Mystery over link between doll’s house drawing and U-boat drama

Gwen Head and Val Hobbs with the doll's house and the sketch. Picture: Val Hobbs

Gwen Head and Val Hobbs with the doll's house and the sketch. Picture: Val Hobbs - Credit: Archant

What links a small town in Wales, a doll's house, and the scuttling of a U-boat off the coast of Suffolk during the Second World War?

The sketch of the U-Boat with the mystery initials. Picture: Val Hobbs

The sketch of the U-Boat with the mystery initials. Picture: Val Hobbs - Credit: Archant

That is the question being posed by Valerie Hobbs, a former Lowestoft resident whose neighbour, Gwen Head, discovered a sketch of a U-boat in a roof of a doll's house with a small inscription of the characters U13.

That could link the builder to the U13 U-boat which sank off the coast of Lowestoft on May 26, 1940.

Mrs Head, who lives in Sageston, near Tenby in Wales, collects and renovates doll's houses as a hobby and happened across this dolls house at a car boot sale in South Wales.

Mrs Hobbs said: 'Her husband wanted to do some repairs on the roof and underneath the gable there was this drawing of the U13 U-boat and a Royal Navy ship.

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'There are also some doodles of some stick men marching at the side and some initials.'

She added: 'She would very much like to try and trace the person who built the doll's house, or at least their family.'

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The women are appealing for any information about prisoners of war who may have built the doll's house following the scuttling of the U13 U-boat.

Most curiously, the letters IVE are underlined in the top left corner of the sketch, which could be the initials of a crew member who built the doll's house.

Transcriptions of interrogation reports are held by the Lowestoft Memorial Museum, but a spokesman said they do not hold a full crew list with the initials not matching any listed officers from the U13.

It is believed the U-boat's crew, who deliberately sunk the ship after being spotted by the anti-submarine sloop HMS Weston, were taken to shore and imprisoned for the duration of the war.

The Luftwaffe then bombed the remains of the U13 to avoid the possibility of the enigma coding machine on board falling into enemy hands.

Following the raid, a team of Royal Navy divers were sent to the scene to recover any possible intelligence from the wreckage with code books and an enigma code wheel passed on to Bletchley Park, helping to crack the enigma machine.

The remaining wreckage was blown up by the Navy to remove the danger it posed to shipping traffic off the Suffolk coast, with any remains today buried in sand.

If you have any information about the doll's house, the crew of the U13, or the sinking of the U-boat, email

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