MAIDENCOMBE.NET AUTHOR Jim Campbell

MAIDENCOMBE.NET AUTHOR Jim Campbell
Maidencombe resident since 1960. Local historian and author of the 'Coves of Maidencombe'.
Copyright © 2013 . All Rights Reserved.

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The bowl of the coombe as seen from Sladnor heights

The bowl of the coombe as seen from Sladnor heights

Maidencombe point

Maidencombe point
as seen above Maidencombe cove.

Friday, November 17, 2017

OBERLEUTNANT BIEBER - SCOURGE OF SOUTH DEVON SHIPPING IN WW1

Further researched after my article of February 23 2013:

Anyone strolling along Maidencombe beach on the evening of September 16th 1918 would have witnessed the sinking of the Lord Stewart - a 1445 ton armed merchantman (converted collier) - en route from Cherbourg to Barry.   At 8 pm in the evening, she was directly opposite Maidencombe, some 11 kilometres offshore when a torpedo hit her on the port side at 50° 30'N, 3° 17'W.   The merchantman sank in just four minutes but with only one fatality. 

The author of her destruction was the infamous Kaiserliche Marine U-boat commander Oberleutnant Thomas Bieber, who prowled the South Devon coast and  was responsible for 35 ships being sent to the bottom of the sea in the First World War.



Periscope view of a target
Any lesser U-boat  commander would not have attacked the Lord Stewart on sighting no less than three Royal Navy warships escorting her across Lyme Bay.  There were 375 U-boats operational in WWl  and  a total of 7,659 ships sunk.  Bieber's 35 sinkings was well above average.
A 'Bieber type attack' - surfacing to shell a barque - note the crew being allowed to disembark.
At the start of the war, U-boats operated by 'gentlemanly' rules of engagement whereby they surfaced, issued their intentions and gave merchant crews time to board life rafts before sinking with their 88mm deck gun* or putting a prize crew aboard.  
If the conditions on board the WW2 U-Boats were difficult, then their WW1 counterparts could be described as operating in the most primitive of living standards with a multitude of on board dangers such as poisonous fumes from the batteries and equipment failure on a less than perfected technology.

DID BIEBER ATTACK A Q-SHIP?
One of the dangers facing U-boat commanders in WW1 was the advent of the Q-Ships, pressed into service by the Admiralty to counter the mounting threat of U-boats. They were decoy vessels, typically a merchant ship with concealed armament, designed to lure a U-boat within gun range and then open fire at close range.  

Such a vessel was HMS Hyderabad which was especially well armed with  1x4 in gun hidden abaft of her funnel, 2 x 12 pounders and a deck mounted 2.5 pounder (the only weapon visible). HMS Hyderabad also had four Sutton-Armstrong bomb-throwers behind cargo hatches, two depth-charge throwers concealed on deck and four 18in torpedoes in  launching tubes masked by screens. She also had a very shallow draught of 6 feet 9 inches, designed to let torpedoes go beneath her.

Obltnt. Bieber may well have been responsible for an attack on HMS Hyderabad in Lyme Bay on November 26th 1917.  His UB31 had sunk the Steamer Farn off Start Point on November 19th so he was in the area.  A torpedo was fired at close range and narrowly missed astern, due to the quick response of the officer on watch.  A U-boat commander of Bieber's experience, had almost certainly observed the ship before attacking and had been suspicious enough not to have surfaced to engage with his deck gun (the preferred method of attack as UB31 only carried six torpedoes).
 
BIEBER'S FINAL TOUR
UB104 returned to Bieber's hunting ground for what was to be his final tour in September 1918 - just two months from the end of the war.  It must have seemed like 'business as usual' as Bieber entered Lyme Bay on September 14th, routinely sinking the Steamer Gibel Hamam 15 miles off Portland Bill before heading across to his favourite and so well-known area off South Devon.  
 
The next day, September 15th, the Kendal Castle was sunk off Berry Head and Bieber, almost brazenly, stayed close by this latest sinking to attack and sink the Steamer Ethel four miles away, the very next day.  Bieber wasn't finished, as, a few hours later, after tracking across Tor Bay, Bieber surfaced to periscope depth to sight the armed merchantman Lord Stewart** approaching him as he lay off Hope's Nose in the fading light.  A scan of the horizon also revealed three Royal Navy warships close by but Bieber, his confidence high, nevertheless proceeded to attack the Lord Stewart, firing a spread of torpedoes from his bow tubes. One of the torpedoes hit the Lord Stewart on her port side and she sank inside four minutes with the loss of one crew member.

The next day, September 17th, Bieber sank the Ursa off Beer Head and that was the last time Bieber and the crew of UB104 were ever seen or heard from.  The likelihood was that his U-boat had either exhausted its supply of torpedoes (10 in the UB III series vessel) or was heading home after sinking five ships in four days.

One report states that UB104 struck a mine in the North Sea whilst another source stated that:  UB104 disappeared presumably in Lyme Bay for an unknown reason on or after September 17th 1918 with 36 dead (all hands lost).

What cannot be disputed is that in a scenario so reminiscent of the final episode of 'Das Boot' - the much acclaimed fictional account of WW2 U-boat U96 and its crew - Oberleutnant Thomas Bieber and his crew were killed after surviving nearly all of World War 1.  The wreck of UB104 has never been located to this day.
*Type UB II = UB31 carried 6 torpedoes and 120 rounds for the 88mm deck gun.
*Type UB III = UB104 carried 10 torpedoes and 160 rounds for the 88mm deck gun. 
**The Lord Stewart was en route to Barry from Cherbourg so her position and path was strange - heading directly into what was known as a graveyard for shipping.
Map fragment courtesy of Google Maps.
KEY TO MAP
BIEBER'S RECORDED ATTACKS OFF THE SOUTH DEVON COAST


Type UB II - UB31 carried six torpedoes and 120 rounds for the 88mm deck gun


1 24 April 1917 sailing vessel St Jacques (Fr) damaged by gunnery 15M south of Portland Bill, beached and refloated
2 28 April 1917 passenger steamer Medina sunk 3M ENE of Start Point 6 casualties

3 15 June 1917 steamer Teesdale damaged 2 miles off Bolt Head:  beached and refloated
4 17 June 1917 steamer Stanhope sunk 7M SW x W of Start Point 22 casualties

5 July 1917 sailing vessel Ocean Swell stopped and sunk by gunnery 15M SE of Start Point
6  6 July 1917 steamer Ariadne Christine torpedoed and damaged 6M south of Start Point
7 10 July 1917 sailing vessel Hildegard stopped and scuttled 10M SE of Start Point
8 11 July 1917 steamer Brunhilda sunk 7M S of Start Point

9 1 August 1917 steamer Laertes sunk 1.25M SSW of Prawle Point 14 casualties
10  2 August 1917 steamer Newlyn torpedoed and sunk 2M S of Prawle Point 4 casualties
11  8 August 1917 steamer Algerie (Fr) damaged 2M SW of Portland Bill
12  8 August 1917 sailing vessel stopped and scuttled 12M ESE of Start Point

13  9 Sept 1917 steamer Pluton (NOR) torpedoed and sunk 6M ESE of Start Point 10 casualties

14  19 Oct 1917 steamer Waikawa sunk 4M ENE Start Point
15  20 Oct 1917 steamer Colorado torpedoed and sunk 1,5M E of Start Point 4 casualties
16  23 Oct 1917 steamer Lepanto torpedoed and damaged 3.5M off Dartmouth 2 casualties

17  19 Nov 1917 steamer Farn sunk 5M E x N Start Point

18  15 December 1917 steamer Sachem torp. and damaged off Start Point 1 casualty
19  18 Dec 1917 steamer Riversdale torp. and sunk 1M S of Prawle Point 1 casualty
20  20 Dec 1917 steamer Alice Marie sunk 6M ENE Start Point
21  20 Dec 1917 steamer Eveline sunk 9.5M SW Berry Head
22  20 Dec 1917 steamer Warsaw torp and sunk 4M SE x E Start Point 17 casualties

23  22 Jan 1918 steamer Admiral Cochrane torp. and damaged 3M SE Berry Head
24  22 Jan 1918 steamer Greatham torp and sunk 3M SE Dartmouth 7 casualties
25  24 Jan 1918 steamer Elsa (NOR) sunk 5M ESE Dartmouth
(Last time in UB 31 which was lost on 2nd May 1918 hitting a mine in the Dover Strait)

Type UB III = UB104 10 torps. 160 rounds for 88mm deck gun
26  14 Sept 1918 steamer Gibel Hamam sunk 15M S of Portland Bill 21 casualties
27  15 Sept 1918 steamer Kendal Castle sunk 4M SE Berry Head 18 casualties
28  16 Sept 1918 steamer Ethel sunk 8M SE Berry Head
29  16 Sept 1918 steamer Lord Stewart sunk 6M E x N Hopes Nose 1 casualty 
30  17 Sept 1918 steamer Ursa (SWE) torp. and sunk 8M SSW Beer Head

23 ships sunk 7 damaged 128 casualties

 Photo below a Type UB III U-boat similar to Bieber's UB104
copyright https://www.uboat.net/wwi/types/?type=UB+III




















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The twinning of Maidencombe with Comeinbemad reflects the light-hearted nature of this gentle blog. The articles posted are written by the author alone and have no connection with any official body or association.

SLADNOR PARK CHALETS

SLADNOR PARK CHALETS
Eerily shrouded in mist, two of the lower chalets of Sladnor Park.

BURNING OF THE BAMBOO MAN JUNE 5 2016

AN ODE TO SLADNOR PARK

(sung to the tune of 'Home on the Range')

Oh give me a park where the badgers can roam
Where the deer and the wildlife reside
There never is heard the developer's word
To disturb where the denizens abide

Oh give me a park where the diggers are banned
And the architect can't earn his fee
Where the noise of the town
Is a far distant sound
And conservation is all it can be

For when houses are built
The council covered in guilt
And all the animals forlorn
Now the only sounds to be heard
Are vehicles absurd
And the cries of a motherless fawn

Jim Campbell

Search This Website

OUR MAIN LINK - CLICK ON IMAGE TO REDIRECT

OUR MAIN LINK - CLICK ON IMAGE TO REDIRECT
THE ENDANGERED CIRL BUNTING - SYMBOL OF THE MAIDENCOMBE COMMUNITY GROUP

PUTTING MAIDENCOMBE ON THE MAP

PUTTING MAIDENCOMBE ON THE MAP

OUR LOCAL LINK

I came across this fascinating and informative guide to St Marychurch and Babbacombe recently. For many Maidencombers, these are our local shops and first 'port of call' before venturing into the urban jungles of Torquay. There's a local news feed which is regularly updated. Well worth a look. Here's the link:



CLICK HERE FOR BABBACOMBE & ST MARYCHURCH GUIDE WEBSITE

MOST VIEWED POST ON THIS SITE

MOST VIEWED POST ON THIS SITE
The old Toll House on the west side of the A379 Teignmouth Road, stands at the junction of Claddon Lane with the A379 about 50 yards from Ridge Road and the former position of the black and white Solomons Post sign (see side panel right). This early photo shows the open porch (lower left) - now blocked off and the blanked out toll-board recess (top right). Under the angled roof on the right, there is a small shop and working post office. The building probably dates from 1827 when the new road was built. Originally named Solomon's Post Gate when there was a gate across the road for the toll collector to open upon payment.

RAMBLING GROUP WRITE-UP OF WATCOMBE TO MAIDENCOMBE WALK

Found this interesting little site with a rambling group's write up of walks. CLICK HERE FOR MAIDENCOMBE WALK ARTICLE

MAIDENCOMBER SLADNOR VIDEO AND WRITE-UP

YOUR LOCAL WEB APPROVES DREAMINCOMBES

YOUR LOCAL WEB APPROVES DREAMINCOMBES
After scrutiny by a panel, this site has been added as a reputable source of information about Maidencombe.

ARCHIVE: MAIDENCOMBE TIMELINE EVENING AT THE THATCHED TAVERN

The first Timeline evening took place Wednesday evening March 20th at the Thatched Tavern. Local lad Ziggy Austin's brainchild, it was an endeavour to map out the history of Maidencombe on a ten metre paper scroll. The initiative was first mooted and widely supported on Ziggy's Maidencombe Residents Facebook page. Residents and non residents were asked if they could research local history on the area and bring along any material such as postcards or text to place on the scroll.
The first evening was well attended and as can be seen in the photos on the left, a great deal was achieved.
Longest residing villager, Alan Hunt attended to add his considerable knowledge and was supported by his 'young' student Jim Campbell with a mere 53 years of residence under his belt.
The pub opened up the restaurant area for the occasion and were most generous in providing sandwiches for the studious throng.


SOLOMONS POST AT THE JUNCTION OF TEIGNMOUTH ROAD & RIDGE ROAD

SOLOMONS POST AT THE JUNCTION OF TEIGNMOUTH ROAD & RIDGE ROAD
No known images of this iconic Maidencombe landmark exist. Post war and up to the late 1960's, sign posts were wooden posts painted black and white. This is a close reconstruction of the sign where buses would actually pull in to for passengers to alight or board.

A UNIQUE VIDEO

A video of one of my foxes being treated for Sarcoptic mange - taking the medication on the food by hand. She recovered completely and my thanks go out to the Derbyshire Fox Rescue who supplied the medication.

DRAMATIC EROSION OF THE SOUTHWEST COASTAL FOOTPATH

Worth a look as Maidencombe's section of the SWCP is also very much under threat.

From myfoxesandbadgers site

ARCHIVE: DANGEROUS STATE OF CLIFF FACE

ARCHIVE: DANGEROUS STATE OF CLIFF FACE
Photo taken from the beach cafe above Maidencombe cove and the arrows indicate the cause for concern. A minor land slip has already taken place and the Environment Agency had a look Christmas eve in case the cove had to be closed.

ARCHIVE: Entrance to Crossways at Maidencombe Cross

ARCHIVE: Entrance to Crossways at Maidencombe Cross
After a catalogue of antisocial behaviour displayed by motorists illegally entering a private area, the police recommended that the entrance be made narrower. A sad indictment of society.

THE FOLLY AT SLADNOR PARK

THE FOLLY AT SLADNOR PARK
Constructed between 1830-1833 by Mrs Groves who inhabited Sladnor Manor House at the time. The hexagonal tower and accompanying arched outbuilding were built of Devon red sandstone. A projecting castellated cornice crowned the gothic apertures and single faux crossbow slit at ground level. A most interesting aspect of the folly is the purpose-built pony and trap winding carriage-way which Mrs Groves carved through the north western woods of the estate to facilitate her passage to and from the folly. The structure is now in poor condition and it is earnestly hoped that Richmond Villages, the new owners of Sladnor, will be able to make safe the folly to enable residents to enjoy in years to come.

FEATURES OF MAIDENCOMBE

Some of the features we will be mentioning:

ROCK HOUSE GAZEBO
THE CASCADE
THE IRON STILE
THE CASTELLATED FOLLY
THE BAT RETREAT
THE PUMP HOUSE
THE PILL BOX
THE 190 OAK
SMUGGLER'S LANE

GRADE 2 LISTED ROCK HOUSE GAZEBO

GRADE 2 LISTED ROCK HOUSE GAZEBO
Circa 1850. Constructed of Devon red sandstone with unfortunately, as is the case with the Sladnor Folly, some cement patching. Sited at the eastern end of the garden, overlooking the sea. A single storey structure with faux castellated parapet. It has a one-window front incorporating a gabled porch on the front to left with a segmental headed and arched doorway. There is a matching arched window to the right. Reportedly, the structure had a flight of external steps for access to the flat roof with commanding views of Lyme Bay. The interior is clay-tiled laid.