United States. Office of Naval Records and Library.

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

. (page 15 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 15 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

by W. M. Rheinhard, master of the Elsie Porter, are as follows:

Submarine first sighted approaching the schooner from the eastward and fired rifle
shots to stop the schooner. The submarine showed no colors at any time. AH the
provisions were taken off the schooner and the captain of the submarine asked the
master of the Porter the course that steamers usually took from Newfoundland to
Canada. Master replied that he did not know. Submarine commander then threat-
ened to take the master to Germany or make him do pilot work. He took the ship's

Submarine had no number, appeared to be from 300 to 400 feet long. Had the
whaleback deck forward and steel slats in front of conning tower. Conning tower
was 15 to 18 feet high. Had large gun forward, but could not see whether there was
a gun on the bow to conning tower and from conning tower to stem. No wireless
gear seen. Submarine was painted a dark steel color and paint looked to be about
two months old. No marks of damage were seen on the submarine. Ofiicers and
crew wore leather uniforms and naval caps. Commanding officer was about 35 years
old, medium height, thin face, sharp nose, dark complexion, black hair, and appear-
ance dirty. The master and crew were treated humanely and were offered tobacco,
matches, and compass on leaving submarine.

Submarine crew stated that they were tired of war and were only being made to
fight by their officers. The submarine claimed to have sunk the schooner Bianca, and
from charts seen submarine had come from Cape Race.

The steamship Solberg picked up part of crew of the Elsie Porter in latitude 47° 40'
N., longitude 51° 08' W. at 1.15 p. m. on September 1. The same ship picked up
crew of Potentate which was sunk by submarine at 8 p. m. on August 30.

The sinking of the two schooners evidently took place while the
raider was on her homeward way.

On September 9 she went to the assistance of the U-I4O which
had been forced to call for aid because of a leak, also on her return
voyage, and the two spent the day in company in latitude 54° 10' N.,
longitude 22° 30' W. ; and then proceeded into the North Sea.^^ The

^ Seo page 82 (U-140).


TJ~117 passed the Skaw and Albach Bay safel}', but apparently ran
short of fuel oil later, for in October as she approached the German
coast, torpedo-boat destroyers were sent out to tow her into Kiel.


The TJ-155 was the original German submarine of the converted
mercantile type having been, before her conversion into a commerce
destroj'er, the famous submersible cargo carrier, the Deutschland.
After the entry of the United States into the war this vessel to-
gether with others built for merchant service were refitted and soon
after made their appearance as raiders. It seemed fitting to the
Germans that this vessel, which had in her peaceful character made
two trips to American ports, now to be dispatched to western
Atlantic waters to attack the commerce of the United States.

It was early in August of 1918 that the ex-Deutschland under the
command of Kapitanleutnant Erick Eckelmann left Kiel on her
errand of destruction. She was sighted off Udsire (lat. 59° 19' N.,
long. 4° 50' E.) on August 16, going north.

The first attack made by the U-loo was directed against the
American steamship Montoso, of 3,129 gross tons, on August 27, 1918,
in latitude 40° 19' N., longitude 32° IS' W. The following ^is the
statement of A. O. Forsyth, master of the steamer Montoso:

On the evening of August 27, 6 p. m. (A. T. S.), in latitude 40° 24^ N., longitude
31° 41^ W., it was reported to me that a suspicious looking wake had been seen on our
port beam, resembling that thrown up by a small steamboat. I was at dinner at the
time, and it had disappeared by the time I had reached the bridge.

I gave orders for an especially good lookout to be kept, and remained on the bridge
myself. Signaled to U. S. S. Rondo and the U. S. S. Ticonderoga, which were in com-
pany with us, and asked the Rondo (who was acting as commander by mutual con-
sent) if he did not think it ad^isable to make a radical change in our course after
dark, in order to prevent our being followed successfully. He changed the course 20°
and to starboard.

At 9 p. m. (A. T. S.), latitude 40° 19' N., longitude 32° 18' W., I distinctly saw the
outline of a long, low dark object on our port beam about 2,000 yards away, showing
about 4 feet. I called the attention of the chief boatswain mate, commanding the
Armed Guard, to it. He immediately went to the after gun and opened fii-e, in the
meantime I ordered com-se to starboard to bring the object on our port quarter,
leaAdng it a little open so that forward gun would bear on it. We fii'ed six shots from
aft and four from forward, and the Ticonderoga fired two, the Rondo was unarmed.
Submarine making about 10 knots, we about the same.

Just after we opened fire, two shots fell a few hundred yards astern of us, evidently
the submarine had lost sight of ue and was firing at the flashes of om- after gxm; if so,
his range was good, but direction poor.

I did not see him after the first shot was fired from our forward gun, as the flash of
the gun blinded me, but when I first observed him he was dii'ectly under the star
"Antares" and I could see that om- shots were good as far as direction was concerned.
If we did not hit him, we prevented his sm-prise attack, and scared him badly.

Lost sight of Ticoivderoga and the Rondo for the balance of the night, but picked
them up the next morning. Signaled the Ticonderoga and compared notes. He said

THE GERMAN SUBMARINE, U-1>55^ . , ;■ •, ; ; 101

he was of the opinion that there were two submarines. I saw only one, however.
He also said submarine had fired three or four shots. I only observed two under our
stern and they were so close I had to see them. I can not give too mTich credit to the
crew of this ship for the manner in which they conducted themselves, both the Armed
Guards and the civilians, every man being in his place in the shortest possible time,
and absolute discipline prevailed.

Four days aiter this encounter the submarine scored her first
success, capturing and sinking with bombs the Portuguese schooner
Gamo, 315 gross tons, in latitude 46° N., longitude 32° W.

The day following, the U. S. S. Frank H. Buck, 6,077 tons gross,
was attacked in latitude 45° 38' N., longitude 37° 17' W. The
gun crew of the tanker bested the submarine in an engagement
which lasted half an houi', some of their shots thought to be direct
hits. The commander of the American vessel reported his belief
that the enemy had been sunk, but the submarine continued to

U. S. S. Frank H. Buck, Capt. George E. McDonald, lieutenant commander, U. S. N.
R. F., from Fairhaven Island, left August 27, and reports that on September 1 at 8.25
a. m. — weather clear, fre^h breezes from northwest, sea choppy, in latitude 45° 38^,
longitude 37° 17^— sighted an enemy submarine on the starboard beam at 14,000 yards.
Submarine opened fire with two 6-inch guns. We answered fire with forward 3-inch
gun. We saw the shot fall about 400 yards short and immediately swung stern for-
ward to submarine, using after gun of 6-inch caliber. Our shots were very close to
submarine and the submarine's shrapnel was bursting very near to us, some of the
pieces falling upon oiu- deck amidships. We changed the course frequently in short
swings, which seemed to upset the submarine's aim and range. As soon as submarine
saw our range was equal to hers she hauled away from us. Up to that time she had
been closing in on us so that the range was down to 10,000 yards. Before submarine
could get out of range our twenty-eighth shot from the 6-inch gun apparently hit her
stem. The twenty-uinth shot hit her just forward of the conning tower, near and under
the water line. The bow immediately shot up into the air very suddenly, then
settled and then went down out of sight, the stern making a halt turn toward us and
then it disappeared.

Upon shot striking submarine we very clearly saw a terriffic explosion and black
smoke. The charge of the shot was T. N. T. The whole submarine was enveloped
in a cloud of smoke. I am positive that we destroyed her, as she disappeared almost
instantly after the shot struck her.

On September 2 the Norwegian steamer STiortind, 2,560 tons gross,
was sunk by torpedo in latitude 45° 15' N., longitude 30° W., about
400 miles north of Fayal.

On September 7 the British S. S. Momnoutli, 4,078 tons gross, was
chased and shelled in latitude 43° N., longitude 45° 50' W., without

The excellence of the Allied intelligence service is shown by a mes-
sage received in Washington on September 9:

S. S. Monmuuth reports that on September 7th, she was chased about latitude 43° N.,
longitude 45° 40^ W. Should this report prove reliable submarine woald be one of the
two converted mercantile type which were expected to sail fiom Germany about the
middle of August, and she would reach the American coast about September 15. It is
known that the other had not left Kiel on September 2,


The other submarine spoken of was the 11-139, which left Eael
about the end of the first week in vSeptember, 1918.

At 6.10 a. m. on the morning of September 12 the V-155 torpedoed
and sank the Portuguese steamer Leixoes, 3,345 tons gross, in ballast,
from Hull to Boston, in latitude 42° 45' N., longitude 51° 37' W.
The captain of the Leixoes, Joaquim F. Sucena, gave the following
account of the loss of his ship:

The torpedo struck on the starboard side of No. 4 hatch; submarine was not visible.
As soon as the ship was hit I saw she was going to sink, and J ordered all hands to take
to the lifeboats, and all of my confidential books were sunk. The ship was heading
east by south true. Fifteen minutes after the ship was struck the submarine appeared
on the starboard beam about one-quarter mile distant. Our vessel sank in about 15
minutes and before we got alongside of the submarine.

The submarine was about 500 feet long; four guns, two aft and two forward, about
6-inch; straight flat deck, sharp bow, no railing; wireless running from conning tower
aft; one very small periscope; painted black and it looked like brand new paint; was
not flying any colors, nor did she have any number. The captaiu of the submarine
was of light complexion, dark mustache, wore no uniform, but had on a cap; was
heavy set and he spoke splendid English, very much like an American. He asked
what ship it was, and we said it was a Portuguese ship, and then he asked if there
were any Englishmen on board, and I said no, and then he ordered all hands up on
deck. There were about 50 men in the crew of the sulimarine. When he ordered us
tu shove off he did not give us any course, neither did he give us any provisions. The
submarine went to the eastward, steaming on the surface.

One man lost his life on the ship. He was probably asleep when the ship was struck
and did not wake up. Two other men lost their lives from exposure and cold.

On September 13 the TJ-155 was worsted in another running battle
with an armed British merchant ship, the Newhy Hall, of 4,391 tons
gross. The follo\ving is a statement of F. O. Seaborne, master of the
Newhy Hall, to the United States naval authorities:

The Newhy Hall left Barry on August 30, 191S, and left Milford Haven on September
1, 1918, in convoy, bound for New York. On September 3 at 6 p. m. we were ordered
to detach convoy and proceed to destination according to secret orders. All went
well until Friday, September 13, at 0.52 a. m., in latitude 42° 18^ N., longitude 58°
22' W. We sighted a torpedo coming toward us from three points on the port bow.
We immediately put helm hard starboard. The torpedo missed by about 6 feet,
passing our bows from an angle over to the starboard side. 1 then steered parallel to
track of the torpedo, and at 9.56 a. m. (approximate) 1 altered to SSW., thereby
bringing position of the submarine astern and instructing engineers to give all speed

At 10 a. m. we sighted submarine coming to surface bearing north; I then kept
him astern steering an irregular zigzag course (about 3,000 yards).

We saw their gun crews coming out of the conning tower and manning the two guns.
They commenced firing immediately and we replied with our gun. He was then
steering in a westerly direction and going at a moderate speed, and to keep him astern
we had to gradually alter course to the eastward.

The enemy was firing rapidly with both guns. The forward one appeared to be of
larger caliber than the other. After about 50 rounds with our gun a direct hit, smoke,
flash, explosion put his forward and largest gun out of action. When the smoke
cleared we found this gun had tilted over to an angle of about 30° and no gui? crew was


to be seen. Soon after we scored another hit on his forward end, the fore part of the
forward gun causing an explosion and a volume of smoke. After that we scored anotl*«r
hit on his after end, about 20 feet aft the after gun. He then reduced his speed and
seemed to be undei' difficulties, but continued firing with his after and smaller gim.

At about 13,000 yards we outranged him and he ceased firing. He headed toward
us and appeared as if he was chasing us, biit in a few minutes he was broadside on
to us again and stopped and suddenly disappeared. Action lasted from 10 a. m. to
11.20 a. m., when firing ceased. Enemy commenced and ceased firing first.

During the action the enemy used shrapnel and high explosive shells, but none
liit the ship except shrapnel. None of the crew was injured. Two boats on the port
side were riddled and one plate amidship on the port side dented and badly cut in
numerous places by shrapnel or burst shell. All the crew behaved splendidly tlirough-
out the action, and special praise is due to the gun layer for his coolness and the mas-
terful way he handled the gun, and also the gun's crew who worked very hard;
also the officers and engineers who assisted in passing up the ammunition.

Distress signals were sent out by wireless for assistance and answered immediately
by United States patrol, who endeavored to come to our assistance but as the weather
became thick and rainy we saw nothing of him. All secret books and codes were
thrown overboard during the action.

The submarine was about 250 to 300 feet long; black in color; cutter bow; flush
deck; gradually sloping into the water at the stern. There was a platform about 3
feet high amidships and 40 to 50 feet in length; in the center of the platform was the
conning tower about 10 feet long at the base and 4 or 5 feet high. The after vertical
portion of the conning tower was not parallel with the forward portion as the conning
tower was smaller at the top than at the bottom. The forward gun was about 20 to
30 feet from the forward part of the platform. A mast or periscope extended from the
forward portion of the platform and another was situated on the after portion.
They were the same height as the conning tower.

During the ensuing seven days the inactivity of the U-155 against
ships may be attributed to the fact that it was reported in advance
that one of her purposes was to lay mines off Halifax and the Nova
Scotia coast. The sighting of an enemy submarine there and the
discovery of mines off Halifax confirm the correctness of that report.

The American steam trawler Kingfisher, 353 gross tons, was the
next victim of the ex-Deutschland. The fishing vessel was stopped
on September 20 when in latitude 43° 31' N., longtitude 61° 53' W.
After the trawler was abandoned, her crew were ordered alongside
the submarine where they were questioned and then ordered to
proceed. They heard what they took to be the explosion of bombs
after they were out of sight of their vessel but could not be sure
that their ship, the Kingfisher, had been destroyed. The officers
and crew of the submarine were described as follows, by the crew
of the Kingfisher:

The commanding officer was about 6 feet tall, thin, ruddy complexion, sandy
hair, wearing short side whiskers, and appeared to be between 25 and 30 years of age.
Another officer of the submarine was about 5 feet 8 inches tall, light complexion,
clean shaven, and weighed about 180 pounds. About 53 men were counted on the
deck of the submarine, wearing various kinds of uniforms. The crew were all young
men and apparently healthy and contented.


It was more than a week before the submarine was again definitely
located, although the alio of an unknown vessel was reported
September 26 from latitude 43° 15' N., longtitude 65° W., the approxi-
mate whereabouts of the submarine.

On the twenty-ninth, the British S. S. Reginolite, 2,246 tons gross,
was attacked at 12.25 p. m. by gunfire, in latitude 40° 51' N., longi-
tude 66° 40' W. The submarine opened fire at a distance of about
5,000 yards and continued firing for 45 minutes without result.
The Reginolite returned the fire while steering a zigzag course at
her best speed. The submarine being outdistanced gave up the
chase and submerged.

On October 2 the British steamer Nevasa, 9,071 tons gross, sighted
the submarine in latitude 38° 31' N., longitude 68° 23' W. The
submarine which was about 8 miles away when fii'st seen attempted
to overtake the steamer without success; then swung broadside to,
fired one shot which fell far short and abandoned the chase.

On October 3 and 4 the V-155 scored two successess; the first the
torpedoing of the Italian S. S. Alberto Treves, 3,838 gross tons, in
latitude 38° 20' N., longitude 67° 10' W.; the second the destruction
by bombs of the British schooner Industrial, 330 gross tons, in latitude
37° 57' N., longitude 66° 41' W., about 250 miles SE^ S. (true) from
Nantucket Island.

On October 12, the American S. S. AmpMon, 7,409 tons gross,
formerly the German S. S. Koln, and belonging to the United States
Shipping Board, in ballast from Bordeaux to New York, was attacked
ui latitude 36° 06' N., longitude 62° 59' W. The submarme appeared
at 10 a. m. and at once opened fire on the steamer, the second shot
carrying away the wireless. A battle lasting over an horn- ensued
during which time the AmpTiion gradually drew away from her pursuer.
The submarine fired almost 200 shots, a number of which took effect.
Two men were mortally wounded and a number of others were seriously
injured by shrapnel; five of the steamer's lifeboats were riddled and
her superstructure was badly damaged. The AmpMon fired 72 shots
in return, the last of which appeared to be a hit. Immediately after
this the submarme, by this time well astern, abandoned the chase
and submerged.

Five days after the attack on the AnipTiion the V-155 scored the
final success of her cruise, by sinking the U. S. A. C. T. Lucia, of
6,744 gross tons, owned by the United States Shipping Board, and
bound from New York to Marseilles, France. In the report of C. F.
Leary, master of the Lucia, to the United States Shipping Board,
he says:

At 5.30 p. m. on October 17, 1918, the U. S. A. C. T. Lucia, bound for an European
port in convoy (without escort), was torpedoed in the engine-room on port side, kill-
ing four men. The position at the time was latitude 38° 05^ N., longitude 50° 50' W.


There was no sign of any submarine to be seen. I had just finislied my supper and
was going on the bridge. The commander of the armed guard, who was on top of
the chart house several minutes before I got on the bridge, said he saw the wake of
the'lorpedo about 100 yards off, and had guns trained in that direction. There was
an efficient lookout kept at all times. Our speed at that time was 10^ knots. The
S. S. Hawaiian, our guide ship, was about two or three points on our port bow, about
1,000 yards distant. We immediately sent out SOS calls and our position, and
semaphored the guide ship Hawaiian, to broadcast same. We sent out SOS calls
from time to time on auxiliary set, until five minutes before lea\ang ship.

As we fully expected the U-boat to return and send another torpedo into us or
shell us, I decided after a consultation with the commander of the armed guard and
officers, to lower three boats and put civilian crew afloat and hold on to bow and stern
of the ship. As our No. 4 lifeboat was destroyed by the explosion, and her
complement was 22 persons, four of whom were killed in the engine room, 18
persons were left to divide up in the remaining boats. There three boats hung by
ropes from the stern of the ship all night imtil morning of the 18th of October. I had
civilian crew come on board and get some food and return to their boats. Our after
decks were awash at this time (1 a. m.). Our engine room and fireroom and No. 4
and No. 5 hold were full of water, No. 6 was one-half full and gradually filling and deck
load breaking loose. The wind and sea was increasing, and seas breaking over our
after decks. About 10 a. m. we put No. 2 boat afloat, bringing her on lee with three
men and stood by, as ship was slowly settling down.

About this time I heard a noise below, which I believed was the carrying away of
the bulkhead between the fireroom and No. 3 hold as the ship settled more by the
head after this, which I believed was due to the flooding of No. 3 hold. At 1.30 p. m.
we launched No. 5 boat, which was on starboard quarter, and hung her off to leeward,
standing by. We also launched after life raft and forward life raft. The after gun
crew had to abandon their gun as the sea was breaking over gun platform and they
were ordered to theii' boats immediately. At 2.20 p. m. I left for ship in No. 2 boat
with the commander of the armed guard and forward gun crew and three others of
the civilian crew. No. 6 hatch was broken in by deck load and filled. Stern settled
down, with after decks imder water. All boats hung at leeward of ship until 3.15
p. m. when her stern sank until ship was perpendicular with her upper bridge just
underneath and sank in that position. At 3.20 p. m. she disappeared beneath the
waves. After the ship sank, all boats hauled away clear of floating wreckage and
laid to sea anchors. A very heavy sea was running now and our boats were taking
considerable water on board and we had to keep bailing continually. At 9.26 p. m.
October 19, we sighted the U. S. S. Fairfax coming to our rescue. At 10 p. m. we in
No. 2 boat were all landed safely on the 'destroyer, and at about 12.05 a. m. the last
boat was landed on board the destroyer without any mishaps.

If the Fairfax had not arrived at the time it did, I do not think our boats woiild
have weathered the heavy seas, as they were all overloaded. I and my officers and
crew think that great credit is due to the commanding officer and crew of the Fairfax
in the skillful way he handled his ship, in the heavy seas, and effecting the rescue of
our crew without any mishaps.

All confidential books, codes, and papers were dropped overboard immediately
after we were hit, in presence of armed guard commander and ship's officers. I also
witnessed all armed guard books and papers, and radio confidential books and papers
dropped overboard.

After this attack the TJ-155 cruised toward the Azores and probably
received the order to return to her base while operating in the waters
about these islands. It is believed that she is the submarine that
made the unsuccessful attack upon the British steamer Clan Mac-


Arthur of 7,382 gross tons on October 25 in latitude 41° 20' N.,
longitude 32° 30' W. This was her last recorded activity; she is next
heard of as arriving in Kiel November 15, four days after the signing
of the armistice.


The U-152 was a submarine of the converted mercantile or
DeutscMand type. In the latter part of August, 1918, she left Kiel
under command of Kapitanleutnant Franz and made her way north
of the Shetland Islands on her cruise to American Atlantic waters.

The first attack of the voyage resulted in the sinking of the Danish
sailing vessel Constanza on September 11 in latitude 62° 30' N.,
longitude 35' W. Her next attempt was directed against the British
steamer Alban, 5,223 gross tons, which was fired upon September 24,
when in latitude 44° 22' N., longitude 29° 45' W. Five days later
another unsuccessful attack was made in latitude 43° 40' N., longi-
tude 37° 42' W. upon the U. S. S. George G. Henry, 6,936 gross tons.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 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 15 of 23)