Author’s Note: As a British person who a) understands the sheer horror of the Nazi German regime – and b) has family members who fought against it – I do not venture into the German historical cultural milieu lightly! Although I have an academic need to ‘research’ Nazi German U-Boat surrenders, I do not feel comfortable discussing this aspect of my personal and national history with the people whose ancestors tried to kill my ancestors for a racist grudge! Still, needs must. I have contacted the German U-Boat Museum based in Cuxhaven, North Germany (should these fascist war-machines be eulogised in this manner?) to see if I could identify the German U-Boat that surrendered to the HMS Beaumaris Castle (FY 992) on May 8th, 1945 – as confirmed independently of one another by two serving Seaman – George Smith and Arthur Gibson. The German Staff Member who answered my enquiry is superficially ‘polite’ but underlyingly ‘disrespectful’. Although he has no grasp of the geography of Scotland, the seas around Scotland, or the realities of fighting in the seas around Scotland (and beyond) – he reaches the decision that ‘no U-Boat’ surrendered to the HMS Beaumaris Castle (FY 992) and by implication, that my maternal grandfather (Arthur Gibson) and George Smith are at best ‘mistaken’, or at worst’ deliberate ‘liars’! Crucially, although the German U-Boat Museum behaves as if it contains the most complete and up to date records about German U-Boats – the reality is that Nazi Germany was completely destroyed during the end of WWII and a question must remain as to the ‘veracity’ of the data held by the German U-Boat Museum. ACW (17.11.2021)
Dear U-Boat Archive
I am researching an incident reported by a number of British sailors that is believed to have happened during the late afternoon (around 1600hrs-1700hrs) on May 8th, 1945 – the day of Nazi Germany’s surrender. It involves an ‘unknown’ German U-Boat submerging from the depths of the North Atlantic Sea near the Butt of Lewes (situated in the outer Hebrides) and hoisting the ‘black flag’ of surrender. The nearby Royal Navy Minesweeper – the HMS Beaumaris Castle (FY 993) – is said to have accepted the surrender and to have escorted this U-Boat into a safe dock at Loch Ewe.
The U-Boat would had to have travelled around 138 miles South by Southeast to reach the Loch Ewe area. The problem is that the log-book for the HMS Beaumaris Castle (FY 993) is now ‘missing’ and all the former sailors have passed away! As I am one of the descendants of these sailors, I am attempting to ascertain the genuine facts of the matter and am searching for a U-Boat registration number that can be verified as belonging to this ‘U-Boat’ in question. Obviously, I do not expect you to have any of the answers, but I would be very interested to read any comments you might wish to make,
Thank you for your time in this matter.
Dear Mr. Wyles,
Thank you for your interest in the German U-boat Museum and your inquiry from 6th November 2021 concerning the identification of a U-boat that surrendered to the Royal Navy minesweeper HMS Baumaris Castle on 8th May 1945. We are always very delighted when relatives of submariners or their former opponents from WWII contact us. To help them with information has been the noblest task of our U-boat Archive since its foundation. Therefore it is also a great pleasure for us to try to help you with information about the U-boat in question.
According to our data 48 U-boats surrendered to the Allies from sea at the end of the war between 6th and 14th May (not taking U 530 and U 977 into account, which both sailed to Argentina). Of these only one U-boat surrendered on 8th May 1945 (U 1198 in Cuxhaven). 21 of these 48 U-boats surrendered at British ports: 17 at Loch Eriboll, two at Portland, one at Dundee and one at Weymouth. We have no records of a U-boat that surrendered at Loch Ewe.
We are aware, that Lawrence Paterson uses the story of George A. Smith for his book “Black Flag: The Surrender of Germany’s U-Boat Forces on Land and at Sea” and identifies the U-boat as U 1009. However, according to our records this U-boat surrendered on 10th May at Loch Eriboll. It was the first U-boat to surrender at a British port after the war had ended. I have looked through our U-boat files of the 21 U-boats that surrendered at british ports, but did not find any hint towards any of them possibly being the U-boat that surrendered to the HMS Baumaris Castle.
Thus I am very sorry to inform you, that we are not able to identify the U-boat that allegedly surrendered to the Baumaris Castle. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us again.
German U-boat Museum
Lange Strasse 1
Dear Kai Steenbuck
Thank you for so much interesting and important data!
The U-Boat in question surrendered near the Butt of Lewes around 137 miles Northwest of Loch Ewe – but was taken into port at Loch Ewe.
This article states 33 U-Boats surrendered at Eriboll – do think this is wrong?
Dear Mr. Wyles,
The article says that „between May 10 and May 25, 1945, the loch became the scene of the biggest surrender of German submarines. Thirty-three U-boat commanders gave up their vessels”. I do not think that this statement is correct. While there indeed were 33 U-boats in Loch Eriboll from 25th May 1945 on, not all of them had actually surrendered there. 16 of these U-boats previously had surrendered in Norway (mainly in Narvik on 9th May 1945) and then were transferred to Loch Eriboll between 16th and 19th May 1945. Of these U-boats of course none comes into question of being the U-boat, that surrendered to the Baumaris Castle.
Thank you very much for sending us the link to paintings of the Royal Navy Patrol Service. These are incredible and interesting to watch.
Dear Kai Steenbuck
George Smith (1924-2016) was the Telegraphist aboard the HMS Beaumaris Castle (FY 992) and therefore, ‘knew’ everything that was going-on between Command Headquarters and his Skipper (as evident from his swift rise in the ranks). This is why I feel the need to defend his honour. Just as the Royal Navy entrusted him with the lives of the men serving aboard of the HMS Beaumaris Castle (FY 992) – I also trust him in this matter. It is us – the surviving descendants of the Veterans – who must try harder in support of our Veterans and the maintenance of their respectful memory. He served alongside my maternal grandfather – Seaman Arthur Gibson (1911-1997) – whose War Record (1942-1946) I acquired from the MOD but there are ‘gaps’ in the narrative. My grandfather died in 1997 but when I was a child he used to tell us stories about his time in the Royal Navy during WWII. We learned about the retrieval of allied dead bodies from a mountain top following a plane crash – and the surrendering of a German U-Boat. I mentioned these stories to a researcher around 2008 and he eventually introduced me to George Smith – the only other person he had heard exactly the same stories from (prior to this I had never heard of George Smith). Recently, I have located the still living wife of Seaman John Youngman (who served on the HMS Beaumaris Castle [FY 992]) – she is now 92-years-old – even though John died in a road accident in the 1970s. Whether she knows anything from WWII only time will tell. I suspect George Smith might have misremembered the exact area or place of surrender. As the log-book of the Beaumaris Castle is missing this is a continued mystery. Whatever the case, I have a large number of hand-written letters in my possession sent to me by George Smith containing all sorts of interesting background information about his service during WWII. The Baumaris Castle was the lead-ship of a five-ship flotilla in-charge of the diplomatic-bag (conveying orders to all the ships in theatre) whose crew was tasked with carrying-out all kinds of unusual ‘duties’. Your research has helped me take one more step toward the truth!
Dear Kai Steenbuck
Having a) provided me with your ‘records’ of U-Boats surrendering in the north Atlantic, and b) and your ‘understanding’ of these events premised upon your ‘records’ – as an academic – I am required to ascertain the veracity of the ‘records’ you hold.
Given that Nazi Germany was ‘devastated’ toward the end of the war, and that the communications lines (external), paper records, communications (internal), military (and civil) personnel and the buildings (which housed such records) were all deliberately ‘destroyed’ by retreating Nazi German Forces, and inadvertently targeted by advancing allied troops (East and West) – what would you say is the likelihood of the ‘accuracy’ and ‘completeness’ of the U-Boat records you hold – given your implied ‘independence’ of source from the corresponding Allied Records. I note that numbers and locations vary within English and German sources from those which you have presented to me.