Friday, July 07, 2006
U-869: The Lost U-Boat
I just finished reading a book: “Shadow Divers” by Robert Kurson. It’s basically the story of a couple of deep wreck divers who found a World War II, German U-Boat off of the New Jersey coast and then spend about 6 years trying to figure out the boat’s identity. In that time, the two primary divers, Chatterton and Kohler, both suffer divorces, they have three friends die on the wreck, and they learn a lot about themselves and the men who went to sea aboard these floating steel coffins.
I’m always fascinated by the stories of the men who go to war, no matter what side their on. Why they did what they did.
Not long ago, I read “Band of Brothers” by Steven Ambrose about “Easy” Company of the 101st airborne. Did you know that many of those men signed up to be paratroops because they could get an extra $50 per month? Jump out of planes, behind enemy lines, risking all for an extra $50 per month. Amazing.
I wonder if those same reasons were in the minds of the submarine corps during that time as well.
When the U-869 set sail, most of the men on board knew that they would probably not be coming back. The Allied forces had figured out how to hunt and kill these U-Boats. But the U-869 went to sea anyways. Why? Was it duty? Love of country? Fear? These are the things that I wonder about, and then make me wonder if I would have the courage to do the same.
I know... I know... you’re saying to yourself, “but they were Nazi’s. So what if they died in the Atlantic!” Well, that’s not entirely true. Yes, many of them were Nazi’s, but many of them were just boys, who were serving their country. Some of them probably even hated the war and Hitler. Are we any different?
I’m a scuba diver but not even in the same league as these deep wreck divers. Compared to me, Chatterton and Kohler are gods. I would love to do a deep wreck dive some day... but then again... I have fear.