Andrew James John Mackenzie
an historiography
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U-1206; sunk by ‘dump-charge’

One of the more unusual incidences of the Second World War allegedly occurred on 14 April 1945, 24 days before hostilities ended. Whilst German submarine, U-1206, was cruising at a depth of 200 feet (61 m), 8 nautical miles (15 km; 9.2 mi) off Peterhead, Scotland, where, owing to misuse of the new toilet facilities, the submarine suffered water ingress, flooding the vessel.

According to the Commander's official report, while in the engine room helping to repair one of the diesel engines, he was informed that a malfunction involving the toilet caused a leak in the forward section. The leak flooded the submarine's batteries (located beneath the toilet) which caused the toilets to release chlorine gas. This forced the submarine to surface in full view of patrolling RAF aircraft.


Following a bombing raid, the Commander had no alternative but to scuttle the submarine. One sailor died in the attack, three sailors were drowned in the heavy seas after abandoning the vessel and 46 were captured soon thereafter. Although the commander recorded the vessel’s location at 57°24′N 01°37′W, the wreck was not successfully located.


This fate is disputed, however. When undertaking survey work in the mid 1970s, the remains of U-1206 were found at 57°21′N 01°39′W in approximately 70 m (230 ft) of water. When discovered, it was suggested that the wreck might have been sunk owing to contact damage following a collision with an existing wreck. Although the facts are varied it certainly makes for a more unusual maritime mystery!




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