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View Full Version : Just come back from a tour of the U534



radsov
10-17-2004, 08:00 AM
[-LONG POST ALERT-]

I was lucky enough yesterday to have a guided tour (inside and out) of U-534. Here's the link on u-boat.net

http://www.uboat.net/boats/u534.htm

This was a Type IXC/40, here's the link to that type;

http://www.uboat.net/types/ixc40.htm

This was a surprise trip from my partner that I knew nothing about, when I found out where we were going in the morning I couldn't believe it.

The experience was fantastic and humbling. I'd never been inside any sub before let alone a u-boat. The guide was a submariner himself and knew a great deal about u-boats. He provided many facts and knew all the answers to my questions. The u-boat was still very much as it had been when it was operation, albeit with a little extra rust after 48 years at the bottom of the sea !

In many parts of the boat (and very visible possibly just after the forward torpedo room, I forget exactly), you could look at the roof which was in perfect condition due to air pockets that had been trapped and remained sealed in for almost half a century. There was a light with it's original bulb and the light switch looked like it would still work. You could touch most of the controls and levers that operated so many years ago. A scarf still hung around the rib of a small wooden locker where it's owner had left it after a cold watch back on May 5th 1945, a coat hanger was hung still upside down, which the guide informed us is still done in subs today to dry socks ! The gearbox to disengage the deisal engines still worked ! Major pipes had been coated in a luminescent paint that still glowed when we turned the interior lights off. They appeared to have thought of everything.

The floor and it's hessian covering was still there (a little worn perhaps in places, mostly due to today's generation walking through the boat.). The galley still had all it's ceramic tiles in place on the floor and not one had lifted - just like they'd been laid yesterday. Cups, plates, tins of food were lying around. Some of the food was obvious booty, amongst the German items were also Spam and Nescafe. Although this doesn't prove this particular boat boarded any ships, they may have been supplied with these items before leaving port. When it left port the war was all but lost and supplies would have been short, they would have took what they could from any source to supply the sub.

Artefacts and items were still being found on this sub even now, we were informed that just 2 days prior to this an electrician working on the sub at the stern found an iron cross between the two tubes right at the back. Which now lay beside a second in the museum next to the U534.

A week earlier we were informed that the cook of U534 had returned to re-visit his old boat, an experience that I'm sure brought back many memories for him. I was told his name but I'm afraid I have forgotten it.

We were also told the story of the mystery surrounding the strange activities of U534. Being called back for dry dock when she was vitally needed at sea, slave labour being used on her whilst in dry dock and that these people were then killed afterwards. This is where the rumours of Nazi Gold enter the U534 story. A stranger boarding her with collar up and hat down, which we were later informed was a top ranking SS officer, the radio operator being Argentinean.... This was a long range sub and perfectly capable of making the journey to Argentina. How much of this part of the story holds true is probably open to debate.

I've taken some photographs, none of the interior I'm afraid, this was forbidden. I will post them here as soon as they are processed and scanned in, unfortunately I've not gone digital yet.

That's it for this post, the guide told us so much and I've only remembered a small amount of what we were told. Without doubt it was a amazing experience, one that should be tinged with sadness and reflection at the loss of young lives on boats similar to this.

Farkitt_
10-17-2004, 08:31 AM
Wow man, thanks for the great post. and the Links, very well posted. cheers!

RedTerex
10-17-2004, 10:14 AM
I too visited U-534 back in 1999. I was amazed at the size of the U-Boat, especialy as it was on brick supports out in the open, not in the water. The bow almost over hangs the road.

Unfortunatley I didnt get to tour inside as there was a lot of work being carried out fixing the conning tower, the original was severly damaged.

I did get to tour the U-534 museum however and many of the atifacts were interesting.

Here is a photo that I took, I had to stand a long long distance back to get it all into shot!
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v463/RedTerex/uboatpix1.jpg

Truly an amazing experience and I will return again in the summer to hopefully have a look inside.

Incidently this link below (not my photo!) shows the buckled plates on the stern of the sub, The huge dent where the whole stern seams pushed up is where the depth charge exploded that was dropped by a liberator while U-534 was still on the surface ! The water rushed in through the buckled, smashed and wholed plates at a rapid rate and the sub had to surface where most of the crew abandoned ship and were later saved.
www.militaryimages.net/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/1615/sort/1/size/medium/cat/518/page/ (http://www.militaryimages.net/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/1615/sort/1/size/medium/cat/518/page/)

radsov
10-17-2004, 10:35 AM
Hopefully I'll have some pics uploaded sometime mid week or so. There were some "interesting" flame cutter cuts performed on the blind side to your photo (I took a photo of them and will explain when I upload). These were doone shortly after it was raised.

You can pre-book your tour and I'd recommend you do so. We didn't but were lucky. They only allow 10 on the tour, there on limited days and only 2 per day. We got the last two places and someone just afterwards was very dissapointed http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif. Despite U-Boat.net quoting 12.50 for the tour, the actual cost is 6 entry (which allows you to tour all the other boats there and HMS Onyx (british submarine - not WII). For an additional 8.50 you can have the submarine tour. Well worth every penny.