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Documentary Histories

War Diary, U. S. S. Ericsson

U.S.S. Ericsson

21 May, 1917.


1.   Overhauling machinery and cleaning ship.

2.   12:14 P.M. left Queenstown for patrol duty 250 miles west northwest FASTNET LIGHT. (Copy of orders appended marked “2”)1

3.   2:00 P.M. sighted GERMAN submarine on surface shelling two sailing ships. Sailing ships being the four masted RUSSIAN Bark LYNTON and the three masted NORWEGIAN bark MADURA. Headed for submarine, opened fire and also fired one torpedo at about 7000 range, which missed  on approach of ERRICSSON submarine submerged and was compelled to sink both sailing vessels by torpedo fire. Circled in vicinity but submarine was not seen again.

4.   Picked up survivors from the LYNTON, all of whom were in good shpae [i.e., shape]. Then went to rescue of survivors of MADURA, seven of whom were wounded from splinters and two dead. Left dead people in life boat.

5.   Proceeded with 37 survivors to QUEENSTOWN where upon arrival, both ADMIRALS’ BAYLY and SIMMS were waiting o n the dock to see that survivors were properly cared for.2

6.   It will be seen from the above that THE FIRST TORPEDO TO BE FIRED BY AN AMERICAN MAN'O'WAR DURING THE WAR WAS FIRED FROM THIS VESSEL, THE TORPEDO IN QUESTION BEGIN FIRED BY THE ORDNANCE OFFICER LIEUT.(JR GR.) ROBERT M. DOYLE, JR., U.S.N. It is regretted that this shot was not a hit but it is not to be surprised at as the range was 7000 yards and as the submarine was seen to submerge within a minute after the torpedo was fired. It is estimated that the GERMAN submarine was a least 300 feet long and submerged in about 45 seconds; it submerges without housing its gun.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: The orders are no longer with the diary entry.

Footnote 2: On the help that VAdm. Lewis Bayly, Commander, Southern Ireland, and RAdm. William S. Sims, United States Destroyers Operating from British Bases, provided to the survivors, see: Sims to Anne Hitchcock Sims, 19 May 1917.

Footnote 3: This is presumably a typographical error; the captain of Ericsson was Lt. Cmdr. Charles T. Hutchins, Jr.

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