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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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Recognition given to long-standing members of Council committee

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AT AN Ethics and Standards Committee (virtual) meeting held on 17 September 2021,  Rif Winfield and Hywel Wyn Jones were given recognition for their 10 years’ of service to the Committee between 2011 and 2021. A small plaque was presented to both.

Hywel was Chair of the Committee for 3 years.

In their place, two new independent members Alan Davies and Caryl Davies have been appointed.

Eifion Evans, Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council said, “Ceredigion County Council has benefitted from a decade of advice and considerations provided by Rif & Hywel. We welcome the new members of the committee and their input to the function of the Committee will be greatly appreciated.”

Standards Committees of local authorities exist to do all that is possible to promote and safeguard the standards that the public rightly expect from their elected representatives.

Ceredigion County Council Chairman, Councillor Paul Hinge, said, “Our thanks go to Rif and Hywel who have given their time to contribute to the Committee and we welcome the new members.”

The Committee is made up of five independent members, two county councillors and two town/community councillors. Meeting quarterly, reports for the Ethics and Standards Committee including dispensation applications can be found on the Council website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Exciting new developments on the horizon for Lampeter Wellbeing Centre

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Architects have been appointed to oversee the project and work will now begin on the proposed layout for the facility

At a Cabinet meeting held on 01 December 2020, it was agreed that Lampeter Leisure Centre would become the location of the Council’s first Wellbeing Centre in the County.

A significant amount of work and investment is to be made at the Leisure Centre which will improve the facility and the resources for years to come.

Over the coming months, as we see the plans and proposals for Wellbeing Centre develop, they will be shared with service users and the residents of Ceredigion.

Architects have been appointed to oversee the project and work will now begin on the proposed layout for the facility. The layout will be a reconfiguration of the existing facility in order to provide a Wellbeing Centre that can provide an enhanced range of Through Age Services, including Leisure Services to the residents of Lampeter and the mid of the county. 

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member, said: “We are looking forward to the development of the new Wellbeing Centre at Lampeter. This will provide a range of services to residents within their local community.

This development comes at a welcome time, as Ceredigion Public Service Board is carrying out an Assessment of Local Wellbeing, in order to find out about the wellbeing of local people and communities, now and in the future.”

Lampeter Leisure Centre will be closed during the building works, but during this period alternative provision will be made available for all service users and clubs.

We look forward to being able to share these alternative plans with you over the coming weeks, as soon as these arrangements have been finalised.

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UK Government must improve HGV drivers’ working conditions – Ben Lake MP

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Many people in the HGV industry have expressed concern

FOLLOWING his contribution during PMQs on September 8 regarding the HGV driver crisis, Ben Lake MP has raised the issue again, with Minister Grant Shapps.

Ben Lake MP has said:

“Many constituents who work in the HGV industry have come forward to share their experiences with me about the HGV driver crisis. As well as expressing grave concern, they have also shared ideas and long-term solutions that would greatly improve the current situation. 

“It’s important that the UK Government listens and gives full consideration to these suggestions and I look forward to meeting with the Minister in the near future to discuss them further.”

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