Posts Tagged ‘ U-518 ’

Four Enormous Shipwrecks and…Part 3

PLM 27
Fresh from the rush of the kill, Wissman next trained U-518’s gun sights on PLM 27.

Short for Paris-Lyon-Marseilles, PLM 27 was a Free French ship which escaped Ruggeberg’s attacks that sank Saganaga and Strathcona two months earlier, saved by the counter-fire from the valiant Evelyn B which was anchored nearby.Wissmann tied off the loose end left by Ruggeberg, firing a single well-aimed shot that dispatched PLM 100 feet to the bottom almost immediately, taking 12 crew members with her.

The shallowest of the 4 wrecks, PLM was the favourite of the fishy kind. What I remember most about her is not that she’s so mangled – her shallow depth exposes her to the worst of the weather, including the icebergs that occasionally scraped by. The PLM I see in my mind’s eye is throbbing with marine life. Truly, the sea has claimed the wreckage. If it’s true that we all came from the sea, then it is fitting perhaps that we return to it.

Near the entrance inside the aft cabin, I see a single half-decayed shoe. I signalled for Norbert to come by with the video camera he was aiming about the wreck. As he swam slowly into the room, the light illuminated a bathtub, along with other detritus of everyday life.

As Norbert swam back out of the room, I backed up and noticed another shoe on the deck. It strikes me that these shoes were very large.

Four Enormous Shipwrecks and…Part 2

SS Rosecastle
November 2, 1942. U-518 had arrived the previous day in Conception Bay, under cover of darkness. This was her maiden voyage, and her captain, Fredich “the wise guy” Wissmann was in comand. His mission: to land a German agent in Canada and to seize every opportunity to attack allied shipping.In the overnight hours, Wissmann fired his first shot. Fortunately for the Anna T and the Flyingdale, which were tied up at the Scotia Pier on Bell Island, Wissmann missed. The torpedo struck Bell Island instead, bestowing the community with the dubious distinction of being the only one in North America to sustain a U-boat hit during WWII.Unfortunately, Wissmann’s aim improved. His next 2 shots sent SS Rosecastle 150 feet to the bottom. The impact woke sixteen year old Lloyd Rees. From his bedroom window, he saw what he already knew: that Rosecastle had been hit. Running to his sister’s room to get a better view, he arrived to see bits of Rosecastle still raining down on the surface of the sea. Attacked as they slept, the crew hopefully never knew what hit them. Miraculously, 15 of the 43 on board survived.

Three of our group of divers (Rob Geddis and Ron Irvine, led by Norbert Pietkiewicz) decided to search for the torpedo holes on one of their dives. They had asked our able divemaster Arthur Cleal if he knew where the torpedo hole was.

“Nope,” says Arthur, who knows just about all there is to know about these wrecks. Next, they asked Debbie Stanley, co-owner of Ocean Quest Charters, who was diving with me that day.

“Nope,” says Debbie, who also knows just about all there is to know about these wrecks, having made more than 200 dives on the Rosecastle alone. That leaves our wise skipper Bill Flaherty.

“Nope,” says Skipper Bill.

Excited, our 3 intrepid divers splash in, their hearts no doubt thumping in anticipation that they might be the ones to discover the sites of the torpedo holes. They descend down the line on the wreck, tied off amid-ships on the port side. Continuing down towards their planned deepest depth to begin their search for the holes, they see somewhat anti-climactically the massive concussion just below the down line. They’re convinced they’ve been the butt of a Newfie joke.