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Author Topic: U-boat SM UB-109. Sunk off Folkestone 29th August 1918  (Read 1825 times)

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Offline filmer01

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Re: U-boat SM UB-109. Sunk off Folkestone 29th August 1918
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2018, 14:52:16 »
Many thanks for that, the paper on "The Tin Openers" was really fascinating, especially to someone who is (a) claustrophobic, (b) scared of water and can't swim and (c) previously totally unaware that this took place.
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U-boat SM UB-109. Sunk off Folkestone 29th August 1918
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2018, 18:16:26 »
SM UB-109. German type UB III coastal torpedo attack submarine.
Launched 7th July 1917 at Hamburg. Sunk 1.87 nautical miles SE of Folkestone harbour on the 29th August 1918.

UB-109 was commissioned on the 31st December 1917 and assigned to Flandern 1 Flottilla. Commander Oberleutnant zur See Kurt Ramien.
On the U-boats second patrol, 6th April to 25th April 1918, four ships, three British and one French, were sunk with the loss of twelve lives.

At 01.00hrs on the 27th July 1918 UB-109 left Zeebrugge on its third and final patrol. On the 17th August Ramien sank the British steamship Zinal some 360 miles north-north-east of the Azores with two crew killed. The French steamer Pontet Canet was sunk on the 25th August with the loss of six lives. The U-boats final victim was the Swedish steamer Helge with thirteen lives lost.

Ramien now attempted to return to Zeebrugge via the 'Folkestone Gate' a narrow channel in the Dover mine barrage kept free of mines to allow allied ships to pass.
Unknown to Ramien was the fact that the British had recently added Bragg loops to sections of the barrage. It seems that Ramien went inshore of the 'Folkestone Gate' and was picked up by a bragg loop, then followed on hydrophones. At 04.20hrs on the 29th August the U-boat was again detected by a Bragg loop as it rose to periscope depth. At least one mine, possibly three or four, were then detonated from the shore station.
Badly damaged in the area of the engine room, the U boat sank to the bottom. As the submarine filled with water Ramien and three other men managed to escape from the conning tower, while another five escaped from a forward hatch. Of the nine men who escaped eight survived to be picked up by a British armed trawler. The other 27 crew members all died.
      (Bragg or Indicator loops. Lengths of cable laid on the seabed. The presence of a steel-hulled vessel is indicated by an electro magnetically induced swing of a galvanometer
      at a shore based station. UB-109 was the first U-boat to be sunk with the aid of Bragg loops).

At 10.30hrs that same morning the U-boat was surveyed by Leading Seaman Ernie Black and Able Seaman Tom Clear, two divers on Lt Cdr Damant's secret team of 'Tin openers'. The forward part of the U-boat was found to be intact, but from 20ft aft of the conning tower it was a "shapeless wreck". After clearing away debris, bedding and bodies the divers managed to get into the forward part and officers quarters. The search was completed by early September with much valuable material and information recovered.


UB-109 details

UB-109 off Folkestone Kent: Archaeological report. Historic England. PDF download 6.55 MB.
Details of the U-boats career and loss. Names of crew. Current condition of wreck. Photos at end.
Download from

The "Tin Openers" Myth and Reality: Intelligence from U-boat Wrecks Lost During WW1. Dr. Innes McCartney.


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