This is not a story of heroism or of any war glory action we have come to expect in a World War II story, but rather a sad and humiliating tale of the capture of U-Boat 1206. The year is 1945 and it begins like this:
After departing from occupied Norway, Captain Karl Adolf Schlitt sets sail with his crew of 50 men with an order to go towards the Atlantic and destroy any British and American ships. “Easy enough,” thought Captain Karl and away the happy crew went. Not so happy was the crew after a few days when Captain Karl made the biggest mistake of his early and short lived career. This is what happened.
U-Boat 1206 was one of the first German U-Boats to have advanced plumbing systems. Before the advancement Captain Karl’s sub came out, it was only possible to use the toilet when the submarine was on or near the ocean surface. When the sub descended and one had to go, it was either holding it or using the communal bucket. And if that didn’t make matters worse, the smell of everyone’s usage in the bucket (along with the crew’s B.O.) for days on end is enough to make everyone appreciate fresh air and deodorant. But Captain Karl’s sub was different. It could be used at deep sea levels with no bucket necessary, but it came with just a tiny minor flaw.
The the new plumbing system was so hard to understand how to be used that a toilet-flushing specialist had to be on board in order to flush the toilet. Just imagine a modern Japanese toilet but ten times more difficult to understand. But Captain Karl, being the big shot that he was thought, “Naw, I can flush a toilet. How hard can it be?” He tried to read the manual but instead pulled the wrong lever and up came everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. But submerged the U-Boat stayed until another tiny minor flaw came into play with the plumbing system.
Below the toilet were the batteries that the sub ran on when submerged. When the wrong lever was pulled and everything came out along with sea water, it leaked into the battery holding creating chlorine gas, which we all know is not good for ones health. Without much of a choice, Captain Karl had to resurface U-Boat 1206 without making it to the mid-Atlantic, but had in fact resurfaced on the shores of Scotland making the allies very happy.
Captain Karl and his crew were captured, and I’m sure were grateful later on in life to use a normal working toilet.