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

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The submarine was sighted at 8.50 a. m. and the Henry opened fire.
The submarine fired in return. At 9.05 a shot struck the Henry,
causing an explosion in the magazine in the ship, causing a fire. At
9.50 a. m. the fire was under control. After a hot running fight the
submarine ceased firing and submerged at 10.40 a. m. The following
day, September 30, the U. S. S. Ticonderoga (ex-German Camilla
Rickmers) a vessel of 5,130 gross tons, which because of engine
trouble had fallen behind her convoy during the night was attacked
at 5.20 a. m. by the U-162 in latitude 43° 05' N., longitude 38° 43' W.
The Ticonderoga manned by a navy crew made a gallant defense and
the account of their action and the sinking of their ship form a story
of heart interest, not exceeded by any episode of the war. It was not
until the end of a two-hour battle, when both the ship's guns had
been disabled and many of the men aboard killed or wounded that
the submarine dared to approach near enough to fire the torpedo
that ended the engagement.

Of the 237 men aboard the Ticonderoga only 24, the majority of
them wounded, were rescued, including the two officers, who were
taken prisoners by the submarine and taken to Germany.

A part of the story of Ensign Gustav Ringelman, who was officer
of the deck at the time the submarine appeared, is quoted here:

The submarine was sighted at first about 200 yards off our port bow awash, the
whole length showing. I reported to the commanding officer immediately and ordered
the forward gun crew to open fire. The forward gun had its gun cover on because
during the night it had rained, and there was a heavy spray, and we needed the gun
cover on to protect the gun. Immediately the captain put his helm hard to starboard
and came within 25 feet of ramming the submarine. Before we could get a shot off
the submarine fired an incendiary shell which struck our bridge, killing the helmsman


and practically putting the navigation of the ship out of commission, crippling the
steering gear and setting the amidships section ablaze.

Lieut. Commander J. J. Madison, U. S. N. R. F., captain of the Ticonderoga, was
severely wounded by a piece of this shell.

This all took place in just as short a time as I am telling you this. I was going back —
I had charge of the 6-inch gun aft.

The submarine fired with the aft gun at our 3-inch forward gun, killing the gun
crew. They fired six shots putting the gun out of commission. She then steamed
around our starboard side and opened up her distance a little bit, opening fire again.
We replied with our 6-inch gun.

I am not exactly sure, but I should say the distance was now about 4,000 yards.
That was my range, I believe, and the submarine gradually opened up the distance
between us to about 4 miles. Meanwhile the submarine was shelling us and we were
answering her shots. During this time most everybody on board our ship was either
killed or wounded to such an extent that they were practically helpless from shrapnel.
The lifeboats hanging on the davits were shelled and full of holes, others carried away.
However, we kept the submarine off until our fire was put out and our boats swung
out on the davits, ready to abandon the ship with the few men left on board. Possibly
50 were left by that time — the rest were dead. Well, at 7 o'clock up comes the sub-
marine again, off the starboard quarter.

Meanwhile we had also several boats which were swamped immediately, due to the.
falls carr\T.ng away — the submarine had shot them away before — ^and holes in the
boats, and there was not another boat got away that I could see. Every boat that
attempted to get away was either swamped, or something happended to it. The
submarine fired at us again for the second time at a range of 10,000 to 12,000 yards,
and there were only three left on our 6-inch gun as a gun crew — a chief boatswain mate,
a gunner's mate, and myself. We manned that gun until a shell struck us under-
neath the gun and put the gun out of commission, as well as ourselves, disabling us.
The submarine still continued to shell us, and then came alongside off our starboard
beam and fired a torpedo which struck amidships in the engine room. The ship
thereafter slowly settled.

There was a life raft left on the top of the deck house. We got our wounded men
together, lashed them to the life raft — that is, those who were able to do this — and
shoved the life raft off from the ship. Possibly three or four minutes after that she
took the final plunge. After the Ticonderoga had sunk the submarine came alongside
and had already picked up the executive oflScer out of the water and made him a
captive. They took the first assistant engineer off the life raft and made him a captive

They asked us several questions; wanted the captain and the gunner; where bound
for, and where from; threatening us. After getting no information they shoved off.
Now, before she came to us she had been to this only lifeboat that had stayed afloat,
and the captain was in that, but they did not see him. The captain was severely
wounded and was lying on the bottom of the boat. One of the German sailors went
into the lifeboat and made a line fast by which she towed the lifeboat a few yards,
but the line parted when they speeded up. After that the submarine made off but
stayed in the vicinity. Several shells before this had fallen rather close to the life
raft and it also looked as if they meant to shell the boat but gave it up. Now, I will
tell you how we got into the boat. This lifeboat, the only one afloat, drifted down
onto the life raft, and the captain of the ship, who was in the boat, called for myself
and several others to get into the boat, as there was not a single sailor in that boat to
handle her, there being nothing but soldiers in it, and a high sea running called for
somebody to be in that boat to handle it. Well, a few of us got into the boat, which
still left a few on the raft — ^a few unconsciotis men and some that were not very badly
hurt. The sea separated the raft and the boat and \. e made sail and attempted to get


back to the raft in order to tow it, as they had no food on it. The^'ind and sea grew
in violence and after many futile attempts to come alongside of the raft we had to
give up the idea of getting a line to it. We made sail in the small boat to get away from
the submarine, and in case another ship or a rescue ship should come along we
would be away from the submarine. We sailed day and night for four days and three
nights, and on Thursday morning at 8 o'clock we sighted a steamer heading west at
a distance of 5 miles. She, however, ignored us.

At 2 o'clock in the afternoon we sighted another steamer dead ahead. The steamer
bore down on us. When she came alongside she picked us up. The name of the
steamer was the Moorish Prince, British, bound for New York in command of Capt.
Birch. We received all the comforts and attention they could give us. They had
no medical officer aboard, but the steward, who knew his business very well, attended
the men to the best of his ability. While on board the Moorish Prince on Sunday,
October 6, this steamer, the Grampian, came alongside and seven of us were trans-
ferred to this ship. There were 22 in the lifeboat altogether. We were transferred
to this ship because better medical attention and better facilities could be had aboard
of her for the wounded. But two men, the commanding officer and a soldier, who were
too severely wounded to be transferred and moved, were kept aboard the Moorish
Prince, with three other men, soldiers, to attend them — and here we are now.

Ensign Clifford T. Sanghove, U. S. R. N. F., third engineer of the
Ticonderoga, gave the following version of the attack, to the aid for
information at New York, N. Y.:

On September 30 at 5.30 a. m., in latitude 43° 05^ N., longitude 38° 43' W., the
vessel sighted a submaiine. At the time I was in my room; an 8-inch shell which
crashed through the room woke me up. From that time on I was busy. This first
shell struck the bridge, setting it afii'e and destroying the wireless and preventing the
sending out of any ^vireless messages.

The Ticonderoga was armed with a 6-inch gun astern and a 3-inch gun forward. I
do not know, however, how many shots were fired from the vessel. The after gun
fired some shots; also the forward gun, but shortly afterwards both gun crews were
shot away.

The sea was fairly rough at the time. The ship was darkened, but I do not know
whether she was zigzagging or what her course was.

When I saw the submarine she was abeam of the Ticonderoga and a couple of hundred
yards away. She was off the port bow and on the surface well out of the water. The
submarine remained in the vicinity all day until after dark that night.

I went down to the engine room and organized gangs to fight the fire. Some of the
men would be shot away and I would haA^e to organize a new gang. I was the last
man to leave the engine room, and I tried to get fresh water started to relieve the
wounded men on deck.

While I was down in the engine room a torpedo struck the ship and I was pinned up
against the bulkhead and the grating by the bulge of the bulkhead from the explosion
of the torpedo. This torpedo was nearly the last thing fired by the submarine, and
it struck right aft of the engine-room bulkhead on the starboard side. I was cnished
about the chest and hips at this time.

During the attack I was at various places down in the engine room, on deck and near
the steering gear. As the first assistant engineer was on watch, I assisted wherever I

No shells struck the engine room except around the upper hatches. From the time
the torpedo was fired until the vessel sank approximately 15 minutes elapsed. From
the time the first shot was fired until the vessel finally sank 2 hours and 15 minutes
elapsed, and it was about 7.45 a. m. when the Ticonderoga sank. The ship commenced
to turn before we left her at 7.45. Her amidships rail was right on the water level.


After the torpedo was fired we got some of the wounded together and got some wate
and blankets together, and then placed a few of the wound«d on the raft, which I
helped to launch from the deck house, which was 20 feet above the water at the time.
The raft went into the water with two or three wounded men on it, who still clung to
it. This raft was the last thing to leave the ship. There were 13 lifeboats altogether
aboard. *

The boat the captain was in was fired at by the submarine while it was in the water.
The two shots which were fired at it missed; I was on the raft at the time of this firing
and I know that a couple of shots were fired, and the men in the boat claim that these
shots came past them. There were eight or nine men on the raft with me; this was
the same raft on which the wounded men were launched. We had tied a line to it
before launching and then drew it in toward the railing and jumj^ed on it ourselves
after launching it. I was the next to the last man off the ship. The captain had been
placed in a lifeboat, which was the only one which was safely launched to my knowl-
edge. He had been placed in this boat after he had been wounded in the leg.

There were a number of potatoes and boxes on the afterdeck, which floated off the
vessel as the after part sank, and the submarine picked up a number of these boxes,
cruising around meanwhile. When I first saw the submarine the Ticonderoga fired
three or four shots from the after gun. This gun became totally disabled, having been
struck by a shell from the submarine.

We remained on the raft until 2 o'clock in the afternoon, when we drifted toward
the captain's lifeboat and five men left the raft and got into the lifeboat, as when the
raft came close to the lifeboat they shouted that there was no one in the boat who was
able to man same, all of them having been wounded. The five men transferred were
Turner, the carpenter (Edward J. Willoughby), the quartermaster (George S. Tapley),
Mr. Ringleman, and myself. This boat contained all the survivors.

I did not see many of the lifeboats launched, as I was below most of the time, rigging
fire mains, getting water, etc. I did see two boats launched, on one of which the for-
ward fall burned away and she capsized as she wus being launched. She had at least
eight men in her.

The submarine came alongside the raft and spoke to us. She asked who it was tried
to ram them and where was the captain and where was the gunner; how many soldiers
were aboard; where we left and where we were going. Mr. Ringleman answered a
couple of them and the chief machinist's mate, who I believe was lost, also answered
some questions. The chief machinist's mate was taken aboard the submarine for a
time and then finally returned to the raft, and was probably lost, as the sea was high
and we never saw the raft again .

The first assistant engineer was also taken aboard the submarine and kept a prisoner.
His name is Fulcher. He was a lieutenant (j. g.). I believe the executive officer,
Mr. Muller, had been picked up from the water and also taken aboard the submarine
and kept a prisoner. I believe the executive officer, Mr. Muller, speaks a little
German, but I know Mr. Fulcher could not speak a word of German, as he wanted to
answer them but could not. They were the only men of the survivors who were in
uniform. One or two of the men asked for first-aid packages, but received a very gruff
answer. I held a German second assistant engineer's license in the Adriatic service
of the Hamburg- American Line and the North German Lloyd Co.

The story of the Chief Quartermaster, George S. Tappley, adds
many details to the reports above and shows the bravery of the
American sailors in the face of hopeless odds:

I was in my bunk at the time the general alarm was sounded (5.20 a. m.) and immedi-
ately got out and dressed. I ran out of my room up to the bridge which was all afire.
Just at that time the whistle blew for "abandon ship." I saw the captain coming
along, trying to make his way aft. He was badly wounded, and I helped the pay-


master bring him aft and sit him in a chair. The executive officer was lowering the
forward boat on the porf side of the bridge alone, fio I went over and helped him lower
it. I also helped lower the two boats on the port side. The steering gear was out of
commission, and I went aft into the after steering quarters and disconnected the
steam from the hand-steering gear, and tried to steer the ship by hand; but finding the
steering gear jammed, it was necessary to connect back again, so I went down to the
steering engine to see what could be done. Our wireless had been carried away the
first thing, so we couldn't send out any messages. We were firing our guns all the time,
but apparently didn't make a hit. WTien the submarine had first been sighted she
was about 200 yards off our port bow. The first two shots hit our bridge, setting it
afire, and the third shot carried away the 3-inch gun and killed all the gun crew. Our
speed at the time was about 10 knots, and the captain bore directly down in the sub-
marine's path and tried to ram it, but missed by about 25 feet. The submarine was
firing all time, and our deck was covered with dead and woimded men. The sub-
marine then submerged for about 20 minutes, but reappeared about 2 miles off our
starboard quarter and then started shelling us with shrapnel. She next fired a torpedo
which struck us directly amidships, breaking the steam pipes and causing considerable
steam'to come from the engine room. The ship then started to settle. The Germans'
markmanship Avas excellent, and they seemed to hit all parts of the ship. Most of the
lifeboats were full of holes from shrapnel. At about 7.15 the captain was piit in the
last boat on the vessel, together with 14 soldiers, and the boat was lowered away.
That was the only boat that got away clear. At that time there were about 35 or 40 men
still left on board the ship, alive. I reported to the executive officer that our 6-inch
gun had been disabled by shell fire, and the vessel could not be steered from the steer-
ing engine room. By his orders I tied a white blanket on the aftermast, near the top
mast, but the submarine paid no attention to it, and continued shelling us, killing four
or five of the remaining men. I picked up a piece of plank near where the executive
officer and fi^-e other men were standing, but for some reason I thought better of it, and
looking around I saw a raft on top of the boat deck. I made my way up to that, and
there found twelve men, three of whom were very badly wounded, lying on top of
this small house alongside the raft. I asked them why they were lying there, and
"damn" soon found out, for just then a shell struck about two feet under me, going
directly through the small house. We then put the three badly wounded men on
the rait, and pushed it into the water, about 20 feet below; but the raft capsized and
the three men were thrown into the water. Then the rest of us got down on the raft,
15 in all. It was then 7.30 and by that time the submarine had stopped firing. She
had fired in all about 200 shots. A few minutes after getting on the raft the vessel
went down, stern first, sinking completely in about 10 seconds. We then drifted
off on the raft. I saw the submarine fire two shots at the only open boat left.

The submarine then went alongside the lifeboat and inquired for the captain, chief
engineer, and gimner. On being told that the captain was not aboard, they took
aboard the submarine two seamen, tieing the boat to the stern of the submarine.
The last I saw, the two seamen were on the submarine. The submarine then went
over to the driftwood, and picked up considerable potato crates, etc., from the water,
also picking up the executive officer and taking him prisoner. In about 15 minutes
the submarine came over to the raft on which we were, tied up alongside, and took on
board Chief Machinist Mate, Rudolph Alicke. They questioned him for some time,
he being of German extraction, and then put him back on the raft.

They asked for the captain, chief engineer, and gunner, all the time keeping us
covered with revolvers. We told them the chief engineer had been killed, but that
the first assistant engineer was on the raft, so they took him aboard the submarine,
putting the tAVO seamen back on board our raft. That left the first assistant engineer
and executive officer on board the submarine. We asked them to give us medical
assistance, a number of the men having been seriously wounded, but they ignored our


request. Then the sul)inarine let go of our line, and we drifted away. The only boat
that got away was about 1 mile to windward of us, but all the time drifting nearer.
When it came alongside five of tis from the raft got in the boat, intending to tie a line
to the raft, but the A\ind was so strong that we couldn't do so. We tried for four hoiu-s
to get back to the raft to give her a line, but the wind prevented us from doing eo.
We then hoisted a small sail on the bow of the boat, in order to keep her stem to the
wind, and this way we spent the night. The next morning we took an inventory of
the supplies, and found we had 8 gallons of water, 2 cans of hardtack, ] case of apricots,
and 1 case of pineapples. There were 22 men in all, including the captain, who was
very badly wounded. We at first decided to try and make Newfoundland, but the
captain said northwest winds started blowing about this time of the year, so we aban-
doned the idea and commenced to steer east-southeast for Spain. Bad weather had set
in and we thought we saw two ships on the horizon, but were not sure. Each man's
rations consisted of one apricot and two spoonsful of juice twice a day. We continued
pulling on our coiu-se all that day. That night the sea started to run very high, and we
had great difficulty in keeping the boat from swamping. On the third day the sea
became more moderate, and we made perhaps 60 miles to the eastward. The captain
was feverish and delirious at times, and it was necessary to give him water at frequent
intervals to keep his fever down. The men in the boat were behaving as well as could
be expected, except that they were constantly complaining aboiit not having water.
On the fourth day the weather calmed down, and the sea was moderate.

At about 7 a. m. we sighted a ship away off on the horizon heading west, but appar-
ently she did not see ue. At about 1 o'clock smoke was sighted dead ahead, and in the
course of an hoiu-'s time the S. S. Moorish Prince came alongside and picked us up.
Everybody was very weak, and the captain was in an extremely bad condition.
They kept us on board for three days and then transferred us to the Grampian.

The executive officer F. L. Muller, lieut. (j. g.), U. S. N. R. F., and
the first assistant engineer, J. H. Fulcher, lieut. (j. g.), U. S.
K. R. F., of the Ticonderoga, were the two officers taken prisoners
by the U-152. Lieut. Muller collected many of the wounded on
a raft secured to the deck house and cut the lashings as the ship
sank. Muller took to the wherry which was badly holed and soon
filled. Both he and Fulcher were in the water about 40 minutes.
Fulcher finally got to the last raft. The following is a report of
Lieuts. Muller's and Fulcher's experience:

Muller and Fulcher were taken separately, sent below and isolated. Neither knew
of the other's presence on board for four days. Muller, whom Capt. Franz of the sub-
marine, supposed to be the captain of the Ticonderoga, was picked up at 9.20. Franz,
standing amidships, demanded: "Where's the chief gunner? Where's the chief
gunner's mate? "

"Dead," repUed Muller.

Franz was under the impression that the Ticonderoga' s after gun had continued
*■ firing after the sheet had been hoisted .

Alicke, a machinist's mate of German descent, already hauled aboard the sub-
maiine, interpreted for Fulcher. Franz was ordering him to the raft alongside when
he pleaded to be kept on board. "Speak for me," he begged his officer; but the Ger-
man captain replied: "Get back on the raft. What do you mean by fighting against
us, against your country? Only God can save such as you now I"

Wounded men on the raft pleaded: "Won't you please take us? * * * ♦ We
have no food or water; no chance." But Franz answered, "We ha\e room for no
more," and cast them adrift.


Fulcher was taken to Chief Engineer Heine's room, where shrapnel was cut from hia
leg, and he was given brandy and overalls by the ship's svirgeon, whose name, by
coincidence was Fuylcher. He was kindly treated, and the pair conjectured upon
their relationship. Meanwhile Heine kept sajdng, "WTiy do you call us Huns? We
are no more cruel than you" This soreness, testifjing to the effect of Allied propa-
ganda, prevailed insistently among the submarine's officers. Their tune at first was
"\\Tiy did the United States enter the war? See what you get now for coming in."

Fidcher was questioned about the s^jeed, cargo, and number of ships in the Ticon-
deroqa's convoy, but in return "gave the hand of Esau, speaking with the voice of

The captain came in and said to Montau, a C. P. O., "Take the prisoner and show
him where he will sleep." Fulcher went to the forecastle, where about 35 men were
quartered in permanent bunks. He was given a lower one, which he occupied for
the rest of the voyage. The surgeon came each day and dressed his wounds. He
messed with the wan-ant officers, as did Lieut. Schwarz, radio officer. MuUer ate in
the ward room, but the food in both messes was the same, white bread twice a week,
plenty of wurst and butter, canned brown bread, etc. Muller also was continually
asked why we came into the war: "Why do you call us barlsarians? We are only
doing our duty," was repeated over and over. There was a copy of Hearst's magazine
on board. An article in it on Harry Lauder's visit to France showed a Hun soldier
standing with a bayonet over a wounded French soldier. "That is not true! That is
not true!" exclaimed the officers.

U-152 had left Kiel September 5 on an outbound voyage to the American coast.
It was only her second trip. All the time that they were aboard, the two Americans
were allowed on deck, except during the various actions -with merchant ships that
ensued. They were then sent below, but managed to secure information of happen-

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