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Documentary Histories

War Diary of the U.S.S. HANCOCK

War Diary                                                U. S. S. HANCOCK1


28 June, 1917

At sea, en route to war zone.

     En route to War Zone with convoy and escort in prescribed formation.2 Gun crews stationed at guns throughout day and night. In radio touch with Commander, Fifth Division, Destroyers during early morning.3 At 5:30 a.m. sent U.S.S. SHAW and U.S.S. AMMEN to northward and southward to scout for 5th destroyer Division from England which was to meet 4th Convoy Group at Rendezvous No. 3. At 10 a.m. U.S.S. ST. LOUIS and U.S.S. KANAWHA sounded submarine signal and opened fire.4 Commanding Officer convinced alarm was.5  the above are quoted as follows:6

     From ST.LOUIS “Think it was only porpoise we sawsome just now”, From KANAWHA “We saw something which resembles a periscope and which left a wake. Gunnery Officer also reports he saw a submarine fire two torpedoes”.7 From PARKERKANAWHA sighted two submarines. two torpedoes were fired at her”. From KANAWHA “The torpedoes were fired towards the Dakotan or El Occidente”. From HANCOCK to ST. LOUIS and KANAWHA “We saw porpoises on our port beam and quarter, one heading towards our bow and black fish spout on starboard quarter”. From ST. LOUIS “Two officers and three men of deck guns crew were absolutely sure they saw a submarine periscope”. From KANAWHA “Torpedoe passed on port side of one of the ships. Believe the MONTANAN. Ship sherred off to stern in time”. From El Occidente “Two shark’s fins, one close aboard. We made no alarm”. From Dakotan “Sighted black object one thousand yards abeam resembling periscope on blowing whistle a black bird raised. From Captain ST. LOUIS to Captain Pollack “I personally believe we were firing at porpo<i>se fish but of have four officers and several gun pointers who will swear that it was a submarine periscope.8 Nearly all has experience watching broaching periscope. At any rate the experience was good and we must fire on everything suspicious. From Captain Pollock to Captain ST. LOUIS“I agree with you and my orders are the same as yours.”9

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

Footnote 1: Capt. Edwin T. Pollack, Commander, HANCOCK and Convoy Group IV, likely penned the war diary.

Footnote 2: The convoy was arranged in a single column with escort ahead and on the port and starboard bows. See: Albert Gleaves to Destroyer Force, 5 June 1917.

Footnote 3: Lt. Cmdr. John H. Newton led Destroyer Division Five to rendezvous with and escort Convoy Group IV, the final group of the first American troop convoy of World War I. The Convoy Group and the Division were approaching the rendezvous point when the supposed sighting occured. See, War Diary U.S.S. PAULDING 28 June 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520. Rendezvous point was latitude 47°-40’ North, longitude 23°- 00’ West. See, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, 18 June 1917, DNA, RG45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 4: The submarine signal was six blasts on a ships siren or toots on a whistle in addition to gunfire at the target. See: Gleaves to Destroyer Force 5 June 1917.

Footnote 5: “False” is written in in pencil at the end of the sentence.

Footnote 6: A pencil line crosses out “the above” and replaces it with the pencil written phrase “The following signals from different ships regarding the above.”

Footnote 7: Lt. Lee C. Carey.

Footnote 8: The commander of  ST. LOUIS was Cmdr. Martin E. Trench.

Footnote 9: For convoy orders, see: Gleaves to Destroyer Force 5 June 1917.