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SM U-55 in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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SM U-55



   SM U-55 was a Type U 51 u-boat, built at Shipyard Germaniawerft, Kiel (Werk 237). Ordered 23 Aug 1914, Laid down 28 Dec 1914, Launched 18 Mar 1916 and Commissioned 8 Jun 1916

Her Commanders were:
9 Jun 1916 - 9 Aug 1918 Wilhelm Werner.
10 Aug 1918 - 11 Nov 1918 Alexander Wei .
15 Sep 1918 - 11 Nov 1918 Oblt. Hans Friedrich

Her career consisted of 14 patrols between the 29th of July 1916 and 11th of Nov 1918 with II Flotilla. Successes included, 64 ships sunk with a total of 133,742 tons, 7 ships damaged with a total of 26,161 tons and 2 ships taken as prize with a total of 3,466 tons.

  • 28 Sep 1916 Orsino 172 br
  • 30 Sep 1916 Atle (prize) 1,725 sw
  • 30 Sep 1916 Talavera (prize) 1,741 sw
  • 24 Oct 1916 Clearfield 4,229 br
  • 28 Oct 1916 Marina 5,204 br
  • 22 Jan 1917 Ethel 23 br
  • 23 Jan 1917 Eden 142 ru
  • 23 Jan 1917 Salland 3,657 nl
  • 27 Jan 1917 Artist 3,570 br
  • 30 Jan 1917 Euonymus 60 br
  • 30 Jan 1917 Helena And Samuel 59 br
  • 30 Jan 1917 Marcelle 219 be
  • 30 Jan 1917 Merit 39 br
  • 30 Jan 1917 Trevone 46 br
  • 30 Jan 1917 W.A.H. 47 br
  • 30 Jan 1917 Wetherill 46 br
  • 31 Jan 1917 Dundee 2,290 ca
  • 31 Jan 1917 Saint Leon 230 fr
  • 31 Jan 1917 Yvonne 87 fr
  • 1 Feb 1917 Ada 24 br
  • 1 Feb 1917 Essonite 589 br
  • 1 Feb 1917 Inverlyon 59 br
  • 2 Feb 1917 Pomoschnick 167 ru
  • 6 Feb 1917 Saxon Briton 1,337 br
  • 7 Feb 1917 Yola 3,504 br
  • 4 Apr 1917 H. B. Linnemann (damaged) 444 da
  • 5 Apr 1917 Vilja 1,049 nw
  • 6 Apr 1917 Vine Branch 3,442 br
  • 8 Apr 1917 Petridge 1,712 br
  • 8 Apr 1917 Torrington 5,597 br
  • 8 Apr 1917 Umvoti 2,616 br
  • 12 Apr 1917 Toro 3,066 br
  • 15 Apr 1917 Astra 260 da
  • 17 Apr 1917 Cairnhill 4,981 br
  • 8 Jun 1917 Russian Prince (damaged) 4,158 br
  • 9 Jun 1917 Achilles 641 br
  • 11 Jun 1917 Ausonia (damaged) 8,153 br
  • 12 Jun 1917 Coronado (damaged) 6,539 br
  • 23 Jun 1917 Sophie 89 da
  • 23 Jun 1917 Star 120 da
  • 31 Jul 1917 Belgian Prince 4,765 br
  • 6 Aug 1917 Eugenia 4,835 it
  • 9 Aug 1917 Oakfield (damaged) 3,618 br
  • 12 Aug 1917 Falkland 4,877 nw
  • 17 Aug 1917 Edina 455 br
  • 18 Aug 1917 Benjamin Stevenson 255 br
  • 4 Jan 1918 Rewa 7,305 br
  • 5 Jan 1918 War Baron 6,240 br
  • 9 Jan 1918 Ula 839 nw
  • 16 Jan 1918 Genevieve 1,598 fr
  • 20 Jan 1918 Hirondell 28 fr
  • 21 Jan 1918 Maria Caterina 71 nl
  • 26 Feb 1918 Eumaeus 6,696 br
  • 26 Feb 1918 Mouche 65 fr
  • 1 Mar 1918 Borga 1,046 br
  • 7 Mar 1918 Brise 160 fr
  • 7 Mar 1918 Saint Georges 102 fr
  • 7 Mar 1918 Saint Joseph 434 fr
  • 8 Mar 1918 Madeline 2,890 br
  • 10 Mar 1918 Cristina 2,083 sp
  • 15 May 1918 War Grange (damaged) 3,100 br
  • 16 May 1918 Tagona 2,004 ca
  • 17 May 1918 Motricine 4,047 fr
  • 18 May 1918 Denbigh Hall 4,943 br
  • 18 May 1918 Scholar 1,635 br
  • 16 Jul 1918 Miefield 1,368 nw
  • 17 Jul 1918 Carpathia 13,603 br
  • 23 Jul 1918 Anna Sofie 2,577 br
  • 31 Jul 1918 Zwaantje Cornelia (damaged) 149 nl
  • 1 Oct 1918 Montfort 6,578 br
  • 2 Oct 1918 Keltier 2,360 be
  • 4 Oct 1918 Uranus 350 ru
  • 10 Oct 1918 Andre 160 fr

On the 26th of November 1918 U55 surrendered to Japan. The u-boat was taken in japanese service and renamed the O3 in 1920. She was dismantled at Sasebo Navy Yard between March and June 1921.

There was another U 55 in World War Two, launched from its shipyard on 19 Oct 1939 and commissioned into the Kriegsmarine on 21 Nov 1939.

4th January 1918 Hospital ship  

HS Rewa

HMHS Rewa (His Majesty's Hospital ship) was a steamship originally built for the British-India Steam Navigation Company, but requisitioned for use as a British hospital ship during the First World War. On 4 January 1918, she was hit and sunk by a torpedo from the German U-boat U-55.

In 1908, she joined her sister ship Rohilla as a permanent troopship, being designated No.5.

Sinking.

On 4 January 1918, Rewa was returning to Britain from Malta with 279 wounded officers aboard. Neutral inspectors from Spain had boarded the ship in Gibraltar to confirm that she had no military function. At 1115, she was hit by a torpedo 19 mi (31 km) off Hartland Point. The ship took around two hours to sink, allowing all wounded and ship's crew to board lifeboats except for the four engine men who died in the initial explosion.

Aftermath.

The sinking of the ship caused outrage in Britain. The German high command denied sinking the ship, instead blaming the explosion on a loose British mine. However, German naval command had entered "total war" in a desperate effort to win the war. In implementing total war, the naval command secretly ordered U-boat captains to sink any Allied ship, including hospital ships, even though it violated Hague Convention X. However, the captain of U-55 perhaps fearing the consequences of his actions wrote in the ship's log that he sank a cargo vessel and not a brightly lit and painted hospital ship. After the war, Wilhelm Werner was hunted by Allied command in an effort to charge him for war crimes, but he disappeared, thus avoiding a trial.

Wreckage.

The wreckage lies at 50.55N 04.49W, which is located off the west UK coast. It lies in about 200 ft (61 m) of water which makes it difficult for all but the most experienced diver to explore. During the Second World War, the wreckage was often mistaken by British sonar for a German U-boat. To confirm that a U-Boat was not just hiding on the sea bed, Allied ships would drop depth charges, called opening the "tin can". If oil or German bodies floated to the surface then they knew they had destroyed a U-Boat. If nothing floated up then they would move to the next sonar target. This process totally destroyed the wreck of Rewa.

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Those known to have served on

SM U-55

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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    Mar 2017

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