At the end of 2006 the MCA released information on relating to 2 U boats, these consists of sonar images and accurate survey details on the sites.
Based on this work Kevin Heath and Michael Lowery had been doing intensive research into the possible losses in the northern barrage. Kevin and Michael had come to the conclusion that the most likely candidates were the U102 and U92, by size, armament and position in relation to the September minefield.
Commander Beitzen was commander of U 102 when she was lost, he was the U Boat Captain who when in charge of U 75 laid the mine that sank HMS Hampshire (Picture courtesy of Mr Kevin Heath Wreck researcher)
AND HER CREW
With Thanks to Matthias Löhr, Berlin, he is the great nephew of one of the crew
Since 2003 I am interested in the destiny of my great great uncle Alfred Gerke, who was U-Boat-Man in the Great War . He is sitting in the middle of the first row. So at least one of the men has got a face and a story. Story of Matthias Lohr
The above picture is the multi beam image (courtesy MCA) with a plan of the U 102 overlaid(Kevin Heath and Michael Lowery). In all 5 U Boats that were lost in the Northern Barrage, only 3 of these in "Area B" (The others being U 92 UB 127), This is the only plan that fits this image.
What was needed now was divers that were capable of doing these dives and also a little bit of luck the right weather conditions.
On the Tuesday the 5th June 2007 we were fortunate to have the good weather and a willing group of divers to be the first to examine the first of these wreck which was the U102: The divers which were led by Paul Jackson, were Leigh Grubb, Paul Bell and Paul Hassett
Story by Leigh Grubb
Yet again Andy was spot on with his shot landing just feet from the conning tower. As we descended the water was crystal the sub was upright and almost intact. At first myself and Paul Bell swam to the stern, and after what seemed like ages we pass the other Paul’s studying a very long gun. We saw the propeller, turned and swam back towards the bow, about 15 meters in front of the conning tower we found a larger but shorter gun which later we learned was her 105mm main armament. Paul had a look around the seabed and saw a number of ready use ammunition canisters we spent most of the dive around this area and the conning tower. We would have liked to spend more time but had been agreed prior to the dive that we would run the same run times as the open circuit pair. While doing this dive I couldn’t help thinking of the young men inside, very much like my first dive on the U297, I was aware that this is a mass grave.
Descending the shot into the darkness we were full of excitement and anticipation of what lay below. On reaching the bottom the sub illuminated in our torch beams we were able to pick out the conning tower and one of her guns. With our hearts racing the dive was over to soon.
The Northern Barrage
In 1918 it was decided to blockage the Atlantic by laying a
Wall of mines from Orkney to Norway, this wall would be known at the Northern Barrage and was planned to have 200,000 mines by the end of 1918. The ‘’Barrage’’ would consist of three ‘’Areas’’ known as A,B and C.
The two U boats are in what’s known as Area B. The first mines were laid here at the beginning of September 1918.
The field that the two U boats are in consisted of 1920 mines placed there on the 7th September 1918. U 102 is to the North and hit while homeward bound and the U 92 on the southern edge whilst outward bound to her patrol ground.
UB 127 was listed also as lost in Area B but no trace of her at the western end was found by the MCA 2006 survey
Click here: Heikendorf-Möltenort (U-Boot-Ehrenmal), Kreis Plön, Schleswig-Holstein - U-102, 1. Weltkrieg
© Scapa Flow Charters 2007 unless otherwise stated
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