How German U-Boats Were Used in WWI—And Perfected in WWII

The most formidable naval weapons of the two world wars, German submarines devastated transatlantic shipping, sinking 8,000 merchant ships and warships and killing tens of thousands of people. These submarines (an abbreviation of Unterseebootthe German word for “submarine boat”) prowled the oceans in search of prey and could attack ships 20 times their size both above and below the surface with their deck guns and torpedoes .

Inside the dimly lit and claustrophobic submarines, sailors could not shower or even change their clothes during patrols that could last two months at sea. Fifty men shared two toilets – one of which doubled as a locker food at the start of the patrols – which could not operate 80 feet or more below the surface due to outside water pressure, according to The U-Boats by Douglas Botting.

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