File No. 855.48/450
The Ambassador in France ( Sharp ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 11.45 p.m.]
1867. Through the courtesy of the Danish Minister here I have today seen and taken affidavit of B. E. A. Moller, Danish citizen, only survivor of Danish steamer Lars Kruse, who stated under oath that the vessel was carrying a cargo of corn for the Committee for Relief in Belgium from Buenos Aires to Rotterdam. Vessel bore customary distinguishing marks and was unarmed. At 12.10 a.m., February 4, from 20 to 30 miles northeast of Ouessant, while deponent was asleep, violent explosion occurred, steamer sinking in three minutes. Officers and crew consisted of 18 men. Those who did not go down with steamer clung to overturned lifeboat but gradually succumbed to cold and exposure. About 8.30 a.m., he saw a steamer and a submarine. Signaled to latter which saw him but made for steamer which was subsequently sunk between 12 and 1 o’clock. At 2 p.m., he was taken on board submarine which was of German nationality, but he saw no number. At 4.30 he was put into lifeboat’ of latter steamer and was rescued by French torpedo boat. Weather at time of explosion calm, fair, ground swell, bright moonlight. A submarine could have easily operated under existing conditions. Explosion occurred well astern at hatch No. 4, and deponent does not believe that it could have been caused by a floating mine, but being asleep at the time is unable to say whether explosion was caused by torpedo or mine. Captain of German submarine asked deponent name of the steamer to which he belonged and whether it had been torpedoed or destroyed by mine. There were no Americans on board the Lars Kruse.
Moller, who is 38 years of age and has been following the sea for 18 years, made favorable impression on me for his honesty and intelligence.
Affidavit will be forwarded by mail.