Assassins of the Seas

By Brandon Walker


German U-boats lined up.

The killers of the sea, the U-Boats were cold silent killers of the sea during WWI.  Almost impossible to find until the end of the wars the U-Boats had sunk over 750,000 tons of British ships alone. When the Germans started unrestricted submarine warfare on 4-Feb-1915 the Germans began their first campaign of submarine warfare aimed at allied and neutral merchant vessels in the waters surrounding the UK. Even though they had stealth they were not invincible.  When the Americans entered the war after the sinking of the Lusitania, They helped get Merchant ships across by the means of the Convey system.  What the Convoy system was destroyes in the front dropped charges and the Merchan ship followed in a safe zone. With this only 3 Merchant ships were lost after this plan. With America entering the war though, they broke through the German Submarines and left them useless.

U-Boat returning to surface.


Diary of a U-boat commander

Adolf K.G.E. von Spiegel commanded a German U-boat during the First World War. He published his memoirs in 1919. Here he describes the attack on a cargo vessel in April 1916.

"The steamer appeared to be close to us and looked colossal. I saw the captain walking on his bridge, a small whistle in his mouth. I saw the crew cleaning the deck forward, and I saw, with surprise and a slight shudder, long rows of wooden partitions right along all decks, from which gleamed the shining black and brown backs of horses."

'Oh heavens, horses! What a pity, those lovely beasts!'

'But it cannot be helped,' I went on thinking. 'War is war, and every horse the fewer on the Western front is a reduction of England's fighting power.' I must acknowledge, however, that the

thought of what must come was a most unpleasant one, and I will describe what happened as briefly as possible."

'Stand by for firing a torpedo!' I called down to the control room.'


" A slight tremor went through the boat - the torpedo had gone."

"The death-bringing shot was a true one, and the torpedo ran towards the doomed ship at high speed. I could follow its course exactly by the light streak of bubbles which was left in its wake."

"I saw that the bubble-track of the torpedo had been discovered on the bridge of the steamer, as frightened arms pointed towards the water and the captain put his hands in front of his eyes and waited resignedly. Then a frightful explosion followed, and we were all thrown against one another by the concussion, and then, like Vulcan, huge and majestic, a column of water two hundred metres high and fifty metres broad, terrible in its beauty and power, shot up to the heavens."

'Hit abaft the second funnel,' I shouted down to the control room."

"All her decks were visible to me. From all the hatchways a storming, despairing mass of men were fighting their way on deck, grimy stokers, officers, soldiers, groom, cooks. They all rushed, ran, screamed for boats, tore and thrust one another from the ladders leading down to them, fought

for the lifebelts and jostled one another on the sloping deck. All amongst them, rearing, slipping horses are wedged. The starboard boats could not be lowered on account of the list; everyone therefore ran across to the port boats, which in the hurry and panic, had been lowered with great stupidity either half full or overcrowded. The men left behind were wringing their hands in despair and running to and fro along the decks; finally they threw themselves into the water so as to swim to the boats."

"Then - a second explosion, followed by the escape of white hissing steam from all hatchways and scuttles. The white steam drove the horses mad. I saw a beautiful long-tailed dapple-grey horse take a mighty leap over the berthing rails and land into a fully laden boat. At that point I could not bear the sight any longer, and I lowered the periscope and dived deep."


Resources: TextBook and  http://members.aol.com/TeacherNet/WWI.html