The First W rld War in Objects

The section from one of U-8’s logbooks that was retained by Commander Rupert Devlin at the time of the U-boat’s sinking. (ALL IMAGES HISTORIC MILITARY PRESS)

In the early hours of Thursday, 4 March 1915, the German U-boat U-8 left its home base of Ostend to undertake a patrol in the English Channel. Commanded by Kapitänleutnant Alfred Stoß, U-8, which had been launched on 14 March 1911, was already a reasonably successful submarine having sunk five British steamers during a previous War Patrol in February 1915. Her luck, though, was about to run out.

A shot of U-8 in harbour prior to 1915. Note the upper rudder on the deck.

In his book The Maritime Archaeology of a Modern Conflict, the historian Innes McCartney describes what followed as U-8 headed out into the English Channel: ‘[Stoß] was detected on the surface by a destroyer near South Foreland as fog suddenly lifted around him. U-8 dived and attempted to navigate the Straits submerged. The periscope, when used, gave away his position until finally, four hours after initially being spotted, an explosion forced him to surface the boat and scuttle [it].’

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