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SM U-156 in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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SM U-156

22nd August 1917 U-Boat Index - WW1  SM U-156 a Type U 151 is commissioned. She was built at Shipyard Atlas Werke, Bremen (Werk 382) Ordered 29 Nov 1916, launched 17 Apr 1917 and commissioned 22 Aug 1917 She was commanded from 22 Aug 1917 to 15 Jun 1918 by Konrad Gansser and 16 Jun 1918 to 25 Sep 1918 by Richard Feldt. From 28 Aug 1917 to 25 Sep 1918 she sailed with the U-Kreuzer Flotilla

Successes: 44 ships sunk with a total of 50,471 tons. 2 ships damaged with a total of 638 tons. 1 warship sunk with a total of 13,680 tons.

  • 7 Dec 1917 U 156 Konrad Gansser W.c. Mc Kay 147 ca
  • 15 Dec 1917 U 156 Konrad Gansser Ioannina 4,567 gr
  • 17 Dec 1917 U 156 Konrad Gansser Acoriano 312 pt
  • 30 Dec 1917 U 156 Konrad Gansser Joaquin Mumbru 2,703 sp
  • 10 Jan 1918 U 156 Konrad Gansser Atlas 1,813 nl
  • 8 Feb 1918 U 156 Konrad Gansser Artesia 2,762 br
  • 8 Feb 1918 U 156 Konrad Gansser Chariton 3,023 gr
  • 8 Feb 1918 U 156 Konrad Gansser Nuzza 1,102 it
  • 9 Feb 1918 U 156 Konrad Gansser Atlantide 5,431 it
  • 26 Jun 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Tortuguero 4,175 br
  • 7 Jul 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Marosa 1,987 nw
  • 8 Jul 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Manx King 1,729 nw
  • 19 Jul 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt San Diego 13,680 am
  • 21 Jul 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt 703 934 am
  • 21 Jul 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt 740 680 am
  • 21 Jul 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt 766 527 am
  • 21 Jul 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Lansford 830 am
  • 21 Jul 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Perth Amboy (damaged) 435 am
  • 22 Jul 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Robert & Richard 140 am
  • 2 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Dornfontein 766 ca
  • 3 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Annie Perry 116 am
  • 3 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Muriel 120 am
  • 3 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Rob Roy 111 am
  • 3 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Sydney B. Atwood 100 am
  • 4 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Nelson A. 72 br
  • 5 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Agnes G. Holland 100 am
  • 5 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Gladys M. Hollett (d.) 203 br
  • 5 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Luz Blanca 4,868 ca
  • 8 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Sydland 3,031 sw
  • 11 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Penistone 4,139 br
  • 17 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt San Jose 1,586 nw
  • 20 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt A. Piatt Andrew 141 am
  • 20 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Francis J. O'hara, Jr. 117 am
  • 20 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Lucille M. Schnare 121 ca
  • 20 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Pasadena 119 ca
  • 20 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Triumph 239 ca
  • 20 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Uda A. Saunders 125 ca
  • 21 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Sylvania 136 am
  • 22 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Notre Dame De La Garde 147 fr
  • 25 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt C. M. Walters 107 ca
  • 25 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt E. B. Walters 126 ca
  • 25 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Erik 583 br
  • 25 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt J. J. Flaherty 162 am
  • 25 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Marion Adams 99 ca
  • 25 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Verna D. Adams 132 ca
  • 25 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Clayton W. Walters 116 ca
  • 26 Aug 1918 U 156 Richard Feldt Gloaming 130 ca

U156 was lost on the 25 Sep 1918, probably mined in Northern Passage as she failed to report when clear of it. 77 dead (all hands lost).

1st June 1918 North Sea Mine Barrage 1918  The North Sea Mine Barrage, also known as the Northern Barrage, was a large minefield laid easterly from the Orkneys to Norway by the United States Navy (assisted by the Royal Navy) during World War I. The objective was to inhibit the movement of U-boats from bases in Germany to the Atlantic shipping lanes bringing supplies to the British Isles. Rear Admiral Lewis Clinton-Baker, commanding the Royal Navy minelaying force at the time, described the barrage as the "biggest mine planting stunt in the world's history."

The idea of a mine barrage across the North Sea was first proposed in the summer of 1916 by Admiral Reginald Bacon and was agreed at the Allied Naval Conference on 5 September 1917. The Royal Navy and, in particular Admiral Beatty as Commander in Chief of the Grand Fleet, was skeptical about the value of the operation and did not feel it justified the large logistical and manufacturing commitment required. A minefield across the North Sea would require mining water 900 feet deep while no previous minefield had been established in waters more than 300 ft deep. A minefield across the North Sea had been estimated to require 400,000 conventional anchored mines. An "antenna" mine developed in July 1917 was effective at the assumed maximum submarine depth of 200 ft and 100,000 of these new Mk 6 mines would be adequate to form the North Sea mine barrage. The United States was altogether more enthusiastic about the operation as the loss of trans-Atlantic shipping was a major domestic concern. This plan allowed the United States to play an active part in tackling this while playing to their industrial strength and with minimal risk of American casualties. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt appealed directly to President Woodrow Wilson to overcome opposition to the project from Vice Admiral William Sims, who commanded all United States naval forces in Europe. The U.S. Navy tendered an order for the Mk 6 mines in October 1917 with 80,000,000 ft of steel wire rope required to moor the mines to the seabed. Project spending of $40 million was shared among 140 manufacturing contractors and over 400 sub-contractors. All mine components other than wire rope, explosives, and detonating circuitry were manufactured by Detroit automobile firms. Eight civilian steamships were converted to minelayers and another 24 mine carrying freighters, sailing at a rate of two or three per week, were required to transport manufactured mine components to assembly depots in Scotland.


The objective was to prevent U-boats from operating in the North Atlantic and preying on trans-Atlantic shipping. A similar barrage had already been placed across the English Channel, which had resulted in U-boats diverting north around Scotland. The North Sea Mine Barrage was intended to close this alternative route and it also made it hard for the U-boats to get supplies.

Success of the barrage

Supply problems and technical difficulties caused some delays but laying got under way in June 1918 and continued over the next five months. Planned additional minelaying excursions to complete the barrage were cancelled when the approaching end of hostilities was recognized upon completion of the thirteenth minelaying excursion on 26 October 1918. The design of the minefield meant there was a theoretical 66% chance of a surfaced U-boat triggering a mine and a 33% chance for a submerged U-boat. On the basis of the number of effective mines observed while sweeping the barrage, the actual odds were assessed at being closer to 20% for a surfaced U-boat and 10% for a submerged one. As the final mines were laid only a matter of days before the end of World War I, it is impossible to assess the success of the plan. Some contend the minefield was a major cause of the declining morale of the Imperial German Navy through the final months of the war, while others suggest Germany easily swept safe channels through the large, unguarded minefield. The official statistics on lost German submarines compiled on 1 March 1919 credited the North Sea mine barrage with the certain destruction of four U-boats, probable destruction of two more, and possible destruction of another two.

  • Possible losses in minefields.
  • 19 August 1918 SM UB-12 unknown - possibly sunk by the North Sea mine barrage
  • 9 September 1918 SM U-92 presumed sunk by the North Sea mine barrage area B (confirmed in 2007)
  • 9 September 1918 SM UB-127 sunk by the North Sea mine barrage area B
  • 25 September 1918 SM U-156 sunk by the North Sea mine barrage area A
  • September 1918 SM U-102 presumed sunk by the North Sea mine barrage area B (confirmed in 2006)
  • 19 September 1918 SM UB-104 sunk by the North Sea mine barrage area B
  • 20 September 1918 SM UB-113 unknown - possibly sunk by the North Sea mine barrage
  • 18 October 1918 SM UB-123 sunk by the North Sea mine barrage area A

Eight more boats were known to have been damaged by the mines and some Admiralty personnel assumed the field might be responsible for five more U-boats which disappeared without explanation.


United States participation in the minesweeping effort was overseen by Rear Admiral Strauss aboard the repair ship Blackhawk from which he had commanded the minelaying operation. Tugs Patapsco and Patuxent towed Admiralty wooden sailing smacks Red Rose and Red Fern out to conduct the first trial sweep in December. Sweeping was accomplished by suspending a serrated wire between two ships on a parallel course. While held underwater by planing devices called "kites", the wire would foul the cables suspending the buoyant mines above their anchors. If the serrated wire parted the mine mooring cable, the mine would bob to the surface to be destroyed by gunfire. The smacks swept and destroyed six mines before winter weather halted further work at sea. The winter was spent testing an electrical protective device to reduce the risk of sweeping the antenna mines with steel-hulled ships. Patapsco and Patuxent tested the protective device by sweeping 39 mines in March. Royal Navy minesweeping efforts involved 421 vessels manned by 600 officers and 15,000 men from 1 April to 30 November 1919. Twelve Lapwing class minesweepers and 18 submarine chasers were available for the first routine sweep of the United States minesweepers on 29 April 1919. After the first sweep took two days to clear 221 mines, Strauss requested more ships in the hope of clearing the mine barrage that summer. Twenty Admiralty trawlers with American crews, 16 more Lapwing class minesweepers, and another repair ship Panther were assigned to his command. Common difficulties with the sweeping procedure involved mine cables becoming entangled in the kites attached to the sweeping wires. Sweeping gear was often lost if the mine detonated and cut the sweeping cables. Approximately one third of the ships were damaged by exploding mines. Strauss was recognized as a Knight Commander of St Michael and St George for his efforts, but doubts about the effectiveness of the minesweeping effort persisted into the 21st century.

Postwar consequences

As 1919 drew to a close, the onset of winter forced the suspension of sweeping for moored buoyant mines, but the Royal Navy resumed minesweeping operations the following spring, continuing to clear sunken mines from fishing grounds and maintaining a destroyer patrol to track down mines that had broken free of their moorings and gone adrift. Losses of civilian ships to North Sea mines continued; the origin of the mine in these cases was often difficult to determine. In 1919, twenty crewmen drowned when the Swedish steamship Hollander sank, minutes after striking a mine in October and the steamer Kerwood struck a mine and sank on 1 December 1919.

21st July 1918 Attack on Orleans 1918  The Attack on Orleans was a naval and air action during World War I which took place on 21 July 1918. A German U-boat opened fire on the American town of Orleans, Massachusetts and several merchant vessels nearby. A tugboat was sunk, but shells fired in the direction of the town landed harmlessly in a marsh and on a beach.


On the morning on 21 July 1918, under the command of Richard Feldt, U-156 was positioned off Nauset Beach, located in Orleans, Massachusetts. U-156 surfaced and opened fire on the town with her deck guns, then with torpedoes and her deck guns on the 140 foot tugboat Perth Amboy, which was surrounded by four wooden barges. Men from the nearby Coast Guard station rushed up to the observation tower to see what the commotion was. One of them called Chatham Naval Air Station to inform them of the ongoing U-boat attack. Reuben Hopkins, a Coast Guard veteran of the engagement, reached the tower rail in time to see an enemy shell explode over the tugboat. The tug was quickly sunk and U-156 then started firing upon the barges. Escaping from the now burning Perth Amboy and barges were 32 merchant sailors and civilians, including the captain's wife and children. Reuben Hopkins stayed behind as other men went to rescue the tugboat survivors who were coming ashore in lifeboats. Soon, Curtiss HS-2L flying boats and R-9 floatplanes arrived to bomb the U-boat, but the ordnance dropped either were duds or failed to hit the target and the warplanes had to fly back to Chatham, Massachusetts to reload.


U-156 got away and headed north, where it continued to attack other allied ships. Back in Orleans, a few shells and craters were found on shore. Some also were found in the nearby marsh. The area sustained minor damage. The psychological effects on the population of Orleans were immediate as people began reporting the hearing of naval battles off the coast. Others talked about the supposed "mother ship" for U-156. Newspapers dubbed the engagement as the "Battle of Orleans" and offered a reward for the discovery of submarine supply bases in the Bay of Fundy. Towns also banned lights for fear that German spies would use them to signal U-boats. The attack on Orleans was the only Central Powers raid mounted against the United States mainland during World War I. It was also the first time the Continental United States was shelled by foreign enemy guns since the Siege of Fort Texas in 1846. There were no fatalities. The Continental U.S. would be shelled again twice in 1942 by Japanese submarines during the Pacific War. These two engagements are known as the Bombardment of Fort Stevens along the northeast Pacific coast of Oregon and the Bombardment of Ellwood near Santa Barbara, California.

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