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The Maritime archaeology of a modern conflict: comparing the archaeology of German submarine wrecks to the historical text.

McCartney, I., 2013. The Maritime archaeology of a modern conflict: comparing the archaeology of German submarine wrecks to the historical text. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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Over the last 30 years UK Hydrographic Office marine surveys in the English Channel (the thesis Study Area) have helped uncover the wrecks of 63 German submarines (U-boats) sunk in both world wars. The author began to systematically dive on and record the wrecks in 1997, when it became clear that the distribution and numbers of the wrecks often conflicted with published histories of U-boat losses. This thesis sets out to test whether firstly; the U-boat wrecks themselves can be accurately identified from detailed examinations of their archaeological remains. If this could be achieved with a high degree of accuracy then secondly; a much clearer appreciation of U-boat losses in the Channel could be derived. This could then be used to thirdly; assess the accuracy of the original historical texts of 1919 and 1946 and reveal when and why the assessors at the time succeeded and failed in establishing the real fates of the U-boats. The U-boat wrecks themselves are either where the historic record says they should be, or they are located in positions where they reside outside of current historical knowledge. These latter cases, termed the mystery sites, are the key to understanding how, when and why inaccuracies appear in the historical texts and they were therefore accorded the highest priority during the research and were the most challenging cases to identify. Of the 63 U-boat wrecks in the Channel, it emerged during the fieldwork that 26 of them (41%) were actually mystery sites. Their impact on the accuracy of the historical texts is profound. Only 48% of the fates of U-boats recorded in 1919 are correct. The list of 1946 is 81% correct from D-day until December 1944, then only 36% correct thereafter. The accuracy of the historical record was found to be closely related to the volume of accurate intelligence on U-boat movements available at any given time and the quality of the staff work used to interpret and exploit it. Consequently the impact of Special Intelligence is keenly felt in 1944. Conversely during WW1 and in 1945 U-boat movements were not clearly understood and in both of these cases minefields emerge as the most successful weapon deployed against them accounting for over a third of the losses.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:21080
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:20 Feb 2014 13:49
Last Modified:09 Aug 2022 16:03


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