.
17:47 July 31, 2012 by Beachrider
Don't forget that St. Pierre et Miquelon was 2 miles south of Newfoundland and was clearly in Vichy-French hands during WWII.

There were rumors that they were used to support German activity during WWII.

Those islands are still part of France today, as well.
10:30 August 1, 2012 by sabre_ferret
St.Pierre et Miquelon was only in Vichy hands until Christmas Day 1941, when the Free French took over in a coup de main (which the USA was rather peeved about apparently).
20:30 August 3, 2012 by Drewsky
It appears that just about everything that could be said about war has already been said by other commentators. On a somewhat 'lighter' related note, if anyone is visiting Chicago they might find the U-505 an interesting thing to see. It's the best preserved U-boat and is located at the Museum of Science & Industry. When Bavaria Studios filmed 'Das Boot', they came to Chicago to design the movie sets.
11:54 August 4, 2012 by wenddiver
According to the BBC the Canadians also found an American PBY-Catalina Flying Boat (Anti-Submarine Air-craft) in the St. Lawrence, with the remains of the crew. Hard to believe we are still finding remains this many years later.
02:49 March 21, 2013 by patric ryan
Comment: Very interesting and well spoken discussion about war. I have found your site perhaps too late. My interest in the war is many fold. I was born in 1942, at a time when Germany was perhaps at the turning point in the war. As a child of the war I thought I knew the right side. I do not wish to debate right and wrong. We are English and Irish. My father, grandfather and all my uncles were in the war in some capacity. They all came home. We were lucky. My wife's family are German. Her father was in France and on the Russian Front. He was captured and survived. When I wrote my book, The Fogo's War Trilogy, I wanted to write a large story about large conflicts but balanced, a look from both sides of the conflict. The story is about a German U-boat commander and a Newfoundland fishing schooner captain, their families and their history from 1913 to 1945. The protagonists meet in battle during WWI, cross paths during the Depression and become friends in Newfoundland when the schooner captures the submarine. My book has been read in Germany, Denmark and North America. It has been enjoyed by families and well known authors, even a Navy Commander who commented that it could be used as a text on submarine tactics, but others just liked the history and the human element. And it is very human. One story says volumes about The Fogo's War reception. One blustery fall day I was walking on the beach when I saw a large black dog running towards me. It was a Newfoundland dog with only three legs. When the owners of the dog caught up we chatted in general. I admired the dog and asked its name. Fogo, they replied. Funny I said. A coincidence, I wrote a book called Fogo's War. The couple laughed. We read your book and loved it so much we called our dog Fogo. If interested in my book I can be reached at patric@patricryan.com. Cheers.
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