The Hidden Photographs of U-564

Lawrence Paterson tells the story behind a new book of rare photographs published this month detailing life aboard a German Second World War submarine.

Fifty-five years after the end of the Second World War in Europe a unique time capsule from that turbulent period was unearthed in Yorkshire. Three hundred and sixty-one photographs showing a single war patrol of U-564 were discovered among the possessions of ex-Royal Navy diver Foster Appleyard.

Appleyard had been a member of the extensive team of naval personnel involved during 1944 and 1945 in clearing the massive amount of battle debris from Brest. The Breton harbour was one of five French ports taken over in 1940 by the conquering German Wehrmacht with the express purpose of their conversion to U-boat base. Four years later in September 1944 Brest’s German defenders succumbed to American ground attack.

During his work in the shattered city, Appleyard stumbled across the collection of photographs within the cavernous U-boat bunkers. These he ‘liberated’, returning with them to Yorkshire in his haversack. Eventually, after Appleyard’s death the collection found its way to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum where it is housed today within the photographic archive.

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