Historians unravelling the mystery behind a WW2 artwork

The embroidery was discovered in the cellar of the Fishermen's Mission in Aberdeen - and has a fascinating story to tell.

Historians in Aberdeen are unravelling the mystery behind a Second World War artwork found by fishermen.

The 7ft by 6ft embroidery was found by Graham Guyan in the cellar of the Fishermen’s Mission on the city’s Market Street, who initially thought it was a rolled up flag in the corner.

Little did he know, it would turn out to be a rare, unique piece of history.

He told STV News: “When we unfurled it we thought it was what I believed to be four fishermen.

“I took it to Colin Johnston the historian and when I unfurled it to him, he identified it as the conning tower of a U-boat. I did get a shock and the wow factor as it was a lot more than we originally appreciated.”

Questions over who, how and why the artwork was left there remain.

Historian Colin Johnston has started to peel back the mystery on the artwork’s origins.

He said it started on a very stormy night on April 14, 1945, four weeks before the end of the war when a German submarine sank just off the coast of Aberdeenshire.

To this day, the German U-boat still lies ten miles off the Buchan Coast.

But questions over how it ended up in the bottom of the Fisherman’s Mission in Aberdeen remain.

Graham Guyan discovered the tapestry rolled up in the cellar of the Fishermen's Mission

“There was a group of six who floundered onto the shoreline just off the coast at Cruden Bay,” he said.

“And luckily although three drowned, the other six managed to get up the cliff and headed towards the nearest place of dwelling.

“Along with the rest of the prisoners, they were sent to Tullos prisoner of war camp, which is where I believe the embroidery was created.

“Lots of unanswered questions but it’s 99.9% certain that the German sailors made this… because the question is – who else would have done it?”

Despite being under wraps for potentially 77 years, embroidery expert Heather King says the tapestry has been well deserved.

She said: “There is a little bit of water marks due to damp, but it has been very well preserved. Looking at it, it looks as if there’s lots of recycled materials.

“During the war fabrics were rationed anyway so it looks as if they have been reusing what they had to hand.”

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