Tag Archives: German U-Boat

The Sinking Of The Ben and Josephine Account From The Gloucester Daily Times

The Infamous Fred Buck At The Cape Ann Museum found the article from the Times with the account of how our Grandfather’s boat was sunk by the German Sub  on June 11, 1942

Gloucester Daily Times, June 11, 1942
ENEMY SUB SENDS TWO LOCAL …
14 Fishermen Reach Shore Safely After Craft Are Shelled
Two Gloucester fishing draggers were shelled and sunk within a half hour of each other off the New England coast Wednesday afternoon, June 3, while the crews of both vessels were endangered by machine gun bullets, shrapnel from hurtling shells and even from direct shelling by an enemy submarine, a long dull grey craft without identification marks.

All 14 men in the crews managed to reach shore after 36 hours of rowing through fog and drenching rain, with neither crew able to salvage an ounce of food.  Capt. John O. Johnson, owner-skipper of the second craft shelled, told a graphic story of the event, while Capt. Joseph Ciametaro [sic], 27 years, Washington Square, skipper of the other boat, described the machine gunning.  The only casualty was Capt. Johnson’s dog "Snooksie."

First Local Casualties
These are the first Gloucester fishermen to be sunk by subs since late summer of 1918, when the German submarines took a toll of Gloucester swordfishermen and market fishermen on Georges Bank.  News of the sinkings were learned here within two days of the tragedy.

In Capt. Ciametaro’s crew were Sam Frontiero, 45 years, 19 Mansfield Street, engineer; Tony Frontiero, 35 years, 17 Elm Street, cook; Sam Orlando, 23 years, 7 Washington Square; Dominic Montagnino, 27 years, 21 Riggs Street; William Mahoney, 49 years, 12 Locust Street; Peter Frontiero, 27 years, 42 Fort Square; James A. Sheaves, 42 years, 12 Marchant Street.

Their craft, costing some $80,000 a couple years ago when she was built, was on the fishing grounds in the late afternoon, and had already made one set, getting 1500 pounds redfish, when in steaming toward what they thought would be a better spot, Orlando on watch forward, saw the conning tower of a submarine off a distance from them.  At first, they thought she might be an American submarine on patrol, but when the raider came within 300 feet of their craft, they saw men on deck armed with machine guns, letting loose a barrage of tracer shots at their craft.

Machine Gun House
"Orlando called me on deck and when I realized they were firing at us, I knew very well she was an enemy," said Capt. Ciaramitaro.  "I ran into the pilot house to get the compass, and as I did, some of the machine gun bullets smashed away at the house.  Mahoney who was up nearby came within inches of getting killed.  They must have thought the firing would be a warning.
"Anyway, we made for the two dories aboard, and lost no time in launching them into the water.  We didn’t even bother to get our clothing or anything else and even left the compass behind.  I had planned to break the seal on the radio telephone in the engine house and notify the Coast Guard that a sub was attacking us, but the firing was too hot for us, and it would take too many precious minutes to get this done.

"Sheaves, Orlando, Montagnino and Tony Frontiero were in the first dory, while Sam Frontiero and myself made for the other.
"Within five minutes of the machine gunning, the sub crew started firing from a gun mounted on deck.  I don’t know what type it was or how big.  I know that those shells came thick and fast, and there must have been anywhere from 40 to 50 shells sent at our boat.  One of the shells must have banged into the foc’s’tle, because we saw the stove come hurtling out through a shellhole in the port side of the boat.

"The shell that did the trick was the last one, smashing into the engine room, causing an explosion, which set the boat afire.  However, it was a half hour later before she finally sunk.  We couldn’t see how good their aim was, because we were on the opposite side from where they were shelling.
"There was a lot of shrapnel from the shells flying around us, but none of us was hit.  None of the crew bothered to speak to us and we said nothing to them.  We don’t know whether they were Germans or Italians.  They certainly weren’t friends.  They were tall and slim.  There were several men on the deck of the sub.

Many Misses
Orlando and others of the crew declared there were more misses than hits as the shells screamed overhead and around them.  It looked like the battle of the Marne might have looked, they thought.  The weather was clear with visibility of at least six or seven miles, said the skipper.  The sea was fairly smooth.

As the two dories were rowing away from the craft in which they had made big money in the past couple years, they saw a short while later smoke rising in the distance and knew that the neighboring dragger had been sunk.

Fog set in on the long pull to shore.  Guided only by the direction of the wind which the skipper had sensed as he left the dragger, the reckoning proved correct and brought them to land 36 hours later.  They rowed in reliefs of two, and both dories kept together.  They had no food, but did have a small amount of water.  It was a long hard pull and when they finally made it, every man was exhausted.  They were given strong steaming coffee, bacon and eggs, and it all tasted mighty good.  Later the navy took charge of the men and took their accounts of what had happened.  They arrived about 4:30 o’clock in the morning.
Asked as to whether or not they were frightened when machine gunned, the skipper exclaimed, "Of course we were scared.  With those bullets flying all around us, there was no wonder we were scared."

"Every time they would fire a shell it would knock the boat around," the skipper added.  "The next shell would swing around the other way."  Said Peter Frontiero, "To tell you the truth, we were stunned.  The sub skipper gave us plenty of time to get off, but he did have a lot of shots fired in the pilot house.  When he let the shells go, we knew he meant business and we got going.  We are glad they never hit our dories."

That German U-Boat That Torpedoed Our Grandfathers Fishing Boat The Ben and Josephine? Here’s The Account of It’s Day Of Reckoning

Here’s the account of the sinking of our Grandfather Captain Joe Ciaramitaro’s Ben and Josephine-

http://www.wholesalelobster.com/

David Teele forwards the link to the account of the last days of the German U-boat the 432 on the 11th of March 1943-

REPORT ON INTERROGATION OF SURVIVORS FROM "U 432," A 500-TON

U-BOAT SUNK AT ABOUT 1200 G.M.T. ON 11th MARCH, 1943

        "U 432" (Kapitänleutnant Hermann Eckhardt) was sunk in approximate position 51° 35′ N., 28° 30′ W. at about 1300 G.M.T. on 11th March, 1943, by F.F.S. "Aconit" escorting Convoy H.X.228.  "Aconit" had 12 hours previously assisted in the sinking of "U 444" (see C.B. 04051 (63) ), from which boat she had also taken prisoners.

        At about 1100 the same day, "U 432" had torpedoed and sank H.M.S. "Harvester," who had on board one prisoner from "U 444."  Survivors from H.M.S. "Harvester," "U 444" and "U 432" were then transported to Greenock by "Aconit," together with survivors from two ships of H.X.228, torpedoed in the night of 10/11th March, 1943.

III. EIGTH AND LAST PATROL OF "U 432"

(All times are German Summer Time.)

(i)  Departure from La Pallice

        At 1730 on 14th February, 1943, "U 432" cast off from her berth on the north side of the basin at La Pallice.

        At 1750 she left the lock at the entrance to the basin.  There were scenes of great enthusiasm as all present waved "goodbye."  She rammed a harbour launch just after negotiating the lock.  On passing the boom "U 432" was escorted by a "Sperrbrecher" and two patrol vessels.  Also sailing with her was another U-Boat with a crocodile badge on her conning-tower.  Survivors could not remember her captain’s name.  At 2320 the escort parted company and "U 432" proceeded on her patrol alone and on the surface.  Her course was 270°.

(ii)  Passage southwards

        "U 432" remained on the surface until shortly before 0700 on 15th February, 1943, when she dived for the first time on this patrol.  She did not surface again until 1930 when it was found to be much rougher.  Many of her ship’s company were sick.  At 0800 on 16th February, she submerged again, surfacing once more just before dusk.  At 0900 on 17th February, she dived, re-surfacing the same night.  The whole of 18th February was also spent submerged.  Survivors thought that by then they were out of the Bay of Biscay.

(iii)  Receipt of Orders

        About 0100 on 19th February, Eckhardt received a signal ordering him to proceed to join a patrol line named "Wildfang" in a position which he decyphered as a point in the neighbourhood of the Canary Islands.  From this point onwards, "U 432" did not submerge again for some time.

        At 1545 on 20th February hands went to action stations for exercise and that evening there was a party to celebrate the end of the first week at sea.  There had been no events worthy of note since she left port.

(iv)  "U 432"  Alters Course

        By the evening of 21st February, the First Lieutenant began to wonder why they had proceeded so far southwards.  It was then that Eckhardt, seated in his cabin looking through his signal books realised that he had failed to insert a correction, issued prior to his sailing.  Consequently, the signal received on 19th February giving him his orders, had been wrongly decyphered and he had steered south instead of west since that date.  In its correct form the signal ordered him to a position off Newfoundland.  He immediately gave orders to alter course to 300°and made for the patrol line indicated in the original signal.

For the rest of the account which is very interesting click here to read it in entirety on http://www.uboatarchive.net-

http://www.uboatarchive.net/U-432INT.htm