Sunday, July 30, 2017

The only enemy attack on American soil during World War I

The only enemy attack on American soil during World War I occurred at the sleepy Cape Cod fishing town of Orleans, Massachusetts. On the morning of July 21st, 1918 the German submarine U-156 surfaced outside of the town and opened fire with its two deck guns.  First U-156 attacked the tugboat Perth Amboy, damaging it and sinking two of the four barges it was towing.

The submarine then fired upon the town, all of its shells landing harmlessly in a nearby swamp.  During the attack, a local citizens returned fire with rifles and shotguns, among them a ten year old boy named Jack Ainsley, who was armed with a .22 rifle, and who is my hero.  Jack and his pump action .22 says, "Don't mess with Massachusetts, you Huns!"  I'll bet he pinged a few off that U-boat's steel hull.  

On board the tug and barges were 32 sailors, all of whom were rescued by the local US Life Saving Service, who bravely rowed out to the sinking boats despite attracting fire from U-156. 

U-156 finally submerged and retreated when HS-1L Flying Boats and R-9 Bombers dive bombed the submarine with payloads of TNT, one of the first naval aviation attacks in American history.
The attack resulted in the sinking of two barges and a damaged tug, but no damage occurred to the town itself. For the remainder of the war rumors spread throughout the town that a German invasion or larger naval attack was imminent. The locals of the town would call the incident “The Battle of Orleans”. The submarine U-156 was also unharmed, and traveled north, sinking fishing boats and merchant ships off the coast of Maine and Newfoundland.  On 25th of November the submarine failed to report in to German High Command, and it or it’s 77 man crew was never heard from or seen again.
Except by the fishes.

Kapit√§nleutnant Richard Feldt, commanderof the German submarine U-156.  Jahvohl, Mein Herr!  Ve must shell ze svamp!

The battle map

The Americans were not impressed with the Kaiser's attack

The beach today

1 comment:

  1. To those German sailors who perished and whose fate is known but to God:

    Unto Almighty God we commend the souls the crew of U-156 now departed, committing their bodies to the deep; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; at whose coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the sea shall give up her dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself. Amen - God be Praised.