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

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longitude 72° 50' W. The submarine came closer ready for action and then launched
a small boat. An officer and two men came on board and gave orders to leave the ship
immediately, as they were going to sink her. I asked him how long they were going to
give us, and he said he would give us one-half an hour. He asked me where the
chronometer was, and 1 told him it wa.s my private property, and he said I could take
it. He took the ship's log, ship's register, and ship's papers. We launched the two
boats and the crew got in. The chiei mate and I were still on board and were under
the impression that we were to go aboard the schooner, but he told us to launch the
small boat and go alongside the submarine, which we did. He placed four bombs on
our ship, one on the fore deck, one on the aft deck, one in No. 1 hatch, ana one in No. 3

I asked liim what was the reason he came over and sank our vessel, and he said he
was sorry to do it, but war was war and that England was to blame. He said that he
had been in that game for four years and had been over here 10 days and this was the
first steamer he had sunk, but he had sunk three or four schooners.

When he went off to the submarine we went alongside and some sailors from blown-
up schooners came off the submarine into our boat^. I asked the officer to give us a
tow and he said:

"What do think this is, a passenger boat? "

About 15 minutes after we left the ship we heard three explosions, and the ship sank
about D.12.

Then we pulled for dear life to the westward. We were rowing all day and all night
until 7.40 in the morning, when we were picked up by the S. S. San Saba, about 25
miles southeast of Barnegat.

The submarine was about 230 feet long and 30 or 40 feet wide. She was armed with
two 6-inch guns, one forward and one aft. I saw the figures on the stem, which were
covered with rust and paint which read, "J5'."

The chief officer, H. Wasch, of the S. S. Winneconne, gave the
following information concerning certain incidents that occurred
while the German officer was on board:

When the submarine officer boarded the bridge, the captain, the third mate, and
myseil were on the bridge, and the German officer said:

"Good morning, fine weather to-day. You men take to your boats, you had better
get your boats ready."

The captain asked, "What are you going to do?"

"Well," replied the officer, " I got to sink you. War is war, and I can not help it.'

We got the boats ready, and the officer ordered me to the wheel, and said "Star-
board " to me. He then looked on the wheel teller and asked: "Is this ship set for

"Yes," I replied. He said "All right, "' and gave half speed ahead for about twoor
three minutes or so; stopped again, then slow speed for a little while; then he signaled
to his own commander and ordered the engines ot my ship reversed , then he stopped
the ship for good. We lowered the boats: the crew took two lifeboats, the captain and
I took the other. Finally he said:

"Hurry now. I can not wait any longer. I gave you enough time."

So we left the ship and proceeded to the submarine. All lhe prisoners on the sub-
marine boarded our boats and then we left thp submarine.

About 11.30 we heard two shots fired; about 12.30 we heard two shots again, at
intervals of 5 to 8 seconds; about 4 o'clock eight shots were filled at intervals of 15



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seconds; at 7 o'clock five shots were heard; at 7.12 two shots were fired; at 7 16 wo
shots were heard.
At 7.40 the next morning we were picked up by the S. S. San Saba.

The first shots heard by the survivors of the Winnecorme were
those fired across the bows of the Jacob M. HaskeM, an unarmed
American schooner of 1,778 gross tons. Capt. W. H. Davis, master
of the Jacob M. Haskell, made the following statement concerning
the destruction of his vessel:

On Sunday, June 2, about noon, in a calm sea, the schooner Jacob M. Haskell,
with a cargo of coal, proceeding under sail fi'om Norfolk, Va., to Boston, Mass., at
about 3 miles an hour, and about 50 miles east by south of Barnegat Light, was fired
upon by having a solid shot sent across her bows. A few minutes later a second shot
was fired across the ship's bows and the approaching -.ubmarine displayed the inter-
national signal "Abandon Ship.'' We made arrangements to abandon, and dropping
the boats into the water prepared to take the crew off. While we were doing this, a
rowboat containing one officer and six heavily armed seamen rowed alongside. The
men came aboard the schooner and the officer demanded the ship's papers, log book,
and crew list, which were delivered. The captain then directed men to hurry and
get the crew off. During this time, the bombing party had placed four bombs over
the ship's side — two forward, one on each side, and two aft, one on either side. The
bombs were about 6 inches in diameter and 14 inches in length. They were hung
so that the bombs themselves rested about 2 feet under the surface of the water and
alongside of the schooner's hull. The men went about their work in a business-like
manner; the officer was so polite that he almost got on our nerves. Each seaman was
armed with two automatic revolvers and a long vicious-looking knife.

According to Gustave Nelson, a seaman aboard the Jacob M.
Haskell, after the officer had posted his men they stood grinning
while he demanded the ship's papers. The officer then hauled down
the American flag and wrapped it in paper. Just before the ship
was abandoned, the cook remarked:

"You had better take the food we have on board before you sink the ship."

The ofiicer snapped back: "We don't want your food; we have plenty food of our

own. We don't want your lives either; we want your ships. Now get away from

here; you have three minutes before the ship goes down."
Upon leaving the ship,

the statement of Capt. Davis continues,

we were allowed to take our valuables, the chronometer, the sextant, and some sailing
charts. As we were shoving off, an officer on the deck of the submarine hailed us
and demanded the ship's papers. When told that the papers had been turned over to
the boarding officer, and he ordered us to proceed on our way. A few minutes later the
Haskell was blown up and disappeared with all sails eet. As we were starting on our
way, the boarding officer called out:

"Good luck. The New Jersey coast is just 40 miles away. Better go there."
The submarine proceeded slowly on her way almost due east. Later we heard
firing coming from the general direction in which the submarine had proceeded.
We were finally picked up by the Ame ican coastwise steamer Grecian.

After moving eastward for a short time the U-151 changed her
course to the southwest and bore down upon and subsequently sank

181062°— 20 3


the Edward H. Cole, an unarmed American schooner of 1,791 gross
tons, owned by Edward H. Cole Co., Boston. The following account
summarizes the statement of H. G. Newcombe, master of the schooner,
concerning the sinking of his vessel:

We sailed from Norfolk, Va., on May 30, for Portland, Me., with a cargo of 2,516
tons of coal. 1 might not have been on the regular steamship course, as 1 had to follow
God's good winds. At 3.10 in the afternoon of June 2, when about 50 miles southeast
of Barnegat Light, we sighted a boat on the starboard bow about 2,000 yards away.
She circled around and came aft on the port quarter. When she came pretty close
1 put the glasses on her and saw it was a German flag she was flying. She came up
then about 150 feet off us and told us to clear away the boats, as they were going
to sink us, which we did. An officer and some of the men lowered a boat from the
submarine and came on board and demanded the ship's papers and took them, and
v/hile in the cabin he told me we had seven and one-half minutes to clear His men
had already placed bombs on the ship, two on each side, and I believe there were
others. He told me to get some clothes and supplies, but we were too busy getting
the boats cleared to do it; we had no water or compass in the boat. I went down into
the cabin and got a few papers, licenses, barometer, etc., and showed them to the officer
and asked if it was all right. He said, "Sure, go ahead." We got into the boat and
pulled away, and about 16 minutes after we left, the ship sank.

About an hour after this we were about 4 miles away from the submarine, which
had not moved, when the steamer hove in sight. The submarine opened fire, firing
five shots. The steamer turned around and headed in the opposite way and stopped.
About 15 minutes later we heard an explosion, such as we beard on the Cole. I sup-
pose they did the same thing to that as they did to ours.

Then we rowed aw^ay, hearing several reports later from this submarine. We were
picked up by the American steamship Bristol about 8 p. m. WTiile we were boarding
the Bristol we heard this submarine still firing off to the south, 1 judge al)out 12 miles

A few minutes after we got on board, another submarine appeared under the BriMol's
starboard quarter about 500 yards away. 1 did not see much of the submarine and
did not pay much attention to it. We saw much driftwood. We arrived in New
York at 5.37 a. m., June 3.

The steamer that the survivors of the Edward H. Cole saw^ attacked
by the submarine just after their own vessel had been sunk, was the
Texel, an unarmed American steamship of 3,210 gross tons, owned
and operated by the United Shipping States Board. In telling how
his vessel was attacked by gunfire and sunk by bombs, Capt. K. B.
Lowry, gave the following information:

We sailed from Ponce, P. R., on May 27 en route to New York with a cargo of sugar.

On Sunday June 2, at 4.21 p. m., the first intimation we had of submarines oper-
ating in the vicinity was when a solid shot ^ras fired, passing o\^er the vessel forward
of the funnel and ricochetting about 200 yards to port. I immediately went up to
navigating bridge and proceeded to maneuver the ve.ssel in a manner to elude the
enemy as prescribed by the United States Navy Department. At this time
the vessel was in latitude 38° 58' N., longitude 73° 13' W. The submarine was
directly on the starboard beam; I immediately ordered the helm hard starboard, as
to bring the aggressor directly over the stern. When the vessel had assumed this
position I steadied and ordered all possible speed. The vessel at the time of the
attack was running a.t her maximum speed. A second shot was fired when the vessel
had assumed her new position. This shell was of the shrapnel variety and exploded


on the water to the starboard of the vessel. 'J'he first and pe<'ond shots were tired at
a range of approximately 2,000 yards. After the second shot I diflcovered another
submarine directly ahead who was coming to the surfa( e with his conning tower
clear; a hatch opened and an oflicer stepped out.

After 1 stopped he submerged and disappeared. He was afloat about 10 or 15
minutes. He tried to intercept me after I changed my course. As far as I could
.=ee, it was the same kind of conning tower and had three periscopes.

In this predicament with one submarine astern who had my range to a degree of
disconcerting nicety and another ahead at a distance of about 1,500 yards, further
attempt to escape or to disconcert the enemy seemed not only useless but an act un-
necessarily exposing the crew to injury or loss of life. At this time I stopj)ed the en-
gines and hove to; soon after this the submarine that had fa-ed the previous shots
opened fire again, firing two shots in quick succepsion, the first hitting the working
boat on the starboard side under the bridge, carrying it away and shattering the
starboard wing of the upper bridge; the next shot passed over the bridge at a height
of about 10 feet and struck the water al:)out 100 yards forward of the bow and

During this time the first firing submarine drew steadily nearer, encircling the
vessel twice, and shaping a course so as to come up under our stern; he arrived along-
side at 4.16 p. m. An officer boarded the vessel with three seamen and an under-
lieutenant. He asked me for any and all papers that the vessel might have. I told
him that Ijeing in the coastwise trade that we carried no Navy Instructions or codes,
and that in view of the fact that the vessel had been formerly of Dutch nationality
we carried no register— the Navy Instructions had been thrown overboard previous
to this time. After leaving the ship all the vessel's papers were in my boat in charge
of the second officer. I destroyed the register, manifest, and articles as he headed
toward our boat, rather than let them fall into his hands.

After I had concluded my business Avith the German, I watched (A^dth the permission
of the lieutenant) the placing of the bombs. Lieut. Kohler said: "I know how to do
this, I have been in the business four years."

I asked him where his home was and he replied:

"My home is in Germany, that's all I can tell you."

Three bombs were set at the base of each mast; bombs were also set in the engine
and fireroom, but as to the numbers T can not say. When all the bombs were set, the
lieutenant ordered me to leave as they would explode in 10 minutes. As he pro-
ceeded to leave, 1 did as ordered.

The submarine, the one that sank the vessel, came to within 20 feet of the ship.
I had a good chance to see the commanding officer. He was about 5 feet 8 inches;
probably weighed about 200 pounds, stocky build; he had light hair, wore a mustache
and Van Dyke beard; he was about 40 years of age and wore a Navy uniform wdth
long overcoat. His rank was indicated by two gold stripes on his sleeve, slightly
above his wTist. He spoke English.

One of our boats was jammed between the submarine and the ship, and the captain
of the submarine, shouted down:

"You dunder.head, why don't you get out of there? I'll break your boat up!"

I asked Kohler, "What are you going to do when we get in the boats? Are you going
to shell us? "

"We don't bother you at all;'' replied Kohler. "Get away."

My boat left the ship at 5.10 p. m. and the explosion took place at 5.18 p. m. After
the explosion the vessel settled rapidly by the stern and listed to the starboard, sinking
at 5.21 p.m.

As soon as she was out of sight we shaped our course for Absecon and pulled away.
The submarine set his course about true ESE. and disappeared in the haze running on
tiie surface. At 6.20 p. m. we again heard four shots, which probably signified that he


had encountered another \dctim, and again, at 7.20 p. m., a repetition of the shooting
was heard from this time until we reached the coast. We saw no vessel. We reached
Absecon Light and beached our boats at Atlantic City on June 3, where we were met
by the < 'oast Guards of Station 123, and arrangements were made for accommodations
for the night. All the crew of 36 men were saved.

The reported sighting of a second submarine, off the bow of the
Texel, was the first indication that possibly two enemy raiders were
present in American waters and were acting in company. The
beUef was material!}^ heightened for the time hj the report of Capt.
Walter M. Hart of the American steamship Bristol, in which he told
how he picked up the survivors of the Edward H. Cole and later
sighted a submarine on the afternoon of June 2:

The Bristol left Boston on June 1, en route to Norfolk, Va., in ballast. On June 2,
about 8 p. m. we -sighted a lifeboat with 11 men, crew of American schooner Edward H.
Cole, schooner ha^dng been sunk by submarine at 3.30 p. m. about 50 miles southeast
of Barnegat light. The crew of the Edvard H. Cole was picked up.

At about 8.20 p. m., when about 38 miles southeast of Bai-negat Buoy, bearing 120°
true, we sighted a submarine about 5,000 j'ards off the starboard quarter, heading
directly toward the ship. By traveling at maximum speed of 12 knots, we managed to
outdistance him and arrived at New York at 5.37 a. m., June 3.

The submarine appeared to be about 200 feet long and to be armed with two rifles,
which appeared to be either 5 or 6 inch.

Taking into consideration the possible mission of the enemy sub-
marine campaign in American waters, the Navy Department at this
time expressed its views as follows:

From the character of these enemy operations, the enemy's mission is estimated to be
primarily political, with the object of causing us to inaugurate such an offensive cam-
paign as to prevent us placing our naval forces where they will operate to best military
advantage. If this estimate of the enemy's primary mission is correct, it is reasonable
to expect the enemy submarines to shift their base of operations frequently, both to
gain added victims and also to create the impression that more submarines are on this
coast than are really here.

Later developments failed to disclose the presence of more than
one submarine operating off the coast at this time, and proved
beyond a reasonable doubt that the V-151 continued to operate

The firing heard about 6 p. m. by survivors of vessels sunk earlier
in the day was that employed by the 17-151 in attacking the Caro-
lina, an unarmed American steamship of 5,093 gross tons owned
and operated by the New York & Porto Rico Steamship Co. The fol-
lowing facts concerning the sinking of the Carolina were given by
Capt. Barber, master of the vessel:

We left San Juan, P. R., May 29 at 5 p. m., en route to New York with 218 passen-
gers, a crew of 117, and a cai'go of sugar.

About 5.55 p. m., Sunday night, ship's time, 1 got the wireless SOS saying the
Isabel B. Wiley had been attacked by a submarine and giving her position 39° 10^ N.,
73° 07^ W. I immediately ordered all lights closed down on my ship; I ordered the


chief engineer to open her up all he possibly could and steered duo west by the com-
pass. My position at (i o'clock by dead reckoning was 38° 57^ N., 73° 06' W., so that
I figured that I was about 13 miles south of where the Isabel B. Wiley was.

I just got my vessel steadied on the new course and scanned the horizon to find
the submarine, when I saw the conning tower and two guns on my starboard quarter
distant 2 miles. Although the weather was quite hazj^ at the time, I could make out
tiie outline plainly. She seemed to be rising in the water.

Shortly after, about 6 p. m., she fired, the shell falling astern of my whip about 100
yards. The second shot went overhead and landed straight ahead about one-half
ship's length, the third shot landing quite close to amidships on the starboard side.

I had already ordered the chief wireless operator to send out a wireless SOS
that we were being attacked by gunfire from a German submarine. After the second
shot I stopped my ship, ported my helm, and brought her broadside onto the sub-
marine. I hoisted the signals "I am all stopped," and the American ensign.

Realizing the uselessness of trying to escape, not having the necessary speed, I at
the time gave the- wireless operator orders to send the foregoing dead reckoning posi-
tion broadcast, but thinking that if I sent it out he would possibly shell the ship, and
having many women and children aboard the ship, I recalled the order. Later the
chief wireless operator informed me that the submarine had wirelessed under low
power the message: "If you don't use wireless I won't shoot." Our ceasing to use
the wireless, I presume, was the reason for his stopping firing.

After the third shot was fired, the submarine bore down on my starboard bow and
when he got nearer I saw he was flying the signal "A. B.," abandon ship as quickly
as possible. I had already ordered a boat full out and now I ordered all hands to
leave the ship. The women and children were put into the boats first and the men
entered after the boats were lowered . After I had seen everyone off the ship into the
boats, and after I had destroyed all the secret and confidential papers, I, myself, got
into the chief ofiicer's boat, this being the only boat left alongside. Upon clearing
the ship's side, about 6.30 p. m., I was ordered by the submarine commander, both in
English and by signals with the hand, to make for shore.

I collected all the boats near me and moored them head and stern one to the oth-er.
Being eventually joined by all the boats except the motor lifeboat and lifeboat No.
5, we pulled to the westward and out of the line of gunfire as much as we possibly

WTien the boats were clear, the submarine then ranged alongside the ship on the
port side at what seemed a short distance off and at 7.15 fired one shell into No. 2
hold, lower port, as near as I could judge. She then fired another shell into the
wireless room and another into the vicinity of my own room behind the pilot house.
The submarine proceeded around the ship's bow and seemed to watch her sink from
there. The Germans did not board the steamer as far as I could see.

The ship remained steady about 20 minutes then listed to port, gradually sinking
on her port side, and finally sank at 7.55 p. m. with the ensign and signals flying.
Great clouds of fire and steam arose as she went down.

By this time I had eight made fast in line. The boat I was in was in the lead; I
steered a course to the best of my ability somewhere near west. During the night I
heard other firing and presumed that the submarine was attacking some other ship.

We had light and variable aii's and fairly smooth seas until about 12 a. m. when we
encountered a heavy rain and lightning. I ordered the boats to put heads to seas, riding
to sea, anchored until the squalls passed. Then we resumed our voyage to the west-
ward, attached in the same manner as before. We kept this formation until daylight
when I ordered the boats cut adrift to make rowing easier.

At 11 a. m. June 3, I sighted a schooner standing to the northward and sent the
second officer's boat to intercept her. We saw her haul down her jibs and heave to.
I ordered all the boats to proceed to the schooner, which proved to be the Eva B.


Douglas. Capt. G. Launo, master of the schooner, and his wife and daughter received
us with fine courtesy and placed all their supplies and stores at our disposal.

After struggling with light and variable winds, the schooner finally anchored off
Barnegat Inlet, about 11 a. m., Tuesday, June 3. I sent my chief officer ashore with
a message to the owners of my vessel telling them where we were and requiring assist-
ance. In the meantime the U. S. <S. P. 507 appeared from the soiith and her captain,
Ensign J. A. Fasset, U. S. N. R. F. offered his services to help out in any way we
saw fit. S. P. 507 stood by and towed us to New York, arriving at 4 a. m., June 4.

There were about 160 passengers, as near as I could judge, and 94 of the crew on board
the Eva B. Douglas.

Other survivors from the Carolina were accounted for on June 4.
The first naval district reported that 19 people had been picked up
and brought to Vineyard Haven: at 1.45 p. m., lifeboat No. 5 eon-
taming 5 women and 25 men, landed through the surf at Atlantic
City, N. J., and the same day, the British steamship 'Appleby picked
up 18 survivors at sea and carried them to Lewes, Del.

All the men and women aboard the Carolina., however, did not
reach safety. The first loss of life charged to enemy submarme
activity off the American Atlantic coast was recorded when one of
the lifeboats containing 8 passengeie and 5 members of the crew of
the Carolina was capsized about 12.15 a. m., June 3, while attempting
to weather the rough seas that arose during the night. At 4 p. m.
the same day, when about 60 miles east of Cape May, N. J,, the
Danish steamship Bryssel picked up a lone motor dory swamped and
abandoned, belonging to the S. S. Carolina, which told the mute
story of how its occupants had perished."

-When the day of June 2 was done, the 11-151 had registered nine
successful attacks upon unarmed vessels within 75 miles of the coast and
before the dawn of June 3, had been charged with the loss of 13 lives.

It thus became apparent that the enemy raider was intent upon
wreaking her harvest, if possible, from the unarmed and unpro-
tected vessels in close proximity to the coast. In anticipation of
this fact, Admiral W. S. Benson, the chief of Naval operations, on

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