Friday, 30 November 2012

Rummaging around the internet as one does, I found the website of a Second World War German U-Boat, U-35, which my father helped to sink very early in the war, whilst serving on a destroyer. By the standard of the times it was quite a gentlemanly sort of affair. Depth charged, the submarine popped up to the surface - to my dad's horror HMS Kashmir was cleaning out its active gun at that moment and was totally incapable of mounting any challenge to this sudden surprise, should it come to it. Luckily U-35 was too crippled to offer any resistance and the whole crew was captured alive. The U-Boat officers were treated as guests aboard the ship – as long as they promised not to escape – and their captain signed the visitor’s book with the comment ‘Wish you all the best of luck except against German U-Boats!’. After the war there was a long-term friendship between some of the German officers and Louis Mountbatten, captain of the destroyer squadron, until he was killed by an IRA bomb in 1979.

But what amazed me most about this find was to discover a grainy photograph of the captured crew being unloaded at Greenock in Scotland and in the background in his officer's cap I can see the unmistakeable features of my father as a young man - facing the camera behind the Scottish soldier standing to attention in profile by the gangplank. The wonders of the internet!


  1. No doubt that when Hollywood gets around to making a film of the event you will find that your father was actually in the American navy.

    The film "U-571" which was released several years ago based on the capture of the Enigma machine from U-110 rewrote history so that an American ship rather than HMS Bulldog did the job. Hollywood has no shame!

    The U-35 story is good one showing a humanitarian aspect of the conflict which is never portrayed in films.

    And how marvelous for you to come across a photo of your father.

  2. i had the great pleasure of meeting hannes thiemes...and he told me the story of there capture etc the tower of london .... he was a giant of a man,,,and i have nothing but was an houner to know him...R.I.P.