A project to investigate the locations of eleven known submarine losses that occurred in the territorial waters around the British Isles during WWI is currently being undertaken by Historic England.
One such vessel, the German U-8, sank over 100 years ago in the English Channel after it was destroyed by gunfire from the destroyer HMS Maori. In March 1915, U-8 had become tangled in fishing nets off Folkestone and after being depth charged by the destroyer HMS Gurkha it was forced to the surface. The crew was captured and held at Dover Castle overlooking the famous white cliffs.
This incident was a success for the Royal Navy’s Dover Patrol. This exercise was designed to stop the free passage of German U-Boats through the English Channel to the Atlantic Ocean.
A Maritime Designation Adviser for Historic England, Mark Dunkley, said: “The U-8’s design and construction complete with six torpedoes, marked a turning point in submarine development. The Type U-5 boats were superior to Allied submarines both in fighting ability and seaworthiness. The U-8 sits upright on the seabed in excellent condition, and you can still see its periscopes, radio masts attached.”
In 2015, one of the U-8’s propellers was removed and presented to the German Navy as a gesture of good will, but the remainder of the wreck has been accorded protected status by the British Government. This means that there will be no salvage permitted on the wreck, and it is hoped that not salvaging the wreck will ensure that the hull of the vessel, which is now heavily rusted, will be preserved.