Birkenhead - U 534

The U-534 was a German IXC/40 submarine launched in early September 1942. The U-534 belonged to the 4th submarine flotilla and was stationed in Stettin (now Szczecin in Poland) and was used until May 1943 only for exercises. In June 1943, U-534 was transferred to the second submarine fleet based in Lorient on the French Atlantic coast. In May 1944, the U-534 was transferred to the base in Bergen and same month U-534 sailed out on its first mission. In August, the U-534 was attacked by British aircraft but escaped and managed to reached the base in Bordeaux. There U-534 was equipped with a snorkel. Same month, U-534 sailed out again but faced technical problems and was forced to surface where the U-534 was discovered by British aircraft. During the battle that followed, U-534 managed to shoot down two British planes and escape.

In October 1944, U-534 reached Kiel and became part of the 33rd submarine flotilla. However, U-534 was in need of extensive repairs that lasted until May 1945. In early May 1945, U-534 (and two more submarines) were en route to Kattegat strait but were discovered by British aircraft and attacked. U-534  shoot down one plane but was heavily damage by sink bombs and began to sink. The crew was forced to abandon the boat. Out of 53 crew members only 3 died.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with museum (2023).

Address: Woodside Ferry Terminal, Birkenhead CH41 6DU.

Get there: Metro to Hamilton Square station.

My comment:

In 1986, the wreck of the submarine was discovered at a depth of just 70 meters and in 1993 the submarine was salvaged and 1996 brought to Birkenhead’s port area (part of Liverpool). There it became part of the Warship Preservation Trust until the museum closed in 2006. The submarine was then taken over by the Merseytravel transit authority, which opened the museum, The Uboat Story, in 2009. The submarine had been split into four parts and exhibited at the port of Birkenhead as an outdoor museum.

But the submarine was exposed to weather and wind and in 2021 the submarine was taken over by the Western Approaches Museum, and closed for visitors. The boat will be renovated but it seems unclear when it will be open for visitors again. Therefore, when I visited the submarine in 2023, I could only see it from the outside of the fence because the work of making a more sustainable solution of the submarine conservation was ongoing. The U-534 is one of four surviving German submarines from the Second World War, the other three being the U-505, Chicago, U-995, Laboe and U-2540, Bremerhaven.

Follow up in books: Blair, Clay: Hitler’s U-Boat War: The Hunted: 1942-1945 (1996).