The night of 23rd June 1915 was a busy one for the German submarine U38 and her skipper Max Valentiner

 

 The weather was fair that night, and around 20 steam fishing vessels were lying at their gear, roughly thirty miles east of the Shetland island of Unst.  The boats were mostly drifters from Peterhead and Yarmouth, although there were also four line-fishing vessels from Aberdeen working in the same area.  The submarines (there appears to have been at least two of them) approached each vessel, and cut away their gear, in most cases a fleet of drift nets for herring.  The victim's crew was then given time to evacuate to the lifeboat, before the fishing vessel was sunk by gunfire.  Some of the crews were taken aboard other fishing boats, a few of which made it to port (either Lerwick, Baltasound or Skerries), although some crews had their rescue boats sunk too

Many of the crews made landfall in their lifeboats, and in the case of the "Ugiebrae" and "Uffa", both from from Peterhead, this was the Skerries.  The crew of the "Ugiebrae" were near to exhaustion when they were spotted by men from the Skerries, who went off to their assistance.  The drifter's crew consisted of nine men and a pet dog!  They were helped to safety by the local men, and the lifeboats were left in Skerries, as the crews caught the regular steamer, the "Earl of Zetland", to Lerwick, and eventually home to Peterhead by other transports

One of the lifeboats had a new career, upturned and used as the roof of a crofter's lamb-house, and it is the current owner of this building who commissioned the painting from me.

The Sinking of the Ugiebrae

©2017 Jim Tait

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