After a difficult year, I emerged from the dark tunnel and was bathed in the light of freedom and adventure it was time to explore again, and introduce a new vehicle “Disco Doris” a Discovery 3 HSE.
This years summer trip was a simple trip, start at Westbury Wiltshire and travel to the most northerly point of main land Britain being Dunnet Head in Scotland stopping off at interesting places in between and trying out some backpacking.
So off we set leaving Westbury on Friday 27th July, heading north towards the M4 and yes you guessed it, it was rammed but we were pleased when we joined the M5 north and it was pretty clear of traffic so with renewed vigour first stop Liverpool.
Arriving in Birkenhead quite late we managed to get a room at a Premier inn in the Wirral, we were lucky to get a room due to the Chester races being on and Gay Pride in Liverpool. After a goodnights sleep first stop U-534 German WW2 submarine exhibition, we parked up and I realised I had no change for the parking meter, we located a petrol station a stones throw away with a cash machine, parking up I ran over to the cash machine to draw some money out my daughter joined me, I had asked to stay in car, she said I have locked the car……with the keys in the ignition and the engine running, OH NO with luck I’m in the RAC and they got us back in the car and we were able to get back to U-534.
On 5 May 1945, the U-534 was 2 nautical miles (3.7 km) north of the 56th parallel, and Nollau decided to form a convoy with two Type XXI U-boats, the U-3523 and U-3503, and continue sailing north on the surface of the Kattegat sea in an area too shallow for crash diving, when two British RAF Liberator aircraft attacked (G/86 George from Tain and E/547 Edward from Leuchars). The crew managed to shoot one bomber down, and nine depth charges from the bombing runs missed, but then the boat received a direct hit by a depth charge from G/86. The U-534 began to take on water as a result of the damage to her aft section by the engine rooms, and sank north-east of Anholt. The shot-down Liberator crashed 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) away, and all on board the plane were lost.
The U-534 had aboard a crew of 52 men; all escaped the sub, and 49 survived to be rescued. Five were trapped in the torpedo room as she began to sink, but they managed to escape through the torpedo loading hatch once the boat had settled on the sea bed. They planned their escape the way that they had been trained, exiting through the forward torpedo hatch once the U-534 had settled on the seabed and swimming to the surface from a depth of 67 metres (220 ft). One of them, 17-year-old radio operator, Josef Neudorfer, failed to exhale as he was surfacing and died from damage to his lungs. The other deaths were by exposure.
The U-534 lay on the sea bed for nearly 41 years, until she was discovered in 1986 by a Danish wreck hunter, Aage Jensen. Shortly afterwards, the wreck hunters’ group contacted Danish media millionaire Karsten Ree, who sponsored raising of the submarine, as rumours of Nazi gold caused intense media coverage. However, the ship turned out to contain nothing unusual.
The U-534 was raised to the surface on 23 August 1993 by the Dutch salvage company Smit Tak .
Transported to Birkenhead, England, in 1996, the vessel formed part of the Warship Preservation Trust’s collection at Birkenhead Docks until the museum closed on 5 February 2006. On 27 June 2007, the Merseytravel transit authority announced that it had acquired the submarine to display at the Woodside Ferry Terminal.
For technical reasons and to facilitate economical transportation to its new site, the vessel was cut into five sections, two of which were subsequently re-joined. It is now displayed in sectioned form to allow visitors better visibility without entering the U-boat.
Merseytravel said that preserving the hull intact would have created prohibitive transport costs. Engineers began a month-long operation to divide the U-534, using a diamond wire cutter, on 6 February 2008. On 10 March 2008, the sections, each weighing as much as 240 tonnes, were transported over several days by floating crane.
The U-Boat Story exhibition opened on 10 February 2009.
Next time under the Mersey to Anfield