- USY Christabel during the Great War -
If you enjoy this site please consider making a donation.
Add Stories & Photos
Day by Day
War in the Air
Prisoners of War
The Royal Navy
Training for War
Those Who Served
Life on Home Front
Central Powers Army
Central Powers' Navy
World War Two
Add Stories & Photos
Help & FAQ's
Our Facebook Page
Great War Books
Research your Family History.
World War 1 One ww1 wwII greatwar great
21st May 1918 Naval Action - 21st May 1918 The Action of 21 May 1918 was a naval engagement of World War I fought between an American armed yacht and a German submarine in the Atlantic Ocean off Spain.
In May 1918, the Great War had been raging for four years and the Germans were making every attempt possible to sink enemy shipping which fuelled the war in Europe. On 24 May 1918, the fight was still at hand when USS Christabel, under Lieutenant Commander M. B. McCord, sighted a distinctive oil slick while escorting the slow British steamer Danse north from La Pallice to Quiberon Bay. Unknown at the time, a German submarine, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Wilhelm Kisewetter, was nearby. Danse was about 8 miles behind the main convoy of allied merchant ships, making about 7.5 knots with Christabel off her port bow. The North Atlantic was smooth, the weather was clear and there was no wind.
Once the allied convoy was within 2 miles of Īle d'Yeu, a well-defined oil slick was sighted between the American warship and the British steamer, off Danse's port bow. Christabel cruised over to the slick for better observation but saw nothing to further indicate a German submarine's presence. The convoy continued for a little while when at 1720 the wake from UC-56 was spotted by the officer-of-the-deck and a lookout, about 600 yds off the port quarter. Christabel was, at this time, about 300 yds from the port bow of Danse. Christabel headed for the wake, making all possible speed, which was around 10.5 knots, whereupon the wake disappeared and a number of oil slicks were seen. The U-boat had apparently submerged. The American commanding officer ordered his ship to follow this oil for as long as possible and at 1724, believing that his ship was just ahead of the submarine, Christabel's crew dropped a depth charge, but nothing resulted although the charge exploded. The action was over for now and the allied vessels continued northward. At 1900, the convoy changed course, following the contour of the Spanish coast, making about 9 knots for almost two hours when Christabel encountered the German U-boat once again. This time at 2052, Christabel was astern, making about 11 knots to catch up with the convoy. The German submarine was sighted by lookouts who witnessed a periscope roughly 200 yds off the starboard beam. Her commander was quickly notified, and Christabel turned toward the U-boat when the periscope disappeared under the water. At 2055, a depth charge was dropped which detonated 10 seconds afterward. A second charge was dropped a few moments later. No secondary explosion was heard after the first charge but after the sound of the second depth charge a third, "very violent", explosion was heard which threw up a large water column close to Christabel's stern. An "enormous" amount of debris from the damaged submarine was seen, mixed in with the water column of the third explosion. Christabel was then ordered to turn and cruised in the vicinity of UC-56's position when she was engaged. The crew of the American armed yacht noticed a quantity of thick, black oil and splintered pieces of wood. There were also very large oil bubbles rising to the surface, no doubt belonging to UC-56. Sometime during the dropping of the depth charges, a number of other charges, which were prepared and live, were shaken lose and Ensign Daniel Augustus Joseph Sullivan reacted quickly by jumping on top of them and securing the charges before they could detonate. Sullivan would later be awarded the Medal of Honor for "extraordinary heroism" in this action.
. Nothing further was heard of this submarine before it surfaced after the engagement. It was not capable of submerging again due to battle damage. On 24 May 1918, the U-boat arrived at Santander, Spain after a dangerous three-day voyage in a severely damaged condition. The crew of UC-56 were interned, the Germans reported to the Spanish authorities that their submarine had been seriously damaged by Christabel and that they had had no choice but to take refuge in a neutral port. It was originally thought that the yacht sank the German submarine so a traditional white star was painted on Christabel's smoke stack which represented a U-boat kill. Although the American ship did not actually sink the German vessel, Christabel was still responsible for protecting her convoy and inflicting serious damage on an enemy submarine which resulted in internment. No Allied vessels were damaged as the German submarine was spotted and attacked before it could line up for an attack. No German casualties were reported.John Doran
If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.
Want to know more about USY Christabel?There are:1 articles tagged USY Christabel available in our LibraryThese include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Great War.
Those known to have served in
during the Great War 1914-1918.
This page is new, as yet no names have been submitted.
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
Looking for help with Family History Research?
Please see Family History FAQ's
We are unable to provide individual research free of charge, but do offer a paid service at competitive rates, the small profit from these services will be put towards the costs of keeping this website running. For more information please see our Research Services Leaflet
Can you help?The Wartime Memories Project is run by volunteers and this website is funded by donations from our visitors.
If the information here has been helpful or you have enjoyed reaching the stories please conside making a donation, no matter how small, would be much appreciated, annually we need to raise enough funds to pay for our web hosting or this site will vanish from the web. In these difficult times current donations are falling far short of this target.
If you enjoy this site please consider making a donation.
- The Wartime Memories Project is the original WW1 and WW2 commemoration website
This website has been running for 16 years and receives in excess of a million hits per month. The website and our group will continue long after the 2014-18 events are over. We hope that people will continue to support us by submitting material and stories in addition to submitting to the new websites set up for the anniversary.
- We are looking for volunteers to help with researching the activities of units of the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Territorial Force, Regular Army, Pals Battalions, Kitchener's New Armies, Voluntary Organisations and the Ships of the Royal Navy. We currently have a huge backlog of stories and historical documents which need to be edited or transcribed for display online, if you have a good standard of written English, an interest in the two World Wars and a little time to spare online we would appreciate your help. For more information please see our page on Volunteering.
Wanted: Digital copies of Group photographs, Scrapbooks, Autograph books, photo albums, newspaper clippings, letters, postcards and ephemera relating to the Great War. If you have any unwanted photographs, documents or items from the First or Second World War, please do not destroy them. The Wartime Memories Project will give them a good home and ensure that they are used for educational purposes. Please get in touch for the postal address, do not sent them to our PO Box as packages are not accepted.
We are now on Facebook. Like this page to receive our updates, add a comment or ask a question.
If you have a general question please post it on our Facebook page.
Mar 2017World War 1 One ww1 wwII greatwar great
Please note we currently have a backlog of submitted material, our volunteers are working through this as quickly as possible and all names, stories and photos will be added to the site. If you have already submitted a story to the site and your UID reference number is higher than 230777 your submission is still in the queue, please do not resubmit without contacting us first.
Did you know? We also have a section on World War Two. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.
Want to know more about USY Christabel?There are:1 articles tagged USY Christabel available in our Library
Available at discounted prices.
Items from the Home Front Archive
Do you have any photos, postcards, documents or memorabilia relating to this unit? Please add to this archive.
Suggest a link
The Wartime Memories Project is a non profit organisation run by volunteers.
This website is paid for out of our own pockets, library subscriptions and from donations made by visitors. The popularity of the site means that it is far exceeding available resources.
If you are enjoying the site, please consider making a donation, however small to help with the costs of keeping the site running.
Website © Copyright MCMXCIX - MMXVII
- All Rights Reserved