News from 1918 Persic Survives UBoat Attack

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Mark Baber

The New York Times, 12 September 1918

Liner Persic, Carrying American Soldiers, Torpedoed, but No Lives Are
Run Alongside and Men Drop on Decks---Ship Beached and U-Boat Probably

LONDON, Sept. 10---A troopship with 2,800 American soldiers on board has
been torpedoed. All hands were saved. The troopship was beached.

The vessel was torpedoed 200 miles from shore at 3 o'clock on Friday
afternoon. She was a unit of a large convoy approaching the English

In order to save time, instead of launching the boats the men clambered
down ropes to destroyers which swarmed around the stricken vessel and
came close alongside. This operation was greatly facilitated by the fact
that the sea was not rough. The transfer of the soldiers from the
stricken vessel to escorting British and American torpedo boat
destroyers was quickly made with out injury to any one. They all
escaped injury when the torpedo exploded and were soon on their way to a
British port. There was no sign of panic on board and the admirable
behavior of the men was especially gratifying to the officers.

Many of the troops came from Chicago and Cleveland, and a large
percentage of them were factory hands of foreign extraction. Their
behavior proved that they had assimilated the true spirit of the
American soldier.

Several soldiers told The Associated Press correspondent that they saw
the German submarine lifted clear out of the water after one of the
depth bombs exploded and then entirely disappear.

Something had gone wrong with the troopship's engines which compelled
her for a time to lag behind the rest of the convoy, but the trouble had
been fixed up and she was fast catching up with the other transports
when a torpedo hit her just forward of the engine room. The vessel at
once began to sink by the bow. Many of the soldiers at the time were
taking baths. They did not wait to dress, but made for the deck with
what little clothing they could hastily lay their hands on. The water
was rushing in at such a rate that it was thought the steamer would
quickly founder.

To the surprise of most of the soldiers the troopship did not sink. Some
means apparently were found to check the inrush of water and she got
near enough to the shore to be beached. It is hoped that the vessel
ultimately can be salved.
Men Safe In Rest Camp
AN INLAND REST CAMP IN ENGLAND, Tuesday, Sept. 10 (Associated
Press)---The majority of the 2,800 American soldiers from the troopship
which was torpedoed last Friday off the English coast, but was not sunk
and upon which there were no casualties, have arrived here none the
worse for their thrilling experience. The men are finding some
consolation for the loss of their vessel in the assurance that the
submarine that attacked her suffered a far worse fate at the hands of
the avenging destroyers, which were speedily on the scene hunting the
U-boat with depth charges.

To aid in caring for the men here the American Red Cross rushed in large
quantities of supplies from London.
Only Loss of Soldiers Was on the Tuscania and the Moldavia

According to the reports received yesterday in shipping circles, the
transport which was torpedoed off the English coast on Sept. 6 was the
White Star Liner Persic, which carried third class passengers and
freight from Liverpool to Australia via the Cape of Good Hope before the
war. The Persic sailed from New York on Aug. 24 for a British port. She
was part of a convoy which steamed at a speed of eleven and a half
knots, and that accounts for the Persic being so long on the passage

She was a twin-screw steamship of 12,042 gross tonnage, built by Harland
& Wolff, Belfast, in 1899, and was a sister ship to the Afric, which
was torpedoed in 1916 off Plymouth, England. The Persic was 550 feet
long, 63 feet beam and 39 feet depth of hold.

She was the fourth steamship carrying American soldiers to the war zone
that has been attacked by German submarines. The other three vessels
were the Tuscania, of the Anchor Line; the Moldavia, belonging to the
Peninsular & Oriental Line, and the Oronsa of the Pacific Steam
Navigation Company.

The Tuscania was sunk in February this year off the North of Ireland
with 1,912 officers and men of the Michigan and Wisconsin Guardsmen, of
whom 204 were lost.

There were only 250 on board the Oronsa, and all were saved with the
exception of three of the crew who were drowned when she was torpedoed
off the coast of Ireland on April 30 last.

The Moldavia was torpedoed while carrying 500 troops to France from this
country and fifty-five were lost, in addition to a number of artillery
horses and mules.


Mark Baber

The New York Times, 14 September 1918

Persic Carried 1,999 Soldiers
According to a cable message received in this city from London
yesterday, concerning the British transport Persic, which was torpedoed
on Sept. 6, the official number of American troops on board at the time
of the attack was 36 officers in the first cabin, 6 in the second cabin,
and 1,957 enlisted men below decks, making a total of 1,999, with a crew
of 200 officers and men.

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