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‘The war is over.’

April 5, 2016

U-boat snorkle article

This clipping from March, 1945, describes the device designed by Helmut Walter.

According to Clay Blair, author of Hitler’s U-Boat War (Random House, 1998), submarine snorkels had not been first introduced by the Germans.  The Dutch, in the 1930s, also outfitted submarines with “snorts,” as the British called ’em.  However, nobody could seem to invent a snorkel that would work without hammering shut when a wave would wash over.  Other times diesel exhaust would sicken the submariners.

The schnorkel features described in the Reuters article were the invention, according to Blair, of a notable German engineer.  That engineer’s name was Helmut Walter.  He was better known for inventing a damned fast submarine that used hydrogen peroxide for fuel.  Walter’s fast sub could travel submerged at nearly 30 knots, about four times faster than any other subs.

Now comes the strange part of this story.

Yesterday I learned that the pharmacy technician who has been working within an arm’s length of me is Helmut Walter’s granddaughter.  I had been idly chatting with Jean Loran who told me her roots were in Germany.

Jean’s mother was born in a bomb shelter in Kiel, the German port city, where U-486, the submarine the killed my uncle Carl Ralph Bonde, Jr., was built.

Turns out Helmut Walter and his family emigrated to Great Britain, and then to the USA after WW II.

I could hardly speak when I learned of her grandfather’s hand in building the U-Boat that sunk the SS Leopoldville.

“The war is over,” Jean said softly.

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