September 1939 Events of the Battle of the Atlantic  
  Overview  
  1 Allied war vessel was sunk by a U-boat.  
  2 Allied war vessels were sunk by accidents.  
   
  2 U-boats were sunk by Allied warships.  
   
  46 Allied and neutral merchant ships were sunk by U-boats or mines totaling 195,257 tons.  
  1 Allied merchant ship was sunk by the German pocket battleship SMS Graf Spee totaling 5,051 tons.  
  2 Allied merchant ships were damaged by U-boats totaling 16,916 tons.  
  4 neutral merchant ships were captured by U-boats and released.  
   
  2 German merchant ships were sunk by Allied forces totaling 11,170 tons.  
   
  Naval Action in the Atlantic Ocean  
  Sunday, September 10, 1939  
  The submarine HMS Triton (N 15), commanded by Lt. Commander Hugh P. De C. Steele, mistakenly torpedoed and sank the submarine HMS Oxley (55 P), commanded by Lt. Commander Harold G. Bowerman, about 28 miles south-southwest of Stavanger, Norway. The HMS Triton picked up two survivors.  
   
  Wednesday, September 13, 1939  
  The French minelaying cruiser Pluton sank from an accidental explosion while landing the mines at Casablanca, French Morocco. 186 of the Pluton’s crew were killed and 73 crewmen and 47 others were injured and significant damage was caused by flying debris.  
   
  Sunday, September 17, 1939  
  While on anti-submarine patrol the aircraft carrier HMS Courageous (50) was torpedoed and sunk by the U-29, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Schuhart, about 350 miles west of Lands End, England in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 518 died and 741 survived. For more information on these vessels visit the HMS Courageous and the U-29 pages on the www.naval-history.net and www.uboat.net. The HMS Courageous was the first capital ship lost by any of the combatants. "A wonderful success," the German U-boat High Command War Diary exulted, "and confirmation of the fact that the English defense forces are not as effective as they advertise themselves to be." After this loss and the unsuccessful attack by the U-39 on the HMS Ark Royal (91) three days earlier, aircraft carriers were withdrawn from anti-submarine patrols.  
   
  U-Boat Losses  
  Thursday, September 14, 1939  
  The U-39, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Gerhard Glattes, attempted to sink the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (91) by firing two torpedoes at her. The torpedoes malfunctioned and exploded just short of the carrier. The U-39 was immediately hunted down by three British destroyers, HMS Faulknor (H 62), HMS Firedrake (H 79), and HMS Foxhound (H 69), which were in the vicinity of the HMS Ark Royal, disabled with depth charges, and subsequently sunk. HMS Foxhound, which was the closest to U-39, picked up 25 crew members while HMS Faulknor rescued 11 and HMS Firedrake saved the remaining eight crew members. After the crew of U-39 was taken prisoner they were taken ashore to Scotland During its career under Kapitänleutnant Glattes the U-39 sank or damaged no ships.  
   
  Wednesday, September 20, 1939  
  The U-27, commanded by Johannes Franz, was sunk west of Scotland by depth charges from the destroyers HMS Fortune (H 70) and HMS Forester (H 74). During its career under commander Franz the U-27 sank 2 merchant ships for a total of 624 tons.  
   
  Attacks on Allied and Neutral Merchant Ships  
  Sunday, September 3, 1939  
  The British steam passenger ship Athenia was torpedoed and sunk by the U-30, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Fritz-Julius Lemp, about 250 miles west of Ireland. Of the ship’s complement and passengers, 112 died and 1,306 survivors were picked up by the Norwegian motor merchant Knute Nelson, the Swedish motor yacht Southern Cross, and the destroyers HMS Electra (H 27) and HMS Escort (H 66). The 13,581 ton Athenia was carrying general cargo and 1,103 passengers and was bound for Montreal, Canada. For more information on these vessels visit the Athenia and the U-30 pages on www.uboat.net. The Athenia was the first ship sunk by a U-boat in the World War II and Germany initially denied responsibility, claiming that Great Britain planted a bomb to bring the United States into the war.  
   
  Tuesday, September 5, 1939  
  The unescorted British steam merchant Bosnia was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-47, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Günther Prien, about 120 miles north-northwest of Cape Ortegal, Spain in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and 32 survivors were picked up by the Norwegian motor tanker Eidanger. The 2,407 ton Bosnia was carrying sulphur and was bound for Manchester, England.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Royal Sceptre was sunk by gunfire by the U-48, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Herbert Schultze, about 300 miles northwest of Cape Finisterre off the west coast Spain in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and 32 survivors were picked up by the British steam merchant Browning. The 4,853 ton Royal Sceptre was carrying wheat and maize and was bound for Belfast, Ireland.  
   
  Wednesday, September 6, 1939  
  The unescorted British steam merchant Manaar was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-38, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe, approximately 70 miles southwest of Cape da Roca, Portugal in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 7 died and 63 survivors were picked up by the Dutch merchant Mars, the Portuguese merchant Carvalho Araujo, and the Italian merchant Castelbianco. The 7,242 ton Manaar was carrying general cargo, including agricultural and government stores and was bound for Rangoon, Burma.  
   
  The unescorted and unarmed British steam merchant Rio Claro was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-47, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Günther Prien, northwest of Cape Ortegal, Spain in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 41 survived and were picked up by the Dutch steam merchant Stad Maastricht. The 4,086 ton Rio Claro was carrying coal and was bound for Montevideo, Uruguay.  
   
  Thursday, September 7, 1939  
  The British steam merchant Olivegrove was torpedoed and sunk by the U-33, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Hans-Wilhelm von Dresky, about 420 miles west-southwest of Lands End, England in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Upon receiving the Olivegrove's distress signal, the U.S. passenger liner Washington, en route to the British Isles to evacuate American citizens from the European war zone, altered course and increased speed to reach the scene. Meanwhile the Germans treated the British survivors courteously, and aided in their rescue by having distress rockets fired to guide the Washington to the two lifeboats containing the 33 man crew, which she picked up without loss. The 4,060 ton Olivegrove was carrying sugar and was bound for London, England.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Pukkastan was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-34, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Rollmann, southwest of the Isles of Scilly in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 35 survived and were picked up by the Dutch steam merchant Bilderdijk. The 6,856 ton Pukkastan was carrying maize and mutton and was bound for Rotterdam, The Netherlands.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Gartavon was sunk by gunfire by the U-47, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Günther Prien, 260 miles west-northwest of Cape Finisterre off the west coast Spain in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 25 survived and were picked up by the Swedish motor tanker Castor. The 1,777 ton Gartavon was carrying iron ore and general cargo, including asphalt and was bound for Clyde, United Kingdom.  
   
  Friday, September 8, 1939  
  The unescorted British motor merchant Regent Tiger was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-29, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Schuhart, about 250 miles west-southwest of Cape Clear, Ireland in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 44 survived and were picked up by the Belgian steam merchant Jean Jadot. The 10,176 ton Regent Tiger was carrying motor fuel and diesel oil and was bound for Avonmouth, England.  
   
  The unescorted British steam tanker Kennebec was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-34, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Rollmann, about 70 miles west by south of the Scilly Isles in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 22 survived and were picked up by the Dutch steam merchant Breedijk. The 5,548 ton Kennebec was carrying fuel oil and was bound for Avonmouth, England.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Winkleigh was torpedoed and sunk by the U-48, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Herbert Schultze, southwest of Ireland in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 37 survived and were picked up by the Dutch liner Statendam. The 5,055 ton Winkleigh was carrying grain and lumber and was bound for Manchester, England.  
   
  Sunday, September 10, 1939  
  The British steam merchant Magdapur struck a mine and sank off Orford Ness in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 6 died and 75 survived. The 8,641 ton Magdapur was carrying ballast and was bound for Southampton, England.  
   
  The British steam merchant Goodwood struck a mine and sank southeast of Flamborough Head in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and 23 survivors were picked up by a fishing boat. The 2,796 ton Goodwood was carrying coal and was bound for Bayonne, France.  
   
  Monday, September 11, 1939  
  The unescorted and unarmed British steam merchant Blairlogie was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-30, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Fritz-Julius Lemp, about 200 miles west of Ireland in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 30 survived and were picked up by the steam passenger ship American Shipper. The 4,425 ton Blairlogie was carrying scrap iron and steel and was bound for Lands End, England.  
   
  The unescorted British motor tanker Inverliffey was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-38, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe, southwest of the Scilly Isles in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 49 survived and were picked up by the American steam merchant City of Joliet. The 9,456 ton Inverliffey was carrying gasoline and was bound for Coryton, England.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Firby was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-48, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Herbert Schultze, about 270 miles west of the Hebrides in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 34 survived and were picked up by the destroyer HMS Fearless (H 67). The 4,869 ton Firby was carrying Ballast and was bound for Port Churchill, Hudson Bay.  
   
  Wednesday, September 13, 1939  
  The 291 ton British steam trawler Davara was sunk by gunfire by the U-27, commanded by Johannes Franz, northwest of Ireland in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 12 survived and were picked up by the 11 crew members were picked up after five hours by the British steam merchant Willowpool.  
   
  The 798 ton British steam tug Neptunia was sunk by gunfire by the U-29, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Schuhart, southwest of Ireland in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 21 survived.  
   
  Thursday, September 14, 1939  
  The unescorted British motor merchant Vancouver City was torpedoed and sunk by the U-28, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Günter Kuhnke, south of Ireland in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 3 died and 30 survivors were picked up by the Dutch motor tanker Mamura. The 4,955 ton Vancouver City was carrying sugar and was bound for the United Kingdom.  
   
  The unescorted British motor tanker British Influence was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-29, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Schuhart, 180 miles southwest of Cape Clear, Ireland in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 42 survived and were picked up by the Norwegian motor merchant Ida Bakke. The 8,431 ton British Influence was carrying diesel and fuel oil and was bound for Hull, England.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Fanad Head was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was scuttled by the U-30, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Fritz-Julius Lemp, about 280 miles west-northwest of Ireland in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 42 survived. The 5,200 ton Fanad Head was carrying general cargo and grain and was bound for Belfast, Ireland.  
   
  The British motor merchant Hawarden Castle struck a mine and sank in the English Channel. All of the ship’s complement died. The 210 ton Hawarden Castle was carrying Cement and bricks and was bound for London, England.  
   
  Friday, September 15, 1939  
  The unescorted British motor tanker Cheyenne was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-53, commanded by Ernst-Günter Heinicke, about 150 miles west-southwest of Fastnet, Ireland in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 6 died and 37 survivors were picked up by the Norwegian motor merchant Ida Bakke. The 8,825 ton Cheyenne was carrying benzine and was bound for Swansea, England.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Truro was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-36, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Fröhlich, about 150 miles east of Kinnaird Head, Scotland in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, all 20 survived and were picked up by the Belgian trawlers Nautilus and Edwaard Van Flaaneren. The 974 ton Truro was carrying coal, coke, general cargo, nickel, and copper and was bound for Trondheim, Norway.  
   
  The Belgian motor merchant Alex van Opstal struck a mine and sank in the English Channel. Of the ship’s complement and passengers, all 57 survived and were picked up by the Greek steam merchant Atlanticos. The 5,965 ton Alex van Opstal was carrying general cargo and was bound for Antwerp, Belgium.  
   
  Saturday, September 16, 1939  
  The British steam merchant Aviemore was torpedoed and sunk by the U-31, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Johannes Habekost, about 220 miles southwest of Cape Clear, Ireland in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 23 died and 11 survivors were picked up by the destroyer HMS Warwick (D 25). The 4,060 ton Aviemore was carrying tinplate and black sheets and was bound for Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although the Aviemore was not part of Convoy OB-4, she was crossing ahead of the convoy, she was the first ship sunk by a U-boat during an attack on a convoy in the World War II.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Arkleside was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-33, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Hans-Wilhelm von Dresky, about 150 miles southwest of Lands End, England in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. The 1,567 ton Arkleside was carrying coal and coke and was bound for Gibraltar.  
   
  The 333 ton British steam fishing trawler Rudyard Kipling was stopped and scuttled by the U-27, commanded by (Johannes Franz, about 100 miles west of Donegal, Ireland in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 13 survived and reached land by lifeboat.  
   
  The Finnish steam merchant Vega was stopped by the U-41, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Gustav-Adolf Mugler, in the North Sea and a prize crew placed on board to bring the steamer to Wilhelmshaven. Later that day the Finnish steam merchant Suomen Poika was also stopped by the U-41 and ordered the master to follow the other Finnish ship to Germany because the vessels were carrying contraband to Britain. Both ships arrived in Cuxhaven/Steubenhöft on September 18. The 974 ton Vega was carrying general cargo, including cellulose, timber, plywood and paper and was bound for Hull, England. The 1,099 ton Vega was carrying general cargo and cellulose and was bound for Hull, England. On October 4, the Vega was released after unloading the cargo and on October 6, the Suomen Poika was released after parts of her cargo were unloaded.  
   
  The British steam passenger ship City of Paris was damaged by a mine laid by the U-13 3.5 miles east-northeast of Aldeburgh, England in the North Sea. One crew member was lost. The disabled ship was towed to Tilbury by the British tugs Contest and Atlantic Cock. The City of Paris was repaired for a month and returned to service.  
   
  Sunday, September 17, 1939  
  The unescorted British steam merchant Kafiristan was torpedoed and sunk by the U-53, commanded by Ernst-Günter Heinicke, Ernst-Günter Heinicke, about 350 miles west of Cape Clear, Ireland in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 6 died and 29 survivors were picked up by the American merchant American Farmer. The 5,193 ton Kafiristan was carrying sugar and was bound for Liverpool, England.  
   
  Monday, September 18, 1939  
  The unescorted British steam merchant Kensington Court was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-32, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Paul Büchel, about 120 miles west of Lands End, England in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 35 survived and were picked up by two Sunderland flying boats. The 4,863 ton Kensington Court was carrying cereals and was bound for Birkenhead, England.  
   
  The 326 ton British steam fishing trawler Arlita was sunk by gunfire by the U-35, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Werner Lott, west-northwest of Ireland. Of the ship’s complement, all 11 survived and were picked up by the British steam fishing trawler Nancy Hague.  
   
  The 295 ton British steam fishing trawler Lord Minto was sunk by gunfire by the U-35 west-northwest of Ireland. Of the ship’s complement, all 13 survived and were picked up by the British steam fishing trawler Nancy Hague.  
   
  Thursday, September 21, 1939  
  The U-35, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Werner Lott, fired three torpedoes at convoy OA-7 southwest of the Isles of Scilly, missed a destroyer and a tanker and damaged the British steam tanker Teakwood. The damaged ship was taken to Falmouth, escorted by the destroyer HMS Ardent (H 41) which also took wounded sailors aboard for treatment. Shortly thereafter the destroyer was relieved by the destroyer HMS Vesper (D 55) and returned to the convoy.  
   
  Friday, September 22, 1939  
  The Finnish steam merchant Martti-Ragnar was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was scuttled by the U-4, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Harro von Klot-Heydenfeldt, about 5 miles south of Arendal, Norway in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, all 24 survived and were picked up by two fishing boats. The 2,262 ton Martti-Ragnar was carrying cellulose, pulp and sulphur and was bound for Ellesmere Port, England.  
   
  The unescorted British steam merchant Akenside was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-7, commanded by Werner Heidel, near Marsten Island off the coast of Norway in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, all 26 survived and were picked up by the Norwegian torpedo boat Storm and the Marsten pilot boat. The 2,694 ton Akenside was carrying coal and was bound for Bergen, Norway.  
   
  Saturday, September 23, 1939  
  The neutral Finnish steam merchant Walma was stopped in the Skagerrak off the southern coast of Norway by the U-4, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Harro von Klot-Heydenfeldt, and examined by a boarding party, which placed scuttling charges after it became clear that she was carrying cargo for England. Of the ship’s complement, all 18 survived and were picked up by the Swedish fishing vessel Zephyr. The 1,361 ton Walma was carrying cellulose and was bound for Ellesmere, England.  
   
  Sunday, September 24, 1939  
  The unescorted British steam merchant Hazelside was torpedoed and sunk by the U-31, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Johannes Habekost, southeast of Fastnet, Ireland in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 12 died and 22 survivors reached land by lifeboat. The 4,646 ton Hazelside was carrying timber, pulp, and wheat and was bound for Liverpool, England.  
   
  The neutral Swedish steam merchant Gertrud Bratt was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-4, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Harro von Klot-Heydenfeldt, in the Skagerrak12 miles southeast of Jomfruland, Norway. Of the ship’s complement, all 20 survived. The 1,510 ton Gertrud Bratt was carrying wood pulp, paper, piece goods, and cellulose and was bound for Bristol, England.  
   
  The 287 ton British steam fishing trawler Caldew was stopped and after the crew abandoned ship was sunk by gunfire by the U-33, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Hans-Wilhelm von Dresky, north of Scotland in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, all 11 survived and were picked up by the Swedish motor merchant Kronprinsessan Margareta, which was captured a few days later by the German destroyer Friedrich Ihn and the torpedo boat Iltis. The British sailors were taken prisoner and interned in the German POW Camp Stalag XB.  
   
  The Estonian steam merchant Hanonia was stopped by the U-34, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Rollmann, off Norway in the North Sea and brought to Kiel-Friedrichsort and later to Hamburg by a prize crew, because the cargo of the ship had been bound for an English port. The 1,781 ton Hanonia was carrying timber and was bound for Grimsby, England.  
   
  Monday, September 25, 1939  
  The Swedish steam merchant Silesia was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-36, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Fröhlich, 45 miles west-northwest of Egerö Lighthouse, Norway. Of the ship’s complement, all 19 survived and were picked up by the Swedish motor merchant Suecia. The 1,839 ton Silesia was carrying wood and general cargo, including steel and iron pipes and was bound for Hull, England.  
   
  Wednesday, September 27, 1939  
  The Swedish steam merchant Algeria was stopped by by the U-36, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Fröhlich, 20 miles west of Skudesnaes and was sent to Kiel as a prize, arriving on October 4. Three days later the ship and its cargo were released by the Germans.  
   
  Thursday, September 28, 1939  
  The Swedish steam merchant Nyland was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-16, commanded by Hannes Weingärtner, about 45 miles northwest of Stavanger, Norway in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, all survived and were picked up by the Norwegian minelayer Olav Tryggvason. The 3,378 ton Nyland was carrying iron ore and was bound for Ramsgate, England.  
   
  The Norwegian steam merchant Jern was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-32, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Paul Büchel, 65 miles west of Norway. Of the ship’s complement, all 14 survived and were picked up by the Swedish steam merchant Caledonia. The 875 ton Jern was carrying wood pulp and was bound for Northfleet, England.  
   
  Friday, September 29, 1939  
  The neutral Norwegian steam merchant Takstaas was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and damaged beyond repair by the U-7, commanded by Werner Heidel, off the coast of Norway near Bergen. Of the ship’s complement, all survived and their lifeboats were taken in tow by the Norwegian torpedo boat Storm. The 1,830 ton Takstaas was carrying lumber and was bound for London, England.  
   
  Saturday, September 30, 1939  
  The British steam merchant Clement was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was sunk by gunfire by the German pocket battleship SMS Graf Spee’s 6 and 11 inch guns. The 5.051 ton Clement was carrying kerosene and was bound for Salvador, Brazil. The Graf Spee, in the Atlantic prior to the invasion of Poland, was ordered on September 26, 1939 to attack British merchant vessels and the Clement was its first victim.  
   
  The Swedish steam merchant Gun was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-3, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Joachim Schepke, approximately 30 miles northwest of Hanstholm, Denmark. Of the ship’s complement, all 18 survived and were picked up by the Danish steam merchant Dagmar. The 1,198 ton Gun was carrying general cargo, including ammunition and was bound for Antwerp, Belgium.  
   
  The unescorted, unarmed and neutral Vendia steam merchant Vendia was stopped by gunfire and after the crew abandoned ship was torpedoed and sunk by the U-3 approximately 30 miles northwest of Hanstholm, Denmark. Of the ship’s complement, 11 died and 6 survivors were picked up by the Danish steam merchant Svava. The 1,150 ton Vendia was carrying ballast and was bound for Clyde, United Kingdom.  
   
  Axis Merchant Shipping Losses  
  Sunday, September 3, 1939  
  The light cruiser HMS Ajax, under command of Captain Charles H. L. Woodhouse, intercepted the 4,576 ton German merchant Olinda outward bound from Montevideo, Uruguay off the River Plate. Not having a prize crew available to seize the Olinda, HMS Ajax shelled and sank the vessel.  
   
  Monday, September 4, 1939  
  The British light cruiser HMS Ajax intercepted the 6,594 ton German freighter Carl Fritzen 200 miles east-southeast of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil and sank the merchantman with gunfire.  
   
  Other Battle of the Atlantic Events  
  Friday, September 1, 1939  
  The Office of Chief of Naval Operations sent dispatches to commanders in chief of the U.S. and Asiatic Fleets, and commanders of the Atlantic Squadron, Special Service Squadron, and Squadron 40-T: “Reliably informed [that] German submarines are set to operate on Atlantic Trade routes and that a dozen German merchant vessels will operate as armed raiders [and that] neutral merchantmen mat expect Great Britain may institute similar practices as in last war.” Additional addressees to this warning included the three new warships on shakedown cruises: the light cruiser USS St. Louis (CL 49) at Punta Delgada, Azores, the destroyer USS Anderson (DD 411) at Montreal, Canada, and the submarine USS Spearfish (SS 190) en route from New York City to Bahia, Brazil.  
   
  The U.S. Hydrographic Office began issuing warnings by dispatch and bulletin, special warnings of restrictions and dangers to navigation incident to the outbreak of hostilities between Germany and Poland. Special Warning No. 1 was that the German government had announced that the Danzig Bay area was a danger area due to military operations taking place there.  
   
  The German armored cruiser SMS Admiral Graf Spee, which had left Wilhelmshaven, Germany on August 24 for the South Atlantic, made a rendezvous with the tanker Altmark southwest of the Canary Islands.  
   
  Sunday, September 3, 1939  
  The British Home Fleet deployed aircraft carriers to seek out and destroy German submarines. The HMS Ark Royal (91) was deployed off the northwestern approaches to the British Isles. The HMS Courageous (50) and HMS Hermes (95) were deployed off the southwestern approaches.  
   
  The U.S. freighter Saccarappa, with a cargo of phosphates and cotton, was seized by British authorities and its cargo confiscated. British patrols would stop 108 merchantmen over the next three weeks, ordering 28 into ports to have their cargoes inspected, confiscated, or to remove German nationals. This procedure would continue through 1939 until a procedure to certify cargos before departure was instituted.  
   
  Monday, September 4, 1939  
  The British passenger liner Athenia sank as the result of damage sustained the previous day when torpedoed by the U-30. After the sinking of Athenia was confirmed through radio intelligence and news broadcasts, the German Naval War Staff radioed all U-boats at sea that the German Chancellor Adolf Hitler had ordered that no hostile action be taken "for the present" against passenger ships, even if they are travelling in convoy.  
   
  The Office of the Chief of Naval Operations ordered the Commander Atlantic Squadron to establish, as soon as possible, a combined air and ship patrol to observe and report, in cipher, the movements of warships of warring nations, east from Boston along a line to 42°30'N, 65°00'W then south to 19°N then around the seaward outline of the Windward and Leeward Islands, to the British island of Trinidad in the Caribbean Sea.  
   
  Tuesday, September 5, 1939  
  Captain Alan G. Kirk, U.S. Naval Attaché, and Commander Norman R. Hitchcock, Assistant U.S. Naval Attaché and Assistant U.S. Naval Attaché for Air, were flown to Galway, Ireland, where they interviewed the British steam passenger ship Athenia's surviving officers and men. The Athenia was torpedoed on September 3 by the U-30 and sank the next day. The attaché's investigation concluded that Athenia was torpedoed by a submarine.  
   
  The Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold R. Stark, ordered the Commander Atlantic Squadron, Rear Admiral Alfred W. Johnson, to maintain an offshore patrol to report "in confidential system" the movements of all foreign men-of-war approaching or leaving the east coast of the United States and approaching and entering or leaving the Caribbean. U.S. Navy ships were to avoid making a report of foreign men-of-war or suspicious craft, however, on making contact or when in their vicinity to avoid the performance of unneutral service "or creating the impression that an unneutral service is being performed." The patrol was to extend about 300 miles off the eastern coastline of the United States and along the eastern boundary of the Caribbean. Furthermore, U.S. naval vessels were to report the presence of foreign warships sighted at sea to the district commandant concerned.  
   
  The destroyers USS Davis (DD 395) and USS Benham (DD-397) were designated as the Grand Banks Patrol. They were to render rescue and other neutral assistance in emergencies and to observe and report ("in confidential system") movements of all foreign warships. They were to patrol across existing steamer lanes to the southward of the Grand Banks and to approximately 50° Maritime Commission. The two destroyers would be replaced by two 327-foot Coast Guard cutters.  
   
  Hydrographic Office Special Warning No. 9 directed that all U.S. merchant ships en route to or from Europe were not to steer a zig zag course, were not to black out at night, and were to paint the U.S. flag on each side of the hull, on hatches fore and aft, and on sun decks of passenger vessels, and to illuminate the colors flying from the flagstaff at night.  
   
  The U.S. freighter Black Osprey, bound for Rotterdam, Holland, and Antwerp, Belgium, was stopped by British warship off Lizard Head, England and was ordered into the port of Weymouth, one of the five "contraband control bases." The other "contraband control bases" that would be established by the British were Ramsgate, Kirkwall, Gibraltar and Haifa.  
   
  The Philippine motorship Don Isidro, on her maiden voyage en route from her builders' yard at Kiel, Germany, to Manila, Philippine Islands, cleared the Suez Canal. The U.S. government immediately protested that British authorities removed at Port Said two German engineers (on board "to guarantee construction and demonstrate proper manning" of the new vessel) from the Don Isidro which was under the American flag. The U.S. claimed this act was illegal and a violation of the neutral rights of the United States.  
   
  Wednesday, September 6, 1939  
  British Northern Patrol (7th and 12th Cruiser Squadrons) commenced operation between Shetland and Faeroe Islands, and Iceland. The light cruisers HMS Caledon (D 53), HMS Calypso (D 61), HMS Diomede (D 92), HMS Dragon (D 46), HMS Effingham (D 98), HMS Emerald (D 66), HMS Cardiff  (D 58), and HMS Dunedin  (D 93) were the ships that undertook this work. The patrol stopped 108 merchantmen over the next three weeks, ordering 28 into the port of Kirkwall to have their cargos inspected.  
   
  Commander Atlantic Squadron (Rear Admiral Alfred W. Johnson) began to establish the offshore Neutrality Patrol. The seaplane tenders USS Gannet (AVP 8) and USS Thrush (AVP 3) set sail for San Juan, Puerto Rico, to establish a seaplane base there.  
   
  Rear Admiral Charles E. Courtney relieved Rear Admiral Henry E. Lackey as Commander Squadron 40-T, on board the light cruiser USS Trenton (CL 11), the squadron flagship, at Villefranche-sur-Mer, France. Squadron 40-T had been formed in 1936 to protect American lives and property during the Spanish Civil War. ; Squadron 40-T’s ships operate directly under the control of the Chief of Naval Operations.  
   
  Thursday, September 7, 1939  
  Cruiser Division 7, under command of Rear Admiral Andrew C. Pickens, set sail to establish patrol off the eastern seaboard between Newport, Rhode Island, and Norfolk, Virginia. The heavy cruisers USS Quincy (CA 39) and USS Vincennes (CA 44) departed first and the USS San Francisco (CA 38) (flagship) and USS Tuscaloosa (CA 37) would follow. The ships, burning running lights, were to observe and report the movements of foreign men-of-war, and, as required, render prompt assistance to ships or planes encountered.  
   
  Friday, September 8, 1939  
  The British Government announced the reintroduction of the convoy system for merchant ships and a full scale blockade on German shipping in response to what it claimed to be unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans.  
   
  U.S. Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles and British Ambassador to the U.S. Lord Lothian had an "off-the-record talk" (at the former's request) concerning the brief detention of U.S. passenger liner Santa Paula the day before. Lord Lothian was informed that the Santa Paula's captain had been asked "to give formal assurances whether there were any German passengers on board, the implication being that if the captain had not given such assurances, the officers of the cruiser would have boarded [Santa Paula] to search for German passengers and possibly might have taken some off." Undersecretary Welles went on to say that "any act by British cruisers affecting American ships in waters so close to the United States involving possible boarding of them and taking off of civilian passengers would create a very highly unfortunate impression upon American public opinion at this time and was something undesirable in itself, since if civilian passengers actually had been taken off, such act would be clearly counter to international law." Lord Lothian agreed and promises to "take the necessary steps to prevent occurrences of this kind from happening."  
   
  British authorities seized the cargo (phosphates and cotton) of the U.S. freighter Saccarappa after the items were deemed contraband. After the cargo was unloaded the ship was released to continue on her voyage.  
   
  Saturday, September 9, 1939  
  The U.S. freighter Wacosta, bound from Glasgow, Scotland, to New York, was stopped by and unidentified German submarine. The Wacosta was detained for three hours while the Germans examined her papers and searched her holds, but was permitted to proceed.  
   
  The U.S. steamship President Harding was detained by French authorities and various items of her cargo, including 135 tons of copper and 34 tons of petroleum products, seized as contraband. After the cargo was unloaded the ship was released.  
   
  Sunday, September 10, 1939  
  The U.S. freighter Hybert was detained for two hours by an unidentified U-boat. The Hybert was released but the Germans warned the merchantman not to use her radio for 24 hours.  
   
  Monday, September 11, 1939  
  Germany announced a counter blockade against Britain, saying that “in the economic warfare forced on her by Britain Germany is . . . not only able to resist every pressure of blockade and every form of British hunger warfare, but to reply to it with the same methods."  
   
  The German armored cruiser SMS Admiral Graf Spee provisions from tanker Altmark. The SMS Admiral Graf Spee’s security measure of launching the warship's shipboard reconnaissance aircraft spotted the British heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (57) was spotted closing the area allowing the SMS Admiral Graf Spee and her consort to alter course and avoid detection.  
     
  Tuesday, September 12, 1939  
  Instructions to the U.S. Navy’s Neutrality Patrol were modified to include covering the approaches to the Gulf of Mexico through the Yucatan Channel and the Straits of Florida.  
   
  USAAC 21st Reconnaissance Squadron (B-18s), under command of Major Howard Craig, reported to the Commander Atlantic Squadron for duty in connection with the Neutrality Patrol. The squadron would be based at Miami, Florida.  
   
  Wednesday, September 13, 1939  
  The Norwegian motor vessel Ronda struck a mine off Terschelling Island, Netherlands. Two U.S. citizens died. The survivors (including four Americans) were subsequently rescued by the Italian freighter Providencia.  
   
  Thursday, September 14, 1939  
  U.S. Navy Atlantic Squadron Neutrality Patrol assets deployed this date: The Grand Banks Patrol operating between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Placentia Bay, Newfoundland included the destroyers USS Davis (DD 395), USS Jouett (DD 396), USS Benham (DD 397) and USS Ellet (DD 398). Operating off the Georges Shoals, Gulf of Maine's were the destroyers USS Hamilton (DD 141) and USS Leary (DD 158). Operating out of Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island were the destroyers USS Goff (DD 247) and USS Hopkins (DD 249) supported by minesweeper [small seaplane tender] USS Owl (AM 2) and PBY-2 Calatlinas. Operating out of Chesapeake Bay were the destroyers USS Decatur (DD 341), USS Barry (DD 248), USS Reuben James (DD 245) and the auxiliary [high speed transport] USS Manley (AG-28) supported by shore-based PBY-2 Calatlinas. Patrolling the Florida Straits were the destroyers USS Babbitt (DD 128) and USS Claxton (DD 140). Assigned to watch the Caribbean and the Atlantic side of the Lesser Antilles were the heavy cruisers USS San Francisco (CA 38) and USS Tuscaloosa (CA 37), the destroyers USS Truxtun (DD 229), USS Simpson (DD 221), USS Broome (DD 220) and USS Borie (DD 215), supported by the small seaplane tenders USS Lapwing (AVP 1), USS Thrush (AVP 3) and USS Gannet (AVP 8) and several squadrons PBY-3 and PBY-1 Catalinas. Operating off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina were the heavy cruisers USS Quincy (CA 39) and USS Vincennes (CA 44). Held in reserve in Hampton Roads was a striking force consisting of the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV 4) and the battleships USS New York (BB 34) and USS Texas (BB 35).  
   
  The battleship USS Arkansas (BB 33) and gunnery training ship (ex battleship) USS Wyoming (AG 17) were carrying out a training cruise for U.S. Naval Reserve midshipmen.  
   
  Saturday, September 16, 1939  
  The British Admiralty, reflecting the need to protect the Atlantic lifeline necessary to Britain's survival, announced establishment of a convoy system for its merchant shipping. The first Halifax-United Kingdom convoy (HX 1) set sail from Halifax, Nova Scotia for Liverpool with eighteen ships escorted by the Canadian destroyers HMCS St. Laurence (H 83) and HMCS Saguenay (D 79).  
   
  The U.S. Naval Attaché in Berlin reported that Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, Commander in Chief of the German Navy, had informed him that all submarine commanders had reported negatively concerning the sinking of British passenger liner Athenia on September 3.  
   
  Monday, September 18, 1939  
  The U.S. freighter Warrior, detained by British authorities since September 7, was released after her cargo of phosphates was requisitioned. The U.S. freighter Shickshinny, detained since September 16 at Glasgow, Scotland, was permitted to sail without unloading cargo deemed by British authorities to be contraband. The Shickshinny, however, was to unload those items at Mersey, England.  
   
  The U.S. freighter Eglantine was stopped by a U-boat, ordered not to use her radio, and to send her papers to the U-boat for examination. The Germans allowed the Eglantine to proceed, but advised her not to use her radio for three hours.  
   
  The heavy cruiser USS San Francisco (CA 38) arrived at San Juan, Puerto Rico, and reported that Dominican authorities were exercising proper precautions to learn promptly of the entry of any belligerent warship into Semana Bay, Dominican Republic.  
   
  Tuesday, September 19, 1939  
  The U.S. freighter Black Hawk was detained by British authorities. The U.S. freighter Black Eagle, detained by the British since September 12 at the Downs, England, was released.  
   
  Wednesday, September 20, 1939  
  U.S. Navy Squadron 40-T departed Villefranche, France. The flagship, the light cruiser USS Trenton (CL 11), under command of Rear Admiral Charles E. Courtney, and the destroyer USS Jacob Jones (DD 130) headed for Lisbon, Portugal while the destroyer USS Badger (DD 126) headed for Marseilles, France.  
   
  Friday, September 22, 1939  
  The U-30 arrived at Wilhelmshaven, Germany, where her commanding officer, Kapitanleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp, informed the Commander U-boats Karl Donotz, in private, that he [Lemp] believed himself responsible for the sinking British passenger liner Athenia.  
   
  Saturday, September 23, 1939  
  U.S. Navy Squadron 40-T arrived at Lisbon, Portugal. En route, the flagship, the light cruiser USS Trenton (CL 11), under command of Rear Admiral Charles E. Courtney, intercepted a distress signal from the British freighter Constant which reported being pursued by what she believes to be a German U-boat. Rear Admiral Courtney sent the destroyer USS Jacob Jones (DD 130) to provide water and provisions to the English merchantman.  
   
  Tuesday, September 26, 1939  
  In the House of Commons, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill claimed that Great Britain was winning the U-boat war. Read the text of his statements.  
   
  The German pocket battleships SMS Admiral Graf Spee and SMS Deutschland, poised in the South and North Atlantic, respectively, received their orders to begin commerce raiding operations.  
   
  Wednesday, September 27, 1939  
  The Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard informed the Commander of the Boston Division that upon withdrawal of destroyers from the Grand Banks Patrol, the patrol would be maintained by two Campbell-class 327-foot cutters.  
   
  Thursday, September 28, 1939  
  The British Admiralty, responding to the German propaganda of recent successes against British warships in the North Sea, declared that “no British ship has been damaged nor any casualties incurred from German aircraft.”  
   
  Friday, September 30, 1939  
  The U.S. freighter Executive, detained at Casablanca, French Morocco since September 27 was released by French authorities, provided that she proceeded to Bizerte, Tunisia.  
   
  British warships operating on the Northern Patrol continued to stop neutral merchantman; between this date and October 12, 63 vessels were stopped, of which 20 were detained at Kirkwall, England for the inspection of their cargoes.  
   
  Saturday, September 30, 1939  
  Germany notified Britain that armed merchant ships would be treated like warships and sunk without warning. The decision was claimed to be based on incidents of British merchant ships attacking German submarines.  
   
  The U.S. freighters Ethan Allen and Ipswich, detained by British authorities since September 20, were released. The cargo destined for Bremen and Hamburg, however, was seized and taken off Ipswich.  
   
  Rear Admiral Hayne Ellis relieved Rear Admiral Alfred W. Johnson as the Commander Atlantic Squadron on board the squadron's flagship, the battleship USS Texas (BB 35).  
     
   
     
   
 

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