Thu, 17th Jul 2008 12:00

Maritime and Scientific Models, Instruments & Art (Phoenix)

 
  Lot 34
 

34

The hygrometer from U-9, the submarine...

The hygrometer from U-9, the submarine responsible for the sinking of H.M. Cruisers Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy on 22nd September, 1914
with 4¾in. silvered dial calibrated between 0-100%, inscribed Procente der relativen Feuchtigkeit der Luft and signed Maschinenfabrik "Westfalia" Aktien-Gesellschaft,Gelsenkirchen, with blued steel indicator needle, sealed behind bevelled glass and set within a brass case with perforated sides and hole for bulkhead securing

5¾in. (15cm.) diameter overall.

One of the First World War's earliest and most controversial tragedies, the sinking of three elderly lone cruisers in circumstances that were a combination of arrogance, incompetence and bravado provided an early wake-up call for a complacent Admiralty unprepared for the realities of modern total War. The men sent to sea on patrol in three such obsolete cruisers had such a foreboding about their task, they nicknamed themselves "the live bait patrol", in the certain knowledge they would indeed be sunk. Their terrible prophecy unfurled quickly at 6.25am on the fated day when U-9, captained by Otto Weddingen, fired a single torpedo at Aboukir. Settling quickly, the Hogue went to her assistance, only to be struck by a further two torpedoes and sank within 10 minutes. Cressy then paused to lower boats, and although she sighted U-9's periscope and got underway again, it was too late and she was torpedoed twice amidships at 7.20am, foundering in 15 minutes.

It was a potent reminder to an Admiralty who expected the world to play by their rules of war and in which submarines had been dismissed as "ungentlemanly". This was to be a very different war and one in which the Royal Navy would have to earn the prestige it had built in peacetime. Had realists headed the Admiralty at the outset of war, nearly 1,500 men may have been spared a grisly fate. As it was, Winston Churchill's skills were honed for his finest hour another world and a different war away.

Interestingly, U-9 was the only submarine of her class to survive the war, surrendering on the 26th of November 1918, and was broken up at Morecambe in 1919 where the vendor's father is understood to have been part of the breaking team and to have acquired this souvenir, which tests the air for humidity.

Otto Weddigen was not so lucky: Transferred to command of U-29, he was rammed and sunk by H.M.S. Dreadnought on the 18th March 1915 - Dreadnought's only "kill" of the war.

Sold for £806
Estimated at £400 - £600

(inc. buyer's premium of 24%)


 
The hygrometer from U-9, the submarine responsible for the sinking of H.M. Cruisers Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy on 22nd September, 1914
with 4¾in. silvered dial calibrated between 0-100%, inscribed Procente der relativen Feuchtigkeit der Luft and signed Maschinenfabrik "Westfalia" Aktien-Gesellschaft,Gelsenkirchen, with blued steel indicator needle, sealed behind bevelled glass and set within a brass case with perforated sides and hole for bulkhead securing

5¾in. (15cm.) diameter overall.

One of the First World War's earliest and most controversial tragedies, the sinking of three elderly lone cruisers in circumstances that were a combination of arrogance, incompetence and bravado provided an early wake-up call for a complacent Admiralty unprepared for the realities of modern total War. The men sent to sea on patrol in three such obsolete cruisers had such a foreboding about their task, they nicknamed themselves "the live bait patrol", in the certain knowledge they would indeed be sunk. Their terrible prophecy unfurled quickly at 6.25am on the fated day when U-9, captained by Otto Weddingen, fired a single torpedo at Aboukir. Settling quickly, the Hogue went to her assistance, only to be struck by a further two torpedoes and sank within 10 minutes. Cressy then paused to lower boats, and although she sighted U-9's periscope and got underway again, it was too late and she was torpedoed twice amidships at 7.20am, foundering in 15 minutes.

It was a potent reminder to an Admiralty who expected the world to play by their rules of war and in which submarines had been dismissed as "ungentlemanly". This was to be a very different war and one in which the Royal Navy would have to earn the prestige it had built in peacetime. Had realists headed the Admiralty at the outset of war, nearly 1,500 men may have been spared a grisly fate. As it was, Winston Churchill's skills were honed for his finest hour another world and a different war away.

Interestingly, U-9 was the only submarine of her class to survive the war, surrendering on the 26th of November 1918, and was broken up at Morecambe in 1919 where the vendor's father is understood to have been part of the breaking team and to have acquired this souvenir, which tests the air for humidity.

Otto Weddigen was not so lucky: Transferred to command of U-29, he was rammed and sunk by H.M.S. Dreadnought on the 18th March 1915 - Dreadnought's only "kill" of the war.