German WWI U-boat now visible from shore

Low tides have revealed a relic from World War I — the skeleton of a German U-boat visible again off the coast of northern France.

The metal frame of a UC 61 can be seen about 100 meters (more than 300 feet) from the sand dunes of Wissant, France just down the coast of Calais in the North Sea, according to the news agency Agence France-Presse. The submarine ran aground on July 26, 1917.

Vincent Schmitt, a tour guide in the area, told AFP that “it is visible at low tide generally…because of the erosion we are experiencing.”

The UC 61 got stuck in the sand during heavy fog and was destroyed by its crew, so it could not be captured by the Allies, uboat.net reports citing German military archives. Though the vessel is categorized as a coastal mine-laying sub, it did have deck guns and carried torpedoes.

UC 61 is credited with sinking or damaging more than a dozen ships between November 1916 and July 1917, archives show. On July 26, the submarine apparently came to close to shore.

“We had high tide nets that were stretched between England and France to catch submarines and it strayed a little too close to the beaches.” Schmitt said.

After destroying the sub, its crew of 26 surrendered. The commander of the U 61, Capt. Georg Gerth, was a prisoner of war until March 1920 according to uboat.net.