Charles Ball, of the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency, hands over U-8's propeller to Christian Clausing, commanding officer of the German frigate, Karlsruhe (Photo courtesy of BAE Systems/Maritime & Coastguard Agency)

German U-boat propeller returns home after 100 years

Posted on on 26 June 2015
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A propeller from a U-Boat sunk off the English coast in 1915 has been returned to the German Navy in a gesture of reconciliation marking the Centenary of the First World War

The handover took place during a visit to Portsmouth naval base by the German frigate Karlsruhe

U-8 sank five British merchant ships before she was lost in the Channel in March 1915, soon after the intensification of Germany's submarine campaign.

The U-boat was caught in nets and came under fire from two Royal Navy destroyers after being forced to surface.

All four officers and 25 crew were taken prisoner with no loss of life.

The propellor, recovered during an investigation into items taken from wrecks, was handed back by the UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) at a ceremony on the Karlsruhe.

Charles Ball, Head of Coastal operations at the MCA, said: "This shows how times have changed. We can transfer this historical artefact back to our friends, not just in commemoration of the sacrifices suffered by both nations, but also in celebration of what we have achieved since then."

German naval attaché Jan Hackstein with U-8's brass propellor  (Photo: BAE Systems/Maritime & Coastguard Agency)

The propellor will be displayed at the German Naval Memorial near Kiel, the port where U-8 was built. A formal handover ceremony is planned on Remembrance Day in November,

Commissioned after the First World War, the imposing  Laboe monument overlooking Kiel Bay now serves as a tribute to all those who died at sea.

Commander Jan Hackstein, Germany's Naval Attaché in the UK, said, "It is a wonderful sign of reconciliation and friendship  between the United Kingdom and Germany that the propeller returns after 100 years.

"Although the German public is still a bit reserved about the armed forces, we see a rising historic interest. 

"The centenary of World War One pushed this interest and today it is very normal that the media is publishing stories, for example on the fate of people during the war.

"So there will be an interest in seeing the propeller and discovering the story of the Kaiser’s U-boat and the crew behind it." 

Sources: Maritime & Coastguard Agency

Images courtesy of BAE Systems/Maritime & Coastguard Agency

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News