Thursday, October 17, 2013

1942: Lorient

U-123 returning to the U-boat pens at Lorient in February 1942.

U-123, in service from 1940 until 1944, was one of few German U-Boats to survive the war. At war’s end, U-123 was turned over to The French Navy. The vessel remained in some form of service until 1959.

The submarine pens at Lorient were impervious to 1940s ammunition, what with the yards of concrete overhead.

The Allies, consequently, destroyed the town of Lorient—knowing that destroying the town would render the pens useless. And, by early 1943, the pens at Lorient indeed had become useless, there no longer being in place a support system that could re-supply the boats with fuel, weapons and provisions.

After Spring 1943, boats that harbored in Lorient could no longer be returned to service. The boats had to go elsewhere for re-provisioning or wait out the rest of the war.

German soldiers continued to occupy the fortress-like subway pens at Lorient for nine months after the Allies had freed France. It was only upon Germany’s unconditional surrender in May 1945 that German soldiers finally vacated the subway pens at Lorient.

The French Navy used the Lorient subway pens for two or three decades after the war.

Portions of the pens are now open for public tourism.

I would like to visit them one day.

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