Monday, 15 April, 2024
03October 1939

Neutral Greek ship sunk. U-boat takes survivors aboard

A ship flying the neutral flag of Greece was today stopped, torpedoed and sunk by a German u-boat.

The ship, the Diamantis, was sailing approximated 40 miles south-southwest of the Scilly Islands in bad weather when it encountered U-35. At 1:15pm, the captain of the German u-boat ordered the crew to abandon ship, informing them he intended to destroy their vessel. The crew attempted to abandon their ship but their lifeboats were unsuitable for use in the bad weather. The German u-boat captain, seeing their predicament, took the 28 crew members onto his own vessel. He then fired two torpedos at the Greek ship – both torpedoes failed to hit the ship. He then fired a third torpedo, which hit and sunk the Diamantis at approximately 3:40pm.

U-35 then took the crew of the Diamantis to the Irish port of Dingle Bay, where he offloaded them.

When we were about 40 miles off Land’s End on Tuesday the U-boat came to the surface about 1.30 p.m. The commander hailed us and we stopped. He then told us that he was going to sink the Diamantis. He did not ask for our papers.

He ordered us to abandon ship, but when he saw that the sea was so rough that our small boats could not possibly live in it he took us aboard the submarine. Four of us were taken across at a time, this necessitating seven trips as there were 28 of us. We were not allowed to take our belongings. When we got aboard the submarine three or four torpedoes were fired at our vessel and she sank in about 20 minutes.

Many of us were wet to the skin and the submarine’s crew dried our clothes and gave us hot food and cigarettes.

Most of the members of my crew were able to sleep a little although all the time we were wishing that we were out of the submarine. The captain of the submarine spoke English and I was able to talk to him for short periods when he was off duty.

When we had been on board for about 34 hours we came to the surface off the Irish coast at about 5:30 yesterday evening. A collapsible boat was lowered and again seven trips were made to the shore. The submarine remained about 50 yards off the shore, which appeared to be deserted. Immediately the submarine had taken the boat aboard she submerged and that was the last we saw of her.

The crew waved good-bye to us. We were taken charge of by local policemen and the local people looked after us very well.

Panagos Pateras, captain of the Dimantis, describing the sinking of his ship.

The crew member of U-35 who rowed the crew of the Dimantis to the Irish coast, Walter Kalabuch, was awarded an Iron Cross (2nd Class) on 12th October 1939.

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