Suggested Teaching Instructions
Life aboard a WWI submarine was anything but luxurious. German submarines often had 30 men as part of the crew. Bunks, when available, were shared and if there weren’t enough available, hammocks would be used. There are even times on record where men would have to sleep with a torpedo, if the submarine was overloaded with weapons. Originally, British submarines were built primarily to serve in coastal areas, so many didn’t have bathrooms aboard at first. After these were installed, because toilets were pressure controlled, sailors had to be very careful when flushing, so that the flush didn’t backfire. Because of cramped quarters, cleanliness was not the norm in the submarines. Little fresh water was available and close quarters combined body odors with all the other odors of the ship. Many men experienced seasickness. Submarines would also have bilge water (the bilge being the lowest compartment where two sides meet) full of vomit, food particles, oil, and much more. If this water got into the batteries, chlorine gas could be created forcing the submarine to surface. Condensation inside the submarine could cause electrical issues, in addition to making sailors feel as though they lived in a damp cellar. They would often have to cover their faces with rain clothes or rubber sheets to prevent being dripped on all night long. Because the interior was pressure operated, sailors had to be careful when surfacing. Sailors would have to hold the captain’s legs when opening the hatch, so he would not be torpedoed out of the boat with the escaping air.