UBoats strike again May 9 1915


Apr 11, 2001
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The Northern Echo for May 10th reports 2 incidents of sinkings by torpedoes:
"Another steamer was sunk on Saturday morning off the northeast coast by submarines. This was the Lancashire-Yorkshire Co. Steamer DON, registered at Goole. The crew is saved and landed in the Tyne, but 3 men were injured. The DON was about 5 miles off the Coquet on a voyage from Cromarty to Blyth and about 10 minutes to _? in the morning when a submarine fire a torpedo at her without giving warning. The torpedo missed the ship and the crew insisting the Capt. and 15 others at once lowered the boats and got away, succeeding in saving the greater part of their clothing. While they were in the boats, lying a short distance from the Don, the submarine discharged a second torpedo which struck the DON a violent blow, sending out a large quantity of splinters, which fell amongst the men in the boats, and injured 3. The second mate was cut on the hand and chest. The chief engineer about the head and one of the sailors about the legs. The ship went down in about 10 minutes and the men in the boats rowed away, and were picked up 4 hours later by the Dover steamer Elizabeth Maersk. They were subsequently transferred to the tug Great Emperor which brought them into the Tyne. On being landed at South Shields they were taken to the sailor's home and the injured men were attended to by Dr. Baker.

The owners of the liner Truro of the Wilson and Northeastern Shipping Co. Ltd. announced that they have been officially informed by the Admiralty that their vessel the Truro- a steel-? steamer with a net tonnage of 380 built in 1888 by the Caleda Shipbuilding Corp.of Dundee, had been sunk by the German submarine U39 off May Island and that all the members of the crew had been rescued by the Norwegian brigantine Tangen and had been landed at Rosyth. The Truro was nder the command of Capt. Rowgate and she was bund for Grimsby. She had no passengers aboard."
 
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John Meeks

Guest
And it looks as if U39 lived something of a charmed life after this incident; my records indicate that she survived in service for at least another three years! Not bad for a U-Boat!

Even then, she wasn't sunk, but damaged by French Naval forces (and aircraft) and (presumably) put into Cartagena, Spain, where she was interned on May 18, 1918. Her CO at that time was Leutenant zur See Metzger - wether he was in command during the 1915 escapade I'm afraid I don't know.

She doesn't appear to have been taken into the Spanish Navy - so her eventual fate is a mystery to me at this time. (Melted down into paella dishes?)

Amused to realize that my own father was a small boy, probably going to school for the first time, in South Shields, when the crew of the Don were landed there.

Just for the interest...

Regards,

John M
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Where is South Shields, John? Am glad to know the follow-up to the U39- living minutes from the Nautilus Museum and Groton, one develops an interest in subs- and the hubby's bread and butter is ASW for the past 30 years. I was hoping someone would find the above articles of interest- I guess in the wake of the Lusitania, these two vessels were small potatoes in comparison but the incidents certainly show the relentless tenacity of those U-boats!
 
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John Meeks

Guest
Yeah...they didn't want to give up did they - in either war! In November 1918, in spite of everything, over 200 U-Boats were under construction !

South Shields, by the way, is in North Eastern England. Quite a large city at the mouth of the River Tyne, to the East of Newcastle. Part of a very large con-urbation that would include Newcastle, South Shields, North Shields, Pelaw, Jarrow, Tyne Dock, Hebburn, Sunderland....ever read any of Catherine Cookson's novels...?

South Shields was a substantial port, with a large number of shipyards and dockyards, but our UK based members will be able to better fill you in on its present status.

The whole area of 'Tyneside' figured rather prominently in the industrial revolution - the other great industry that flourished there was coal-mining! Railways owe a lot to that area as part of their 'birthright'.

Regards,

John M
 
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John Meeks

Guest
Just to add to my previous post - and to avoid insulting any "Geordie's" out there - when I mentioned all those Tyneside towns, yes, I forgot Felling and Gateshead!

Sorry folks!

Regards,

John M
 
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John Meeks

Guest
Thanks Michael,

You may have gathered - I'm pretty interested in this stuff - hadn't checked out that site for WWI boats before though....I shall now, though...!

Regards,

John M
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Glad to help out John!

It should be noted that the site is interested primarily with U-Boats in World War II, but that can be interesting reading in itself. With losses of 75%, the German U-Boat service had the highest casualty rate of all the combatants in any service in the war. While I cannot condone the cause they fought for, the valour of these men is obvious. They knew what they were signing on for.
 
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John Meeks

Guest
I agree absolutely with your comments on the U-Boat men, Michael. So did my late father, even though he was "in their sights" more than once...!

Considering their 'rarity' due to the aforementioned casualty rate, my wife felt relatively honored a few years back when she met a customer in her store who turned out to be an old U-Boat 'vet'! She said he was still wearing his original issue grey leather topcoat! Said it was in fine condition!

Just as an aside, though, we shouldn't forget that US bomber crews of the USAAF 'Eighth Air Force' lived(?) with a very similiar survival rate for quite some time....

Regards,

John M
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Yep, that daylight bombing campeign was particularly brutal, and it damn near failed because of the attrition in bombers. The problem was that the fighters used for escort duties had fairly short legs and were practically relieved on station by their counterparts in the Luftwaffa.

It could be fairly said that the bombers had fighters escorting them all the way in and out. The problem was that half the time, it was provided by hostiles!

The P-51 changed all that in that this bird had the range to escort bombers all the way to the targets and back, and the manueverability to mix it up with anything Germany could put in the air. Even the FW-190! Hermann Goering himself was said to have remarked that when he saw allied fighters over Berlin, he realized then that Germany had lost the war.
 
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John Meeks

Guest
I knew I could lure somebody into my territory before too long...!

Best Regards,

John M
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
What territory is that? Military aviation? I have quite a bit of information on that stashed in my library, a lot of it from AirTime Publishing.

Since aircraft are not nesseccerily relevant to Titanic, feel free to e-mail me if you want to chat about something of mutual interest.
 

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