April 30th, 1918. The end was nigh. After years of bitter and brutal fighting, the First World War was fading away. The battle had raged and was now entering its final days. The Coreopsis, a British ship, was on patrol off the Belfast Lough in Ireland one quiet and still morning, the fog rolling along the top of the water, calm after a fierce storm the night before. The crew was going about their business when, suddenly, one crewman caught sight of a German submarine, the UB-85, stranded on the surface, not moving, not acting aggressively, just… sat there. The crew of the Coreopsis were cautious and advanced on the stricken sub. An order was given, “Surrender!” And to their surprise, they did just that. Willingly, the German crew handed themselves over. The crew of the Coreopsis were baffled. Such a simple surrender was remarkably unusual. Was it some kind of deception or trickery, perhaps? As the day unfolded, what they discovered has gone down in history as one of the most bizarre events of the First World War…
An encounter with a disabled German U boat in the early morn was practically unheard of, and especially so near to the end of the war. The crew of the Coreopsis lingered, stunned into silence by what was happening. The German crew were arrested without any violence or blood spilt. The captain of the Coreopsis was eager to hear the German story, and so he sat down with the commander of the sub, Captain Gunther Krech. The interrogation began immediately.
Krech said that the sub had surfaced the night before, shortly before the storm, to recharge the batteries. Krech was on deck with some of his men and a few of his officers to get some fresh air, after being inside for so long. That said, they also wanted to smoke. Without warning, the ship was struck. A sudden jolt threw the men to the ground, the sub was dragged down on the starboard bow and then, in the darkness of the night, Krech saw something that shook him. A strange beast climbed out of the ocean and latched onto the side of the sub.
“This beast had large eyes,” Krech said. “Set in a horny sort of skull. It had a small head, but with teeth that could be seen glistening in the moonlight. Every man on watch began firing a sidearm at the beast, but the animal had hold of the forward gun mount and refused to let go.”
It’s said the beast was so large it rocked the sub, causing it to list to starboard. Fearing the open hatch would be dragged below the water, something that would’ve caused the sub to flood and thus sink, Krech ordered a volley of bullets to be fired at the beast. “Keep firing!” he screamed, in German, baffled by what was happening. Shot after shot was fired. The minutes ticked by, as the assault continued and the battle raged. Eventually, the beast relented and let go of the forward guns, before disappearing back in to the icy depths…
Krech surveyed the sub and noticed that the forward deck plating had been damaged, rendering it incapable of submerging. “That is why you were able to catch us on the surface,” Krech concluded. He said that his crew were shaken but glad to be alive. The interrogators were, most certainly, not expecting this response. Only hours later, the British Navy chronicled the encounter. The Coreopsis, meanwhile, arrested any remaining Germans onboard the sub and sunk it. Forever at the bottom of the ocean, the mystery going down with it…
Just what the hell happened on that night? Well, it’s likely we’ll never know. The Germans could’ve been attacked by a well-known creature and embellished the story to make them seem brave and noble. No German would’ve wanted to be defeated by a simple squid. But equally, Krech was under intense interrogation. Perhaps it was a story thought up to save his own skin. Maybe becoming a story of legend in Germany, perhaps one they blamed on the British. The war was coming to an end. “The British have developed sea monsters, we must up our game!” It sounds ridiculous, but everything does in this story.
In 2016, just last year, the sub was found lying off the Galloway coast, but there remains no actual evidence to prove the account of Krech. I think it’s unlikely they were attacked by some great sea serpent, but equally, they were attacked. No German would’ve allowed themselves to be caught, surely. And there was damage. Regardless, we’ll never know the exact truths of this story, but it certainly is one of the strangest mysteries of the First World War…
So I’ll give this cryptid a 105 on my patented Cryptid-o-Meter, putting it 35th in the list of 53, with Gef the Talking Mongoose still bottom and Beast of Gévauden still holding top spot.
The UB-85 Atrocity. A fascinating cryptid indeed.
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