Thursday, 30 May, 2024
25October 1939

U-17, the lucky u-boat, runs aground off British coast

On this day, a German u-boat ran aground on Goodwin Sands, one of the most south-easterly points of the British mainland.

U-17 was navigating the Strait of Dover when it was forced to take evasive action to avoid an allied depth charge. In the process, it struck the sandbanks and ran aground. U-17 was not the first u-boat to run aground in this area, so u-boats were subsequently ordered to stop using the Strait of Dover as a deployment route. U-17 was able to return to home base and serve for the remainder of the war.

U-17 was under the command of Kapitänleutnant Wolf-Harro Stiebler, who had taken over command only just over a week earlier on 18 October 1939.

Despite this accident, U-17 could be considered one of the luckiest u-boats of the war because, in its entire career, none of its crew died. Serving aboard u-boats was one of the most dangerous jobs during the war – of the almost 39,000 sailors who served aboard u-boats during the war, 27,490 died. That’s 70%. Kapitänleutnant Stiebler would live to the age of 81.

U-17 was eventually scuttled on 5 May 1945 at the western entrance to the Raeder lock in Wilhelmshaven, and then dismantled.

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