Submarine Atrocities

SUBMARINE ATROCITIES


During WWII,there were a number of instances of massacres committed at sea
by U-boat and submarine Commanders serving all sides.Here are some of them.

GERMAN U-BOATS

U-37(KL Victor Oehrn)
23 August 1940
British ship "Severn Leigh"(5242grt)
54'31'N,25'41W


The "Severn Leigh", in convoy OA200,en route from Hull to St. Johns in
ballast,was torpedoed without warning.The crew abandoned the British ship
and the U-boat approached the sailors and started shooting at them.Eight
were killed from the torpedo attack and 18 by machine gun fire.
At 17.14 hours on 5 September,ten survivors from the "Severn Leigh" arrived
in a lifeboat at Leverburgh,Harris Outer Hebrides.These ten were the only
survivors from her crew of 42 and one gunner.33 of the 42 crew and one
gunner were lost(77% killed).
According to Victor Oehrn,his crew thought they saw the crew of the steamer
going for their gun.They reported this to Oehrn who ordered his gunners to
open fire.The shell hit the side of "Severn Leigh" just above a lifeboat
that was being lowered full of survivors,and the lifeboat fell into the sea
with few left alive in it.Terrified by the prospect of being accused of
firing helpless lifeboat,Oehrn ordered his crew below except for his
gunners, and made preparations to shoot the remaining survivors.Oehrn
wrestled with his conscience and when watch officer Nico Clausen asked for
orders,stood the gunners down.[ADM 199 372, "Lloyds War Losses vol. 1
Vause:1997 pp 65-67]

U-156(KL Werner Hartenstein)
28 February 1942
US Tanker "Oregon"(7017grt)
20'44N,67'52W


"Oregon" had been en route from Aruba to New York with fuel oil.Off Cape
Engano she was attacked by U-156 and sunk by gunfire.(U-156 had run out of torpedoes)
The U-boat machined gunned "Oregon`s" crew while they were in the lifeboats.
About 6 or 7 were missing,but 30 were saved. (c. 20% killed)

U-552(KL Erich Topp)
3 March 1942
US ship "David H. Atwater"(2428grt)
37'57N, 75'10W(East of Chincoteague Island)
The "David H. Atwater" was sunk by gunfire.The U-boat machine-gunned the
"Atwater`s" crew as they tried to launch lifeboats.Many of them were killed.
Of the 27 US sailors,only 3 were saved.Almost a total massacre.(85% killed)

U-126(KL Ernst Bauer)
8 March 1942
Panamanian Tanjer "Esso Bolivar"(10389grt)
19'38N,74'38W

The US ship "Cardonia"(5104grt) was sunk by torpedo and gunfire at
19'53N,73'27W on 7 march 1942.Crew 36 and 2 passengers.37 picked up(one dead).
But also next day,U-126 torpedoed the neutral Panamanian Tanker "Esso
Bolivar".It was not sunk-only damaged by torpedo and gunfire.Eight of her
50 crew were killed.Crews from both "Cardonia" and "Esso Bolivar" reported
that their lifeboats were machine-gunned as they were being lowered.

U-172(KL Carl Emmermann)
24 June 1942
Colombian Sailing Vessel "Resolute"(35grt)
13'15N,80'30W(Near Saint Andrews and Old Providence)
The vessel was sunk by machine-gun fire from the submarine,and survivors
from the "Resolute" claimed that were being machine-gunned while they were
in the sea.Six of the 10 crew were lost.
In 1943 KL Emmermann behaved totally differently towards shipwrecked sailors.
On 15 July 1943, U-172 stopped the British steamship "Harmonic"(4558grt) at
23'00S,33'00W,620 miles E of Rio de Janeiro,Emmermann waited until
"Harmonic`s" crew had abandoned ship before sinking her.He then gave the
"Harmonic`s" crew a course to steer their lifeboats towards land.
"Harmonic" had been en route from Rosario and Buenos Aires fro Freetown and
the UK with 7368 tons of linseed oil in bulk.Only one man was lost from a
toal of 41 crew and 6 gunners.

U-754(KL Johanns Oestermann)
28 July 1942
US Fishing Vessel "Ebb"(259grt)
43'18N,63'50W

Sunk by gunfire.The U-boat was shooting at the ship until the last
moment.Crew 17,5 lost.

U-852(KL Heinz-Wilhelm Eck)
13 March 1944
Hellenic Steamship "Peleus"(4695grt)
02'00S,10'00W
"Peleus" had been en route ,in ballast,from Algiers and Freetown to Buenos
Aires.
This is the best known incident.Almost a total massacre.Only 3 were saved
from the crew of 35 and 6 gunners.
The U-boat rammed,machine-gunned,and threw hand grenades at survivors on
rafts and in the water.Thirty six were killed.A boat containing three
survivors-two Hellenes and a Maltese- was found by the Portuguese steamship
"Alexander Silva",near Equator,at 12.15 hrs on 20 April.Two other seamen
had died.
Heinz Eck and four members of his crew were tried at the War Crimes Court
in Hamburg on 17 Octomber 1945.After a four day trial,all five were found
guilty.
Eck and two other officers from U-852-Lt. August Hoffman(2WO) and Oberstabsart
Walter Weisspfennig(the Medical Officer) were sentenced to be shot.The
Chief Engineer,Kl Hans Lenz was sentenced to life imprisonment,and
Matrosen-Gefreiter Wolfgang Schwender to 15 years imprisonment.
The executions were carried out on Luneberg Heath on 30 November 1945.
Eck was the only U-boat commander to be shot after the war for this type of
murder,but there were other similar incidents of atrocities carried out by
U-boats.

U-532(FK Ottoheinrich Junker)
27 March 1944
British Ship "Tulagi"(228grt)
11'00S,78'40E,ESE of the Chagos Archipelago.
En route from Sydney to Colombo with 1850 tons of flour,she was sunk by the
German U-532.Crew 49+5 gunners.45 crew and 2 gunners lost.Almost a total
massacre(87% lost).
Seven survivors drifted 1500 miles on a raft for 59 days and eventually
landed on Alphonse Island. A second raft with 8 Europeans broke away from
this raft five days before the first raft landed on Alphonse Island,and it
was never found.
(U-532 reported this ship as the Australian steamer "Age"(4734grt),but
there is no record of that vessel having been lost!!!)

JAPANESE SUBMARINES

RO-110(Kazuro Ebato)
13 December 1943
British Ship "Daisy Moller"(4807grt)
16'21N,82'12E
En route from Bombay and Colombo to Vizagapatan and Chittagong with a cargo
of general army stores inc. guns and ammunition.
55 sailors were killed by machine guns and when their small lifeboat was
rammed by the submarine.14 were saved.
"Lloyds War Losses Volume 1" gives the following statistics:
Crew of 61,6 gunners and 2 passengers killed.(Total killed 55-80% killed).
There were only 14 survivors.Almost a total massacre.
Rohwer`s "Axis Submarine Successes gives a different set of statistics:
53 out of 127 crew members of the "Daisy Moller" were killed when their
rafts and boats were rammed and strafed.

I-37(Hajime Nakagawa)
22 February 1944
British Tanker "British Chivalry"(7118grt)
00'50S,68'00E
En route from Melbourne to Abadan with a cargo of 420 tons of grain,but
otherwise in ballast.She had a crew of 45 and 14 gunners.
Survivors in two boats and on four rafts were machine-guned by the Japanese
submarine.15 crew and 5 gunners were killed.The Captain was made P.O.W(34%
killed)
29 crew and 9 gunners were picked up by "Delane" on 29 March 1944 in
04'55S,65'00E and landed at Durban.The survivors had been in the boats and
rafts for 37 days.

I-37(Hajime Nakagawa)
26 February 1944
British Motor Vessel "Sutlej"(5189grt)
08'00S,70'00E(position recorded by the Allies)
08'00S,63'00E(position recorded by the Japanese)
"Sutlej" was en route from Kosseir and Aden to Fremanile with a cargo of
9,700 tons of photosphates and mail.
Crew of 64 and 9 gunners.23 were saved.(68% killed).
The Japanese submarine fired on wreckage and survivors.5 survivors were
rescued from a boat after 42 days.Eighteen others were rescued after being
on two rafts for 49 days!

I-37(Hajime Nakagawa)
29 February 1944
British Ship "Ascol"(7005grt)
05'S,63'E
"Ascot" had a crew of 44 and 10 gunners.39 crew and 7 gunners were
lost.After "Ascol" was abandoned,the Japanese submarine rammed and
machine-gunned lifeboats and men in the water.40 out of 52 survivors of the
"Ascol" in lifeboats and rafts were killed by machine-gun fire.Only 7 were
saved by the Dutch Ship "Straat Soenda".Almost a total massacre(85% kiled).

I-165(Shimizu)
18 March 1944
British steamship "Nancy Moller"(3916grt)
02'14N,78'25E
"Nancy Moller" was en route from Durban to Colombo with a cargo of coal
when she was torpedoed.She had a crew of 58 and 7 gunners.
30 crew and 2 gunners were killed by pistol and machine-gun fire.One gunner
was taken P.O.W.
There were 32 survivors.(49% killed)

I-8(Tatsunoke Ariizumi)
26 March 1944
Dutch Ship "Tjisalak"(5787grt)
02'30S,78'40E

En route from Melbourne to Colombo with 6640 tons of flour.Torpedoes.
Crew 66+10 gunners+28 passengers.72 crew and gunners+27 passengers lost.
98 of the 104 Dutch(mostly) and British sailors who had survived the
torpedo attack,were killed by the submarine`s crew with swords and spanners
wielded as clubs on the submarine`s deck.Almost a total massacre.(94% killed)
Two witnesses who had been left for dead in a lifeboat,were subsequently
rescued.

I-8(Tatsunoke Ariizumi)
2 July 1944
US Ship "Jean Nicolet"(7176grt)
03'28S,74'30E
US Ship "Jean Nicolet" was torpedoed and sunk while en route from Los
Angeles and Fremantle to Colombo and Calculta with a cargo of US Army stores.
It has been said that the Japanese took all the sailors on to the
submarine`s deck and killed them one by one.Many were massacred by
clubbing,bayoneting oe beheading.The an aircraft was heard,and the
remaining survivors were left squatting on deck with their hands tied
behind their backs,while the submarine submerged.Yet a further
account(Rohwer) says:
One of the 103 crew members of the "Jean Nicolet" was killed
immediatelly,five were taken below and never seen again and one was
disembowelled.Ninety-six survivors picked up by the submarine were injured
while running the gauntlet of the crew.Twenty-three of them survived when
the submarine had to dive,and they were rescued by an Indian warship on 4
July 1944.
According to "Lloyds War Losses Volume 1",the "Jean Nicolet" was carrying a
crew of 41+30 passengers+1 army medical sergeant+28 armed guard.(Total 100
on board).
31 crew+19 armed guard+26 passengers+1 army medical sergeant were
lost.(Total 77 lost-i.e 77%)
Five of the crew were made P.O.W in the submarine.
If these figures are correct,there must be therefore have been 23
survivors.including the five P.O.Ws in the submarine,but apparently 23
survivors were picked up by the Indian Warship.
Francis J O` Gara,the purser of the Liberty Ship "Jean Nicolet",was thought
to have been among those killed.After the war he was found in a Japanese
P.O.W camp.In the meantime,another Liberty Ship had been named after him.He
was the only living person to have a Liberty Ship named after him-in
error,of course ,as it had been thought he was dead.

I-8(Tatsunoke Ariizumi)
29 June 1944
British Ship "Nellore"(694grt)
07'51S,75'20E
En route from Bombay for Melbourne and Syndey with 2720 tons general and
goverment stores.
Torpedoed.
She had 155 crew+ 9 gunners+ 45 passengers.
35 Crew+ 5 gunners+ 39 passengers were lost.(79 lost out of total 209-i.e 38%)
One gunner and 10 passengers made P.O.W.
Ariizumi committed hara-kiri when a later command,the large submarine I-400
was taken over by the US Navy in August 1945.[Rohwer]
Tatsunoke Ariizumi, in command of I-401,shot himself as the submarine
entered Tokyo Bay,flying the black falg of surrender.[Padfield]

I-26(Toshio Kusaka)
29 March 1944
US Liberty Ship "Richard Hovey"(7176grt)
16'40N,64'30E

Sunk by torpedo and gunfire while en route from Calcutta and Bombay for
Aden with 3330 tos gunnies,jute etc.
She had a crew of 41+28 gunners+2 passengers(Total 71).While the crew of
the "Richard Hovey" were in boats and on rafts they were machine-gunned by
the submarine.Three crew and one gunner were lost.Four crew were made P.O.W.
Some of the survivors were rescued by British merchant ships having spent
16 days in the water.

I-12(Kameo Kudo)
28 Octomber 1944
US Liberty Ship "John A. Johnson"(7176grt)
29'55N,141'25W
Torpedoed en route from San Francisco to Pearl Harbour with war
supplies,including explosives.The ship broke in two,and was abandoned.Both
sections were shelled by the submarine.The forward section blew up and
sunk.The after section was set on fire before it sank.
Ten of the "Johnson`s" 70 crew were killed when their lifeboat was
machine-gunned by the I-12.

ALLIED SUBMARINES

Wahoo(Dudley "Mush" Morton)
26 January 1943
3 Japanese Ships-Names Unknown
Pacific Ocean.

On his first patrol Morton torpedoed and sank three Japanese ships,one of
them a troop transport with thousands aboard.After surfacing, Morton, who
had an "overwhelming, biological hatred of the enemy", appeared determined
to kill every one of the thousands floating there.The Japanese in the boats
and in the water were subjected to more than an hour of shelling with
4-inch and 20mm rounds which ripped through timbers,flesh and bone,staining
the sea red,and attracting sharks.It was a total massacre.Morton made no
attempt in his subsequent report to hide the massacre.On arrival at Pearl
Harbour,Wahoo was flying a pennant with the boat`s slogan "Shoot the sunza
bitches" printed on it!!!Morton claimed to have sunk 5 Japanese ships
totalling 32,000 tons*,and became an instant hero in the US submarine
service.Admiral Lockwood christened Wahoo the one-boat wolf pack and most
unusually released the story of the patrol to the press.All US submarine
activities were normally kept secret to avoid giving the enemy any useful
information.Not for nothing was the submarine arm was known as the "Silent
Service".The massacre of the survivors from the transport was not
reported,nor questioned by the US Navy Stuff.
Morton was decorated with the "Navy Cross" medal!!
*(After the war this was reduced to 3 ships totalling 11,300
tons)[Padfield:"War Beneath the Sea"]

Torbay(Anthony "Crap" Miers)
4 July 1941
1 Caigue and 1 Schooner - Names Unknown
Doro Channel,Aegean Sea
Between Andros and Euboea,a caigue and schooner were sighted,both flying a
swastika ensign and carrying German troops.Miers surfaced and sank both
vessels with gunfire,subsequently using two Lewis guns from the bridge to
ensure that no soldiers survived.His first lieutenant,Paul Chapman later
reported: "Everything and everybody was destroyed by one sort of gunfire or
another".
[Padfield:"War Beneath the Sea"]

Torbay(Anthony "Crap" Miers)
9 July 1941
4 Caigues L1,LV1,LV,L12 and 1 schooner.
10 miles N of Antikithira,Aegean Sea
Four vessels were spotted east of Kithira.They were carrying
petrol,ammunition,food supplies,and 75 Bavarian mountains troops going on
leave from the German garrison on Crete.Torbay surfaced and destroyed the
nearest caique,and all aboard her,with 4-inch,Lewis and Bren guns.
As Torbay approached the second vessel,its German skipper,Ehlebracht,jumped
overboard with some of the crew and soldiers.Those who remained aboard
raised their arms in surrender.
Torbay was by now running short of ammunition,so Miers sent a boarding
party to sink the vessel with demolition charges.The SBS commandos,Corporal
Bremmer,who was leading the boarding party,saw a German about to throw a
grenade,and shot him with his Bren gun.Another member of the boarding party
shot a German who raised a rifle.While the demolition charges were being
set in the caique Bremmer rounded up and disarmed seven more Germans, and
took them back to the submarine.Miers refused to allow them to be taken
below,shouting furiously that submarines did not take prisoners.Bremmer
went to look for a raft or float but could not find one,and went below.
What happened after that is not entirely clear.The German skippermwho was
till in the water,later reported that the men aboard the caique were
ordered into a rubber dinghy.Trobay`s log states that all aboard the caique
were forced to launch and jump into a large rubber float.It is not known
whether the soldiers aboard the Torbay were also ordered into the
float.When Bremmer asked what happened to his prisoners he was told that
they have been shot in the water.No mention was made of  a raft or float.
Miers may have thrown them into the sea and told Corporal Sherwood of the
SBS,and then Lt. Chapman to shoot them.Both refused.Miers then ordered
another crewmember to shoot them,and threatened to shoot the man if he did
not obey.
Miers was not a popular officer,and seems to have been prone to resorting
to such bullying tactics.On a later patrol he threatened to shoot Bremmer
when the commando refused to paddle ashore in a folding canoe in a gale.
Unlike Bremmer,the signalman ordered to shoot the unlucky soldiers in the
water did not call Mier`s bluff.According to Ehlebracht,fire was opened on
the rubber dinghy,killing two and wounding two others.The submarine then
circled twice around the troops swimming in the water and used machine-gun
fire in an attempt to bring them together.And the massacre started.Eight of
them were killed.
But Torbay left to chase the other vessels,only one of which
escaped.Ehlebracht and some other survivors clung to the wreck of the
caique,which remained afloat,and they were later rescued.
Miers made no attempts to conceal his actions.His log records: "Submarine
cast off,and with the Lewis gun accounted for the soldiers in the rubber
raft to prevent them regaining their ship"
Miers was congratulated on the success of his patrol,and was not
reprimanded for disregarding the Hague Convention in his treatment of
prisoners.It has been speculated that this may have been because German
dive-bombers had strafed British survivors in the water during the battle
of Crete.
However ,when Miers` report reached Admiral Horton in London,the Flag
Officer Submarines was concerned about German reprisals,and wrote to the
Board of Admiralty: "As far as I am aware,the enemy has not made a habit of
firing on personnel in the water or on rafts even when such personnel were
members of the fighting services;since the incidents referred to in
Torbay`s report,he may feel justified in doing so."The Admiralty wrote a
strong letter to Miers instructing him not to repeat the practices of his
last patrol.[Padfield:War Beneath the sea]

26-28 September 1939
See below
Narva Bay,Baltic Sea
The Soviets contrived to make a deadly propaganda on 26 September 1939 when
the Soviet submarine SC-103 fired torpedoes at the Soviet ship "Metallist"
in the Baltic Sea near the Estonian coast.That was done to provoke
anit-Polish feelings abroad,and to manufacture an excuse to accuse the
Polish submarine Orzel of barbarity,after she dramatically escaped from
internment in Tallinn,Estonia on 18 September 1939.
On 28 September SC -103 also attacked another Soviet ship,the "Pioneer",but
the torpedoes probably missed intentionally.
With these actions(which were unique in WWII),the Germans and Soviets had
the excuse that Orzel was spreading panic and terror in the Baltic Sea.
The German and Soviet press did not succeed in their efforts to accuse
Orzel,especially when the Germans claimed that Orzel had murdered 2
kidnapped Estonian guards.When Orzel left these guards unharmed on the
Swedish island of Gotland on 21 September,no-one could believe anything
stated by German or Soviet communications.According to Rohwer the Soviet
media claimed that "Metallist" was sunk by the Polish submarine Orzel,and
"Pioneer" missed by a torpedo.In fact "Metallist" was sunk on the orders of
Part Secretary Zhdanov by the Soviet patrol ship "Tucha" after avoiding
torpedoes fired by SC-103.Five of "Metallist`s" crew were killed.
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