2. Auf Gefechtsstationen!

I had the opportunity some time ago to visit the Naval Historical Branch to look at U-boat logs. These were spirited out of Germany towards the end of WWII by, I believe, one Ian Fleming, in an act worthy of 007 himself.

The originals have now been returned to the U-boat Museum in Cuxhaven, but all bear the Admiralty stamp, and copies remain archived at the NHB, from which I’ve translated quite a few to enhance our records.

Today’s wreck features the U-boat ace Günther Prien, responsible for the sinking of the Royal Oak at Scapa Flow in October 1939.

In his log for 6.12.1939 he identifies the victim, Britta, in the very first line of the report as Norwegian, yet Norway was neutral. Britta was one of about 60 Norwegian ships which were to sink during the course of the war around the English coastline.

Prien also notes that a nearby Fischdampfer (steam trawler) appeared “unconcerned” by the exploding Britta, attributing it to some sort of ‘C’est la guerre!’ sang-froid, but more likely, I think, some understandable wariness about drawing attention to herself when a U-boat was so obviously in the vicinity.


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