May 1940 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 the Luftwaffe.  
  1 Allied submarine was captured.  
   
  1 U-boat was sunk by an Allied war vessel.  
  1 German troop transport and 1 was German troop transport was damaged by an Allied submarine.  
   
  14 Allied and neutral merchant ships were sunk by U-boats or mines totaling 61,635 tons.  
  14 Allied merchant ships were damaged by a U-boat totaling 9,494 tons.  
   
  1 neutral merchant ship hit an Allied mine and sank 1,296 tons.  
   
  Naval Action in the Atlantic Ocean  
  Wednesday, May 1, 1940  
  The submarine HMS Narwhal (N 45), commanded by Lt. Commander Ronald J. Burch, attacked the German merchant convoy carrying parts of 2nd Gebirgsjager Division to Norway and torpedoed and sank the German troop transport Buenos Aires and torpedoed and damaged the German troop transport Bahia Castillo in the Kattegat about 20 nautical miles north of Anholt, Denmark.  
   
  The 1,296 ton Swedish merchant Haga hit a mine laid by the British submarine HMS Narwhal (N 45) on the same day in the Skaggerak east of Cape Skagen and sank.  
   
  Saturday, May 4, 1940  
  While on a mine laying mission off the coast of Norway the mine-laying submarine HMS Seal (37 M) struck a mine and settled on the bottom. The crew would managed to refloat the sub the next day and try to make reach Swedish waters but would be captured.  
   
  The Polish destroyer ORP Grom (H 71) and the destroyer HMS Faulknor (H 62) were patrolling off Narvik and bombarding German positions when the ORP Grom was struck by a German bomb from a German He111 aircraft of the KG 100 and sank. Of the ship’s complement, 59 died and 154 survivors were picked up by the light cruisers HMS Enterprise (D 52) and HMS Aurora (12), and the destroyers HMS Bedouin (F 67) and the HMS Faulkner.  
   
  Sunday, May 5, 1940  
  The mine-laying submarine HMS Seal (37 M) which had been damaged the previous day was refloated by her crew and was attempting to reach Swedish waters when it was captured by German seaplanes The HMS Seal would be taken in tow by the German "UJ 128" (Unterseebootsjäger 128) and taken the German naval base at Frederikshavn, Denmark.  
   
  Thursday, May 9, 1940  
  The French submarine FFR Doris (Q 135) was torpedoed and sunk by the U-9, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Wolfgang Lüth, in the North Sea. All of the ship’s complement of 45 died.  
   
  Friday, May 10, 1940  
  Four British warships carrying a force of about 800 Royal Marines landed in Reykjavik. The Marines arrested German citizens and sympathizers and closed down the German embassy as they set up defensive positions around the harbor. The Icelandic government issued a formal protest to Britain about the invasion but, facing the inevitable, also issued a plea to the citizens of Iceland to treat the British invaders as "guests." This operation was not a response to the German invasion of Western Europe. Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the British Admiralty, feared that Germany would seize Iceland to make it a mid-Atlantic fortress and air base to cut off Britain's sea lane supply routes to North America. To prevent such a disastrous event, Churchill put into motion the invasion plans that happened to coincide with the start of “Fall Gelb.”  
   
  Saturday, May 11, 1940  
  The HMS Seal (37 M), which was captured off the Norwegian coast, arrived in tow by German "UJ 128" (Unterseebootsjäger 128) at the German naval base at Frederikshavn, Denmark. The HMS Seal would be repaired but had limited value for the Kriegsmarine except for training and propaganda uses.  
   
  Sunday, May 26, 1940  
  The light cruiser HMS Curlew (D 42), commanded by Captain Basil C. B. Brooke, was sunk in Lavangsfjord, Ofotfjord near Narvik off the coast of northern Norway by German bombers.  
   
  U-Boat Losses  
  Friday, May 31, 1940  
  The U-13, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Max-Martin Schulte, was sunk in the North Sea 11 miles south-east of Lowestoft, by depth charges from the sloop HMS Weston (L 72). During its career under three commanders the U-13 sank 9 merchant ships for a total of 28,056 tons and damaged 3 merchant ships for a total of 26,218 tons.  
   
  Attacks on Allied and Neutral Merchant Ships  
  Saturday, May 4, 1940  
  The British steam tanker San Tiburcio struck a mine laid on 10 February 10, 1940 by the U-9 four miles from Tarbett Ness, Moray Firth, Scotland in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, all 40 survived and were picked up by her escort, the ASW trawler HMS Leicester City (FY 223). The 5,995 ton San Tiburcio was carrying fuel oil and 12 Sunderland aircraft floats and was bound for Invergordon, Scotland.  
   
  Saturday, May 11, 1940  
  The unescorted British steam merchant Tringa was torpedoed and sunk by the U-9, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Wolfgang Lüth, one and a half miles from the West Hinder buoy at the mouth of the Scheldt River off the coast of the Netherlands in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 17 died and 6 survivors were picked up by the destroyer HMS Malcolm (D 19). The 1,930 ton Tringa was carrying potash and iron ore and was bound for Glasgow, Scotland.  
   
  The unescorted Estonian steam merchant Viiu was torpedoed and sunk by the U-9 off the Westhinder Buoy at the mouth of the Scheldt River off the coast of the Netherlands in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 15 died and 5 survivors were picked up by the minesweeping trawler HMS Arctic Hunter (FY 1614). The 1,908 ton Viiu was bound for Miami, Florida.  
   
  Sunday, May 19, 1940  
  The unescorted Swedish motor merchant Erik Frisell was torpedoed and sunk by the U-37, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Victor Oehrn, northwest of Ireland in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 34 survived and were picked up by the armed trawler HMS Cobbers. The 5,066 ton Erik Frisell was carrying fodder and was bound for Liverpool, England.  
   
  Wednesday, May 22, 1940  
  The British motor merchant Dunster Grange was torpedoed and damaged by the U-37, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Victor Oehrn, south of Ireland. Attempts to sink the Dunster Grange with gunfire were repulsed by accurate return fire by the merchant ship. The 9,494 ton Dunster Grange was carrying general cargo and was bound for Liverpool, England.  
   
  Thursday, May 23, 1940  
  The Belgian steam merchant Sigurd Faulbaum was torpedoed and sunk by the U-9, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Wolfgang Lüth, about 15 miles northeast of Zeebrugge off the coast of Belgium in the English Channel. The survivors were picked up by the Graaf Visart. The 3,256 ton Sigurd Faulbaum was carrying tin and lead and was bound for Dover, England.  
   
  Friday, May 24, 1940  
  The unescorted Greek steam merchant Kyma was torpedoed and sunk by the U-37, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Victor Oehrn, about 300 miles west of Ushant in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 7 died and 23 survived. The 3,994 ton Kyma was carrying maize and trucks and was bound for Avonmouth, England.  
   
  Monday, May 27, 1940  
  The unescorted British steam merchant Sheaf Mead was torpedoed and sunk by the U-37, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Victor Oehrn, approximately 180 miles from Cape Finisterre off the west coast Spain in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 32 died and 5 survivors were picked up by the Greek steam merchant Frangoula B. Goulandris. The 5,008 ton Sheaf Mead was carrying ballast and was bound for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  
   
  The unescorted and neutral Argentinean Steam merchant Uruguay was torpedoed and sunk by the U-37 approximately 160 miles west of Cape Villano off the west coast Spain. Of the ship’s complement, 15 died and 13 survivors were picked up by the Spanish steam trawler Ramoncin. The 3,425 ton Uruguay was carrying maize, wheat, and flax and was bound for Limerick, Ireland.  
   
  Tuesday, May 28, 1940  
  Dispersed from Convoy 60-XF, the French motor passenger ship Brazza was torpedoed and sunk by the U-37, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Victor Oehrn, about 100 miles west of Oporto, Portugal in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement and passengers, 379 died and 197 survivors were picked up by the French gunboat Enseigne Henry and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Cheshire. The 10,387 ton Brazza was carrying passengers and general cargo and was bound for New Caledonia.  
   
  The 177 ton French steam trawler Julien was shelled and sunk by the U-37 off the coast of Portugal. Of the ship’s complement, all 10 survived.  
   
  Wednesday, May 29, 1940  
  The French steam merchant Marie José was shelled and then sunk by torpedo by the U-37, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Victor Oehrn, near Vigo, Spain in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. The 2,477 ton Marie José was carrying general cargo and was bound for Bordeaux, France.  
   
  The unescorted British motor tanker Telena was sunk by gunfire by the U-37 near Muros off the west coast Spain. Of the ship’s complement, 18 died and 18 survivors were picked up by the Spanish trawlers Buena Esperanza and Jose Ignacio de C. The 7,406 ton Telena was carrying crude oil and was bound for Pauillac, France.  
   
  Thursday, May 30, 1940  
  The unescorted British steam merchant Stanhall was torpedoed and sunk by the U-101, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Fritz Frauenheim, 35 miles north-northwest of the Ile d'Ouessant off the coast of northwest France in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and 36 survivors were picked up by the British steam merchant Temple Moat. The 4,831 ton Stanhall was carrying raw sugar and onions and was bound for Liverpool, England.  
   
  Friday, May 31, 1940  
  Sailing with Convoy HG-31F, the British steam merchant Orangemoor was torpedoed and sunk by the U-101, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Fritz Frauenheim, southwest of Roches Doures in the English Channel. Of the ship’s complement, 18 died and 22 survivors were picked up by the British steam merchant Brandenburg. The 5,775 ton Orangemoor was carrying iron ore and was bound for Tyne, England.  
   
  Other Battle of the Atlantic Events  
  Saturday, May 11, 1940  
  U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued proclamations: (1) recognizing the state of war that exists between Germany and Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; (2) proclaiming American neutrality in the conflict; and (3) restricting belligerent submarines from using American ports and territorial waters, exclusive of the Panama Canal Zone.  
   
  Thursday, May 16, 1940  
  At a joint session of Congress U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called on the members “not to take any action which would in any way hamper or delay the delivery of American-made planes to foreign [Allied] nations.”  Roosevelt asked the U.S. Congress to appropriate $546 million for the Army, $250 million for the Navy and Marine Corps, and $100 million for the President to provide for emergencies affecting the national security and defense. He also asked for authorizations for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps to make contract obligations in the further sum of $186 million, and to the President an additional authorization to make contract obligations for $100 million. He urged the production of 50,000 planes a year and a speedup in the manufacture of trucks, artillery, tanks, and other items. Listen to the speech or read the text.  
   
  Roosevelt responded noncommittally to Churchill's telegram of the previous day. Addressing the possible loan of destroyers, Churchill's first concern, the President informed the "Former Naval Person" that such a step could not be taken without "specific authorization of the Congress" and that U.S. defense requirements assumed priority. He also informed Churchill that the U.S. Fleet would remain concentrated in Hawaiian waters, "at least for the time being."  
   
  Friday, May 17, 1940  
  Roosevelt announced plans for the recommissioning of 35 more "flush deck" destroyers to meet the requirements of fleet expansion and the Neutrality Patrol.  
   
  Sunday, May 18, 1940  
  Churchill, in a telegram to Roosevelt, told of British perseverance but suggested that "if American assistance is to play any part it must be available [soon]."  
   
  Saturday, May 19, 1940  
  Churchill, in a telegram to Roosevelt concerning the recent meeting of Lord Lothian (British Ambassador to the U.S.) with the Chief Executive, acknowledged U.S. difficulties but expressed continuing interest in destroyers. "If they were here in 6 weeks," Churchill stated, "they would play an invaluable part."  
   
  Friday, May 24, 1940  
  The destroyers HMCS St. Laurent (H83), HMCS Restigouche (H00) and HMCS Skeena (D59) set sail from Halifax, Canada for the United Kingdom to aid the Royal Navy.  
   
  President of Panama Augusto S. Boyd addressed diplomatic notes to the government of the Dominican Republic, supporting its position in the Hannover incident of March 8, to the British and German governments, calling attention to their violation of the Pan-American Neutrality Zone, and to the Chairman of the Inter-American Neutrality Committee in Rio de Janeiro, directing that body's attention to the case.  
     
   
     
   
 

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