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Unterseeboot 559

U-559 or Unterseeboot 505

On the night of October 30 1942 the British Destroyer HMS Petard forced the German submarine U-559 to the surface off the Egyptian coast in the Mediterranean.

Able seaman Colin Grazier, Lieutenant Antony Fasson, and Naafi canteen assistant Tommy Brown swam naked to the abandoned submarine which was in the course of sinking after being scuttled by its crew. They successfully recovered code books that produced invaluable information for the codebreakers at Bletchley Park in the cracking of the Enigma machine. Grazier and Fasson failed to leave the submarine in time, and were drowned when the ship sank. Both were awarded the George Cross posthumously. Brown was awarded the George Medal.

The recovery was one of several such events that inspired the fictional account of the capture of U-571 in the film of the same name.