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A sincere thank you to all the women and men who serve or have served in the arm forces over the decades,... who fought for and have protected our democracy which allows all those who live in a free country to enjoy the benefits of freedom of speech, choice and expression. You truly are the heroes in our world,... especially those who have perished by way of the ultimate sacrifice. You will never be forgotten.

A heartfelt thank you to my grandfather who survived as a child in Russia along with his family the devastating effects of World War I. Who then in 1927 at age 18 fled Communist Russia and immigrated to Canada only to join the Canadian Armed Forces and serve his new found land of Democracy and freedom. Thank you for sharing your love, courage and knowledge to all of those you had come in contact with during your 103 years of life. You had passed the torch of freedom onto us and we will ensure that we too fight for and protect what you so bravely helped defend during WWII.

Rest in peace Dedushka and know you were a part of the 'Greatest Generation' that ever lived,... that's correct Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z,... they are.

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“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” - Ronald Reagan


Please share you stories.
 

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I live in a house built by a guy who did 2 tours of duty in the North Atlantic on a Corvette. He shared very little about his experiences, and I understand why.

Thank you for your sacrifice and service Thomas James Wallace.
 

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A sincere thank you to all the women and men who serve or have served in the arm forces over the decades,... who fought for and have protected our democracy which allows all those who live in a free country to enjoy the benefits of freedom of speech, choice and expression.

As a military historian I would just like to point out that, with the exception of the War of 1812, nobody who ever fought for Canada did so to protect our country/democracy because that democracy has never been threatened. This 'they fought for our freedom' thing is an American idea that has taken root here, but is as incorrect for them as it is for us.

Our military has always fought to protect or regain the freedoms enjoyed by others, which makes the sacrifice of those who died all the more meaningful - because they gave their lives when their own homes and country were not under threat. They served to help others, not to protect themselves and their loved ones.
 

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I live in a house built by a guy who did 2 tours of duty in the North Atlantic on a Corvette. He shared very little about his experiences, and I understand why.

Thank you for your sacrifice and service Thomas James Wallace.
My father served and didn't talk about it until he was near the end of his life. It was a very emotional remembrance for both of us. He was stationed in England. His main activity was loading bombs onto Lancasters. He told me that he lost a lot of buddies back then. They would go off on bombing missions and some never made it back...gotta be tough on anybody. I certainly respect all our vets and still cannot imagine the full impact it had on them...I have forgiven my father for things that I believe was related to the misery that they endured.
 

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My father was a young supply Sargeant in WWII who saw action as well. He also didn't like talking about it. He suspects his quick promotions were because of his engineering degrees. But I do remember, maybe not a story, but an anecdote or two from his musings when I was a boy.

One of them was that he took advantage of his role and managed to get clean underwear every day. As a boy that was fascinating to me because I took that for granted. Another one was he told me there was a time he was so exhausted, that in a forested area at night waiting for commands for his group to move or stay put, he laid back on his backpack and fell asleep not moving for 24 hours waking up at night again. Not sure if that's what happened, he may have simply woke up just a couple of minutes later thinking that instead. But I think his point was the extreme work involved in his effort.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
As a military historian I would just like to point out that, with the exception of the War of 1812, nobody who ever fought for Canada did so to protect our country/democracy because that democracy has never been threatened. This 'they fought for our freedom' thing is an American idea that has taken root here, but is as incorrect for them as it is for us.

Our military has always fought to protect or regain the freedoms enjoyed by others, which makes the sacrifice of those who died all the more meaningful - because they gave their lives when their own homes and country were not under threat. They served to help others, not to protect themselves and their loved ones.
However, if those Veterans from Canada and the USA had not traveled to Europe to fight the German and Italian forces and had not defeated them overseas there would have been a high probability that the enemy may have made it to Canadian soil,... just as the Japanese had attacked the US territory of Hawaii in 1941,... which later became the 50th State in 1959.

I'll stick with giving the Canadian and American veterans credit for protecting our Canadian Democracy and American Republic.
 

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Two very good friends are retired military. Full 30+ year careers, living happy family lives now. Another pretty much drank himself to death after he retired. My best boyhood friend was killed by a drunk driver just after he graduated RMC.

My father served in internment camps, England, Netherlands, and elsewhere. He didn't discuss it much, but I know he was traumatized by things he experienced. Today he'd be treated for PTSD. Post war he remained in the militia until the '70s, retired a major. Until his death he was a Legion padre. The only time he wore his medals was on Remembrance Day when they were attached to his stole when he conducted cenotaph services. Remembrance was hard on him.

My grandfather, my father's father, was a WW1 medic. I know almost nothing of his service other than a story my aunt told about him. Four medics carrying 2 strechers were hit by something, all were killed except my grandfather who had to be tied down for days to subdue his shellshock. Post war his life was troubled by periods of unemployment, and sheer rotten luck. He died the year I was born. I think I would have liked him.
 

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Another one was he told me there was a time he was so exhausted, that in a forested area at night waiting for commands for his group to move or stay put, he laid back on his backpack and fell asleep not moving for 24 hours waking up at night again. Not sure if that's what happened, he may have simply woke up just a couple of minutes later thinking that instead. But I think his point was the extreme work involved in his effort.
I'm sure this happened, I have had the exact same experience.

Grandfather was in WWI - came back and drank himself to death. I never met him but I guess he was an SOB. I've been out since 2003, but I still do things the way soldiers do them, it never really leaves you.
 

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However, if those Veterans from Canada and the USA had not traveled to Europe to fight the German and Italian forces and had not defeated them overseas there would have been a high probability that the enemy may have made it to Canadian soil,...
There was no probability of that, none whatsoever.

D-Day was the largest seaborne invasion in history, and for that we only had to cross the Channel. There is absolutely no chance whatsoever that German and Italian forces could have crossed the Atlantic to invade North America. Hell the Germans couldn't even accomplish Sea Lion, their version of D-Day, which only had to cross the Channel.


just as the Japanese had attacked the US territory of Hawaii in 1941
The attack on Pearl Harbor was nothing like a seaborne invasion, nothing at all. There is a huge difference between launching an airborne attack and a seaborne attack designed to land troops and seize territory.



I'll stick with giving the Canadian and American veterans credit for protecting our Canadian Democracy and American Republic.

Then you'll stick with being wrong as there is absolutely no basis in reality for your belief that North America was threatened.
 

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What a surprise Colchar comes in to tell folks they are wrong and he is superior to all in a remembrance thread, I’m guessing he doesn’t have a lot of friends lol.

I don’t have any direct relatives that served but my Oma’s entire immediate family was murdered in the Netherlands by Nazis and all of their wealth stolen. When I met my great aunt Tauntaline she still had the camp numbers tattoo’d on her arm.

I am thankful men and woman were brave enough to step up and fight Nazi’s and fascists, then and now.
 

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My grandfather, a Scotsman, flew in WWI, yes, in biplanes, and was shot down twice, but survived.

When WWII broke out, he was living in Canada, and he called up the British Consulate and said "I'm ready, let's go." As he was 47, they turned him down. So he enlisted in the Canadian Army as a 47-year-old private. They eventually had him training pilots.

My dad came from Estonia, and ran for it when the Stalinists came in. I don't have the whole story, but I gather he was anti-communist. He said when my great uncle, who taught at a university, "disappeared" one night, him and my uncle ran to Finland. My dad rode out the war in Bavaria.

He told me at one point he pulled his girlfriend's arm and nothing else out of a pile of rubble.

One time, late in the war, when he was a strapping young blond lad, and the Germans were desparate, they tried to convince him to join the SS! Needless to say, he took the next train out of town headed for anywhere elese.

He made it to Canada after the war. I didn't get much else out of him.

I have not had to experience any of this, and count myself lucky.
 

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Grandfather was in WWI - came back and drank himself to death. I never met him but I guess he was an SOB. I've been out since 2003, but I still do things the way soldiers do them, it never really leaves you.
My grandfather went and joined the British army somehow; he was in the first expeditionary forces in 1914 and he was in the trenches until the end. Apparently they were referred to as the contemptibles. I never met him but he survived 4 years of it and was said to be one tough bastard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
There was no probability of that, none whatsoever.

D-Day was the largest seaborne invasion in history, and for that we only had to cross the Channel. There is absolutely no chance whatsoever that German and Italian forces could have crossed the Atlantic to invade North America. Hell the Germans couldn't even accomplish Sea Lion, their version of D-Day, which only had to cross the Channel.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was nothing like a seaborne invasion, nothing at all. There is a huge difference between launching an airborne attack and a seaborne attack designed to land troops and seize territory.

Then you'll stick with being wrong as there is absolutely no basis in reality for your belief that North America was threatened.
U-Boats off the Outer Banks
"When World War II Was Fought off North Carolina’s Beaches"
by Kevin P. Duffus
Reprinted with permission from the Tar Heel Junior Historian. Spring 2008.
Tar Heel Junior Historian Association, NC Museum of History

Related Entries: British Atlantic Coast Naval Actions

At a little after two o’clock in the morning on Monday, January 19, 1942, an earthquakelike rumble tossed fifteen-year-old Gibb Gray from his bed. Furniture shook, glass and knickknacks rattled, and books fell from shelves as a thundering roar vibrated through the walls of the houses in Gibb’s Outer Banks village of Avon. Surprised and concerned, Gibb’s father rushed to the windows on the house’s east side and looked toward the ocean. “There’s a fire out there!” he shouted to his family. Clearly visible on the horizon, a great orange fireball had erupted. A towering column of black smoke blotted out the stars and further darkened the night sky.

“We’d hear these explosions most any time of the day or night, and it would shake the houses,” one Outer Banks resident remembered about the U-boat attacks during World War II.
“We’d hear these explosions most any time of the day or night, and it would shake the houses,” one Outer Banks resident remembered about the U-boat attacks during World War II. Image courtesy of Kevin P. Duffus.Only seven miles away, a German U-boat had just torpedoed the 337-foot-long U.S. freighter, City of Atlanta, sinking the ship and killing all but three of the 47 men aboard. The same U-boat attacked two more ships just hours later. Less than six weeks after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the hostilities of the Second World War had arrived on America’s East Coast and North Carolina’s beaches. This was not the first time that German U-boats had come to United States waters. During World War I, three U-boats sank ten ships off the Tar Heel coast in what primarily was considered a demonstration of German naval power. But by 1942, U-boats had become bigger, faster, and more deadly. Their presence in American waters was not intended for “show” but to help win World War II for Germany.

The abbreviated name “U-boat” comes from the German word unterseeboot, meaning submarine or undersea boat. However, U-boats were not true submarines. They were warships that spent most of their time on the surface. They could submerge only for limited periods—mostly to attack or evade detection by enemy ships, and to avoid bad weather. U-boats could only travel about sixty miles underwater before having to surface for fresh air. They often attacked ships while on the surface using deck-mounted guns. Typically, about 50 men operated a U-boat. The boats carried fifteen torpedoes, or selfpropelled “bombs,” which ranged up to twenty-two feet long and could travel thirty miles per hour. Experts have described German U-boats as among the most effective and seaworthy warships ever designed.

Within hours of the U-boat attack near Avon, debris and oil began washing up on the beaches. This scene seemed to be repeated constantly. For the next six months, along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, at least sixty-five different German U-boats attacked American and British merchant ships carrying vital supplies to the Allies in Europe— cargos of oil, gasoline, raw vegetables and citrus products, lumber and steel, aluminum for aircraft construction, rubber for tires, and cotton for clothing. By July of 1942, 397 ships had been sunk or damaged. More than 5,000 people had been killed.

The greatest concentration of U-boat attacks happened off North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where dozens of ships passed daily. So many ships were attacked that, in time, the waters near Cape Hatteras earned a nickname: “Torpedo Junction.U.S. military and government authorities didn’t want people to worry, so news reports of enemy U-boats near the coast were classified, or held back from the public for national security reasons. For many years, most people had no idea how bad things really were. But families living on the Outer Banks knew—they were practically in the war.


“We’d hear these explosions most any time of the day or night and it would shake the houses and sometimes crack the walls,” remembered Blanche Jolliff, of Ocracoke village. Even though ships were being torpedoed by enemy U-boats almost every day, just a few miles away, coastal residents had no choice but to live as normally as possible. “We sort of got used to hearing it,” Gibb Gray said. “The explosions were mostly in the distance, so we weren’t too scared. I remember we were walking to school one day, and the whole ground shook. We looked toward the ocean, just beyond the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, and there was another huge cloud of smoke. That was the oil tanker, Dixie Arrow.”

Some Outer Bankers came closer to the war than they would have preferred.
Teenager Charles Stowe, of Hatteras, and his father were headed out to sea aboard their fishing boat one day when they nearly rammed a U-boat, which was rising to the surface directly in front of them. The elder Stowe’s eyesight was not very good. He told his son, who was steering their boat, to keep on going—he thought the vessel ahead was just another fishing boat. “I said, ‘Dad, that is a German submarine!’ And it sure was,” Stowe recalled. “He finally listened to me, and we turned around and got out of there just in time.”

The war cut back on one favorite summer pastime for Outer Banks young people. “That summer we had to almost give up swimming in the ocean—it was just full of oil, you’d get it all over you,” Mrs. Ormond Fuller recalled of the oil spilled by torpedoed tankers. Gibb Gray remembered the oil, too: “We’d step in it before we knew it, and we’d be five or six inches deep. We’d have to scrub our feet and legs with rags soaked in kerosene. It’s hard to get off, that oil.” It is estimated that 150 million gallons of oil spilled into the sea and on the beaches along the Outer Banks during 1942.

A-29 bomber planes like this one began to help watch over ships off the Tar Heel coast because of the Uboat threat.
A-29 bomber planes like this one began to help watch over ships off the Tar Heel coast because of the Uboat threat. Image courtesy of Kevin P. Duffus.Some local residents thought Germans might try to sneak ashore. Others suspected strangers of being spies for the enemy. “We were frightened to death. We locked our doors at night for the first time ever,” said Ocracoke’s Blanche Styron. Calvin O’Neal remembered strangers with unusual accents who stayed at an Ocracoke hotel during the war: “The rumor was they were spies, and the hotel owner’s daughter and I decided to be counterspies, and we tried our best to follow them around, but we never caught them doing anything suspicious.”

At Buxton, Maude White was the village postmistress and a secret coast watcher for the U.S. Navy. She was responsible for observing unusual activities and reporting them to the local Coast Guard. In 1942 one couple with German accents attracted attention by drawing maps and taking notes about the island. White became suspicious, and so did her daughter, who would follow the pair from a distance—riding her beach pony. After being reported by White, the strangers were apprehended when they crossed Oregon Inlet on the ferry. Records fail to indicate whether or not the strangers really were spies, but White’s daughter became the inspiration for the heroine in author Nell Wise Wechter’s book Taffy of Torpedo Junction.

Slowly but surely, increased patrols by the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, and planes of the Army Air Corps, began to prevent the U-boat attacks. Blimps from a station at Elizabeth City searched for U-boats from high above, while private yachts and sailboats with two-way radios were sent out into the ocean to patrol and harass German warships. The military set up top-secret submarine listening and tracking facilities at places like Ocracoke to detect passing U-boats.

A U.S. Navy blimp flies over a convoy of ships to protect it from German U-boats. Image courtesy of Stephen D. Chalker.
A U.S. Navy blimp flies over a convoy of ships to protect it from German U-boats. Image courtesy of Stephen D. Chalker.Many people who lived along the coast during World War II remember having to turn off their house lights at night and having to put black tape over their car headlights, so that lights on shore would not help the Germans find their way in the darkness. Even so, the government did not order a general blackout until August 1942. By then, most of the attacks had ended.

On April 14, 1942, the first German U-boat fought by the American navy in U.S. waters was sunk sixteen miles southeast of Nags Head. Within the next couple of months, three more U-boats were sunk along the North Carolina coast:
one by a U.S. Army Air Corps bomber, one by a U.S. Coast Guard patrol ship, and one by a U.S. Navy destroyer. North Carolina’s total of four sunken U-boats represents the most of any state. By that July, the commander of Germany’s U-boats became discouraged. He redirected his remaining warships to the northern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, Germany considered its attacks against the United States a success, even if they failed to win the war. Gerhard Weinberg, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has since called the war zone off the U.S. coast in 1942 “the greatest single defeat ever suffered by American naval power.”

As the years have passed, most of the physical evidence of World War II U-boat encounters off North Carolina’s coast has vanished. Submerged off the state’s beaches are the remains of at least 60 ships and countless unexploded torpedoes, depth charges, and contact mines. Even today, small patches of blackened sand offer reminders of the massive oil spills of 1942. On Ocracoke Island and at Cape Hatteras, cemeteries contain the graves of six British sailors who perished in North Carolina’s waters. Many people living in the state don’t know about the time when war came so close. But older Tar Heels who lived on the coast back then remember. In fact, they would love to tell you about it.

*At the time of the publication of this article, Kevin P. Duffus was an author and documentary filmmaker specializing in North Carolina maritime history. He lectured for the North Carolina Humanities Council on topics that included World War II along the state’s coast.

Call me crazy,... but that most certainly would have seemed like an imminent threat to anyone living in the USA during that time period,... they wouldn't have known how the history books would have been written while experiencing their reality in the moment. Hindsight is certainly 20/20.
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More fun facts.

1917
January 31

Germans unleash U-boats
On January 31, 1917, Germany announces the renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic as German torpedo-armed submarines prepare to attack any and all ships, including civilian passenger carriers, said to be sighted in war-zone waters.
When World War I erupted in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality for the United States, a position that the vast majority of Americans favored. Britain, however, was one of America’s closest trading partners and tension soon arose between the United States and Germany over the latter’s attempted blockade of the British isles. Several U.S. ships traveling to Britain were damaged or sunk by German mines and, in February 1915, Germany announced unrestricted warfare against all ships, neutral or otherwise, that entered the war zone around Britain. One month later, Germany announced that a German cruiser had sunk the William P. Frye, a private American merchant vessel that was transporting grain to England when it disappeared. President Wilson was outraged, but the German government apologized, calling the attack an unfortunate mistake.

READ MORE: History Faceoff: Should the U.S. Have Entered World War I?

The Germans’ most formidable naval weapon was the U-boat, a submarine far more sophisticated than those built by other nations at the time. The typical U-boat was 214 feet long, carried 35 men and 12 torpedoes, and could travel underwater for two hours at a time. In the first few years of World War I, the U-boats took a terrible toll on Allied shipping.
In early May 1915, several New York newspapers published a warning by the German embassy in Washington that Americans traveling on British or Allied ships in war zones did so at their own risk. The announcement was placed on the same page as an advertisement for the imminent sailing of the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner from New York to Liverpool. On May 7, the Lusitania was torpedoed without warning just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,959 passengers, 1,198 were killed, including 128 Americans.

The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the U.S. demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. In August 1915, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels, but in November sank an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. Public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany.
At the end of January 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare. Three days later, the United States broke off diplomatic relations with Germany; just hours after that, the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. None of the 25 Americans on board were killed and they were picked up later by a British steamer.

On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms-appropriations bill intended to ready the United States for war. Two days later, British authorities gave the U.S. ambassador to Britain a copy of what has become known as the “Zimmermann Note,” a coded message from German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann to Count Johann von Bernstorff, the German ambassador to Mexico. In the telegram, intercepted and deciphered by British intelligence, Zimmermann stated that, in the event of war with the United States, Mexico should be asked to enter the conflict as a German ally. In return, Germany would promise to restore to Mexico the lost territories of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. On March 1, the U.S. State Department published the note and America was galvanized against Germany once and for all.

In late March, Germany sank four more U.S. merchant ships and, on April 2, President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. On April 4, the Senate voted 82 to six to declare war against Germany. Two days later, the House of Representatives endorsed the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50 and America formally entered World War I.

Citation Information
Article Title
Germans unleash U-boats
Author
History.com Editors
Website Name

HISTORY
URL
Germans unleash U-boats
Access Date
November 8, 2021
Publisher
A&E Television Networks
Last Updated
January 28, 2021
Original Published Date
November 16, 2009

BY
HISTORY.COM EDITORS

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U-Boats off the Outer Banks
"When World War II Was Fought off North Carolina’s Beaches"
by Kevin P. Duffus
Reprinted with permission from the Tar Heel Junior Historian. Spring 2008.
Tar Heel Junior Historian Association, NC Museum of History

Related Entries: British Atlantic Coast Naval Actions

At a little after two o’clock in the morning on Monday, January 19, 1942, an earthquakelike rumble tossed fifteen-year-old Gibb Gray from his bed. Furniture shook, glass and knickknacks rattled, and books fell from shelves as a thundering roar vibrated through the walls of the houses in Gibb’s Outer Banks village of Avon. Surprised and concerned, Gibb’s father rushed to the windows on the house’s east side and looked toward the ocean. “There’s a fire out there!” he shouted to his family. Clearly visible on the horizon, a great orange fireball had erupted. A towering column of black smoke blotted out the stars and further darkened the night sky.

“We’d hear these explosions most any time of the day or night, and it would shake the houses,” one Outer Banks resident remembered about the U-boat attacks during World War II.
“We’d hear these explosions most any time of the day or night, and it would shake the houses,” one Outer Banks resident remembered about the U-boat attacks during World War II. Image courtesy of Kevin P. Duffus.Only seven miles away, a German U-boat had just torpedoed the 337-foot-long U.S. freighter, City of Atlanta, sinking the ship and killing all but three of the 47 men aboard. The same U-boat attacked two more ships just hours later. Less than six weeks after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the hostilities of the Second World War had arrived on America’s East Coast and North Carolina’s beaches. This was not the first time that German U-boats had come to United States waters. During World War I, three U-boats sank ten ships off the Tar Heel coast in what primarily was considered a demonstration of German naval power. But by 1942, U-boats had become bigger, faster, and more deadly. Their presence in American waters was not intended for “show” but to help win World War II for Germany.

The abbreviated name “U-boat” comes from the German word unterseeboot, meaning submarine or undersea boat. However, U-boats were not true submarines. They were warships that spent most of their time on the surface. They could submerge only for limited periods—mostly to attack or evade detection by enemy ships, and to avoid bad weather. U-boats could only travel about sixty miles underwater before having to surface for fresh air. They often attacked ships while on the surface using deck-mounted guns. Typically, about 50 men operated a U-boat. The boats carried fifteen torpedoes, or selfpropelled “bombs,” which ranged up to twenty-two feet long and could travel thirty miles per hour. Experts have described German U-boats as among the most effective and seaworthy warships ever designed.

Within hours of the U-boat attack near Avon, debris and oil began washing up on the beaches. This scene seemed to be repeated constantly. For the next six months, along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, at least sixty-five different German U-boats attacked American and British merchant ships carrying vital supplies to the Allies in Europe— cargos of oil, gasoline, raw vegetables and citrus products, lumber and steel, aluminum for aircraft construction, rubber for tires, and cotton for clothing. By July of 1942, 397 ships had been sunk or damaged. More than 5,000 people had been killed.

The greatest concentration of U-boat attacks happened off North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where dozens of ships passed daily. So many ships were attacked that, in time, the waters near Cape Hatteras earned a nickname: “Torpedo Junction.U.S. military and government authorities didn’t want people to worry, so news reports of enemy U-boats near the coast were classified, or held back from the public for national security reasons. For many years, most people had no idea how bad things really were. But families living on the Outer Banks knew—they were practically in the war.


“We’d hear these explosions most any time of the day or night and it would shake the houses and sometimes crack the walls,” remembered Blanche Jolliff, of Ocracoke village. Even though ships were being torpedoed by enemy U-boats almost every day, just a few miles away, coastal residents had no choice but to live as normally as possible. “We sort of got used to hearing it,” Gibb Gray said. “The explosions were mostly in the distance, so we weren’t too scared. I remember we were walking to school one day, and the whole ground shook. We looked toward the ocean, just beyond the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, and there was another huge cloud of smoke. That was the oil tanker, Dixie Arrow.”

Some Outer Bankers came closer to the war than they would have preferred.
Teenager Charles Stowe, of Hatteras, and his father were headed out to sea aboard their fishing boat one day when they nearly rammed a U-boat, which was rising to the surface directly in front of them. The elder Stowe’s eyesight was not very good. He told his son, who was steering their boat, to keep on going—he thought the vessel ahead was just another fishing boat. “I said, ‘Dad, that is a German submarine!’ And it sure was,” Stowe recalled. “He finally listened to me, and we turned around and got out of there just in time.”

The war cut back on one favorite summer pastime for Outer Banks young people. “That summer we had to almost give up swimming in the ocean—it was just full of oil, you’d get it all over you,” Mrs. Ormond Fuller recalled of the oil spilled by torpedoed tankers. Gibb Gray remembered the oil, too: “We’d step in it before we knew it, and we’d be five or six inches deep. We’d have to scrub our feet and legs with rags soaked in kerosene. It’s hard to get off, that oil.” It is estimated that 150 million gallons of oil spilled into the sea and on the beaches along the Outer Banks during 1942.

A-29 bomber planes like this one began to help watch over ships off the Tar Heel coast because of the Uboat threat.
A-29 bomber planes like this one began to help watch over ships off the Tar Heel coast because of the Uboat threat. Image courtesy of Kevin P. Duffus.Some local residents thought Germans might try to sneak ashore. Others suspected strangers of being spies for the enemy. “We were frightened to death. We locked our doors at night for the first time ever,” said Ocracoke’s Blanche Styron. Calvin O’Neal remembered strangers with unusual accents who stayed at an Ocracoke hotel during the war: “The rumor was they were spies, and the hotel owner’s daughter and I decided to be counterspies, and we tried our best to follow them around, but we never caught them doing anything suspicious.”

At Buxton, Maude White was the village postmistress and a secret coast watcher for the U.S. Navy. She was responsible for observing unusual activities and reporting them to the local Coast Guard. In 1942 one couple with German accents attracted attention by drawing maps and taking notes about the island. White became suspicious, and so did her daughter, who would follow the pair from a distance—riding her beach pony. After being reported by White, the strangers were apprehended when they crossed Oregon Inlet on the ferry. Records fail to indicate whether or not the strangers really were spies, but White’s daughter became the inspiration for the heroine in author Nell Wise Wechter’s book Taffy of Torpedo Junction.

Slowly but surely, increased patrols by the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, and planes of the Army Air Corps, began to prevent the U-boat attacks. Blimps from a station at Elizabeth City searched for U-boats from high above, while private yachts and sailboats with two-way radios were sent out into the ocean to patrol and harass German warships. The military set up top-secret submarine listening and tracking facilities at places like Ocracoke to detect passing U-boats.

A U.S. Navy blimp flies over a convoy of ships to protect it from German U-boats. Image courtesy of Stephen D. Chalker.
A U.S. Navy blimp flies over a convoy of ships to protect it from German U-boats. Image courtesy of Stephen D. Chalker.Many people who lived along the coast during World War II remember having to turn off their house lights at night and having to put black tape over their car headlights, so that lights on shore would not help the Germans find their way in the darkness. Even so, the government did not order a general blackout until August 1942. By then, most of the attacks had ended.

On April 14, 1942, the first German U-boat fought by the American navy in U.S. waters was sunk sixteen miles southeast of Nags Head. Within the next couple of months, three more U-boats were sunk along the North Carolina coast:
one by a U.S. Army Air Corps bomber, one by a U.S. Coast Guard patrol ship, and one by a U.S. Navy destroyer. North Carolina’s total of four sunken U-boats represents the most of any state. By that July, the commander of Germany’s U-boats became discouraged. He redirected his remaining warships to the northern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, Germany considered its attacks against the United States a success, even if they failed to win the war. Gerhard Weinberg, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has since called the war zone off the U.S. coast in 1942 “the greatest single defeat ever suffered by American naval power.”

As the years have passed, most of the physical evidence of World War II U-boat encounters off North Carolina’s coast has vanished. Submerged off the state’s beaches are the remains of at least 60 ships and countless unexploded torpedoes, depth charges, and contact mines. Even today, small patches of blackened sand offer reminders of the massive oil spills of 1942. On Ocracoke Island and at Cape Hatteras, cemeteries contain the graves of six British sailors who perished in North Carolina’s waters. Many people living in the state don’t know about the time when war came so close. But older Tar Heels who lived on the coast back then remember. In fact, they would love to tell you about it.

*At the time of the publication of this article, Kevin P. Duffus was an author and documentary filmmaker specializing in North Carolina maritime history. He lectured for the North Carolina Humanities Council on topics that included World War II along the state’s coast.

Call me crazy,... but that most certainly would have seemed like an imminent threat to anyone living in the USA during that time period,... they wouldn't have known how the history books would have been written while experiencing their reality in the moment. Hindsight is certainly 20/20.
View attachment 386688


More fun facts.

1917
January 31

Germans unleash U-boats
On January 31, 1917, Germany announces the renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic as German torpedo-armed submarines prepare to attack any and all ships, including civilian passenger carriers, said to be sighted in war-zone waters.
When World War I erupted in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality for the United States, a position that the vast majority of Americans favored. Britain, however, was one of America’s closest trading partners and tension soon arose between the United States and Germany over the latter’s attempted blockade of the British isles. Several U.S. ships traveling to Britain were damaged or sunk by German mines and, in February 1915, Germany announced unrestricted warfare against all ships, neutral or otherwise, that entered the war zone around Britain. One month later, Germany announced that a German cruiser had sunk the William P. Frye, a private American merchant vessel that was transporting grain to England when it disappeared. President Wilson was outraged, but the German government apologized, calling the attack an unfortunate mistake.

READ MORE: History Faceoff: Should the U.S. Have Entered World War I?

The Germans’ most formidable naval weapon was the U-boat, a submarine far more sophisticated than those built by other nations at the time. The typical U-boat was 214 feet long, carried 35 men and 12 torpedoes, and could travel underwater for two hours at a time. In the first few years of World War I, the U-boats took a terrible toll on Allied shipping.
In early May 1915, several New York newspapers published a warning by the German embassy in Washington that Americans traveling on British or Allied ships in war zones did so at their own risk. The announcement was placed on the same page as an advertisement for the imminent sailing of the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner from New York to Liverpool. On May 7, the Lusitania was torpedoed without warning just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,959 passengers, 1,198 were killed, including 128 Americans.

The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the U.S. demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. In August 1915, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels, but in November sank an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. Public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany.
At the end of January 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare. Three days later, the United States broke off diplomatic relations with Germany; just hours after that, the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. None of the 25 Americans on board were killed and they were picked up later by a British steamer.

On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms-appropriations bill intended to ready the United States for war. Two days later, British authorities gave the U.S. ambassador to Britain a copy of what has become known as the “Zimmermann Note,” a coded message from German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann to Count Johann von Bernstorff, the German ambassador to Mexico. In the telegram, intercepted and deciphered by British intelligence, Zimmermann stated that, in the event of war with the United States, Mexico should be asked to enter the conflict as a German ally. In return, Germany would promise to restore to Mexico the lost territories of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. On March 1, the U.S. State Department published the note and America was galvanized against Germany once and for all.

In late March, Germany sank four more U.S. merchant ships and, on April 2, President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. On April 4, the Senate voted 82 to six to declare war against Germany. Two days later, the House of Representatives endorsed the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50 and America formally entered World War I.

Citation Information
Article Title
Germans unleash U-boats
Author
History.com Editors
Website Name

HISTORY
URL
Germans unleash U-boats
Access Date
November 8, 2021
Publisher
A&E Television Networks
Last Updated
January 28, 2021
Original Published Date
November 16, 2009

BY
HISTORY.COM EDITORS

Your serve.



You think you need to tell a military historian about this stuff? The fact that you felt the need to post it and think it somehow bolsters your position only demonstrates your complete and utter ignorance. U-Boats off the coast and up the St. Lawrence did not threaten our democracy. Neither the existence of our society, nor the freedom of that society, was ever under threat from some shipping off the coast. We had submarines and ships in German territory too, but those did not constitute an invasion of Europe. That didn't take place until D-Day. Hell, we even raided German held territory but those raids didn't threaten the German hold on that territory.

North America was never, ever at threat of invasion. Not ever. Do you even know what would be required to invade and successfully take over - how many men, ships, planes, landing craft, etc.? Leaving aside the issue of getting them all across the Atlantic (or Pacific in the case of the Japanese), the Axis did not possess enough of any of those to undertake an invasion of North America. Get it through your head - North America was never in danger.

The Man in the High Castle isn't real. It is fiction, not a documentary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You think you need to tell a military historian about this stuff? The fact that you felt the need to post it and think it somehow bolsters your position only demonstrates your complete and utter ignorance. U-Boats off the coast and up the St. Lawrence did not threaten our democracy. Neither the existence of our society, nor the freedom of that society, was ever under threat from some shipping off the coast. We had submarines and ships in German territory too, but those did not constitute an invasion of Europe. That didn't take place until D-Day. Hell, we even raided German held territory but those raids didn't threaten the German hold on that territory.

North America was never, ever at threat of invasion. Not ever. Do you even know what would be required to invade and successfully take over - how many men, ships, planes, landing craft, etc.? Leaving aside the issue of getting them all across the Atlantic (or Pacific in the case of the Japanese), the Axis did not possess enough of any of those to undertake an invasion of North America. Get it through your head - North America was never in danger.

The Man in the High Castle isn't real. It is fiction, not a documentary.
But by 1942, U-boats had become bigger, faster, and more deadly. Their presence in American waters was not intended for “show” but to help win World War II for Germany. - Kevin P. Duffus - Historian

Some information on Kevin P. Duffus

War Zone: World War II off the North Carolina Coast by Kevin P. Duffus | Virginia Museum of History & Culture

http://lookingglassproductions.org/LookingGlass2008/Home.html

NC Historian Kevin Duffus Receives National Lighthouse Museum Research Award | Island Free Press

"The Peabody Award for excellence in journalism was presented to Kevin Duffus and four other producers in 1981 for their combined effort on the national documentary, "Fed up With Fear". Duffus received the "World Hunger Media Award" at the United Nations in 1986 and the National Educators Association top broadcast honor for his program, "Tanzania, A Need Beyond Hunger". Duffus was Executive Producer of documentaries that were honored in 1989 by the national Associated Press Best Enterprise award and the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award."

KEVIN PAUL DUFFUS

Now, perhaps you can show a little respect towards this thread and the Veterans who we are trying to honour. May I suggest that you start another thread where we can debate the fine details of World Wars I and II. If you decide to do so consider posting some of your award winning historian work. I am presently siding with Kevin P. Duffus and his historical investigative work,... I think it's clear as to why.

I'm done discussing this any further with you on this particular thread,... lets just keep it about the Veterans and not you or I.
 

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I'm currently serving,
12 years in..(half way done!)
I am an Air Force Electronics technician in Ottawa.

Honestly, It's both the stupidest, and greatest thing I've been a part of.

Not looking for attention or anything...just happy to see people are remembering those that came before..
 

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But by 1942, U-boats had become bigger, faster, and more deadly. Their presence in American waters was not intended for “show” but to help win World War II for Germany. - Kevin P. Duffus - Historian

Some information on Kevin P. Duffus

War Zone: World War II off the North Carolina Coast by Kevin P. Duffus | Virginia Museum of History & Culture

http://lookingglassproductions.org/LookingGlass2008/Home.html

NC Historian Kevin Duffus Receives National Lighthouse Museum Research Award | Island Free Press

"The Peabody Award for excellence in journalism was presented to Kevin Duffus and four other producers in 1981 for their combined effort on the national documentary, "Fed up With Fear". Duffus received the "World Hunger Media Award" at the United Nations in 1986 and the National Educators Association top broadcast honor for his program, "Tanzania, A Need Beyond Hunger". Duffus was Executive Producer of documentaries that were honored in 1989 by the national Associated Press Best Enterprise award and the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award."

KEVIN PAUL DUFFUS

I'm really starting to think that you are participating in an argument without understanding even the most basic terms and concepts which underpin the topic. You obviously don't understand what an invasion is, what would be required, what constitutes a threat to our freedoms and institutions and what doesn't, etc. You literally have no clue.



Now, perhaps you can show a little respect towards this thread and the Veterans who we are trying to honour.
If you read what I wrote, you'll see that I said that their sacrifices are more meaningful because they fought to help others when their own country was not under threat.

And as a military historian and member of the Legion I would wager that I honour those who served far more than you do.




May I suggest that you start another thread where we can debate the fine details of World Wars I and II.
May I suggest that A) you learn how to read (if you do so you might grasp what I was saying about those who served; and B) that you learn some basic facts before trying to present yourself as honouring our fallen because it is a hollow gesture to claim to honour something that you so obviously do not understand or, in fact, have even the most basic knowledge of.


If you decide to do so consider posting some of your award winning historian work. I am presently siding with Kevin P. Duffus and his historical investigative work,... I think it's clear as to why.
The funniest thing about that is that you don't even understand what it is you are claiming to be siding with. You quite literally don't understand it.

And by the way, Duffus is a journalist and filmmaker, he is not a historian.



I'm done discussing this any further with you on this particular thread

Translation - I don't have a leg to stand on because I don't actually understand the topic, so I am going to refuse to participate. Got it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'm really starting to think that you are participating in an argument without understanding even the most basic terms and concepts which underpin the topic. You obviously don't understand what an invasion is, what would be required, what constitutes a threat to our freedoms and institutions and what doesn't, etc. You literally have no clue.





If you read what I wrote, you'll see that I said that their sacrifices are more meaningful because they fought to help others when their own country was not under threat.

And as a military historian and member of the Legion I would wager that I honour those who served far more than you do.






May I suggest that A) you learn how to read (if you do so you might grasp what I was saying about those who served; and B) that you learn some basic facts before trying to present yourself as honouring our fallen because it is a hollow gesture to claim to honour something that you so obviously do not understand or, in fact, have even the most basic knowledge of.




The funniest thing about that is that you don't even understand what it is you are claiming to be siding with. You quite literally don't understand it.

And by the way, Duffus is a journalist and filmmaker, he is not a historian.






Translation - I don't have a leg to stand on because I don't actually understand the topic, so I am going to refuse to participate. Got it.
Man,... you're a real piece of work. I guess you see yourself as being the most important item within this thread. Quite full of yourself aren't you. Now, can you shut the **** up until November 11th has passed, then you can continue with your rant.

You have totally misinterpreted what I said right from the get go and performed a five star spin and twist. It would appear that perhaps you were seeking some accolades to be thrown your way as the great historian.

Get that other thread started,... then you can go off like Mussolini from the balcony,... but don't expect any red carpets rolled out.

By the way, Kevin Paul Duffus is a documentary filmmaker, author and North Carolina research historian.

Now,... can we focus on some of the great replies other members have posted within this thread. I find the content of their stories much more captivating than most of your drivel.
 
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