U 73, historical photographs

The first five photos of the German submarine U 73 are unpublished and were cordially granted by the Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg – Germany.


The submarine U 73 at the Cattaro (Kotor) naval base on the Dalmatian coast (now Montenegro) which at the time belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The picture shows the sub bearing the flag of the Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine (Imperial and Royal Navy, abbreviated and better known as the K.u.K. Kriegsmarine). This fact dates the photograph between 30th April (arrival of U 73 at Cattaro) and 28th August 1916 (declaration of war from Italy against Germany). (Copyright © Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg).


The U 73 was a submarine built as a mine layer and mine field deployer. With a capacity of 34 percussive mines and their anchoring gear, these could be positioned either from the surface or while submerged. The German mines after sinking were reaching the bottom of the sea and then slowly rising to a predetermined set depth using a mechanism that was incorporated in their anchoring system. (Copyright © Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg).


The U 73 at Pola, Istria, the main base of the Austro-Hungarian Empire navy at that period. The photograph clearly shows the war flag of Austro-Hungarian Navy, which chronologically ranks it in second or third quarter of 1916. The German submarines carried this flag during this period and while on duty in the Adriatic, sine Italy had not as yet declared war on the German Empire. (Copyright © Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg).


U 73 in the Gulf of Pola, Istria. Pola (now Pula, Croatia) was the base of the submarine flotilla in which the U 73 also belonged (Deutsche U-Flotille Pola). By the middle of 1915 the Austro-Hungarian Empire had already made available the naval bases of Pola, Cattaro and Fiume to the German Navy (Deutsche Kaiserliche Kriegsmarine), all of them being used for the conduct of submarine warfare against the navies of the Entente. (Copyright © Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg).


The U 73 in Cattaro (now Kotor). The two masts, which also appear in previous photos, were used for raising communication flags as well as for marking with a symbol each sunken ship. The hoisting of such flags was standard practice for the captains of German submarines during the First World War, as this indicated the number of ships which had sank. The flag code was observed on the return of each submarine to her base accompanied by a celebration, provided by the crews of the flotilla. (Copyright © Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg).

G. Siess

Lieutenant Commander Gustav Siess (11.12.1883 - 14.10.1970) joined the Imperial German Navy (Deutsche Kaiserliche Kriegsmarine) in 1902. He was Captain of submarines U 33, U 73 and U 65. During his command of the U 73 (October 1915 - April 1917), he sank 17 merchant marine vessels (a total of 96,742 GRT) and two warships, the British "RUSSEL" and the Russian "PERESVYET". Lt. Cdr. Gustav Siess was decorated with the Iron Cross of the first and second order. He also received the medal 'Pour le Merite', in April 1918, for the total tonnage of ships sank amounting to a high 261,399 GRT's. Gustav Siess is hitherto classified as one of the aces of the German submarine warfare. (KFB Collection).

U 73 - Aft

The 88 mm canon of U 73 at the sub's stern. This photograph was taken in April of 1916, in the North Atlantic during her passage towards the Mediterranean Sea. (KFB Collection).

S/S Gaia

S.M.S. Gäa, a ship of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Navy (K.u.K. Marine), served as a support vessel for the accommodation of submarine officers and crews which were operating from the Cattaro base in Dalmatia. The ship offered comfort for all aces of German submarines during the First World War. Such included well known Captains as Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière (U 35), Walter Forstmann (U 39), Max Valentiner (U 38 ) and Gustav Siess (U 73). (KFB Collection).

Martin Niemöller

Martin Niemöller was the navigation officer of U 73, from 1916 to 1917. He recorded his experiences of the war in a book titled, “Vom U-Boot zur Kanzel” (From the U-Boat to the Pulpit). Martin Niemöller (who after the war became a priest) describes several details of the U 73 action, which includes the deployment of a minefield on the 28th of October 1916, outside the bay of St. Niccolo, Kea island. This minefield is considered the cause for the sinking of both ships, the S/S Burdigala and just 7 days later, the HMHS Britannic. Martin Niemöller became famous, after WW2, for his opposition to the Nazis and his imprisonment in Sachsenchausen and Dachau concentration camps during 1937 - 1945. (KFB Collection).

U 73 - Cattaro - SM

The U 73 at the Cattaro Naval Base. The characteristics of its flag show that now uses the flag of the German Navy (Deutsche Kaiserliche Kriegsmarine) and not of the K.u.K. Kriegsmarine. This fact dates the photograph after 28th August 1916, the date of declaration of war from Italy against Germany. (Copyright © National Maritime Museum - United Kingdom).


The gulf of Cattaro in Dalmatia ca. 1916. Cattaro (now Kotor, Montenegro), was the southernmost port of the Austrohungarian Empire and was a main submarine base for the "Deutsche U-Flottille Pola", to which the U 73 also belonged. (KFB Collection).

Copyright © 2009 by D. Galon and the S/S Burdigala Project Team

%d bloggers like this: