Unterseeboot U9

The Ship

U3-class submarine. L/B/D: 188.3 × 19.7 × 10.2 (57.4m × 6m × 3.1m). Tons: 493/611 disp. Hull: steel. Comp.: 29. Arm.: 4 × 18TT; 3.7cm mg. Mach.: gasoline engines, 1,160 ehp; 14.2/8.1 kts. Built: Kaiserlich Werft, Danzig, Germany; 1910.

Under Lieutenant Otto Weddigen, U-9 took part in German fleet maneuvers in 1912 during which she was credited with "sinking" three battleships. During the uneasy days after the assassination of Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand, U-9 was the first submarine to attempt reloading torpedo tubes from a submerged position. One of the first German submarines on patrol during World War I, in September U-9 rode out a two-day storm off the coast of the Netherlands. Surfacing again on the morning of the 22nd, the crew were "agreeably surprised," wrote Lieutenant Commander Johann Spiess, Weddigen's second-in-command. "The light streamed up from the eastern horizon and spread over a cloudless sky.... A fine day to sink a ship."

Shortly thereafter, smoke was seen on the horizon, and U-9 submerged. Three cruisers soon came into view and, closing to a distance of only 500 yards from the cruiser Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue, Weddigen fired one torpedo at 0720. Assuming that their sister ship had struck a mine, HMS Cressy and HMS Hogue (see Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue) closed to pick up survivors. Half an hour later, U-9 fired two torpedoes into Hogue, only 300 yards away. Turning on her axis, U-9 fired her two stern torpedoes at Cressy, one of which missed, then turned again and fired her last torpedo. In addition to the three out-dated cruisers—First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill had referred to the Bacchante-class cruisers as "live bait"—the Royal Navy lost 1,459 experienced crew. Weddigen and his crew were awarded Germany's highest honor, the Pour le Mérite.

A scant three weeks later, U-9 sailed again from Wilhelmshaven to the Royal Navy's base at Scapa Flow. On October 15, U-9 came across the cruisers HMS Hawke and Endymion in the North Sea. Again at a range of only 500 yards, Weddigen fired one torpedo into Hawke, which sunk eight minutes later with the loss of 544 of her crew; there were 52 survivors. A subsequent attack on a line of destroyers—the submarine's chief enemy—nearly ended in disaster for U-9, and the boat achieved sufficient depth to avoid ramming with just seconds to spare.

Outmoded by 1916, U-9 was restricted to training duty until surrendered to the Allies on November 26, 1918. She was taken to England and broken up in 1919.

My Postcards

Postally used 31 Jan 1916. Fieldpost cancel.
Postcard series: Karl Voegels, Berlin


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