German submarine U-1206 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine during World War II. Construction started on June 12, 1943 at F. Schichau GmbH in Danzig. She was put into service on March 16, 1944 and a little over a year later, in April 14, 1945 she was at the bottom of the North Sea. The boat’s emblem was a white stork on a black shield with green beak and legs. U-1206 was one of the late-war boats that had been fitted with new deepwater high-pressure toilets, allowing their use while running at depth. These toilets were a rather complicated procedure, so special technicians were trained to operate them. Operating the toilets incorrectly…in the wrong sequence could result in waste or seawater flowing back into the hull. Not only would it have been a nasty mess, it could be dangerous.

On April 14, 1945, just 24 days before the end of World War II in Europe, U-1206 was cruising at a depth of 200 feet, eight nautical miles off Peterhead, Scotland. A sailor decided that he knew the procedure for flushing the toilet, and after performing the procedure wrong, caused large amounts of seawater to flood the boat. According to the Commander’s official report, while in the engine room helping to repair one of the diesel engines, he was informed that a malfunction involving the toilet caused a leak in the forward section. The leak flooded the submarine’s batteries, which were located directly beneath toilet, causing them to generate chlorine gas. The Commander had no alternative but to surface. Immediately upon surfacing, basically right in the middle of several British patrol boats, U-1206 was torpedoed, forcing Schlitt to scuttle the submarine. One man died in the attack, three men drowned in the heavy seas after abandoning the vessel and 46 were captured.

I can’t imagine the frustration the Commander must have felt. Prior to the stupidity of one sailor, the submarine had been cruising along in relative safety. A forced surfacing was sure to put them in harms way, but the gas in the submarine would most certainly kill them too. He did the only thing he could do, and U-1206 was at the bottom of the North Sea less than an hour later, where it would remain, hidden During survey work for the BP Forties Field oil pipeline to Cruden Bay in the mid 1970s, the remains of U-1206 were found at 57°21’N 01°39’W in approximately 230 feet of water.

When you put three kids together out in the country, where they can’t go play with friends, they have to use their imaginations to find fun things to do. And when two of the kids are quite a bit younger, it is left to the oldest to brainstorm the adventures. Such was the case when Bob and his sisters, Marlyce and Debbie were young. Most often the play was the average kid stuff that all kids play, but sometimes they got into a little mischief.

I’m told of a time when my mother and father-in-law were outside milking a cow and the kids were in the house. I’m not sure who came up with the idea, but both Bob and Debbie have told me that it was Marlyce, and that’s their story, and they are sticking to it. The kids weren’t alone in the house very long, but when you put a bag of uncooked macaroni into the toilet, and don’t tell your parents, and it sits there for a little while…well, it expands, and sticks together like glue, and my mother-in-law told me that they broke the toilet. I have tried to figure out how macaroni could break a toilet, and I just can’t completely figure it out, but what is very clear in my head is that if the macaroni broke the toilet, there was one big mess to be cleaned up.

I don’t know for sure what they were playing, but my guess would be that the toilet reminded them of a big cooking pot, so they were pretending that they were cooking dinner. Gross as that may sound. And they are not alone in that kind of play. One of my sisters used to mix Comet, and different shampoo and conditioner types in the toilet. I guess it makes a good test tube too.

The thing that really strikes me a funny, is that the very same children who can get themselves into so much mischief…who can make such big messes…who can cause so much trouble, can also have such angelic little faces. And sometimes those angelic little faces happen right after the big troublemaking mischief they just got into. It can make it hard to be mad at them sometimes, although my guess is that this was not one of those times. I feel pretty safe in saying that even with their angelic faces or at least the attempt at angelic faces, we simply not enough to get then out of the trouble that this triple play got them into.

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