A lump of bronze shaped as a U-boat has come into my possession. It belonged to my wife’s father, Ivor Reed, who was a good friend of the inventor Herbert Taylor.
Taylor was the man credited with inventing the depth charge, the killer explosive that took so many submarines, allied and enemy, to a deep, watery grave.
In the 1950s Taylor knew my late father-in-law, a former Royal Marine who landed on D-Day, and Taylor gave him the memento. Herbert Taylor died at Emsworth in 1959, aged 84.
Engraved on the port side of the boat is the inscription ‘UC44’ on the conning tower, and along the hull ‘Salved off Dunmore Sept 30.17’.
UC44 features again on the starboard side while on the hull is: ‘Cast from Starbd Propeller Blade’.
UC44 was a menace in the short time she was in service. She was only in commission from November 4, 1916, until being sunk by a mine on August 4, 1917, but in that short time she sank 28 merchant ships and one warship, damaging two more.
Opinions differ about how she sank. One view is that she blew herself up while laying mines; another that she hit an allied mine.
She was raised from the bottom of the Irish Sea in September 1917 by the Royal Navy and broken up.
Taylor was such an influential inventor during both world wars that he was made an MBE in 1945.
Bob Todd, of the Greenwich Naval Museum, tells me Taylor had as much influence on the outcome of both world wars as Barnes Wallis had in the Second World War.