Daily Event for March 24, 2013

Ninety-five years after the fact it is hard to tell if the following is true or just bravado, but.... On March 24, 1918 the three masted schooner John G. Walter was approached by SMS U-101 about twenty miles from the Smalls.
As the crew abandoned the ship she remained under fire from the U-boat. Differing versions of what happened make the true story difficult to determine. In one version the ship was boarded by the Germans and after removing whatever useful stores for the submarine, charges were set and the ship sent to the bottom of the Celtic Sea.

The crew were brought alongside the submarine and the master, D. J. McDonald, was ordered to board the
U-boat. It was not uncommon for the master of a ship to be taken prisoner and McDonald was well aware of this. The commanding officer of U-101, Oberleutnant zur See Carl-Siegfried Ritter von Georg, apparently intended to do just that. McDonald later said that while he was standing next to von Georg the German said to him "I guess you will have to make a visit to Germany" he gave no verbal response, but a few seconds after the comment he let go on the German hitting him in the jaw and dropping him to the casing.

According to McDonald he then jumped overboard and swam under water as far as he could, coming up on the opposite side of a lifeboat. One might imagine what would have happened to him and perhaps even his crew had not an Allied destroyer been sighted approaching in the distance.

The German version does not mention this incident, but does state that the ship was shelled and sunk, the survivors were approached and the master taken aboard the U-boat. When the destroyer was sighted the master was returned to the lifeboat and the submarine quickly submerged and despite a depth charge attack, escaped.

The truth is probably a mix of both versions, McDonald may have just wanted to give the public a little boost in morale, how many people must have felt good about a German being knocked down on his own U-boat. And von Georg, had he been hit, would most likely not want this in his KTB. It seems plausible that McDonald did escape (von Georg in his KTB does confirm that he was aboard the submarine) and if he did escape von Georg again would not want to recognize this in an official document.
© 2013 Michael W. Pocock

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