In the fall of 1991, Captain Bill Nagle of the dive boat "Seeker" led a team of recreational scuba divers on an expedition to explore an unknown wreck site 60 miles off the New Jersey coast. Nagle discovered the resting place of a World War II German U-boat, a wartime loss with the 56 man crew still aboard. Inquires to the both the German and American Naval Authorities failed to identify or explain the presence of this mystery U-boat. No attacks by or against a U-boat had been reported in this location during the war and no explanations were offered.
Over the next six years, a small team of divers explored the wreckage. Their mission: to figure out which U-boat this was and who these men were. The diving was extremely deep (230 feet) and hazardous, and sadly three of the divers died while investigating the U-boat. Despite these losses, my partner John Chatterton and I continued to dive to the limits of the current scuba technology, even after other divers had quit. Finally, in 1997, a team effort by John Chatterton, John Yurga, Pat Rooney and I discovered the evidence that conclusively identified the submarine as U-869.
For most divers, this was the end; the wreckage had been identified and history rewritten. But for me it was only half the story. I began meeting with families of the crew, and visiting their hometowns. They shared their memories and photographs with me, and I began to understand who the men of U-869 were and what their lives had been like. The details of the discovery and identification of the U-boat were documented in a two hour NOVA program, "Hitler's Lost Sub", and in a new book"Shadow Divers" by Robert Kurson.[/mp_code] [/mp_span] [mp_span col="6"] [mp_image_slider ids="52" animation="fade" smooth_height="false" slideshow="true" slideshow_speed="7" animation_speed="600" control_nav="false" margin="none,none,none,none"] [/mp_span] [/mp_row] [mp_row] [mp_span col="12"]
There is now new information concerning the loss of U-869. You can read it for yourself in these articles from Wreck Diving Magazine.
I have continued to collect a wealth of information about the men of U-869. With the permission and assistance of the families, I have created this memorial website as a repository for the biographies and photographs that I have been gifted. I welcome anyone related to or with information about a crew member of U-869 to contact me. I will continue to update the site with new information and photographs as they become available. All the images on this site are watermarked and copyrighted, and are not to be reproduced without permission. I accept full responsibility for the content of this site and for the accuracy of the material herein.
Richard Kohler Jr.