The Crew Of This WW1 Sub Claimed They Were Attacked By A Sea Monster – Now The Wreck Has Been Found

While laying an undersea power line, Scottish engineers discovered a World War I German submarine on the sea floor. Experts believe that the wreck is UB-85, a German U-boat which the rescued crew claimed was attacked and sunk by a sea monster.

It’s a story that has been repeated through the years, but one historian isn’t buying it.  He believes the story owes more to stories told and retold in the 20s than to the facts of the war. Innes McCartney, a historian and marine archaeologist at Bournemouth University, believes credulous journalists are to blame for spreading the story.

The story goes like this: Captain Günther Krech and his crew were captured by the crew of the British warship HMS Coreopsis on April 30, 1918.  When questioned, the captain said that their submarine was no longer able to dive because a beast jumped out of the water and damaged their vessel.  He described a monster with horns, small eyes that were set deep in his head, and masses of monstrous teeth.  When the creature climbed up the side of the ship, its weight pulled the boat onto its side.  The crew was forced to surrender to the British.  They abandoned ship and scuttled the boat.

The wreck was located off the coast of Stranraer in South-West Scotland, 104 meters under water. Energy company Scottish Power was working on the Western Link, an underwater power cable which will be the longest in the world at 239 miles (385km).  It’s a £1 billion project being undertaken along with National Grid, which will bring renewable energy from Scotland south to England and Wales.

Innes McCartney from Bournemouth University says that the sonar scans he has seen match the description of UB-85.  However, the scans could possibly be of her sister ship, UB-22.  It lies halfway between the recorded locations of each shipwreck.  Other than the numbers painted on the ships, there was no way to tell them apart.  McCartney said that he couldn’t imagine anyone would want to undertake the dive to go down and get more details to verify.

There are a number of sea monster attack stories.  After the war, records were sealed.  People involved with British intelligence wanted to tell their stories of what they experienced at sea but couldn’t tell the true stories.  In spite of the mystery, McCartney believes that the only true sea monsters in World War I were the submarines.

Gary Campbell runs the Official Sightings Record for Loch Ness Monster sightings.  He believes that an actual sea monster did attack the U-boat, The Guardian reported.

According to Campbell, the area where the ship sunk has a history of sea monster sightings. He’s impressed that the monster got involved in the war effort – and without killing anyone.

Peter Roper of Scottish Power is more inclined toward McCartney’s version of the story than Campbell’s.  Still, he’s happy that there have been no monster-related incidents in the Western Link project so far.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE