Waterford Harbour

Waterford Harbour
Cheekpoint village 1940's

Friday, 26 February 2016

Cheekpoint Regatta 1909

I was lucky enough to have been raised at a time when regattas were a big event in Cheekpoint. Families came from upriver and down, and it was a day of races, fun and camaraderie in the village. Helping out with the organising, I would often hear tales of the older regattas and they brought to my mind a colour, drama and excitement that filled the river before me.

Recently I came across the following news report printed in the Munster Express of the 7th August 1909. My own clarifications to the piece are included in brackets [ ].  Names of boats are italicised. In describing the boat crews; the expressions used at Stroke = stern oar and which others follow, 3 = third thwart, 2 = second thwart and bow = forward thwart.  Cox is giving orders and steering.  Some editing I felt was also required.
The Waterford Steamship Company's river Ferry PS Ida with a crowd of day
trippers heading to an event photo by Andy Kelly 
via Poole Collection posted on Maritime History page

"Cheekpoint Regatta
President-P.M.Power [Pat Power, Landlord at Faithlegg House] JP., D.L. Committee. W.J.Kenny, R.W.Morris, W.F.Peare, H.E.Benner, E.Murphy, Capt. Farrell [Harbour Master], J.B.Wallis, P.Heffernan, J.Heffernan, P.Butler.  Hon. Sec. and Treasurer-C.E. Beames, C.E

This annual event took place on Monday last at the picturesquely situated harbour-side village of Cheekpoint, in magnificent weather. A very interesting programme was arranged, and the attendance was larger than we have seen at any similar re-unions at Cheekpoint.  The Waterford and Duncannon Company's new steamer made two trips to the scene of action, and carried large complements of passengers on each occasion, and the private pleasure launches-including those of George Nolan and Mr. W.E. Peare- also on board a number of the owners friends.  Of the fourteen events numbered on the card three of them fell through for want of entries; but the remainder were well filled, and keenly contested.  Details are appended:-

MV Reaper as a flagboat at Cheekpoint regatta of 1980's
Sailing
Second Class Yawls, not exceeding 26 feet over all.  First prize £4; second, £1; third, 10s.
1st Maid of the Green - William Doherty, Cheekpoint; 2 Kish - James Heffernan, do; 3 The Holy Terror - Pat Heffernan, do.  Maid of the Green eventually proved herself the fastest boat, winning comfortably from Kish with the Holy Terror a good third.

Third Class Yawls, not exceeding 22 feet over all.  First prize, £3; second £1
1st Kate (John Doherty); 2nd Green Wave (Andrew Doherty); 3rd William (Matt Doherty)

Rowing
Ladies' Pair Oared Punt Race (one gentleman allowed to either row or steer) Prize value £3.
1st, Invicta - The Misses Fleming, Great Island and Heffernan (Cox)
2nd, Lily - Mrs Hennebry, Ballinlaw (Stroke) Miss Hennebry, do, (Bow) P. Hennebry (Cox)
3rd, Eily - Mr T.W.Brewer, Waterford (Stroke) Miss McCarthy, do (Bow) AN Other (Cox)
This was a most interesting contest in which four boats competed.

Mary Fleming, Mary Sherlock and a n other from Great Island
with a medal they won in 1913 for rowing
photos courtesy of Mary's grandson Liam Fleming,
Watermen's Four-Oared Gigs not exceeding 25 feet.  First Prize, £4; second, £1; third 10s
1st Exile - James Heffernan (Stroke) Andrew Doherty 3, Jim Doherty 2, James Barry (Bow) W Power (Cox)
2nd Intacta - P.Delahunty (Stroke), P.Sullivan 3, P.Hearne 2, J.Walsh (bow), M.Maher (Cox)
This was a capital race, and both boats were splendidly handled.  On the pull down river against the tide, the boats kept close together but Exile got first round the mark.  She increased her lead slightly on the run up past the flag boat to the upper buoy, and on the race down again to the flag boat had the issue well in hand, eventually winning by four or five lengths.
crew of the Intacta via NLI *
Pair Oared Punts.  (No Coxwain allowed) First Prize £2, second, 10s
1st Osprey (New Ross Boat Club)P.Hawe and T.Sullivan, Blackrock.
2nd Atalanta - J.Delahunty and J.Walsh do.
3rd Invicta - P.Hennebry and Watt Hennebry, Ballinlaw.
The Osprey on the inside station had the advantage of the slack tide, and got best away, but there was little between all three at the lower mark.  Coming back with the tide, however, the Osprey came away and won by three lengths; a couple of lengths separating second and third.

Four Oared Yawls, boats not confined to any length.  First prize £3,; second, £1
1st Success (Passage) -John Nugent (Stroke) Thomas Organ 3, Pat Connors 2, J.Walsh (Bow) M.Veale (Cox)
2nd Salmon (Ballyhack) - P.Barron (Stroke), M.Foley 3, J.J.Whitty 2, J.Slattery (bow), M.Foley (Cox)
The Passage crew pulled off a ding dong race by about two lengths.

Cheekpoint Yawls. First prize, £3, second, £1
1st. Maid of Erin - Pat Mahon (Stroke) Larry Mahon 3, James Nugent 2, James Whitty (bow), M.Mahon (Cox)
2nd, Heron - John Hanlon (Stroke), Mike Walsh 3, P Duffin 2, James Hanlon (Bow) P.Heffernan (cox)
Also competed:- William - Matt Doherty, (Stroke), James Heffernan 3, Philip Hanlon 2, Andrew Doherty (bow), M.Walsh (cox) Won by a couple of lengths, a similar distance separated second and third.

Pair oared Praums[Prong], (no coxswain allowed) 1st Prize £2, 2nd, 10s.
1st - Annie (Ballinlaw) P.Hennebry and M.Walsh
2nd - Wave (Cheekpoint) Jim Brownock and Matt Furlong
3rd - Nellie (Cheekpoint) L.Mahon and P.Mahon
Won by a length and a half, and a couple of lengths between second and third.


Pair oared Praums for boys under 12 years old. 1st Prize £1, 2nd 10s
1st D.Murphy and W.Heffernan, Cheekpoint
2nd Thomas Ferguson and P Curran do
Also competed P.Kennedy and Pat Moran Cheekpoint.  This was a very amusing race and only only the winning boat finished the course, Ferguson and Curran having fowled a yacht on the course

Model Yachts. First Prize £1.
Only two yachts competed, viz, those belonging to Mr.George Nolan Jnr, and Mr. M.E. Shalloe. lower Newtown.  Mr. Shalloe's boat won easily.

Tug-of-war between Four-oared Boats belonging to Ballyhack, Passage and Cheekpoint the latter putting in two crews.  In the first heat the boats competing were Emerald (Ballyhack) - P.Barron, (Stroke) M.Foley 3, J Whitty 2, J.Slattery (bow) J Foley (cox) and Seagull (Passage) P.Hennessy (Stroke) M.Pepper 3, P.Foley 2, J.Newell (bow) M.Burke (cox)  In the second heat the two Cheekpoint crews opposed each other, viz Maid of Erin -P.Mahon (Stroke), L.Mahon 3, James Nugent 2, James Whitty (bow), M.Mahon (cox) and William - James Barry (stroke) James Heffernan 3, Matt Doherty 2, Andrew Doherty (bow) Phil Hanlon (cox)

A restored William under sail with Matt "Mucha" Doherty RIP
Photo courtesy of PJ O'Shea
This was the best contested and most exciting pull of the series. [No detail was given about the contest between the Passage and Ballyhack men in the piece] Maid of Erin eventually got foul of the flag boat, and in the confusion that ensued was pulled over by the crew of the William who thus got the verdict.  The final pull was therefor between the William (Cheekpoint) and the Emerald (Ballyhack), and it was thought that the issue would be well contested.  After about three minutes however, some misunderstanding occurred among the Ballyhack men and they allowed the Cheekpoint men to pull them over almost without any resistance.

The Inshore events which followed were greatly enjoyed by the spectators.  They included greasy pole climbing, duck hunt, swimming contests etc.  Taken all round the sport was very good."


The account above reflects a scene that tallies with the stories I was told as a youngster. In naming the characters, the areas and the boats it underlines that the fact that in the past the river was a vibrant interconnecting entity that brought the villages and the towns on the rivers together in a way that modern society has clearly failed to maintain.  The regattas I experienced were all too fleeting. Insurance, as I recall was a major issue.  In the meantime I feel the rivers have become a sewer for public waste, denuded through national policy of the fishermen, and a struggling entity commercially. However this piece does bring to mind some of the excitement and energy of the parade of sail for the Tall Ships festival of 2005 and 2011. Such events underline the potential and what a wonderful space the harbour is.  

Unfortunately the name of the writer was not included in the piece that I found, if anyone could identify same I'd appreciate it.

* A Poole commission (for a Mr. O'Leary) of a rowing four with coxswain. Possibly captured at the end of the season with the spoils on display. The trophies appear to be displayed on an old sewing machine, and though perhaps not as impressive as previous rowing crews, were no doubt hard-earned! Is it my imagination, or a trick of the slope, but are the two inside oars shorter than those on the outside? via National Library of Ireland twitter page

I publish a blog each Friday.  If you like this piece or have an interest in the local history or maritime heritage of Waterford harbour and environs you can email me at russianside@gmail.com to receive the blog every week.

My Facebook and Twitter pages are more contemporary and reflect not just heritage 
and history but the daily happenings in our beautiful harbour:  
F https://www.facebook.com/whtidesntales  T https://twitter.com/tidesntales





Friday, 19 February 2016

The Prong - curious and unique boat of the Three Rivers

As a child there was many sights that I took for granted in a traditional fishing community such as Cheekpoint.   Sights like men repairing nets, beam trawls laid out on the village green, weir poles at high water mark and timber boats of all shapes and descriptions.  Of the boats, the most curious and interesting was the Prong.  A boat, shaped like a halved bottle and with a hull akin to a barrel, which every fishing family in the village had once owned.
Michael "Spud" Murphy & Chris Doherty rowing
Paddy Doherty's Prong 2005
The uniqueness of the Prong, was that unlike the other boats, it didn't possess a keel.  The lack of this meant that although hard to handle to the inexperienced, it would sit upright when grounded on the typical mud banks on the estuary.  It also allowed the Prong to move on the mud. Essentially the Prong was a boat that could be launched into the river at any time of tide once sitting on a mud bank. This made it ideal in areas upriver from Ballyhack and Passage East and all the way to New Ross on the Barrow and Waterford on the Suir. (Above these the cot reigned supreme).  In uses the Prong was versatile.  It was a fishing boat, a work boat, a transport vessel and used for social outings, and originally came in all manner of sizes.
A Prong in the City early 20th C
via Paul O'Farrell WHG
In the eighties the Prong was a diminishing craft.  As much because of the decrease in men fishing as much probably as men who could repair them.  One man who fished until he retired was Paddy "batty" Doherty who daily went to his eel pots throughout my childhood and it's Paddy launching his Prong from below the lower quay at Cheekpoint that I recall the most.
Via Andy Kelly on Cheekpoint FB site
Animal transportation at Little island early 20th C
Typically the men would walk out through the mud, retrieving the anchor and mooring line as they went.  The Prong was then rocked to break the grip between hull and mud.  This done the bow was turned until it faced the river and then the men, or man in Paddy's case, would sit astride the gunwale near the stern and push off.  The Prong would slide down the mud bank and enter the river with a splash.  The mud was washed off the boots before they were brought aboard and then away to fish.

My gran uncle Willie Moran retired from New York in the late eighties and I still recall that conversation one day between Paddy and my Father on Ryans shore, as Willie effortlessly rowed the Moran Prong up to Moran's Poles with a boat full of driftwood.  "Begod" said Paddy with some respect, "the yanks couldn't take the river out of that man"

Moran's Prong 1950's
I once asked my Father about the origins of the Prong.  He had a tale that the first Prong in the harbour came from a Norwegian sailing ship. The crew were at anchor at Cheekpoint and came in to gather shellfish to eat.  They landed the Prong, and the tide went out, to the amusement of the locals. A crowd gathered to laugh at the Scandinavians, but mouths fell open when the sailors stepped aboard and pushed off to the River.  The value was immediately realised. My Father of course in typical fashion went on to relate how they planned a way to separate the Norwegians from their craft, but he was probably telling me a yarn.  It may all have been, but I like to think there's a grain of truth to it, as there inevitably was in any story he told us.

Paddy Doherty's Prong was patched up by Pat Moran in 2005 as part of a cultural exchange with Newfoundland.  We managed to get two other Prongs to make a launch re-enactment and race which was kindly recorded by my friend Brian Walsh of HiLite TV.  It still gives me a lift to see it, and I would dearly love to see it done again before too long.
A prong in the foreground of this interesting scene SS Rathlin
aground at Little island.  Via Tomas Sullivan W Martitime page
When researching the Prong in 2004 the closest boat internationally that I could find was called a Prame.  Chatham's Dictionary of the Worlds watercraft gives about two pages to boats of the same or similar name. Although Scandinavia is included as a place of origin, so too is Holland, the Baltic, France, and as far as the Balkans.  Most accounts describe a similar boat, although many are clinker built.  Again, in Cheekpoint is an old story that some of the earlier Prongs were clinker built, but were discarded because they made to much noise when fishing at night.  Interestingly, I came across an account of the Cheekpoint Regatta recently in the Munster Express of 14/9/1895 which lists the winners of a Praem race! Of the name used in the area of the Three Sisters, I can only imagine that it is a phonetic derivative of the original.
Blessing of Boats Cheekpoint 1930's, note very large Prong
A booklet I edited in 2004 was referenced and used in the Traditional Boats of Ireland specifically in a section dealing with the Traditional Boats of Waterford Estuary.  In recent times a successful effort was made by Micheal Bance, John Gossip, John Murphy and Peter Mulligans to build a prong. Again Brian Walsh was on hand to record it.  More on the Woodstown Prong building here.  And most recently again, the Connolly family, who inherited Paddy Doherty's prong have started to have the boat restored.  My Uncles, Sonny Doherty, Prong now resides in National Museum of Country Life in Mayo.

Prongs, punts and yawls were a hallmark of Waterford harbour.  They have died out as the uses, and the men who used them, have.  They were culturally significant, if not unique and to loose them from the water is to my mind a heritage loss.  We've now started to realise the value of our churches, graveyards and built environment, Hopefully the value of our fishing communities in the harbour will be too.

I publish a blog each Friday.  If you like this piece or have an interest in the local history or maritime heritage of Waterford harbour and environs you can email me at russianside@gmail.com to receive the blog every week.

My Facebook and Twitter pages are more contemporary and reflect not just heritage 
and history but the daily happenings in our beautiful harbour:  
F https://www.facebook.com/whtidesntales  T https://twitter.com/tidesntales
References:
Mariners Museum.  A Dictionary of the Worlds Watercraft. 2000 Chatham.  London.
Críostóir Mac Carthaigh Ed.  Traditional Boats of Ireland.  2008.  Collins Press.  Cork 


Friday, 12 February 2016

Dunmore U Boat trap - part II

Last week we looked at the story of the sinking of UC-44 in Dunmore East in August of 1917.  This week I wanted to complete the account with a look at what subsequently occurred to the salvaged sub and her crew.

The U boat was thoroughly examined and the design and features noted.  Once completed, some have said that she was towed upriver and used as a foundation in a breakwater in Duncannon. Stokes however has a different account, and perhaps this is where the confusion lies.  Her engine apparently lay in a garage in Duncannon for years afterwards, and rusted and worn, was dumped into a new breakwater. (Stoke: p193)

Salvage operation at Dunmore via Paul O'Farrell
on the Waterford Maritime History page
Other accounts say that initially she was taken out of the harbour and dropped back to the ocean floor. There is further speculation that the wreck was depth charged or in some other way broken up and dispersed.  Either way, there appears to be no known wrecksite.  However, it was not until 2011 that her sister UC-42 was re-discovered lying intact outside Cork harbour, is it possible UC-44 remains to be re-discovered.
An intact mine being unloaded (1 of 9 remaining aboard) note Dunmore
Lighthouse to the left.  via Paul O'Farrell on the Waterford Maritime History page

Some mementos still exists of the U boat however.  For example this piece from USA shows how important the event was and to the Americans who were there to assist aboard the USS Melvile.  And they also have memento in the Imperial War Museum in London.  I wonder are there any still remaining in Dunmore, Duncannon or elsewhere?
An inscribed memento of the event via the Imperial War  Museum
link above, passed on to me by James Doherty
Although the U boat sank, at least 3 of her crew, the Captain, Tebbenjoahnnes, and two engine room staff; Richter and Fahnster, escaped.  When the explosion happened they were in the conning tower, and were separated from the main craft.  Their escape necessitated them opening the outer hatch of the conning tower and a swim to the surface that lay 90 feet above.  All three broke the surface together, but eventually they drifted apart and as we saw last week the commander, Tebbenjoahnnes, was rescued when three Dunmore East fishermen came to the rescue. (McElwee pp 183-9)

Tebbenjoahnnes was cared for in Dunmore overnight, but next day journeyed on to Waterford and then Cork and from there to Dublin for the short sea journey to Holyhead and subsequently to London for interrogation and life as a POW.  (Ibid). The actual telegram and other correspondence can be viewed online!  Stokes relates an interesting anecdote about  Tebbenjoahnnes' journey.  He boarded the RMS Leinster under escort for the trip across the Irish Sea.  He was sitting in the saloon with a British officer having a drink, when Captain Birch, the ships captain, approached the party and remonstrated with them.  Captain Birch stated that he would clap them both in irons if the German was not immediately confined.  Tebbenjohannes was led to his cabin, and there he sat out the remainder of the journey, apparently in an unlocked and unguarded cabin, while his escort went back to the saloon. He'd given his word not to try and escape! (Stokes p.198)  The RMS Leinster would be sink following a U Boat attack in October 1918 and the good Captain along with 500 other souls would die.  (Hutchinson: pp 77-84)

His "interrogation" in London seems to have been a conversation, at least when you read the actual report.  He gives a good description of the event including his position; 52 07' N - 06 59' W, fixed with Hook light and Dunmore prior to laying mines.  He also gives a list of the crew but this seems to be incomplete.  There is a short piece online looking for further information on him, which suggests that he went into banking after the war, and in WWII played a role with the German Navy. It appears he was still alive in the early 1960's, but nothing else seems to be known.

Of his fellow crew mates, less is known unfortunately.  Richter's corpse washed up on Wexford shore in the following weeks and was buried in Duncannon.  It was re-interred after the war to the German Military Cemetery at Glencree Co Wicklow.  Bahnster was the name given in several sources as the other man.  However I'd like to set the record straight on this, his surname was Fahnster.  Its a typical name of Northern Germany, which was revealed to me by a German friend, Nicki Kenny. Joahnn Fahnster's body was not recorded as ever being found, as far as I can see.

UC-44 had 30 men aboard on the night that she sank.  Having traced three we still have twentyseven souls unaccounted for.  There is a thread online claiming that 19 bodies were contained in the submarine when she reached Dunmore, undoubtedly the others would have washed out of the damaged hull. The reference for this claim is cited as Robert Grants book the U Boat Hunters. Some claim that in line with Naval policy, they were taken out and buried at sea.  It has been speculated that to inter so many in a cemetery on land would draw attention to the fact that the U-boat had been salvaged and thus loose an advantage to the Germans. (Stokes: p.192-3).  Many accounts don't even mention the crew, their average age being 20!

Sunrise at Dunmore East last Sunday morning
Personally I think it is timely that the event be remembered.  As someone who has lost a brother, an uncle and friends to drowning, it strikes me as sad not to have some testament of these sailors death. Whatever we may feel about the U boats and the destruction that they caused and lives that they shattered in Waterford, her harbour and beyond, they were still brave men, doing what they were ordered to, as was their duty.  

Maybe by not knowing these men makes it easier to forget them,  Well thanks to Nicki, who I have already mentioned I can at least reverse that small omission. The names and ranks of those lost are listed at the following link and below.  With the anniversary coming up next year, we may have an opportunity to remember this event, and deepen our understanding of our harbours history and heritage.

Rank                Surname               Christian name
Matrose
BARTZ
John.
Ltnt.z.S.d.Res.
BENDLER
Wilhelm
O.Masch.Mt.
BIENERT
Fritz
Heizer
BORGWALDT
K:
Btsm.Mt.d.Res.
BÖTTCHER
A.
O.Matrose
BÜRGER
O.
Masch.Anw.
CLASEN
H.
Ob.Matrose
DÜSING
August
Ob.Masch.Mt.
FAHNSTER
Johann
Heizer
FEHRLE
Erwin
F.T.Gast
GIESENHAGEN
K.
T.Heizer
GOLOMBOWSKI
-
U.Maat
HEUER
Otto
Ob.Btsm.Mt.
HORAND
Hans
Matrose
IDSELIS
Michael
Heizer
KERSTEN
Heinrich
Masch.T.Mt.
KLEIN
Karl
F.T.O.Gast
KRÄMER
A.
O.Masch.Mt.
LEHMANN
R.
Masch.Mt.
MÜLLER
Heye D.
Ob.Btsm.Mt.
PABSCH
J.
Masch.Anw.
RICHTER
W.
Matrose
ROTTSCHALK
Walter
Masch.Mt.
RÖSLER
P.
Ob.Heizer
SCHICKENDANZ
W.
Steuermann
SCHULTER
J.
Masch.Mt.
SCHMITZ
F.
Mt.Ing.O.Asp.
SEIFARTH
Helmut
Matrose
ZIELOSKO
Emanuel

I publish a blog each Friday.  If you like this piece or have an interest in local history, heritage, Waterford harbour and environs you can email me to request to be added to my email list russianside@gmail.com.  Other ways to connect are:
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Thanks to Nicki Kenny and her husband Mick for assisting me with the German research this week. Also to James Doherty for allowing me to wreck his head and to Paul O' Farrell for some of the images.

Here's a great link to a blog post by Roy Stokes on UC 44 and others, most of which is similar to what os contained in his book referenced below.http://lugnad.ie/flanders-u-boat-alley/

Another interesting blog post highlighting the sinking and a memento sculpted from the starboard propeller to the inventor of the depth charge Herbert Taylor:
http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/heritage/man-who-invented-the-depth-charge-1-7199079

References:
Hutchinson. S.  Beware the Coast of Ireland.  2013.  Wordwell. Dublin
McElwee. R. The last voyages of the Waterford steamers. date unknown. The Book Centre Waterford
Stokes. R.  Between the tides; Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast.  2015. Amberly.  Gloucestershire.


I publish a blog each Friday.  If you like this piece or have an interest in the local history or maritime heritage of Waterford harbour and environs you can email me at russianside@gmail.com to receive the blog every week.

My Facebook and Twitter pages are more contemporary and reflect not just heritage 
and history but the daily happenings in our beautiful harbour:  

F https://www.facebook.com/whtidesntales  T https://twitter.com/tidesntales

Friday, 5 February 2016

The Dunmore East U-Boat trap

I was a youngster when I first heard the tale of UC-44, a German U-Boat that sunk when she struck her own mine and was salvaged and brought back to Dunmore East. There her design and fighting capabilities yielded invaluable information to tackling the U-Boat threat. It was only over Christmas that I came to realise the true back story to the affair, filled with intrigue, subterfuge and probably a lot of luck. For UC-44 was lured to Dunmore with the express purpose of being captured and the outcome played a role in an allied victory of the First World War.

In July of 1917 UC-42 deployed mines in Waterford harbour aimed at interrupting the flow of provisions out of Ireland to the allied side. Usually this meant that mine sweepers were deployed and the port access cleared. However, not this time. This time the admiralty or at least those in control of the western Atlantic approaches based at Queenstown (now Cobh) had other ideas.

Dunmore East lighthouse in the background as sub lay alongside the harbour
photo accessed from WHG and uploaded by Jim O'Mara in July 2013 
The losses being endured by the allies to U-Boats were steadily increasing. Resources were stretched, and the Admiralty seemed more content on maintaining a blockade of Germany than protecting those ships supplying the allies. Admiral Bayly and his team at Queenstown were fighting a losing battle despite the setting up of an anti-submarine division in December 1916, the introduction of Q ships, airships and the added resources gained when America joined the war in April 1917. American ships arrived at Cobh in May and were on patrol next day. The Navy needed all the help they could get and so the intelligence value of an intact sub was considered a priority.

So rather than clear the identified minefield to Waterford harbour a tactical decision was taken. The harbour was closed for two weeks, while a sham sweep by minesweepers was conducted. (This was in case spies were watching, or indeed U Boats). After two weeks the admiralty sent a coded signal to say Waterford was cleared and opened the harbour. Both sides had already cracked each other’s codes, and both sides seem to have been aware of such. (Nolan: pp232-4)

The German navy ordered UC-44, under the command of Kapitanleutnant Kurt Tebbenjoahnnes to sea on July 31st with orders to deploy 9 of her 18 mines in Waterford to replace those that had been "cleared" and the rest were designated for Cork harbour. She arrived off Dunmore on Saturday 4th August and surfaced at about midnight on a beautiful starlight night. The mines were laid while running underwater. While checking the boats position in the conning tower, to plot his course for Queenstown, he heard and felt a loud explosion and his boat lurched downwards. (McElwee pp 183- 189)

Tebbenjoahnnes found himself on the bottom of Waterford harbour with at least two other men, separated from the rest of the crew. Entombed and having failed to contact anyone in the main body of the submarine, they made the decision to try for the surface. Miraculously Tebbenjoahnnes was pulled from the water later that morning by three Dunmore East fishermen, Jack McGrath and two brothers Tom & Patsy Power, who had rowed out on hearing the explosion. Tebbenjoahnnes was cared for in the home of a Mrs Chester and was seen to by a Mr Austin Farrell. Later that morning he began his journey to London and life as a POW. (Ibid)

Meanwhile Admiral Bayly ordered a salvage operation to be commenced and it was initiated three days later under Lieutenant Commander Davis. Divers (tin openers) were deployed, and entered the sub to bring up the U Boats papers which were to prove explosive in themselves. It was decided to lift UC-44 to the surface and then to Dunmore. The strategy employed was basic, if complicated given that she was 90 feet down. Cables were dropped from a surface vessel, brought under the sub and then brought back to the surface. At low tide, the cables were secured to the decks of two ships and when the tide rose, so did the submarine. Once the sub was sufficiently off the bottom, the salvage vessels moved towards Dunmore. In all it took twenty lifts and as a consequence of bad weather it would be September 25th before they reached harbour. (McElwee pp189-191)

UC-44 lying at the quayside at Dunmore September 2017
accessed from: http://www.warrelics.eu/forum/imperial-
germany-austro-hungary/german-u-boat-photos-postcards-156303/
The admiralty learned much about the design and capabilities of the submarine and they were keenly interested in the rescued mines and the deployment system. However it was the log books and other papers which arguably proved the most value. The log proved incontrovertibly what many had suspected but which was denied by senior naval personnel. It highlighted how easy it was for Tebbenjoahnnes and other U Boat commanders to avoid detection and slip through the existing protection around Britain. (Nolan: p235) Such information coupled with the with the rates of shipping losses highlighted that Britain and her allies were at risk of losing the war unless the U Boat menace was finally dealt with.

Macintyre (1965) explains the failure to grasp the U-boat menace "...submariners...comprised a breed apart" They suffered "...contemptuous refusal of senior officers and their contemporaries in surface warships to take them seriously." This attitude created a "...mental inertia or lack of imagination of the great majority making for an obstinate conservatism" (Macintyre p 20). Some have claimed that the retrieval of UC-44 actually turned the war for the allies. What is probably true at least is that it helped in the continuing shift in attitudes in naval strategy and personnel, and arguably contributing to the removal of Admiral Jellico as commander of the navy, More ships and resources were provided to tackling the issue. The Dover barrage including 9,600 mines was completed and finally the convoy system was introduced. 

An enduring mystery of UC-44 was the notion that she was sunk by her own mine. There are many written accounts, both in books and online that suggest several scenarios. The majority believed for years that it was her own mine that sunk the ship. However, Nolan (2009) speculates that it may have been a casualty of the mines originally laid by UC-42, and as such a casualty of the trap created by the allies. More recently Stokes (2015) speculates that both UC-44 and UC-42, which struck her own mine in Cork Harbour later in 1917, were victims of sabotage, and that the deployment mechanism, or the mines themselves may have been tampered with by British agents operating in the German Naval dockyards. I'd imagine that we will never know for certain. 


My thanks to Michael Farrell of the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society for providing the names of the Power brothers of Dunmore mentioned above.  And to Ray Mcgrah for the name of his father also mentioned.

Macintyre. D. Fighting under the sea.  1965.  Evan Brothers Ltd. London.
McElwee. R. The last voyages of the Waterford steamers. date unknown. The Book Centre Waterford
McShane. M.  Neutral Shores.  Ireland and the battle of the Atlantic.  2012.  Mercier press.  Cork
Nolan et al.  Secret Victory.  Ireland and the War at Sea 1914-18.  2009.  Mercier press.  Cork
Stokes. R.  Between the tides; Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast.  2015. Amberly.  Gloucestershire.


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