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UC 50 & Escape from Boyardville POW camp
Posted by: chrisheal ()
Date: November 08, 2016 06:16PM

As some of you will know, I have been busy following up connections with UC 61 and its commander Georg Gerth. After Gerth stranded UC 61 at Wissant on 26 July 1917, he was captured, interrogated at Calais, and imprisoned at Boyardville officers' camp on the Isle of Oléron (the French claim the camp was mainly for u-boat officers although that seems doubtful as they held very few: UB 26, UC 38 and UC 61). Some time ago I found an unsubstantiated, and possibly fanciful, story that Gerth had made an abortive escape attempt from Boyardville after writing in secret ink to the Flanders Flotilla HQ in Bruges requesting a u-boat to collect him.

I am pleased to share that I have finally found confirmation of this story in French 'secret' papers. I'll write up a full account at another time, but as I check into the details of the account, there are some names about which I would ask forum members for their thoughts / advice.

The French documents say that Gerth's 'secret ink' correspondent at Bruges was Lt Sudigani - surely Lt Günther Suadicani, commander UB 17 until 7 July 1916, with no more u-boat commands after that. One speculates that he was on Flanders Flotilla staff at Bruges where he might well have dealt with messages like this one from Gerth. Suadicani stayed in the Navy – Kapitänleutnant 28/4/1918, Korvettenkapitän 1/4/1927.

Gerth's message was sent in September 1917. The date for the escape was set for the night of 18 January 1918 when Gerth was to signal with a torch for a collapsible boat to be sent for him from a waiting u-boat. It was suggested that the submarine hold station for five days. Gerth was to be accompanied by Lt. Schwedrt-Fege, whom I have yet to track down.

Gerth received a reply. Suadicani included the news that a submarine commander ‘Rudi’ was on his way to the west buoy west of Fort Boyard to get information for a possible repeat escape attempt in February if the first attempt failed. A check on the Flanders Flotilla records suggests only two possibilities: UC 78 and UC 50.

UC 78's KTB has not been found at Freiburg ('lost'), but other records show that the u-boat changed captains 18-19/1/1918 (the first night of the ‘escape’) and, for that, one assumes the boat was in harbour in Bruges.

UC 50 was in the Bay of Biscay at the right time conducting trade warfare after minelaying near the Loire and the Gironde; she sailed there from Zeebrugge on 7 January 1918. Her KTB has no reference to a rescue mission. The commander of UC 50 was Rudolph ‘Rudi’ Seuffer. Seuffer would have been well known to Gerth as ‘Rudi’ for they both received command of their UC boats in the Flanders Flotilla in December 1916.

Messimer's 'Verschollen' says that UC 50 was rammed and depth charged off Dungeness on 4 February 1918 by HMS Zubian while homeward bound on the surface with the loss of all twenty-nine hands. (HMS Zubian being a composite destroyer made of the front end of HMS Zulu and the rear and mid sections of HMS Nubian.)

If it was UC 50 waiting off the Chassiron lighthouse, and if Gerth (and Schwedrt-Fege) had made it aboard instead of being re-captured on the beach, he wouldn't have lived to 1970.

It also seems that there were two other failed escape attempts in similar fashion by Boyardville officer prisoners in May and June 1918.

Any thoughts / disagreements welcome.

Best wishes
Chris

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Subject Written By Posted
UC 50 & Escape from Boyardville POW camp chrisheal 11/08/2016 06:16PM
Re: UC 50 & Escape from Boyardville POW camp Michael Lowrey 11/08/2016 07:36PM
Re: UC 50 & Escape from Boyardville POW camp chrisheal 11/17/2016 10:51AM
Re: UC 50 & Escape from Boyardville POW camp Michael Lowrey 11/17/2016 02:45PM
Re: UC 50 & Escape from Boyardville POW camp chrisheal 11/17/2016 04:19PM
Re: UC 50 & Escape from Boyardville POW camp chrisheal 12/10/2016 09:31AM
Re: UC 50 & Escape from Boyardville POW camp Michael Lowrey 01/02/2017 08:32PM
Re: UC 50 & Escape from Boyardville POW camp chrisheal 01/07/2017 11:31AM
Re: UC 50 & Escape from Boyardville POW camp chrisheal 01/31/2018 07:50PM
Re: UC 50 & Escape from Boyardville POW camp Michael Lowrey 11/08/2016 08:36PM
Re: UC 50 & Escape from Boyardville POW camp chrisheal 11/09/2016 10:36AM


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