United States. Office of Naval Records and Library.

German submarine activities on the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada online

. (page 10 of 23)
Online LibraryUnited States. Office of Naval Records and LibraryGerman submarine activities on the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada → online text (page 10 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


our personal effects.

About 15 minutes after we abandoned ship the bombs which had been placed amid-
ships exploded and the schooner sank; we saw the submarine, painted a dark color,
about 4 or 5 miles south by southwest.

The German officers and crew appeared to be healthy and well fed, the crew wear-
ing soiled white uniforms and the officers dark colored uniforms; there were about 15
German officers and men on board the Triumph.

Joseph P. Mesquita, master of the Francis J. O'Hara, Jr., made the
following statement:

We left Gloucester August 17 with complete outfits and supplies aboard bound on
a fishing trip to Quero Bank. We had fine weather and with our power going, made
good time and we arrived on the Middle Ground of Western Bank on Tuesday after-
noon, August 20. I had intended to go directly to Quero, but saw two vessels to the
eastward of us; one of them had anchored and the other was laying up in the wind,
and with my glasses I could see that they were fishing. I could see a beam trawler
steaming up between the two of them, so I decided that I would go up and speak to
the vessel which was laying to and find out what kind of fishing they were having.



THE U-156. 67

On getting nearer, I made out that the vessel was the schooner A. Piatt Andrexo of
Gloucester, and I was going up alongside her to speak to the captain when the beam
trawler approached us under full steam. I could see that it was the trawler Triumph
of Halifax, as we had fished alongside of him on our last trip and I knew the captain
of her quite well. I did not mistrust anything out of the way until they got within
150 yards of us, when they stopped their vessel and the captain, through a megaphone,
ordered us to heave our vessel to. I thought the captain was joking with us and kept
on toward the A. Piatt Andrew, and the first thing we knew four shots were fired
across our bow from rifles. We brought our vessel up in the wind and the beam trawler
came up alongside of us and I then saw that she was manned by a (icrman crew and had
a German flag at her masthead. The captain ordered me to ( on:e aboard of his vessel
with our papers, so I took one of my dories and with one of the i rew rowed alongside
of him and the German gave me quite a calling down for not stopping my vessel sooner
and said that if we expected him to do the right thing, we would have to do the right
thing by him. He then ordered three of his men to come in the dory with me and
they brought a bomb along. The bomb was a small round thing and they had it in a
bag and hung it under the stern with a line. They took one of our other dories and
after touching off the fuse, returned to the beam trawler. The bomb exploded shortly
after they left and the vessel went down stern first, the topmast being the last thing to
disappear. In the meantime, we had forgotten all about the A. Piati Andrew, but
shortly before they blew up my vessel, we heard a muffled explosion and saw the
A. Piatt Andrew go down. All of this happened in about one half or three quarters
of an hour and the vessel went down about 3.30 in the afternoon. We were then about
55 miles south half east from Canso so the crew and myself started in our dories and
rowed toward land. A small fishing boat picked us up off Canso and took us into
Matthews &, Scott's wharf, arriving there at about 9 o'clock in the morning of August
21. I telegraphed home the loss of my vessel and got in communication with the
American consul who sent us home to Gloucester. I arrived home Sunday, August 25.

Only one of the schooners, the Vda A. Saunders, was sunk by the
submarine.

The submarine came up on our bow and came right alongside, her decks awash.
She was about 280 feet long, with guns fore and aft. I was pra< tically alone on the
vessel, all but three of the crew being out in the boats from half mile to a mile away.
The Huns hailed us and ordered a dory alongside. I sent two men out to her in a
dory and three of the raider's crew came aboard. "Don't be afraid," said the one
who appeared to be in command. "We are going to sink your vessel. I will give
you 10 minutes to gather up food and water enough to last you until you get ashore."
One of the Boches set about storing bombs below and soon after we left the Uda A.,\
heard a muffled explosion, the two masts broke off short, she seemed to crumple in
the center and immediately went under. We had enough food and water, but the
men in the other dories had only their working clothes and we who were on board had
only the barest necessities. The Hun commander took all my papers and the flag.
We set out for the nearest shore and rowed 18 hours before landing. We had 700
quintals of fish and 7 casks of oil.^^

On the 21st the Triumjjh, accompanied by the U-156, stopped the
French fishing schooner Notre Dame de la Garde, 145 tons gross, in
latitude 45° 32' N., longitude 58° 57' W., and sank her with bombs,
giving the crew scant time to take to the boats. (The vessel had
aboard at the time 640,000 pounds of fish.)

"Story of Capt. Publicover of the Uda A. Saunders, Gloucester Times, August 20, 1918.



68 GEEMAN SUBMARINE ACTIVITIES ON ATLANTIC COAST.

After sinking the Notre Dame d", la Garde the submarine again
disa])peared for three days, resuming her activities on August 25
by the sinking of the small British S. S. Eric, 583 gross tons. The
following account of the sinking of this ship is taken from the report
made by British communication officers to the Admiralty.

The unarmed British steamer Eric, 610 tons gross, carrying a crew of 18 all told,
owned by James Speir, Ltd., of St. Johns, Newfoundland, and under charter of the
Government of Newfoundland, was sunk by a German submarine on August 25, 1918.

The Eric, 610 gross tons, left St. Johns, Newfoundland, on August 23, 1918, for
Sydney, Nova Scotia; she was in ballast and was to make the voyage without any
intermediate stops. The master of the Eric was Capt. W. Lane, of 43 Longsail
Street, St. Johns, Newfoundland.

About 1.30 a. m., on August 2.5, 1918, the Eric was about 70 miles NW. by W. from
Galantry Light, St. Pierre. She was proceeding straight on her course; was not
zigzagging. The Eric was entirely darkened, but there was a nearly full moon,
giving a fair degree of visibility. There was no land in sight, St. Pierre, about 70
miles distant, being the nearest land.

The first intimation that the crew of the Eric had of the presence of a submarine
was a shot which hit the steamer, about 1.30 a. m. This shot was followed by six
other shots in rapid succession, four more of them hitting the steamer. The steamer
was badly damaged, her wireless apparatus being put out of commission by the first
shot, her smokestack being knocked down by the second one. Five men, including
the captain, mate, and chief engineer, were wounded by pieces of shell and by flying
debris. The captain of the Eric judges that the shots were fired from a distance of
about 2 miles. The Eric stopped immediately after the firing began. No torpedoes
were used.

A few minutes after the firing had ceased the submarine was seen by the crew of
the Eric right alongside the steamer by the stern. Some one aboard the submarine
hailed the Eric and asked if anyone had been killed by the shells fired; on being told
that no one was killed, the man aboard the submarine said that he was glad, as he
was after ships and not lives. The submarine crew did not board the Eric when they
came alongside but ordered the crew of the Eric to come on board the submarine.
There was but one boat of the Eric's complement of lifeboats left, a small one capable
of carrying only four persons. In this boat the Eric's crew rowed over to the submar-
ine, four at a time.

When the captain of the Eric got on board the submarine, the submarine commander
informed him that in view of the fact that there were not sufficient boats in which
to put him and his crew, he would keep them aboard the submarine until he found
a vessel with sufficient boats to accommodate them.

The captain of the Eric went below when he boarded the submarine; some of his
crew, however, remained on deck. These men saw men from the submarine board
the Eric and sink her by placing bombs aboard her.

On going below aboard the submarine the wounded men from the Eric had their
wounds dressed by a doctor, a young man about 25 years old. The crew of the Eric
were given coffee aboard the submarine and the officers were given coffee, brandy,
and cigarettes. The commander of the submarine told the captain of the Eric that
he would put him and his crew aboard the first vessel found having enough boats to
accommodate them. He asked the captain of the Eric if he had passed a fishing
schooner a few hours before and gave its position as best he could.

About 6 a. m. the submarine sighted the Newfoundland schooner Willie G. The
submarine went alongside the Willie G. and the submarine commander inquired
regarding the number of boats she carried. On being informed that she only carried
bIx small dories, he said that these were not enough to accommodate the crew of the



THE U-156. 69

Eric and the crew of the Willie G. and that therefore he would send the Eri,c's crew
aboard the Willie G. and would not sink her, as he had intended doing. This was
done, and the Willie G. brought the crew of the Eric to St. Pierre, arriving there about
10 a. m. on August 26. The Willie G. was only about 25 miles from St. Pierre when
the submarine overtook her and put the Eric's crew aboard.

Three hours after the survivors of the steamer had been placed
aboard the Willie G. the submarine was again in the midst of the
Httle schooners and by noon had sent to the bottom the E. B. Walters,
126 tons, the C. M. Walters, 107 tons, the Verna D. Adams, 1.32 tons,
and the J. J. Flaherty, 162 tons. The last mentioned vessel was an
American, the other three of Canadian register.

The position of the vessels above mentioned at the time the submarine was first
sighted was latitude 46° 33^ N., longitude 57° 33^ W. This was also their position
whea sunk, as they were all at anchor and did not move. The date of the sinking
was August 25, 1918, the time about 10.30 or 11 o'clock a. m. At the time the sub-
marine appeared the vessels were at anchor within about one-half to 1 mile apart.
The crews of the first three were aboard the vessels, as the Canadian fishermen do
not fish on Sunday.

The submarine was first sighted by the crew of the E. B. Walters. When first
sighted, the submarine was about 2 miles NW. of the E. B. Walters. The crew of the
E. B. Walters were not alarmed when they sighted the submarine, as they mistook
it for a Canadian patrol boat. The submarine approached the E. B. Walters, traveling
slowly on the surface. When the submarine was within about 50 yards of the E. B.
Walters, the crew of the schooner saw the German flag on a small flagstaff just behind
the small deck house or conning tower of the submarine. At this juncture a large
man in uniform hailed the E. B. Walters from the deck of the submarine. He ordered
the captain to come alongside the submarine in a dory, and ordered the crew of the
schooner to leave the vessel as quickly as possible. Capt. Cyrus Walters rowed
alongside the submarine in one of the schooner's dories. As he got alongside he said,
"You are not going to sink my schooner, are you?" Some one from the submarine's
deck answered, "That's just exactly what we are going to do." Four men from the
submarine deck then jumped into the dory with Capt. Cyrus Walters and rowed to
the E. B. Walters. These men boarded the schooner and Capt. Walters gave them
the ship's papers. Capt. Walters reports that the men from the submarine ransacked
the ship, even going through the chests of the crew in the forecastle. He saw them
pile up a large quantity of canned goods from the vessel's stores near the dory in which
they had come aboard. Capt. Walters and his crew hastily packed up a few personal
belongings and got into the dories and pulled away from the vessel. About 10 minutes
after they had left the vessel they heard an explosion aboard the schooner and in
about five minutes they saw the schooner sink.

The four men from the submarine who had boarded the E. B. Walters and sunk her,
rowed back to the submarine in the dory which they had taken from the vessel just
sunk. The submarine towed the dory alongside the C. M. Walters which was lying
about one-half mile distant. When the submarine was within about 25 yards of the
C. M. Walters the four men rowed to the schooner in the dory and demanded the
ship's papers from Capt. Wilson Walters, the master. They ordered him and the
crew to leave the schooner as quickly as possible, which they did in about 15 minutes.
Before they left the vessel they saw the four men from the submarine arranging the
bomb with which to sink the schooner. The bomb was pulled under the keel of the
vessel amidships. About 10 minutes after the master and crew of the C. M. Walters
had left the vessel they heard an explosion and in about three minutes the schooner
sank, stern first.



70 GERMAN SUBMAKINE ACTIVITIES ON ATLANTIC COAST.

The submarine, with the dory of the E. B. Walters in tow, then approached the
Vema D. Adams. The master and crew of this schooner had left the vessel before the
submarine approached them. The four men who had sunk the two other schooners
rowed over to the Venia D. Adams and boarded her. The men from the submarine
stayed aboard the Adams longer than aboard any of the other vessels, Capt. Mosher
of the Adams says that he had a large supply of stores aboard, especially of canned
foods, and believes many articles were removed from the schooner and taken aboard
the submarine. The Vema D. Adams was sunk by a bomb placed aboard in the same
manner as was done with the other two vessels.

After disposing of the three Canadian vessels the submarine turned
its attention to the J. J. Flaherty, which was boarded and destroyed
in the same way as the others.

On the mornino; of August 26 the raider captured and sank by
bombs the Canadian fishing schooner Gloaming, 130 gross tons, in
latitude 46° 02' N., longitude 57° 35' W.

After the attack on the Gloaming the U-156 began her homeward
voyage. On August 31 the U. S. S. West Haven, 5,699 gross tons, a
Naval Overseas Transportation ship, was attacked and shelled in lati-
tude 44° 20' N., longitude 51° 09' W.; but succeeded in escaping.
The West Haven sent a radio message from the above location: "8.25
a. m. Attacked by an enemy submarine which opened fire upon us.
Immediately brought guns into action. At 8.46 a. m. enemy subma-
rine ceased firing and turned broadside to."

The U-156 was the only one of the enemy submarines dispatched to
the American coast that failed to return to her base in safety. After
remaining in the North Sea during the concentration there, this vessel
which had worked such havoc with the fishing industry of the Atlantic
coast attempted to run the northern mine barrage. She struck a
mine and was so damaged that she sank in a short time. Twenty-one
survivors were landed on the Norwegian coast shortly after the signing
of the armistice ; the fate of the rest of the crew is unknown.

THE CRUISE OF U-140.

Within a week (June 22, 1918) after the U-156 had commenced her
voyage to the American Atlantic coast the U-I40, a cruiser subma-
rine mounting two gims and commanded by Korvettenka'utan
Kophamel, left Kiel for the same destination. She proceeded nu-th
of the Shetland Islands and had her first encounter of the voyage on
July 14, when an alio was received from the U. S. S. Harrishurn ,-^'
giving her position as latitude 45° 33' N., longitude 41° W.

On the 18th the American tanker, Joseph CudaJiy, 3,302 tons o^ohs,.
which had been obliged to fall behind her convoy because of her slow
speed, reported that she was being gunned in latitude 41° 15' N..
longitude 52° 18' W. Two days later the cruiser Galveston announced
that she had received a radio purporting to come from the Cudahy

^ The iiarrw6ur(7 sighted the U-156 three days later.



THE U-140. 71

reporting her position from a confidential reference point. In view of
the vessel's speed, which was known to be 9 knots, and of the fact
that her armament consisted of 3-inch gims, it was believed that
this message was a decoy; that the Cudahy had ])een captured and
that her confidential publications were in the hands of the Germans.
The message, however, proved to be genuine, the merchant ship hav-
ing escaped without damage.

On the 26th the British steamer Melitia, 13,967 gross tons, was
gunned in latitude 38° 42' N., longitude 60° 58' W., and later the
same day the British Major, 4,147 tons gross, was attacked by the
submarine in the same locality; both vessels escaped.'^

The following day the TJ-I40 registered her first sinking when in
latitude 38° 25' 36" N., longitude 61° 46' 30" W., she captured the
Portuguese bark Porto, 1,079 gross tons, bound from Savannah to
Oporto. Capt. Jose Tude d'Oliveisa da Velha made the following
statement to the American naval authorities:

The Porto sailed under the Portuguese flag. Including myself there were 18 in the
crew. Every member of the crew was Portuguese. On the 1 1th of July we sailed from
Savannah, Ga., bound for Oporto with a cargo of 600 bales of cotton and barrel staves.
We had on board provisions for six months. The ship 's stores were of a general nature.
The Porto was not armed. The submarine was first seen July 27, about 11 a. m. It was
then about 2 miles off the starboard bow. She was on the surface and gradually ap-
proached us. When the submarine was about 2 miles off she fired three shots, after which
we hove to. The submarine then came alongside the bark, while we were still aboard,
and tied up. The commander of the submarine and one officer and a seaman who
spoke Spanish asked for the ship's papers. I gave the commander of the submarine
all the ship's papers, including the manifest, bill of lading, and everything. None of
the nautical instruments were taken by the Germans because we managed to conceal
them. One of the first things they inquired about was whether or not we had on board
any pork or chickens. When I replied yes, they proceeded to remove all the pork and
chickens we had on board. While we were tied alongside, the Germans for five hours
took the supplies from our ship and put them on the submarine by the use of planks.
In addii )n to the pork and chickens the crew took practically all of the ship's stores.
None of the crew of the Porto helped in removing the supplies from our ship to the
submarine, it was done by the crew of the submarine. No member of the crew of the
Porto at any time boarded the submarine. The crew of the Porto did not wait until
all the supplies were removed to the submarine, but shoved off in the two large lifeboats
from the Porto after about half an hour. After shoving off in the lifeboats we remained
in sight of the bark and the submarine until the bark was sunk. The Porto was sunk
at about 5.30 p. m. with bombs and shell fire. No ships were seen at any time while
the submarine was in our sight.

The commander was tall and slim, with a short mustache, dressed in brown. I did
not notice whether or not he had on any stripes. The commander was about 35 years
old. There must have been about 90 men composing the crew of the submarine, as they
were all on the deck at one time or another. The Porto was 216 feet long, and as the
submarine lay alongside she was just a little bit smaller.

The submarine was painted gray. The gun on the stern was larger than the gun on
the bow. I do not know the caliber of the gun. The stern gun was about 15 feet long.

33 The Melitia exchanged shots with the submarine, but the range was too great for effective fire from
either.



72 GERMAN SUBMARINE ACTIVITIES ON ATLANTIC COAST.

and the bow gun about 12 feet long. She had one conning tower located in the center.
The number "U-19" was painted in white on the bow. The submarine had no flag or
ensign. The German commander did not give me a receipt for my ship. Some of the
crew of the Porto engaged in conversation with the submarine crew in Spanish, but it
only concerned the provisions. Neither I nor any member of the crew ascertained how
long the submarine had been out or what their plans were. The commander con-
versed with me through an interpreter who was a member of the crew of the sul jmarine
and who carried binoculars and did not wear a hat. The interpreter through whom
the submarine commander spoke, spoke a very pure Spanish, and I believe he was not
a German.

On July 30 the American S. S. Kermanshah, 4,947 gross tons, was
attacked by the submarine in latitude 38° 24' N., longitude 68° 41' W.
In an interview with Robert H. Smith, master of the ship, with the
United States naval authorities, he says:

The Kermanshah, owned by the Kerr Steamship Corporation, arrived at New York
July 30, 1918, from Havre via Plymouth, in water ballast. She carried three naval
radio operators and an American-armed guard crew of 21 men under the command
of M. Coffey, C. G. M., U. S. N. Her armament consisted of one 4-inch gun astern
and a 2-pounder forward.

On July 30. at 11.45 a. m. (ship's time), while in latitude 38° 24^ N., longitude
68° AY W., the captain was standing in the chart-room doorway and sighted the wake
of a torpedo headed toward the after part of the port side of the Kermanshah. He ran
on deck, let the ship run off about four points to starboard, and the torpedo missed the
stern by 10 or 15 feet. The helm was eased a trifle so that the ship would not be
swinging too quickly to starboard in the event another torpedo was sighted. The
ship had no sooner steadied a little when the wake of another torpedo was seen
approaching amidships on the starboard side. The captain immediately put the
helm hard to starboard with the idea of throwing the ship in a course parallel to that
of the torpedo. In this he was successful, the torpedo passing the starboard bow about
5 feet away.

As soon as the second wake was sighted the commander of the armed guard fired
one round from the 4-inch gun astern, the shot being directed at the spot the wake
started from. The explosion that followed sounded like the bursting of the shell
against a hard object, which gave the captain the impression that a hit had been made.
After following a northerly course at full speed of 9.5 knots for about 15 or 20 minutes,
the submarine was sighted on the horizon about 4 miles distant, the gun crew imme-
diately opening fire. After a few rounds it was seen that the submarine was out of
range and fire was stopped. As the submarine made no attempt to chase or fire on the
ship, the captain believes there is some basis for assuming that the first shot had some
effect.

Alio and SOS messages were sent out immediately after the first torpedo missed,
giving position and stating that the Kermanshah was being attacked and pursued.

At the time of the attack there was fine, clear weatlaer, the sea fairly smooth, with
moderate south winds. The regular watch was on the aft gun platform; there were
lookouts in the crow's nests on the ion and main masts, but no periscope vras sighted.

There was no telescope aboard the ship, and Capt. Smith having viewed the sub-
marine through ordinary binoculars, could furnish no identifying description. He
did not know whether any gxms were mounted on her deck.

At 7 p. m. (ship's time), when about 60 miles north (true) of his noon position,
Capt. Smith was about to alter his course to the westward when the gun crew fired at
a periscope sighted off the starboard beam. After dark several decided changes were
made in the course and the submarine was not sighted again.



THE U-140. 73

Earlier in the day one of the grin crew reported to the watch officer the si2;hting of a
email two-masted vessel. Capt. Smith is of the opinion that it was a dia^jiiised sub-
marine, but could furnish no further details or reason for his belief.

The next victim of the U-I40 was the Japanese steamship Tokuyama
Maru, 7,029 gross tons, which was torpedoed 200 miles southeast of
New York, in approximately latitude 39° 12' N., longitude 70° 23' W.,
on August 1 at about 8 o'clock in the evening. The ship struck "was
hit on the starboard side under the bridge with a torpedo," remained
afloat long enough to send an alio, but the submarine which launched
the torpedo was never sighted.

Another large ship was successfully attacked by the raider three
days later, when the tanker 0. B. Jennings, a vessel of 10,289 gross
tons, after successfully avoiding a torpedo attack, was sunk by


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryUnited States. Office of Naval Records and LibraryGerman submarine activities on the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada → online text (page 10 of 23)