Thursday, November 19, 2009
Day 81 November 20, 1939
Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau are the pride of the German fleet. They are the largest (32,000 tons, 235 m long, 30 m beam) and best armed (9 11-inch guns, 12 6-inch guns, 14 4-inch guns, 6 torpedo tubes, 3 Arado seaplanes) ships in the Kriegsmarine. Gneisenau was built at Kiel, Germany, launched on December 8, 1936 and commissioned on May 21, 1938. Scharnhorst was built at Wilhelmshaven, Germany, launched on 3 October 1936, and commissioned on 7 January 1939. After months of sea trials, they are finally ready to face the Royal Navy.
The commander of U-33 Kapitänleutnant Hans-Wilhelm von Dresky has a busy, if undistinguished, day. U-33 sinks 3 tiny unarmed British trawlers off Tory Island on the northwest coast of Northern Ireland. SS Thomas Hankins is sunk at 10:30 AM. The crew take to the lifeboat and is rescued by another trawler 10 hours later. They report being hit with 5 shells from U-33’s deck gun without warning. SS Delphine is sunk at 4 PM and the crew of 13 makes land the following day after the chief engineer blocks a hole in their lifeboat with his foot for 22 hours. SS Sea Sweeper is sunk at 5 PM and the crew is rescued by the trawler Lois.
Posted by WWII at 70 at 6:25 PM