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When the war came to Napier…

When the war came to Napier…Monday 26 September 2016

Napier residents living through World War II were unaware just how close they came to a deadly “wolf of the sea” back in January of 1945. But thanks to years of work by military researcher Peter Trevathan, the tale of the German submarine U-862 and its visit to Hawke Bay is being shared publicly on a storyboard.

Over seven decades after the event itself, the tale of a submarine lurking in the waters close to Napier has been installed by Napier City Council by the Marine Parade pathway, near the Soundshell.

Mr Trevathan, who is based in Dunedin, will travel to Napier for the official unveiling this Wednesday 28 September. He was living in Napier in the early 2000s when he discovered a few tidbits of information about U-862, commanded by Heinrich Timm, on the Internet. He then spent three years “on and off” researching the story, before deciding to contact Council to see if it could be commemorated in some way. To his delight, Community Development staff decided to pursue it. “I’m really pleased this is happening. It’s a very important part of maritime history and Napier history,” Mr Trevathan says.

U-862 is believed to be the only German submarine ever sent on a combat mission to the Pacific. Commander Timm decided New Zealand waters might be a good place to hide from the Australian armed forces after the sub sank two US freighters southwest of Sydney.
According to Mr Trevathan’s research, when the sub surfaced very close to Napier, all the crew came up to have a look at the city, sparkling in the near distance. What they saw were lights, liveliness, and people dancing.

Mr Trevathan’s fascination with U-862 is ongoing - he has set up an historical society focused on U-862. The sub is known to have fired a torpedo at the coastal trader The Pukeko not far from Napier Port. But the torpedo has never been found, and Mr Trevathan hopes 21st century technology may finally locate its whereabouts.

He is also hoping to publish a book on the members of the British Regiment who travelled from India to Dunedin to participate in the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s.

The storyboard unveiling ceremony begins at 10am.


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