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Hi guys, I am researching the life /and death/ of a young Bulgarian naval officer - michman Swetogorsky. After graduating in the Naval school, prior to the WW1, he was sent for training in Livorno, Italy. During the WW1 his training continued in the naval bases of Germany /Flensburg, Kiel/. Seems he was going on combat missions with German military vessels. Not long before the end of his training in Germany, on 30 April 1918 he was lost onboard of the U-104 submarine.

So, can you tell me anything about that vessel? What type was it, why it sank, is the wreck located? Thanks in advance!

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U 104 was depth charged on 23 April 1918 by the USS Cushing. On the morning of 25 April HMS Jessamine found the submarine on the surface attempting to repair depth charge damage. KaptLt zS Bernis dived in an attmept to escape, but they were depth charged to the surface again.

10 men escaped from U 104 but HMS Jessamine only picked up one--

Karl Eschenburg. SOMEWHERE around here we've had a 1920 letter posted by Eschenburg to the widow of his crewmate Bruno K?nnecke. If I remember correctly, it was in a group that was sold here.

Place of loss was St. George's Channel, 51?59' N 06?26'W in the Irish Sea. 31 crewmen went down with the submarine and 9 were left to drown in the sea.

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Great information, thank you very much, Rick!!! Do you know, is the text of the letter available to read somewhere?

EDIT: Just found it! A search for U-104 returned no result, but for U104.... http://gmic.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=1023...=U104&st=20 :cheers: :cheers:

I have some letters from the Bulgarian officer to his brother. In the last one from March 1918, he wrote about an experience "at the treshold of life and death" and expressed great joy from being alive and etc. Also mentioned about the sea depths - so it was Uboat experience. And a month later his luck was over!

Edited by Theodor
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10 men escaped from U 104 but HMS Jessamine only picked up one--

I do not study the naval war, and WW II not at all, but I have come across several accounts of the Royal Navy sinking a German ship, in both WW I and WW II, and only picking up a few men, out of many more in the water. I remember one case where, from the British point of view, it was stated that there was a fear of lurking submarines, although in that case it was in mid-Atlantic at the end of a high-speed chase of over 1000 miles, and to my simple non-naval mind it would seem that the possibility of a U-boat there was remote indeed in that situation. This raises the suspicion that a few were picked up for intelligence purposes and the rest were left to die. There was also the case in WW I where a UK warship refused to pick up the crew of a downed Zeppelin in the North Sea who were clinging to the wreckage; the crew then had time to write farewell letters to their families and "post" them in bottles, one or more of them recovered on the Danish coast. The letter(s) identified the British ship; it was quite an affair at the time.

Was this a standard British practice? (I hesitate to use the word "tradition".) Did other navies practice this? I do not recall reading of other navies doing this, but I don't read that many naval accounts.

Bob Lembke

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Among some letters from the man, there is also this one - I think it has been sent to the family a bout the death of their son and brother. Unfortunately only the first page is preserved! But what is it, an official notification about the tragedy, a private letter from a commanding officer or a private letter from a friend? If possible, can someone give me a brief translation? It is well readable, even I can read the words, but can not understand their meaning :speechless:

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And here is a photo of Swetogorsky with his comrades. On the back he has written, "These are my four best and most dear friends I live in one room with them. Their good mothers when sending them kitchens /food parcels/, never forget me, too.

1. Flitner

2. Deussen

3. Jehmigel

4. Bru:gmann

5. Me"

There is no date and no first names. Only with the second names, it is possible to find anything about these men? They were his roommates - could they be on the U-boat, too? Or on Mine-layer 134? /he has served on that ship, too, a letter dated 31 July 1917 is written from there/. Or studying together?

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General info on the U-boat,

U-104

Type: Mittel U

Shipyard: A.G. Weser, Bremen (Werk 255)

Ordered: 15th Sep, 1915

Laid down: 4th Aug, 1916

Launched: 3rd Jul, 1917

Commissioned: 12th Aug, 1917

Commanders: 1st Oct, 1917 - 25th Apr, 1918, Kptlt. Kurt Bernis

Career: 4 patrols,1st Oct, 1917 - 25th Apr, 1918 with the II Flotilla

Successes: 8 ships sunk for a total of 10.795 tons.

Fate:25 Apr, 1918 - Depth charged by HMS Jessamine in St George's Channel and sank at 5159N 0626W.. 41 dead and 1 survivor

Regards Eddie

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Hello Theodor.

The letter is from the Flotilla Commander to which U 104 belonged to the brother of the missing Bulgarian ensign who is serving in the Royal Bulgarian Navy. In the letter the known particulars are given as they stood six weeks after the boat's departure. Only two short radio messages were received namely on the 13. and 16. April. Also from the enemy side no news were had. There cannot be hope for a safe return of the boat.Therefore the only conclusion is that the boat fell victim to the enemy countermeasures. The ensign was described as an energetic and capable young man who on the return leg from the first mission was already entrusted with an officer's duty.His renewed assignment to this vessel was at the wish of the boat commander who had expressed his satisfaction with the performance of the ensign during his first voyage.

I hope this contributes to a better understanding of the letter,

Bernhard H. Holst

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Gentlemen, thank you very much for the boat details and the important translation! Yes, the letter is even more interesting and important, than I expected!!

Meanwhile I managed to find out, that his elder brother /seems the recipient of the German letter/ was Chief of the Naval School. He was such for about 3 and a half years, from 1915 to about 1919.

Edited by Theodor
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Here is an interesting detail - I think he got the EK2! That's him, with the ribbon. Unfortunately the photo is not dated.

As said earlier, in March 1918 he wrote to his brother about a dangerous, life-threatening experience with an U-boat. At the treshold of life and death, in the sea depths... Maybe got the EK for that? Or some earlier experience? Don't know. Have not yet read all letters, the clue may be there.

BTW, is there a source about the Navy awards? Some kind of lists, saying who got the EK and when got it, for the German Navy?

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