Daily Event for May 24, 2011

The 325 ton schooner Edna was built in Maine in 1889, nineteen years later she would be the first victim of SMS U-151 off the U.S. East coast. On May 24, 1918 Korvettenkapitän Heinrich von Nostitz und Jänckendorff found the ship off the coast of New Jersey. The ship was brought to a stop with a shot across the bows. The crew abandoned her and the Germans placed charges in the ship and after the explosions sailed away.

Edna however did not sink, the wreck was found by the 4,623 ton steamer Mohawk of the Clyde Line and she was taken in tow. After some time however the tow lines broke and a tug named Arabian picked her up and towed her to Philadelphia arriving May 29.

The six man crew were taken aboard the submarine and were surprised to find that the commander spoke perfect English. He claimed to have been employed for many years by U.S. ship lines and knew many American seamen, but he was a patriotic German who chose to fight for his homeland. He also believed (so he told the men he picked up) that Germany would be victorious. All the men that were picked up by his boat were treated very well, although the food was quite poor, but that changed after the sinking of the Isabel B. Wiley in June when they managed to get a supply of fresh food from the ship's stores.

Edna's crew, and the others who were captured, were finally released and picked up by a steamer and landed at New York, but not before they had sailed with U-151 and spent some time with the crew and witnessed from inside how an enemy submarine operated. The men gleaned much information from the loose lips of the officers, many of whom also spoke English, all of this information was later given to the navy.

Edna was a small insignificant target, perhaps he attacked it just to boost the morale of his men, if that is so it worked. Edna was the first of twenty-four ships that were attacked by U-151 (1 was mined) between May 24 and June 28, 1918. Von Nostitz sank 20 of the ships he attacked sending over 43,000 tons to the bottom before he returned to Germany.
© 2011 Michael W. Pocock

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