German U-Boat washed up on its way to France 1918
A GERMAN historian has appealed for help from the people of Hastings and
Jens Arndt, who works for the Hanau History Association, is looking for any information on a German
The U-boat, number 118, was washed ashore at Hastings Beach in April 1919.
The type two boat was built in the Vulcan shipyard in Hamburg and was launched on February 23 1918.
Under the command of Herbert Strohwasser, U-118 managed to sink two ships while on its one and only patrol before being surrendered on February 23 1919 - exactly one year after it was launched.
It was due to be transferred to France but the tow parted and she went aground off Hastings on April 15, 1919, despite attempts by a French destroyer to break her up with gunfire.
Thousands of people flocked to the seafront near the Queens Hotel to catch a glimpse of the boat and the town clerk quickly started charging people a small fee to be allowed on board.
The proceeds went towards the Mayor's Fund for the welcome home of the troops which was planned for later that year.
Eventually though, as residents grew sick of children pelting the boat with rocks and making a racket throughout the night, the order was given to break her up.
Parts of U-118 were snatched and dispersed all over Hastings.
The town itself was presented with the submarine's gun but it was buried in the shingle by wave action.
Although recovered again in 1921 it was disposed of despite calls for it to be mounted on a plinth and kept as a permanent reminder of the event.
Mike Cooke wrote in to tell us that while working for F. J. Parsons in Hastings there was a heavy grey light hanging from the wall in the basement.
He said: "An old-timer there told me that it had come from the U-boat washed ashore many years earlier.
"I believe it was pillaged by locals so I think that is how the light came to be in the Observer office, probably stolen from the boat by an employee.
"During a clear-out in the printing works I was given the light and kept it for many years, only disposing of it last July.
"I sold it at a boot fair and it was bought by a local dealer who has a shop in Hastings Old Town."
Thanks to John Heys, Kenneth Jones, Dorothy Clusker and Mike Cooke for their information.