XT-Craft Midget Submarine Wrecks, Aberlady

The northerly wreck

The northerly wreck

Date

20 December 2015

Location

Gullane Sands, Aberlady Bay, East Lothian
NT 45184 81436; 56.02266°N, 2.88099°W

Information

In Aberlady Bay – which, incidentally, was designated in 1952 as the UK’s first Local Nature Reserve – rest the wrecks of two World War II midget submarines 1 km out from the Mean High Water line on the intertidal flats of Gullane Sands. In May 1946 these two XT-Craft – training versions of the X-Craft submarine – were moored one each 100 paces to the north and to the south of a set of five concrete anti-tank blocks (four forming a base with the fifth placed on top) positioned close to the low tide mark. Two aircraft – a Supermarine Seafire (the folding-wing, aircraft-carrier version of the Spitfire) and a de Havilland Mosquito then used the mini submarines floating at high tide as targets in a trial on the effects on X-Craft hulls of 20mm cannon shells. The wrecks of the two vessels were subsequently left abandoned in situ.

Built by Vickers-Armstrong, the X-Craft submarine was 15 metres long and was manned by a crew of four. The midget submarine was designed specifically for use in the 1943 attacks, codenamed Operation Source, on the German fleet in Norwegian fjords. The German Bismarck-class battleship Tirpitz was put out of action for at least six months after sustaining damage from demolition charges placed below her by two X-Craft. (The Tirpitz finally met her end the following year when she took two direct hits from Lancaster bombers.)

Further Reading

X-craft: Aberlady Bay, Firth Of Forth (Historic Environment Scotland);
Operation Source (Wikipedia)

The southerly wreck

The southerly wreck

The southerly wreck

The southerly wreck

The southerly wreck

The southerly wreck

The southerly wreck

The southerly wreck

The northerly wreck with the southerly one and the central concrete block off in the distance (middle left)

The northerly wreck with the southerly one and the central concrete block off in the distance (middle left)

The northerly wreck

The northerly wreck

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10 thoughts on “XT-Craft Midget Submarine Wrecks, Aberlady

  1. Nicely captured Graham. I read about these some time ago and they’ve been on my to do list ever since! Just a pity that I’ve not been anywhere remotely close to the area since then………

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