U-boat attack on coast? Improbable but not impossible

“….Just down Atlantic Avenue, a narrow four-block-long road from Kure (pronounced “Cure-ee”) Beach Fishing Pier, an old seaside cottage bears witness to a time when things weren’t all sunshine and Cheerwine along the Carolina coast. It was here on a July night in 1943 that a German U-Boat supposedly surfaced and fired shots at a factory complex located a half-mile off shore. If the incident actually occurred—and many believe it didn’t—it would have been the only time the East Coast of the United States was attacked during the Second World War….”

— From “Did a Nazi Submarine Attack a Chemical Plant in North Carolina?” by John Hanc in the Smithsonian (Aug. 2)

Yet more U-boat lore.


A ship is launched, a ship is lost

“At 19.58 hours on 30 Jul, 1942, the unescorted Cranford was hit by one torpedo 

from U-155 about 250 miles east-southeast of Barbados, as she was proceeding on

a nonevasive course at 8.6 knots because of a lack of fuel and daylight conditions.


“The torpedo struck on the starboard side between #2 and #3 holds. Her cargo

caused the ship to sink bow first within three minutes. The complement of nine

officers, 27 men and 11 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 3in, four .50cal

and two .30cal guns) left the ship in one lifeboat and two rafts, but most men

had to jump overboard. Six officers (among them the master), three crewmen and

two armed guards died.


“U-155 surfaced, questioned the survivors and asked them if they could do anything

for them. Two injured survivors were treated on board the U-boat, and water,

supplies and directions to land were given before U-155 left. Several hours after the

sinking the survivors were picked up by the Spanish steam tanker Castillo Alemenara

and landed at Curaçao on 3 August.”


— From a U.S. Navy account (uboat.net) of the torpedoing of the

S.S. Cranford, a merchant ship carrying chrome ore and cotton to the U.S.

I’m struck by the U-boat crew’s polite treatment of survivors — do

Miscellany readers know if this was typical?

Pictured: Pinback button distributed at launching of S.S. Cranford