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Documentary Histories

War Diary, Fanning

24 September, 1917.

     Enroute Queenstown, Ireland.

2. At 7:20 a.m. received signal from Coningbeg Light Ship requesting take shipwrecked crew on board. At 7:45 a.m. took Edward Purcer, and 2 men on board, the crew of the England schooner Mary Grace, 101 tons, which vessel bound from Youghal, Ireland for Squansea, England,1 with about 60 tons of lumber, was sunk by submarine 25 miles S.E. of Mine Head, about 7:00 p.m., 24 Sept. 1917. The master of schooner and crew were not intellignet and no accurate information could be o<b>trained, but it was ascertained that the submarine opened gunfire on shcooner without warning. The crew abandoned here, and after firing several shots, the submarine went alongside and blew her up, evidently with a bomb.2

     Received orders to search for submarine off Coningbeg, which orders were later madivied to search area between north and south lines from Ram Head and Great Newton Head, and 25 miles from each. Proceeded to area and engaged in search.3

Source Note: D, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B, Destroyer Ships Files: Fanning, Folder 6. The commander of Fanning was Lt. Arthur S. Carpender.

Footnote 1: In a later version of this report, this location was corrected to “Swansea, England.” See: William S. Sims to Josephus Daniels, 9 October 1917.

Footnote 2: In a supplemental report, it was reported that Mary Grace was making 7.5 knots when it sighted the submarine, which sailed a parallel course at 12 knots and overtook Mary Grace, opening fire from about five miles away. “Some 6 rounds” were fired and two hits were made before the crew abandoned the schooner. After that the submarine fired ten more shots before coming alongside and blowing up the vessel. It was estimated that the U-boat had a rage of fire of one shot “every three seconds.” Ibid.

Footnote 3: The area Fanning was ordered to patrol was roughly 750 square miles. Despite this wide search area, Fanning encountered the submarine on 26 September off Minehead, Ireland. The U.S. destroyer charged the submarine, which was about 12,000 yards distant. However, the submarine submerged when Fanning was 6,000 yards away and though Fanning proceeded to the spot where the submarine was last sighted and dropped a depth charge, Fanning, according to its crew, did no damage. Ibid.

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