Thursday, 21 November 2013

Nazi U-boat sunk during Second World War is discovered by divers off of Indonesia - complete with skeletons of its doomed crew

Divers off the coast of Indonesia have discovered the wreck of a WW2 Nazi U-Boat - complete with the skeletons of its lost crew aboard.

Initial researches show it to be U-168, a hunter-killer of the German 'Kriegsmarine' which claimed several Allied vessels before it was sent to a watery grave by torpedoes in 1944.

A team found the wreck, which contains at least 17 skeletons, north of Java earlier this month after a tip-off from local divers.

'This is the first time we have found a foreign submarine from the war in our waters,' said Bambang Budi Utomo, head of the research team at the National Archaeology Centre which found the vessel.

'This is an extraordinary find that will certainly provide useful information about what took place in the Java Sea during World War II.'

As well as the human skeletons, dinner plates bearing swastikas, batteries, binoculars and a bottle of hair oil were pulled from the wreck.

He said further tests were being carried out on the objects to confirm the submarine was indeed 'U-168'. The sub was a type IX C/40 and was launched in March 1942.

Captain Helmuth Pich was its commander on four missions for the Third Reich. He survived with 26 other crew hands when it was lost on October 5 1944 under fire from a Dutch submarine. Some 23 men died in the attack.

Captain Pich lived until 1997 when he died at the age of 83.

In its three hunting expeditions for Allied vessels in wartime, his sub sunk one British, one Norwegian and one Greek freighter. Bambang Budi Utomo, head of the research team at the National Archaeology Centre that found the vessel, said it was unlikely the wreck, 60 miles (100 kilometres) northeast of Karimunjawa island, would be lifted from the seabed any time soon because of its sheer size and the cost involved.

U-168 was part of the Monsun U-Boats which were a group of vessels sent away from the German empire to attack allied ships along trade routes.

Japan occupied Indonesia during World War II, which was then still known by its colonial name of the Dutch East Indies. Germany and Japan were Allies until the end in WW2.

The Monsun U-Boats operated out of Penang, Jakarta and Sabang between 1943 and 1945. These U-Boats were sent to be based in the Far East stations provided by the Japanese but out of the 14 sent only four made it back to Europe.

It sailed from France in July 1943 and arrived at Penang in November of the same year.

U-168 was sunk at 1.30am on 6 October, 1944 in the Java Sea, by a torpedo from the Dutch submarine HrMs Zwaardvisch leaving 23 dead and 27 survivors.

Thursday 21 November 2013


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