25 years since it was raised from the seabed, the mystery around U-534 lingers.
MAY 5th 1945, Admiral Dönitz ordered all German U-boats to surrender but for some unknown reason, U-534 refused to do so. The submarine was 20km north of the Danish island of Anholt when a Liberator aircraft from RAF 547 Squadron dropped depth charges and U-534 took heavy damage. 49 of the 52 crew survived, including five who escaped via a torpedo hatch.
The wreckage was raised from the seabed in 1993, to feverish excitement that there may be Nazi gold or art treasures on board. When none were found, rumours spread that the U-boat was on its way to Japan, so Germany could share their torpedo technology with their ally.
U-534 is now housed at Mersey Ferries U-boat Story in Woodside, Birkenhead, and is one of only four German WWII submarines in preserved condition in the world.
Peer inside the glass partitions and see the claustrophobic crew quarters, the heavily rusted motor room and the bulkhead where torpedoes were stored. A narrow ladder leads down to where 75 tonnes of batteries were stored, which were used to power the U-boat.
The museum includes a rare Enigma machine and hundreds of items salvaged from the wreck, which provide a fascinating insight in to life on board the submarine during those long hours under water. Packs of cards and board games sit alongside bottles of wine and cooking equipment. Over 18 tonnes of food were required to feed the hungry crew. Tinned supplies weren't labeled, to prevent the crew helping themselves!
To find out more, visit www.u-boatstory.co.uk
• WIN TWO TICKETS for Mersey Ferries River Explorer Cruise, which includes free entry to the U-boat Story. Simply tell us which year WWII ended and email your answer plus your name, address and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your entry can also be posted to Wirral View, Wallasey Town Hall, Brighton Street, Wallasey CH44 8ED.
Closing date is Friday 17 August.
WIRRAL’S WWII HISTORY
Wirral Archives, based in Cheshire Lines, Birkenhead, holds a wide range of records from World War II, including:
- Admission registers for Clatterbridge/Thornton Manor military hospitals
- Air Raid Precautions and evacuation committee minutes
- Records by the Ministry of Food to help feed those living in bombed areas
- Ships constructed at Cammell Laird, including HMS Thetis, HMS Rodney and HMS Ark Royal
- A full set of local newspapers that were printed during the War.
Find out more by emailing email@example.com