Friday, February 18, 2011

WWII ~ Battles of Torpedo Junction

On the morning of March 18, 1940 the 516 foot tanker E.M. Clark, under the command of Captain Hubert L. Hassell plus a crew of 40 was enroute to New York City from Baton Rouge with a cargo of 118,000 barrels of fuel oil when they were struck by an enemy torpedo as they approached Diamond Shoals. One crewman was killed during the initial attack.
     As the crew were assessing the damage and attempting to run an emergency antenna a submarine was spotted about 300 yards off the port side. A few minutes later another torpedo struck amidships and the Clark immediately started by the bow. The command was given to abandon ship and the survivors loaded onto the two remaining lifeboats.
     Believing everyone to be onboard, the lifeboats pulled away from the stricken vessel. Then another survivor was spotted on the deck of the Clark. He slid down a line and was successfully taken on board. As they attempted to circle the vessel in order to pick up other survivors the submarine was spotted once more, it’s spotlight outlining the stricken Clark.
     Captain Hassell wisely decided to make their departure. The 26 seamen in lifeboat #4 were picked up and transported to Norfolk, VA and the remaining 14 men were rescued by the USS Dickerson and taken to the Ocracoke Coast Guard Station. The only casualty, Thomas Larkin, was sleeping where the first torpedo struck and was presumed dead.

Nineteen allied merchant vessels were being escorted around Diamond Shoals when they came under enemy submarine attack. The Bluefields was sunk immediately and the Chilore and M.E. Mowinckel were badly damaged. They headed for shallow water which placed them inside the protective minefield. They both struck mines and were anchored to await assistance.
     On July 19 the ocean tugs Keshena and J.P. Martin were on duty trying to move the Mowinckel out of danger when the Keshina accidently strayed on a mine. The explosion sunk the tug immediately, killing two of the crewmen. Captain Oscar Johnson ordered the vessel abandoned. Without a lifeboat another one of the crewmen drowned but the remaining 15 survivors were soon picked up and taken to the Ocracoke Coast Guard Station.
   Shortly after the attack the German submarine U-5767 was sunk taking all hands to the bottom with her.

Nazi raiders first struck off the Tar Heel coast on January 18, 1942. Several hours before the dawn of that day the oil tanker Allan Jackson was proceeding northward in a calm sea 60 miles off Cape Hatteras. The tanker transported crude oil from Colombia, South America to New York.
     At 1:30 a.m. a German U-boat lurking in the area fired two torpedoes that struck the Allan Jackson and exploded. The second explosion split the ship in two and spilled its cargo of 7.5 million gallons of crude oil into the Atlantic. The vessel and the oil-soaked sea around it were engulfed in flames.        
     Unfortunately most of the tanker’s lifeboats were not serviceable and many sailors died. Some of the crew who managed to abandon ship clung for hours to wreckage. Later that day the United States destroyer Roe picked up the survivors. The first submarine attack along the Tar Heel coast had been costly. The tanker and its valuable cargo were lost, and only 13 of the 35 crewmen survived. The sinking of the Allan Jackson marked the start of the large-scale destruction of Allied shipping that quickly earned the North Carolina coast the wartime name of "Torpedo Junction."

The following list of ships sunk by German U-Boats off the NC Coast includes links to sites where you'll find detailed information on the loss:

Allen Jackson
Allan Jackson / American Steam Tanker / January 18, 1942 / 22 dead
Master Felix W. Kretchmer
Sunk by U-66

City of Atlanta
City of Atlanta / American Steam Merchant / January 19, 1942 / 43 dead
Master Lehman Chapman Urguhart
Sunk by U-123

Ciltvaira / Latvian Steam Merchant / January 20, 1942 / 2 dead
Master Karlis Eduards Skebergs
Sunk by U-123

Norvana / American Steam Merchant / January 20, 1942 / 29 dead
Master Ernest Jefferson Thompson
Sunk by U-123

Empire Gem / British Motor Tanker / January 24, 1942 / 49 dead
Master Reginald Broad
Sunk by U-66

Venore / American Steam Merchant / January 24, 1942 / 17 dead
Master Fritz Duurloo
Sunk by U-66

Amerikaland / Swedish Motor Merchant / February 2, 1942 / 5 dead
Master Ragnar Schultz
Sunk by U-106


Victolite / Canadian Motor Tanker / February 11, 1942 / 47 dead
Master Peter McLean Smith
Sunk by U-564

On February 11, 1942, the Canadian tanker, Victolite, was sunk by the German U-564 about 450 miles east of the North Carolina coast. It was observed by the attackers that all hands left the vessel and confirmed when a boarding party was sent to investigate. The Victolite was fired on 98 times but the hull did not sink immediately. The 47 crew members that left the ship in lifeboats were never found. This emblem was used on the U-564 as well as several other German u-boats over the course of the war.

Blink / Norwegian Steam Merchant / February 11, 1942 / 24 dead
Master Sigvart Ulvestad
Sunk by U-108

Buarque / Brazilian Steam Merchant / February 15, 1942 / 1 dead
Master Joao Joaquim de Moura
Sunk by U-432

Olympic / Panamanian Steam Tanker / February 23, 1942 / 35 dead
Sunk by U-66

Norlavore as the Quantico
Norlavore / Cargo / February 24, 1942
Master Chauncey Homer Williams
Unconfirmed sinking by U-432
May have gone down during heavy weather.
Marore / American Steam Merchant / Febuary 26, 1942 / 0 dead
Master Charles Ernest Nash
Sunk by U-432

Arabutan / Brazilian Steam Merchant / March 7, 1942 / 1 dead
Master Anibal Alfredo do Prado
Sunk by U-155

John D. Gill
John D. Gill / American Steamer Tanker / March 12, 1942 / 23 dead
Master Allen D. Tucker
Sunk by U-158

British Resource / British Motor Tanker / March 13, 1942 / 46 dead
Master James Kennedy
Sunk by U-124

Ario / American Steam Tanker / March 15, 1942 / 8 dead
Master Thorolf R. Hannevig
Sunk by U-158

Ceiba / Honduran Steam Merchant / March 15, 1942 / 44 dead
Sunk by U-124

Alcoa Guide
Alcoa Guide / American Steam Merchant / March 16, 1942 / 6 dead
Master Samuel Leroy Cobb
Sunk by U-123

Olean / American Steam Tanker / March 16, 1942 / 6 dead
Master Theodore Bockhoff
Damaged by U-158

Australia / American Motor Tanker / March 16, 1942
Master Martin Ader
Sunk by U-332

Liberator / American Steam Merchant / March 19, 1942 / 5 dead
Master Albin Johnson
Sunk by U-332

Kassandra Louloudis
Kassandra Louloudis / Greek Steam Merchant / March 19, 1942 / 0 dead
Master Themistokles Mitlas
Sunk by U-124

Empire Steel
Empire Steel / British Motor Tanker /March 24, 1942 / 39 dead
Master William John Gray
Sunk by U-123

Naeco / American Steam Tanker / March 23, 1942 / 24 dead
Master Emil H. Engelbrecht
Sunk by U-124
Narraganset / British Motor Tanker / March. 25, 1942 / 49 dead
Master Michael Blackburn Roberts
Sunk by U-105

Equipoise / Panamanian Steam Merchant / March 27, 1942 / 41 dead
Master John Anderson
Sunk by U-160

City of New York
City of New York / American Motor Passenger / March 29, 1942 / 24 dead
Master George T. Sullivan
Sunk by U-160

Malchace / American Steam Merchant / March 29, 1942 / 1 dead
Master Arnt Magnusdale
Sunk by U-160

Rio Blanco
Rio Blanco / British Steam Merchant / April 1, 1942 / 19 dead
Master Aiden Blackett
Sunk by U-160

Otho / American Steam Merchant / April 3, 1942 / 32 dead
Master John Makkinje
Sunk by U-754

Byron D. Benson
Byron D. Benson / American Steam Tanker / April 5, 1942 / 10 dead
Master John G. MacMillan
Sunk by U-552

British Splendour
British Splendour / Tanker / April 6, 1942 / 12 dead Master John Hall
Sunk by U-552

Kollskegg / Norwegian Motor Tanker / April 6, 1942 / 4 dead
Master Leif Soyland
Sunk by U-754

Lancing / Norwegian Whale Factory Ship / April 7, 1942 / 1 dead
Master Bjerkholt
Sunk by U-552

Atlas / American Steam Tanker / April 9, 1942 / 2 dead
Master Hamilton Grey
Sunk by U-552

Tamaulipas under her former name Hugoton
Tamaulipas / American Steam Tanker / April 10, 1942 / 2 dead
Master Allan Victor Falkenberg
Sunk by U-552

San Delfino
San Delfino / British Motor Tanker / April 10, 1942 / 28 dead
Master Albert Edward Gumbleton
Sunk by U-203

Empire Thrush
Empire Thrush / British Steam Merchant / April 14, 1942
Master George Frisk
Sunk by U-203

Desert Light
Desert Light / Panamanian Steam Merchant / April 16, 1942 / 1 dead
Master Charles B. Dunn
Sunk by U-572

Harpagon / British Steam Merchant / April 19, 1942 / Cape Hatteras
Master Robert William Edward Laycock
Sunk by U-109

Empire Dryden / British Steam Merchant / April 20, 1942 / 26 dead
Master Robert Powley
Sunk by U-572

Agra / Swedish Motor Merchant / April 20, 1942 / 6 dead
Master Sture Selander
Sunk by U-654

Chenango / Panamanian Steam Merchant / April 21, 1942 / 31 dead
Master Alfred Rasmussen
Sunk by U-84

Bris / Norwegian Steam Merchant / April 21, 1942 / 5 dead
Master Einar Hansen
Sunk by U-201

Ashkhabad / Soviet Steam Merchant / April 29, 1942 / dead
Master Alexey Pavlovitch
Sunk by U-402

Lady Drake
Lady Drake / Canadian Steam Passenger / May 5, 1952 / 12 dead
Master Percy A. Kelly
Sunk by U-106

City of Birmingham
City of Birmingham / American Steam Passenger Ship / May 5, 1942 / 9 dead
Master Lewis P. Borum
Sunk by U-202

HMS Bedfordshire
HMS Bedfordshire / British Antisub Trawler FY-141 / May 25, 1942 / 37 dead
Lt R.B. Davis, RNR
Sunk by U-558

West Notus / American Steam Merchant / June 1, 1942 / 4 dead
Master Hans Gerner
Sunk by U-404

Manuela / American Steam Merchant / June 5, 1942 / 2 dead
Master Conrad G. Nilsen
Sunk by U-404

Pleasantville / Norwegian Motor Merchant / June 8, 1942 / 2 dead
Master Johan Wildhagen
Sunk by U-135

F.W. Abrams
USS YP-389 / American Anti-sub Trawler / June 19, 1942 / 4 dead
Sunk by U-701

Ljubica Matkovic / Yugoslavian Steam Merchant / June 24, 1942 / 0 dead
Sunk by U-404

Nordal / Panamanian Steam Merchant / June 24, 1942 / 0 dead
Sunk by U-404

William Rockefeller / American Steam Tanker / June 28, 1942 / 0 dead
Master William R. Stewart
Sunk by U-701

Tennessee / British Steam Merchant / September 23, 1942 / 15 dead
Master Aage Henry Albrechtsen
Sunk by U-617
Libertad / Cuban Steam Merchant / December 4, 1943 / 25 dead
Sunk by U-129

Belgian Airman
Belgian Airman / Belgian Steam Merchant / April 14, 1945 / 1 dead
Master E. Cailloux
Sunk by U-857

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