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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

U-Boat found in the North Sea

A father and son team have helped find the location of a U-boat lost at the bottom of the ocean for almost 100 years.

Iain Easingwood, who runs diving firm Marine Quest with his father, Jim found the sunken U-40 vessel in good condition 70m (210ft) beneath the sea, 40 miles off the coast of Eyemouth and miles from where she was recorded as going down.

Torpedoed on June 23, 1915 in a cunning - some say dirty - ambush during World War I, she even has her attack periscope still raised.

The discovery, initially scanning a five mile box in the North Sea using hydrographic sonar in December, was a 15-year labour of love for the pair. They were finally able to dive on the wreck, listed as a war grave, earlier this month and footage was given to the BBC

Now her story has resurfaced thanks the Marine Quest, the discovery has served as a reminder of the early years of submarine warfare involving fishing trawlers.

The U-40 was part of a fleet being used in an unrestricted warfare campaign targeting merchant ships bring crucial supplies to British shores.

The crew had surfaced to target what they thought was a fishing trawler out in the North Sea. But unbeknown to them it was a decoy - what later became knows as Q-ships. For being towed below the trawler Taranaki was the British sub HMS C-24. After receiving word from the trawler captain by a phone line linking the two, the C-24 slipped the line, surfaced suddenly and scored a direct hit with a single torpedo.

Of the 32 on board, only the commander, Gerhardt Furbringer, and two others escaped. The other 29 perished. Germany later labelled the tactic a dirty trick but it helped ease the pressure on merchant shipping and it was only ever successfully used once more.

The Distinguished Service Cross awarded to C-24 Captain Frederick Henry Taylor.

The story featured in the Times Online, in Berwiskshire Today, and Ian was also interviewed on BBC Radio's Today programme.

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