File No. 300.115H81/2
The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 4 p.m.]
5610. My 5592, February 3.1 Captain Housatonic has telephoned following statement to Consul, Plymouth, who has been instructed to obtain and forward to Department affidavits when procurable:
Housatonic sailed from Galveston for London, January 6 with cargo winter wheat consigned to firm in London. At 10.30 morning February 3, when 20 miles due south Bishop’s Light, submarine sighted 250 yards astern; submarine fired two shots close to bow of Housatonic and signaled captain come aboard submarine. Captain stopped Housatonic and obeyed order. Weather overcast, sea smooth, no other vessel in sight. Commander of submarine expressed regret necessity sinking vessel, but as Housatonic carrying food to enemies of Germany he was obeying his orders in sinking her. He retained ship’s register and manifest and sent captain, accompanied by third officer of submarine and one sailor, back to Housatonic. Germans took one of ship’s engineers below decks and opened seacocks, then removed hatches and having taken off three cases soap ship was ordered to be abandoned. Total crew of 37 put off three boats at 11.50. At 12.30 submarine hoisted German naval ensign and torpedoed Housatonic which sank 12.50. Submarine took three boats in tow and for one hour and half towed them north by east when British patrol boat sighted and submarine cut boats adrift, at same time firing signal attract attention patrol. Submarine then proceeded southward at 3 o’clock afternoon. Crew taken aboard patrol boat landed Penzance.
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