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America Fallen!/Chapter 7

 
 

VII


THE RAID OF THE SUBMARINES


Report from the Commander of the German Submarine U-40 to the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial German Expeditionary Fleet at New York:

Flagship U-40,
New York,
April 1, 1916.

Commander-in-Chief, Imperial German Expeditionary Fleet, New York.

Sir:—I have the honor to report that, following your instructions, my flotilla, consisting of U-40, U-41, and U-42, made the entrance to the Ambrose Channel, Port of New York, on the evening of March 31, shortly after 11 P.M. No moon, sky overcast. Proceeded at surface at half speed, in line ahead; interval three hundred yards; leading boats showing hooded lights astern to preserve station.

At entrance to the Narrows flotilla submerged and proceeded at one-third speed, reaching New York Navy Yard at 4:30 A.M., April 1st.

I submit a rough sketch showing the position of the drydocks and of the enemy's vessels, and also the course followed by the boats of my flotilla.

In a conference held aboard our tender before reaching the American coast, I arranged that U-40 should attack the submarines and destroyers; that U-41 should torpedo the caisson gate of drydock A; and that U-42 should destroy the gate of drydock B. Each boat was to do such other damage as the conditions would permit. U-40 and U-41 were to enter in line ahead, and make the circuit of the basin; U-42 was to back in and take position in the middle of the basin.

Flagship U-40 led the way in at 4:45 A.M. Sighted dreadnought at C, a battleship in drydock A, three submarines abreast at D, three destroyers at E, two destroyers alongside pier at F, and a battleship at G. On approaching the end of basin, U-40 turned hard to port, stopping port motor, and as the enemy submarines and destroyers came on the bearing (See No. 1 on plan) discharged my two bow torpedoes. Secured effective hits. As I swung around, brought stern tubes to bear on two destroyers at Pier F (No. 2) and scored hits with two torpedoes. Then brought battleship on the bearing (No. 3), and struck her on port bow.

U-41, following 200 yards astern, swung around in my wake, and, upon bringing gate of Dock A on the bearing, discharged stern tubes and made a fair hit (No. 4). To avoid being swept into
 
America Fallen! p069.png

SKETCH SHOWING COURSE OF SUBMARINES IN THE ATTACK ON BROOKLYN NAVY YARD.

 

the dock by rush of water, port motor was started; and, although U-41 was drawn back almost to the entrance, she held her own, and turning to port followed me out of the basin.

Looking through periscope, I could see the battleship (since ascertained to be the Michigan), first lifted by the stern, then swung around and swept to the inner end of the dock. In my opinion, the ship must be badly wrecked.

Meanwhile U-42 had backed into the basin, and maneuvering so as to bring her stern tubes to bear, made a fair hit on the gate of Drydock B. Coming to the surface for better vision, her commander reports that, over the crest of the wave that rushed into the dock, he was able to see four submarines picked up from the floor of the dock and dashed against its inner end. As U-42 was leaving the basin, she turned to starboard, bringing her stern tubes to bear on a big dreadnought, since ascertained to be the Pennsylvania, that was completing construction alongside wharf at C, and struck her with two torpedoes, one amidships and another on the bow. As we passed down the East River, we could see by the inclination of her masts that she was heeling rapidly to starboard. She is probably now on the bottom.

Our work being thus completed, we came to the surface, proceeded to the upper bay and joined the destroyer flotilla, as directed.

I wish to commend to your favorable attention the excellent work of my own crew and of the commanders and crews of U-41 and U-42, who carried out their instructions with great dash and precision and with complete success.

I have the honor to be
Yours obediently,
R. Schlesinger, Lieutenant, I. G. N.

 

Report from Commander W. Neumann of the Submarine U-30 to the Commander-in-Chief of the German Fleet at New York:

Flagship U-30,
Limon Bay,
Panama Canal Zone,
April 1, 1916.

Commander-in-Chief, Imperial German Expeditionary Fleet, New York.

Sir:—I have the honor to report, that following your instructions, my flotilla, consisting of U-30, U-31, U-32, reached Limon Bay, Panama Canal Zone, at nightfall, March 31st, convoyed by the light cruiser Rostock. At 3 A.M., April 1st, proceeded at the surface, under electric motors, through the dredged entrance to the canal, laying our course by the canal range lights, which we found to be excellently placed. When off Cristobal, dropped U-32 for its attack on enemy submarine flotilla and proceeded cautiously. It had previously been arranged that U-30 should attack the easterly and U-31 the westerly gates. Sighted Gatun locks; and, as it was necessary to destroy both outer gate and inner guard gate, U-30 and U-31 each fired the four bow torpedoes in quick succession. To make sure of destroying the inner (guard) gates, we turned through 180 degrees so as to bring our stern tubes to bear, when each boat fired two more torpedoes.[1]

We then rose to the surface, coupled up engines, and drove ahead at 18 knots. As I approached Cristobal, saw several columns of water rise from the docks, indicating that U-31 was attacking the enemy submarine flotilla of five boats. Passing the docks, I slowed down, and awaited U-32, which I presently saw returning full speed at the surface, having sunk the enemy as they lay moored at the dock. Rejoined light cruiser Rostock, whose commander informed me that, an hour before dawn, a landing party had surprised and captured the operating staff of the new long-distance radio plant at Colon, and after notifying Sayville Station in our cipher of the capture, had destroyed the electrical plant, and returned to the ship.

I have the honor to be,
Yours obediently,
W. Neumann, Lieutenant, I. G. N.


Report in cipher from long-distance naval radio station at Key West (captured), by way of Sayville Station (captured), to the Commander-in-Chief of the German Expeditionary Fleet at New York:

Light Cruiser, Graudenz,
Key West,
April 1, 1916.

Commander-in-Chief, Imperial German Fleet, New York.

Surprise attack by landing party on Key West successful. Long-distance radio plant captured. Losses small, strong re-enforcements from transport now being landed. Submarine attack followed capture of radio.

Shall send message in the U. S. Navy secret code, to the commander-in-chief of the United States North Atlantic Fleet at Vera Cruz tomorrow.[2]

Link, Captain, I. G. N.

 

Wireless report, via Sayville (captured), to the Admiralty, German Imperial Navy, Berlin.

Imperial German Expeditionary Fleet,
New York,
8 A.M., April 1, 1916.

Admiralty, Berlin.

Favored by calm weather, our submarine attack, which took place in the dusk of early dawn, as planned, was everywhere successful. At Boston, New York, Norfolk, Charleston, Pensacola, and Cristobal, Panama, the surprise was so complete, that all enemy destroyers and submarines at those points were either sunk or completely disabled. The gates at the Atlantic end of the Gatun locks have been torpedoed, and the Panama Canal put out of commission. Information as to success at Panama reached me from landing force at Colon, which, after sending messages, destroyed long-distance radio station there. Another landing force captured long-distance radio at Key West and sent U. S. secret code message, directing U. S. Atlantic fleet proceed Vera Cruz to Guantanamo. Information regarding success at Boston, Norfolk, Charleston, and Pensacola was relayed to me by cruisers stationed along coast for that purpose. Sayville Station captured early this A.M. by motorcycle corps from landing force at New York. My earlier report has given particulars of the successful landing and operations of expeditionary force at this city. The situation is developing very favorably.

During voyage of fleet across Atlantic, sighted only few ships, whose wireless was put out of commission by our destroyers with promise of full reparation.

Buchner,
Commander in-Chief,
Imperial German Expeditionary Fleet.

 
  1. The Panama Canal being wrecked and incapable of operation, the pre-dreadnought fleet of the U. S. Navy was now separated by 14,000 miles of water from its main fleet.
  2. The message sent by Captain Link was as follows: "Germany has declared war on the United States. Have information, German advance fleet is following southern course for Caribbean; second fleet on northern course for our Atlantic Coast. Proceed full speed for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to take on coal and supplies. Find and destroy weaker advance German fleet. Send disabled ships to Hampton Roads, and proceed to Canal Zone, Panama. Under cover of guns of fortifications, await arrival of Third and Fourth Divisions of Atlantic Fleet from Pacific, and proceed north in full strength to engage second fleet of enemy."