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New techniques capture forgotten U-boat

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Multibeam sonar survey: Revealing the wreck of the U-87

ON CHRISTMAS Day 1917, U-87 attacked a convoy in St George’s Channel (in particular, the 4812-ton British steamship AGBERI).

One of the convoy escorts, P56, was just 150 yards away from the AGBERI when it was struck and turned to ram the submarine while another escort, the BUTTERCUP, fired and hit its conning tower.

Within ten minutes the submarine had sunk. Some witness accounts claim that the stricken U-boat was sliced clean in half, and that the bow section remained afloat for ten minutes with men visible within the submarine.

Now new imaging techniques have located the submarine with startling clarity. Staff from the Centre for Applied Marine Sciences at Bangor University have recently undertaken a number of ‘multibeam’ surveys around the coast of Wales as part of the marine renewable energy SEACAMS 2 project. The data collected has resulted in a number of very high-resolution models and images of the seabed and shipwreck sites of interest, such as the U 87. It is anticipated that results from this work will contribute to the overall aims and objectives of the potential HLF-funded project , ‘Commemorating the forgotten U-boat war around the Welsh coast 1914-18: Exploration, Access and Outreach’, led by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales based in Aberystwyth.

A spokesperson from the Royal Commission said: “We’re really excited about the surveys which Bangor University are undertaking. They are allowing us, for the first time in perhaps 100 years, to actually see the relics of the Great War as fought at sea around the Welsh coast. These are the underwater, out-of-sight memorials, mostly commemorating single ship actions, fought between merchant ships and enemy submarines.

“Each has a poignant story which should be retold through the Commemorative period. Some 170 vessels were lost to enemy action in Welsh waters, with many more sites around the world where Welsh men and women were on board at the time of sinking. They are in effect, unmarked war graves. We salute the sacrifices made in time of war.”

Despite the eyewitness accounts, the new images of the stricken U-boat show it lying entire on the seabed entire. Although the U-boat had been fatally holed, it sank to the seabed without breaking up. In the image to the bottom right, the large cut in the hull made by P56 can be seen slanting back to the conning tower. The crew did not escape and so there is a special poignancy to recognising that we are viewing a war grave, for perhaps the very first time in nearly a hundred years.

The Royal Commission’s research has established that the U-87 was an ocean-going attack boat built by Kaiserliche Werft, Danzig. It was commissioned on 26 February 1917 under the command of KapLt Rudolf Schneider. After a training period, it undertook five patrols sinking twenty-three ships and damaging two others.

On its fifth and final patrol, the U-87 departed Wilhelmshaven on 8 December 1917 heading to the western end of the English Channel via the Dover Straits. It sank two small sailing vessels on the way, and then on Christmas Eve, the 3238ton British steamer DAYBREAK off Northern Ireland. On Christmas day 1917, the U-87 attacked a convoy in St George’s Channel (in particular, the 4812-ton British steamship AGBERI, see NPRN 274777). One of the convoy escorts was just 150 yards away from the AGBERI when it was struck and turned to ram the submarine.

The logbook of HMS BUTTERCUP, an Arabis class sloop, provides the briefest of overviews of what happened:

02:42 SS AGBERI torpedoed.

03:30 While zig-zagging round AGBERI submarine spotted on surface. HMS P56 engaged and rammed it. BUTTERCUP fired and hit conning tower.

03:40 SS AGBERI sank. Submarine sank.

05:00 Rejoined convoy.

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AM calls for further protection of wild animals after Lynx deaths

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MID AND WEST AM Simon Thomas has called for further protection from the Welsh Government following the death of two wild cats from a zoo in Borth, near Aberystwyth.

The AM quizzed the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths in a topical question in the Senedd.

Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs for Plaid Cymru Simon Thomas said: “The deaths of the two Lynx wild cats have created a great deal of concern to many people in the area and, more broadly, to people who care for animals and their welfare at zoos.

“I asked whether the Welsh Government approved of the steps taken by Ceredigion County Council in this case and more broadly with the position of the zoo. It’s clear that there’s something amiss when a wild animal can escape and another dies because of its handling. I requested we look at national regulations that govern organisations such as this to ensure that people who run zoos do have the appropriate skills, but also that the equipment is suitable for the animals kept there.

The Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths replied: “Ceredigion County Council is investigating the escape of the lynx and the death of a second lynx linked to the zoo to establish whether there have been any breaches of the operating licence. While inquiries are ongoing it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on this matter.”

She added: “Officials have been in frequent contact with Ceredigion County Council. The decision to dispatch the animal was taken by the county council along with Dyfed-Powys Police, officials from Welsh Government and also the chief veterinary officer. There are several issues that I think need to be looked into very carefully around the licence.”

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Police warn about scam phone calls

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE are warning Ceredigion residents about reports of scam telephone calls.

Officers have received reports of someone purporting to be from the Her Majesty Revenue and Customs (HMRC) asking for money.

Sgt Richard Marshall said: “Officers responded to a report of a telephone scam by fraudsters pretending to be HMRC collecting debt, in Aberaeron, yesterday (Thursday 16 November).

“Fraudsters are carrying out these calls in an effort to get personal financial details from residents, and eventually get them to pay money stating that they owe taxes.

“The HMRC would never target people in this way and would certainly never ask for money or bank details over the phone.

“Thanks to the prompt actions of a local shop in alerting us, we were able to quickly locate the victim and minimise his loss.

“Taking advantage of the vulnerable through fraud is wrong, and we will do all in our power to stop it and protect those who need safeguarding. Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) have been out and about this week spreading the message of how not to fall prey to fraudsters and ask for community support.

“A strong and concerned community is our best tool in protecting the vulnerable.

“Please be vigilant, do not part with any money or personal information. Remember – It is OK not to speak with cold callers – just put the phone down. If you are concerned please contact police on 101.”

Top tips on how to avoid scams:

· HMRC would never use texts to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ever ask for payment in this way.
· Telephone numbers and text messages can easily be spoofed. You should never trust the number you see on your telephones display.
· If you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately.
· Do not enter into conversation with them, provide them with any personal details or send them any money

For further advice and information on how to avoid being scammed visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.

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Cardigan: Welsh language nursery’s treasurer stole £16,336 from coffers

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A FORMER treasurer of Cylch Meithrin Penparc in Cardigan has been jailed today for a fraud that brought the Welsh language nursery to its knees.
Catrin Davies, a 33 year old single mother of two daughters, cheated the organisation out of £16,336.
After she left the post the nursery struggled to pay debts and at one stage was left with £1.84p in its bank.
Davies, of Bwthyn Lleine, Ferwig, admitted fraud and was jailed for eight months.
Judge Geraint Walters, sitting at Swansea Crown Court, told her the offending was too series for the sentence to be suspended.
Craig Jones, prosecuting, said Davies was appointed treasurer in September, 2015, and left the post in December 2016.
The new treasurer noticed discrepancies in the accounts. Davies tried to cover them up by sticking pieces of paper onto bank statements to blank out figures, photocopying them, and then carefully typing in new and bogus figures.
By then Davies had failed to pay money into the account and withdrawn some herself.
Mr Jones said that at one stage the nursery had to pay a roof repair bill. Davies knew there wasn’t enough money in the account but to keep the fraud going and to avoid detection she actually paid the bill out of her own money.
Mr Jones said after the true financial situation had been established Cylch Meithrin Penparc was at risk of closure. Internet access was cut off because the telephone bill could not be paid and staff found themselves buying essential items out of their own money.
And there was still a fear, he added, that the nursery would struggle to overcome the blow and to recover the confidence of parents.
Janet Gedrych, representing Davies, said she had suffered a devastating fall from grace.
Davies ran the Pink Orchid florists in Priory Street, Cardigan, for nine years and had a good reputation in the town.
But her partner left her and his debts behind and ran up more and she owed £30,000 in personal and business debts. By October, 2015, debt collectors were knocking on her door and she defrauded Cylch Meithrin Penparc to pay them off.
Judge Walters said the nursery provided a hugely valuable service to parents who wanted their children to learn Welsh and Davies had helped herself to money they had paid in.
“Your activity has reduced its ability to operate. It has not closed but it’s hanging by a thread.”
Judge Walters said he accepted that Davies had found herself squeezed financially, but many people struggled under similar circumstances.

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