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Naval Action - 15th October 1917 in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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Naval Action - 15th October 1917

15th October 1917 Naval Action -15th October 1917  The Action of 15 October 1917 was a naval engagement of World War I between Imperial Germany and the United States off the coast of Mind Head, Ireland.


The American destroyer USS Cassin, under Lieutenant Commander W. N. Vernon, was operating off the coast of Ireland in October 1917. It was on anti-submarine patrols and rescue missions, as well as convoy duty. Operating out of Queenstown, Ireland, she was armed with four 4 inch guns and eight 18 inch torpedo tubes. The German submarine U-61, on a typical unrestricted U-boat mission, was cruising in British waters, attacking Allied shipping. She was armed with a deck gun and torpedoes. On 15 October 1917, Cassin sighted U-61 at about 23 miles south of Mind Head at 1330 and 5 miles from the ship. The German submarine sighted Cassin as well, she immediately submerged and began to flee. The pursuit ensued for an hour and at about 14:30, U-61's commander, Victor Dieckmann, decided to engage the tailing American warship. The Germans then turned about and surfaced to line up for a shot and fired their last torpedo. Gunner's Mate First Class Osmond Ingram noticed the incoming projectile, he quickly ran over to the depth charge gunners and ordered them to shoot charges in U-61's direction. The torpedo struck the destroyer aft on the port side before the depth charge attack could be launched and Ingram was killed in the explosion. The torpedo hit Cassin's portside stern, nearly blowing off her rudder. The American destroyer began to steam in circles, but returned a barrage of 4 inch shells which forced the U-boat to dive. Four hits damaged U-61's conning tower which discouraged her commander from continuing to attack. Besides the American sailor killed, nine others were wounded in the action. The dead sailor, Osmond Ingram, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service on 15 October. Eventually, another American destroyer USS Porter and the British sloops HMS Jessamine and Tamarisk arrived on the scene and protected Cassin throughout the night. However, no further U-boat contacts were made. The next morning, Cassin was towed back to Queenstown by Captain Ronald Niel Stuart in HMS Snowdrop. The damaged USS Cassin was repaired and returned to active duty in July 1918. U-61 was sunk by the submarine chaser HMS PC-51 a few months later.

John Doran

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Naval Action - 15th October 1917

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