Is that a screen door I see?
Initially there were attempts to displace the stricken vessel; three tractors tried to refloat the submarine and a French destroyer attempted to break the ship apart using its cannons.These attempts however were unsuccessful and the proximity of the submarine to the public beach and Queens Hotel dissuaded further use of explosive forces.
The wreck of the submarine immediately became a popular tourist attraction with thousands of visitors to Hastings that Easter flocking to see the beached vessel. The vessel was put in charge of the local coastguard station and the Admiralty allowed the Town Clerk of Hastings to charge a small fee for people to climb on the deck of the submarine. This continued for two weeks, during which time the town collected almost £300 (UK£ 10,800 in 2013) which helped fund an event to welcome the town's troops returning from the war.
Two members of the coastguard, chief boatman William Heard and chief officer W. Moore, were tasked with showing important visitors around inside the submarine. The visits however were curtailed at the end of April when both men became severely ill. It was thought that rotten foodstuffs in the submarine were causing the problems however, despite the visits being discontinued, the illnesses continued and got worse. Moore died in December 1919 and Heard followed in February 1920. At his inquest it was heard that a noxious gas, possibly chlorine released from the submarine's damaged batteries, had caused abscesses on the lungs and brain of the dead man.
Even after visits inside the submarine had been stopped it remained common for tourists to take pictures of themselves standing alongside or even on the deck of the U-boat. Eventually, between October and December 1919, U-118 was broken up and the pieces removed and sold for scrap. The gun was left in place but later dug up in 1921. It is believed that some of the keel from the submarine may still lie underneath the sand of the beach.
The event went great, with people stopping by with great questions, and more than a few excited to see that they weren’t the only atheist (or agnostic) in town. The Q&A was very respectful, with some good questions asked.
By far my favorite part of the night, however, was as follows:
Me: If you have any questions, feel free to ask. That’s what the whole event is about.
Drunk woman: I don’t have any questions! You’re all going to hell!
John: And that completely terrifies me.
Drunk woman: [Sarcastically] Oh, really?
John: Yes, I’m terrified that you don’t have any questions.
Woman: Whatever. You’re all troopers for Satan!
Unrelated note, tour dates for the newest metal band, Troopers for Satan, will be released soon.