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Winterswijk (Id.No. 2567)


The Navy retained the name carried by this vessel at the time of her acquisition.

(Id.No. 2567: dead weight 5,440; length 320'0"(between perpendiculars); beam 47'6"; depth of hold 22'10"; draft 22'0"(mean); speed 9.0 knots)

Winterswijk, a steel-hulled single-screw steamer completed in July 1914 at Albasserdam, Holland, by Jan Smit & Co. and operated prior to World War I by the firm of Erhardt & Dekkers of Rotterdam, was taken over by the United States Government on 20 March 1918 under the ancient right of angary which allowed a belligerent nation to use the property of a neutral power when necessary, but subject to full indemnification. Winterswijk was assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS) and, having been given the identification number (Id.No.) 2567, was commissioned at Key West, Fla., on 2 April 1918, Lt. Francis R. Nichols, USNRF, in command.

After loading a cargo of coal, Winterswijk sailed for Cuba on 4 April 1918 and arrived at Antilla, Cuba, on the 7th. There, she discharged her valuable black, dusty cargo and later loaded a cargo of sugar. Underway again on 15 April, Winterswijk arrived at Boston, Mass., eight days later. After unloading, the steamer was decommissioned and turned over to the United States Shipping Board on 27 April 1918.

Simultaneously stricken from the Navy Register, Winterswijk remained in the custody of the Shipping Board until returned to her owner. The veteran of 25 days of service in the United States Navy subsequently resumed mercantile operations under Dutch colors with Erhardt & Dekkers.  

On 10 September 1941, Winterswijk, while steaming in Convoy SC 42 with a cargo of phosphates, was torpedoed by the German submarine U-432 (Oberleutnant zur See Heinz-Otto Schultze, whose father Otto had sunk 52 Allied ships in World War I and held the Pour le Mérite). The Dutch freighter went to the bottom, and 20 of her 33-man crew, including 47-year old Jan De Groot, her master, perished with her; an escorting corvette rescued the 12 survivors and transported them to Gourock, Scotland. Winterswijk was U-432’s first success on her first war patrol out of Trondheim, Norway.

Robert J. Cressman

Updated, 24 August 2022

Published: Thu Aug 25 12:04:48 EDT 2022