Wehrmacht History 1935 to 1945


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Saved one crew while seeking another

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Saved one crew while seeking another


Saved one crew while seeking another.
Answering the call of the torpedoed French tanker Emile Miguet, the United States liner, President Harding came upon two lifeboats of the British freighter, Heronspool, and took aboard 36 victims of another U-boat attack. Below are the stories reprinted from The Times, related by the captains of the two vessels concerned.

The United States liner and President Harding, her flag at half mast for one of the crew lost overboard, docked in New York, on 21 October 1939 with 596 passengers, 36 survivors from the torpedo British freighter Heronspool and a crew of 300.
Captain Roberts of the President Harding, disclosed that it was only by chance he had been able to rescue the crew of Heronspool. At 0730 hrs on Friday, 13 October 1939 he received a message from the French tanker Emile Miguet that merely said attacked by submarine. He turned his ship back toward the position given by the tanker, which was 200 miles away. Shortly before midnight, he saw lights flashing. Moving toward them. He came upon two British lifeboats. Captain Batson, master of the Heronspool, hailed the President Harding, asked if she were British or French, and then enquired, may we come aboard ? We took them aboard. Prison, Capt Roberts said, but this was not the crew we were looking for, so we kept on until, at daybreak we saw dense clouds of smoke on the horizon. That was the Emile Miguet on fire, and with her decks awash. There were two British destroyers and near by, and we asked them if they had taken an the Emile Miguet's crew, but they said they had seen no signs of them. We circled the ship, saw no signs of life on board and finally at 0830 hrs in the morning resumed course.
Captain Batson, of the Heronspool, said that at 1800 hrs on Friday evening he saw the Emile Miguet being shelled about 6 miles in the distance, so we steered away Northeastward. About 2000 hrs, they heard an explosion and saw a column of water rise on the starboard beam. Half an hour later, the submarine approached and signalled what ship ?
As soon as we could make him out, Captain Batstone said, we fired two shots at him, whereupon he dived. I hauled to the westward for two hours, then zigzagged. About 2300 hrs the submarine appeared in sight nearly aft. We quickly fired two shots at him in succession. He disappeared, but reappeared at midnight and fired a shot which exploded close to starboard beam. Then we sighted him on the starboard quarter and fired at him. Then he appeared on the port quarter, and again we fired. The submarine submerged again, but soon there was a violent explosion forepart of the Heronspool. She had been torpedoed. Captain Batstone, continued. We then abandoned ship in two lifeboats, and after pulling away for some distance lay to. We saw that the forepart of the ship appeared to have been blown away, and that she was listing to port. The submarine appeared in full view a short distance away. 20 minutes later, but seemed not to notice us. We cited the President Harding, at about 0530 hrs, and shortly after Heronspool disappeared.

The French tanker Emile Miguet and the British freighter, Heronspool were both attacked and sunk by U-48 which was under the command of Herbert Schultze



French tanker Emile Miguet picture 1

French tanker Emile Miguet picture 2

British freighter, Heronspool picture 1

U-48 picture 1

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The Second Great War.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton

The War Illustrated.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton

2194 Days Of War.
ISBN-10: 086136614X

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