United States. Office of Naval Records and Library.

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

. (page 7 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

minutes later the same steamer fired five more shots. A submarine
was reported by a fishing boat and an aeroplane on June 10, 9 miles
northeast of Winter Quarter Shoals. On the same date the Coast
Guard Station No. 83 sighted what appeared to be a periscope 2\
miles southeast of Fire Island. It will be seen that all these posi-
tions indicated are at points too far north to have any connection
with the U-151, which was still operating farther south in latitude
about 36° 30' N.

The whereabouts of the U-151 during the two days that followed
the sinking of the Hendrik Lund must remain an open question.
There Vsyre numerous rejjorts of sightings, but none of these can be
acceptda as authentic.^* On the morning of June 13, however, the
British steamer Llansteplian Castle encountered the raider which gave
up the chase of that vessel to attack the Keemun, another British
ship which appeared nearer at hand. Capt. Chope of the Llanstephan
Castle reported his escape to the aid for information at New York as
follows :

June 13, 5.15 p. m., latitude 38° 02^ N., longitude 72° 4T W., 76 meridian time,
I sighted strange looking craft on my starboard beam, which was taken to be, by my
officers and myself, a destroyer of the British "T" type. She was steaming with us

" The South Carolina is probably the vessel referred to in the conversation of the submarine officer with
the captain of the Vindegqen.

>5 The steamer spoken of by Capt. Ballestad in the latter part of his narrative.

16 Among the sightings reported were the following: Mapleltaf, 39° 30' N., ti8° W.; Author, 30° 10' N.,
7S° 20' W.; Randwijk, 39° 05' N., 74° 37' W.


about 10 miles off, closing in on the ship, ^\^len it was noted that the submarine was
closing in my vessel turned away, so as to keep the submarine astern. He did not
follow us, however, for about five minutes, and changed his course to the westward.
He again started for us after another five minutes, and then he changed his course to
the eastward. I noted two big guns on the submarine, one forward and one aft. She
had a rounded stern and a raised bow, and two periscopes which looked like a funnel
at that distance. My gunner reported to me, after looking at her through his sight,
that she had removed two clows from her fore deck since we had first sighted her.
When we had the submarine astern of us the S. S. Keemun appeared on our port bow.
I hoisted the "B" flag, with a ball underneath and the proper signal, "North."

The Keemun apparently did not see our signal, as she did not answer it. Therefore
I sent out an "alio" message, giving the ship's position. The Keemun at that time
was astern of us, about 5 miles distant. The Marconi officer on the ship at this time
reported that he had picked up a message that the Keemun was being shelled. I noted
three shots fall near the Keemun. The Keemun returned the submarine's fire. The
submarine was about 300 feet long.

The report of the Master of the Keemun, Thomas ColHster, supple-
ments that of Capt. Chope, and tells of the final escape of his ship:

On the evening of June 13th at 6.50 p. m. after receiving a wireless message from the
steamship Llanstephan Castle stating that a submarine was in latitude 38° 02^ N.
longitude 72° 47^ W., we sighted a submarine while in latitude 37° 5V N. and longi-
tude 70° 50^ W. The submarine was about 7 miles from my vessel. It was not sub-
merged and was making about 12 knots, about the same speed my vessel was running.
Ten shells were fired by'the submarine. My vessel opened fire at 7,000 yards and at
11,000 yards the last shot was fired. After our last shot was fired the submarine
apparently came to a standstill.

On the next day the Norwegian bark Samoa, of 1,13S tons gross,
owned by Jacobsen & Thon, Norway, bound from Walfich Bay,
South Africa, for Perth Amboy, N. J., with a cargo of wool and
copper ore, was overhauled in latitude 37° 30' N., 72° 10' W. by an
enemy submarine and subsequently sunk by gunfire at 8 a. m.

The following gives the summary of a statement made by Harold
Grostock concerning the sinking of the Samoa:

I do not know the exact latitude, but the captain of the German submarine told us
we were 200 miles off the Virginia coast. We sighted her about 5 a. m. while she
was cruising around us on the surface until about 6 a. m., when she came within 100
yards of us.

She gave us 15 minutes to leave the ship. She fired a shot across our bow to stop;
then she gave us the signal to get into lifeboats.

After we had gotten into the lifeboats she went around on the west side and put
three shots into our vessel; the Samoa sank on the third shot.

The captain of the Samoa asked the commander of the submarine what latitude
and longitude we were in and the submarine gave him a paper which stated that the
Norwegian bark Sainoa was sunk in latitude 37° 30' N., longitude 72° 10' W.

All members of the crew got away safely; none were taken aboard the submarine.
There was no number on the hull of the submarine. She had a wireless and sent a
wireless message asking assistance for us. She sailed off, going southwest.

The crew of the Samoa were ]:)icked up by the schooner George W.
Truitt, Jr., at 4 p. m. on June 15, and later were transferred to the


Paul Jones and subsequently landed at Norfolk by boat. The
weather was fine and clear. There were no casualties.

On the afternoon of June 14, at 5 o'clock, when in latitude 38° 02'
N., 71° 40' W., the enemy submarine accounted for her next vessel
when she attacked and sank by gunfire the Kringsjaa, a Norwegian
bark of 1,750 gross tons, owned by Knudsen & Christiansund, Nor-
way, which left Buenos Aires on April 25, 1918, en route to New
York with a cargo of flaxseed.

The captain of the Kringsjaa requested the submarine officers to
give his boats a tow toward land. To this Lieut. Kohler replied that
that was impossible; that they had other business, and that the
submarine was bound north. He then told Capt. Gunwald Magnusdel
that he was 150 miles from the coast and to steer a course west by
north in order to reach the coast as soon as possible. He then said,
"I will report that you have been sunk, by wireless, in order that
you may be rescued." Capt. Magnusdel of the bark then heard the
wireless of the submarine cracking."

On June 15 at 7.30 p. m. the British S. S. City of Calcutta sent in an
"alio" advising that she had sighted a submarine in latitude 39° 08'
N., longitude 66° 18' W.

After the sinking of the Kringsjaa on June 14, the U-151 began
her homeward journey. The fact that the City of Calcutta sighted
a submarine in latitude 39° 08' N., longitude 66° 18' W. on June 15
indicates that on that date submarine was well on her homeward way
and was not sighted by the British steamship Aras on June 15, or by
the Princess MatoiJca on June 16, or the U. S. S. Mexican on June 17,
as was reported at the time. The assumption is further substantiated
by the fact that on June 18, at 9.20 a. m., the British steamship
Dwinslc, 8,173 gross tons, commanded by Lieut. Commander H.
Nelson, R. N. R., was torpedoed, and subsequently sunk by gunfire
about two hours later in latitude 38° 30' N., longitude 61° 15' W.

About two and one-half hours after the Dwinslc had been aband-
oned the U. S. S. Von Steuben appeared on the scene and bore
down on the lifeboats. She suddenly stopped, however, avoiding a
torpedo and opened fire on a periscope, firing 19 shots and dropping
depth charges.

On June 19 the American steamship Advance reported the sighting
of what appeared to be a submarine at 4.15 p. m. in latitude 38° 32'
N., longitude 71° 12' W., and on June 20, U. S. S. Prairie reported a
submarine and the sighting of what appeared to be a torpedo passing
astern in latitude 33° 56' N., longitude 68° 25' W.

It was most probable that the objects sighted by the crew of the
steamship Advance or the U. S. S. Prairie were not enemy submarines,

w The crew of the Kringsjaa, was picked up by the U. S. destroyer Patterson, after having been at sea for
42 hours.

'• ^' '' ' I '(I I *
-V- hi' -r fill J

U ' '. ' .'.' i" IV,, I o




since on June 22, when in latitude 39° 30' N., longitude 53° 40' W.,
the U-151 attacked and sank the Belgian transport Chillier at
12.30 p. m.

The Chillier, a vessel of 2,966 gross tons, was bound for New York
in ballast. She was armed with " an old French 90-mm. gun, which
could be loaded with powder and cartridges," and with this antiquated
piece she fired several ineffective shots at the submarine before she
surrendered. The day after the CMllier had been abandoned one
of her lifeboats with six members of the crew aboard foundered and
all were lost.

On the morning of June 23 the raider scored another success, the
victim being the Norwegian steamer Augvald, a vessel 'of 3,406 gross
tons. The following account of the attack is given by Alfred Pedersen
the chief engineer of the merchant ship:

On Sunday morning about 9 o'clock in latitude 38° 30'' N., longitude 53° 42' W.,
ihe submarine made its attack by gunfire. When we first saw the sul:)marine she was
about 4 miles away. We stopped the engines. She came abeam of us and began to
fire again. Nothing struck us till al)out 11 o'clock. We abandoned ship about
9.30 before the shots began to strike the vessel. At about 11 o'clock the submarine
fired 25 or 30 shots into the vessel. We had only two lifeboats. We had grub, water,
and everything in the boat I was in, but we lost it all and the mate, too, when the boat
capsized. The first time she capsized we lost our compass. There were 14 men in
the boat when she left the ship; after she had capsized the third time there were only
11 left. We saw many steamers, but none of them would pick us up. We were not
picked up until July 4. The only tiling we had to eat after the boat capsized on June
25 was small bits of seaweed and little fish we caught in the seaweed. We had plenty
of rain water for a while, but later we had to use salt water.

The Augvald was the last victim of the memorable cruise of the
U-151. The raider did not cease her efforts to add to the list of her
victims, however, and the last part of her homeward cruise was
marked by unsuccessful attacks and running engagements with
American and British vessels.

On June 25 at 7 a. m. the British steamship Glenlee, 4,915 tons gross,
was shelled by submarine in latitude 40° N., longitude 49° W. The
Glenlee was saved by her own guns. There were no casualties.
On the same day at 7 p. m. the U. S. S. Dochra, 4,309 gross tons,
reported being shelled by a submarine in latitude 40° 25' N., longitude
47° 29' W. The Dochra also escaped.

Two days later the U. S. S. Lake Forest, 4,100 tons displacement, a
Naval Overseas Transportation Service vessel, at 6 a. m. sighted
the U-151 in latitude 41° 12' N., and longitude 44° 03' W., and was
shelled, returning fire in a battle which lasted till 7.25 a. m., when the
submarine disappeared. The submarine fired 60 shots and the ship
24 rounds. •

On June 28 the U. S. A. C. T. McClellan reported a submarine at
4.55 a. m. in latitude 42° 15' N., longitude 41° 19' W. This sub-
181062°— 20 4


marine was also reported at 8 a. m. by U. S. S. Minneapolis, giving
the position 42= 17' N., 41° 22' W.

On July 2 U. S. S. LaJce Erie sighted the submarine in latitude 40°
12' N., longitude 33° 55' W. Three days later at 1.50 a. m. the
radio station at Bar Harbor intercepted an S O S from a ship whose
name is not given, advising that she was being chased in latitude
45° 40' N., longitude 25° 30' W. On the next day the British
steamship Nevassa, 9,071 tons gross, reported that she was being
chased by an enemy submarine in latitude 49° 06' N., longitude
26° 51' W.

After the attack on the Nevasa the TJ-161 passed from the scene
of submarine "activities and no more is heard of her until the sur-
render at Harwich after the signing of the armistice. According to
the reports to the British Admiralty she reached her base earl}^ in
August and remained there until the war came to an end.

Although the cruise of the 17-151 was not successful in drawing
home any of the naval vessels of the United States operating in
foreign waters, it must be admitted that the raider fulfilled the
expectations of the German high command in her role as a commerce
destroyer, sinking 22 vessels, the aggregate tonnage of which ex-
ceeded 52,000 gross tons.


The U-156, another submarine of the converted mercantile cruiser
type left her base at Eael for American waters on or about June
15, 1918 under the command of Kapitanleutnant von Oldenburg.
After making her way across the North Sea and around the Shetland
Islands she engaged in her first offensive on the 26th, when she
torpedoed and sank the British steamer Tortuguero, 4,175 gross tons,
in latitude 55° 50' N., longitude 15° 30' W.

The next encounter '^ of her voyage took place late in the after-
noon of July 5 when she attacked the U. S. S. Lake Bridge, 1,984
gross tons, bound from Lamlash, Scotland, for Hampton Roads,
in latitude 43° 35' N., longitude 43° 50' W. The submarine had
disguised herself as a steamer and it was not until she housed her
false funnel, headed directly for the American vessel at high speed
and opened fire at 10,000 yards that her enemy character was recog-
nized. The Lake Bridge at once returned the fire and a running
fight was carried on for some time, both vessels attempting to conceal
their positions by the use of smoke screens. The Lake Bridge finally
outdistanced her pursuer and escaped without injury, although one
of the shells from the submarine exploded so close aboard that pieces
of it were thrown on the decks of the American shi.p.

w The U. S. S. Susquehanna reported an attack on July 2 while in latitude 41 N., longitude 41 W.

THE U-156. 51

Two days later tlio U-156 sank the Norwe^^Ian bn7'k Marosa,
1,987 gross tons, in latitude 40° N., and longitude 50° 35' W. Tlio
vessel, which was proceeding from Newport News to Montevideo
with a cargo of 3,171 tons of coal, received lier first warning of the
presence of the submarine when a shot was fired across her bow.
She hove to; the crew took to the lifeboats and rowed to the sub-
marine where the ship's papers were examined and the officers
questioned regarding the precautions taken to protect the American
coast, the location of American war vessels, and the feelings of the
American people in regard to the war.

From the report of Andreas A. Nyhus, captain of the Marosa, to
the American Naval Intelligence officers, at Halifax:

The hour and day of attack was 4.30 p. m., 7 July, 1918. The position was latitude
40 north longitude 50.35 west, the Marosa being on a tme NE. course, close hauled on
the starboard tack, a good latitude having been observed at noon and a good p. m.
line of position obtained at 2. She carried a coal cargo of bituminous, 3,171 tons.
The first intimation that a submarine was in the vicinity was a shrapnel shot striking
the water close to the Marosa. The submarine was seen on the surface dead in the
water, three points on the port bow of the vessel about 3 miles off. The Marosa then
backed her main and mizzen yards. This movement made the submarine bear broad
on the vessel's starboard bow. The submarine then fired another shot, which went
over the ship, and struck the water close to, splinters from the shrapnel shell flying
back on board. The Marosa then lowered her two lifeboats. All the ship's company,
including the captain, left the ship and rowed toward the submarine. The small
sculling boat was the only other boat left on board. It took the boats an hour or so
to pull up to the submarine. The mate's boat got alongside first. When the captain
of the Marosa got alongside in the boat he was in, he was ordered on board the sub-
marine and told to bring the ship's papers and log book. The second officer of the
suljmarine interrogated him as to the present and previous voyages of his vessel.
The captain of the submarine was not seen on deck during the entire time the sub-
marine was in sight. The second officer and one sailor did all the interrogating in
broken English. The ship's papers and log book were kept by the submarine, and
the crew list and all the passports of the crew and the captain's pocketbook, which
contained about $40 in American currency, was returned to him. The submarine
then took the boats in tow back to the ship and ordered the Marosa' s crew to lower
the remaining sculling boat and bring it back to the submarine. The submarine's
crew then made several trips in this boat carrying a bag which they handled carefully
in the first trip, and which I took to be bombs. They searched the vessel sending a
man aloft on the mizzen with a pair of binoculars as a lookout and took off the hatches.
They then left the ship. My men were then permitted to go on board and take every-
thing they wanted. We took provisions, oilskins, and plenty of water. We left
om- ship the second time about 6 p. m. and pulled off and stood by. They did not
sink the ship as long as we could see nor were any explosions heard. They were still
using om- small boat to transfer what I believed were provisions. At 7 p. m. having
a fah wind we set sail in our two boats and left the vicinity. It came on dark about
8.30 p.m. I did not see them sink my ship but saw the same submarine, which was
painted dark gray and black and had two long guns about not less than 6 inches, sink
a three-masted full rigged sailing vessel the next day about noon. The next day was
misty. We shaped our course for her, she was not under command, all courses were
made fast, and everything else clewed up except lower topsails. I did not hear an
explosion, but as the submarine passed the boats about a mile off, heading true west, no


boats from this vessel were seen, and as we could obtain no assistance from this sinking
vessel we headed on a course NW. by W. magnetic. The condition of the weather
on July 7 was light southeasterly breeze, clear, and it blew up during the night with
heavy rain squalls. There was no loss of life or injury to any one. The vessel was
not armed. Not one of the surAdvors saw my vessel actually sink, nor did we see the
full rigged vessel I sighted the next day actually sink. The exact position of the sec-
ond vessel, I am unable to give. All my efforts were bent on getting away from the

The foUowino: is a statement of S. E. Holte, chief officer of the
Norwegian bark Marosa, as received from the United States Naval
IntelHgence officer of HaHfax, Nova Scotia:

We had a latitude at dinner time of 39° 54' N. and longitude 50° 56' W. About 5
p. m., local apparent time, after sailing 25 miles ENE. (true) from the noon position, I
was lying in bed when I heard a shot. I immediately came out and went up on the
poop deck and saw a submarine lying about 3 miles to our windward on the starboard
side. I ordered all hands on deck right away. We lowered down the top-gallant
sails, brailed up the mainsail, braced back the main and mizzen yards, and I ordered
one-half the crew to hoist out the lifeboats. They were swung out. The steward
and cook got provisions into the boats about five minutes after the first shots. When
we were not quite finished they fired another shot, which landed about 15 yards from
the starboard lifeboat, and pieces of shrapnel flew close to the vessel.

The submarine then bore down on our vessel until they were one-half mile off, when
they let us go, and five German sailors armed with revolvers came on board my boat.
On going alongside, they told us that they would give us 20 minutes to get our oilskins.
We put more provisions into our boat and our oilskins. Then they asked m© if the
gig up forward was any good, and I told them yes; they then ordered me to put her
into the -water, which I did. As we had all we could get, we pulled away, laying off
half a mile from our vessel in our boats until darkness set in. All we could see of
what the submarine's crew was doing was hoisting articles in the gig by the starboard
davit. The last we saw of them was when they pulled from our ship to the submarine
and they were still using the gig. The kind of stores they took, I do not know, but
they were carrying bombs with them or some apparatus with long white lanyards on
them. The German sailors, who boarded the ship went through the cabin, and the
rest of the ship. They stationed a man on the mizzen royal yard as a lookout with
large powerful binoculars, and they also tore all the hatches off.

Description of the submarine. — About 200 feet long, one conning tower, two masts for
wireless (small stumps), large guns, about 8-inch, white square mth red cross on it
about 4 inches square on conning tower, exactly like the Red Cross. Two patent
anchors forward, all rusty. Two periscopes, one of them telescopic. Amidships,
fore and aft, were life rails. Hull painted gray and black. Guns and everything
else painted in the same way. Deck about 4 inch thick. Had big holes about 1^
feet in diameter around the stern. As we came up to the submarine they asked us
if there was any one else on board, and we told them no. They unloaded their guns,
using a wooden rammer about 10 feet long to eject the shells from the guns. Two men,
having long wires leading below deck with ear pieces on tlieir heads, walked about
on the deck all the time. There were about a half dozen officers, who wore powerful
binoculars and carried revolvers. We did not see any mines on her, just ammunition
for the guns — ammunition fixed — brass case. The second officer of the German sub-
marine spoke English and several of the crew spoke Norwegian. The skipper of the
submarine was a tall man, with black beard and mustache— not very stout— sort of
thin. The crew were all young men and two of them wore on their hats "II Flotilla. "
One of the crew of the German submarine in Scandanavian told one of the crew of the
Marosa to take plenty of clothing and provisions, as they were a long way from home.

THE U-15C, 53

About 9 p. m., after dark, we proceeded on our. course NW. by W. and lost sight <>f
the vessel. They gave us no course, but told my captain to steer to westward and
some one on board the submarine shouted, "Good trip and God bless you, you are
800 miles from land." We then steered NW. by W. to gain north of the Gulf Stream.

About 4 p. m. the next day we sighted a full-rigged sailing ship with only the lower
topsails on her. Everything else was lowered down. The mainsail was brailed up,
foresail and cross jack were furled. We bore down on it to within 2J miles. She
looked suspicious, so we waited a while to see what it was. We waited there for a
while and then started, keeping on our course for about a quarter of an hour. Suddenly
the ship disappeared and we could not have been more than 8 miles off at the time
when we saw the same submarined. Just as we were looking they saw us and steered
NW. by W. magnetic. At night we saw some lights, whether they were the lights
from the submarine or the lights flashing from the boats of the full-rigged ship, I do
not know. The lights were not flare-ups, they were flashes, caused either by signal
or motions of the seaway. Heavy rain, squalls, a very rough sea, and a westerly wind
had set in by this time.

The next day we saw nothing, and the day after that we saw nothing. The next
morning there was a light southwesterly breeze, and we sighted the barque Sorkness,
home port, Farhsund, Norway, and we pulled up to that ship. -They picked us up,
took our boats on board, and carried us 200 miles toward the Nova Scotia shore. On
the same day we sighted the schooner Linda, from Liverpool, and the captain of my
vessel went over and asked them if they would take us to Nova Scotia. He said he
could take the captain and a couple of men, but not all. The captain then came back
and Capt. Daniels of the barque Sorkness said he would take us closer to the Nova
Scotia shore.

We shoved off again in our two boats, loading up with provisions again, a'nd during
the next two days we saw several fishing vessels from Newfoundland. We held our
course and kept the boats together so that they would not get lost in the fog. A large
British man-of-war came up to within 10 yards of us and neai-ly ran us down. They
saw us and altered their course. She was using her siren constantly. C)ur boats got

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23