Re: UB-123
Posted by: Jochen Romstedt ()
Date: February 15, 2017 06:15PM

Mike Y. Wrote:
> "When submarine UB-123 attacked the ferry
> Leinster, it torpedoed Germany's last hope for a
> 'soft peace' in 1918"
> by Ann B Sides.
> Military History. Herndon: Oct 1998. Vol. 15,
> Iss. 4; pg. 24, ISSN: 08897328
> Abstract (Article Summary)
> The German sinking of the Irish ferry Leinster in
> 1918 effectively ended Germany's chances for a
> generous peace and paved the way for the harsh and
> punitive terms of the armistice ending WWI.
> October 10, 1918, dawned cool and hazy over Dublin
> Bay. Hundreds of passengers crowded up the
> gangways of RMS Leinster for the three-hour
> passage from Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) to
> Holyhead in Wales. Many of the travelers were
> troops returning to the trenches from home leave
> in Ireland. For once, the day's headlines gave
> them reason to hope they might survive the
> slaughter on the Western Front. German troops were
> in full retreat hefore the thrusting Allied
> armies, and Germany was asking for an armistice.
> Leinster was a mail and passenger ferry whose
> 23-knot speed was considered the best defense
> against the German Unterseeboote (submarines) that
> were frequently active in the waters around
> Ireland. As an additional precaution, Leinster was
> usually escorted by a Royal Air Force airship from
> a dirigible base north of Dublin. On October 10,
> however, the airship failed to appear as Leinster
> steamed unarmed and unescorted into the choppy
> Irish Sea.
> Less than an hour out of port, still within sight
> of Ireland, Leinster was ambushed by UB-123,
> commanded by 21-year-old Oberleutnant zur See
> Ramm. Although she was nearing the end of her
> second cruise, UB-123 had yet to carry out a
> successful attack on an Allied ship.
> The first torpedo Ramm launched at Leinster
> missed. Passengers on the ferry's deck saw the
> wake and shouted a warning. Before the crew could
> act, however, a second torpedo ripped into the
> bow, slicing through the mailroom and killing 21
> postal sorters at their posts. Letters spilled
> into the sea through the gash in the bow as
> passengers and crewmen rushed to their boat
> stations. As the first lifeboats were lowered, a
> third torpedo struck amidships, triggering a
> boiler explosion. The ferry went down by the bow
> within 15 minutes. Of the 687 passengers and 70
> crewmen aboard, only 193 were rescued. It was the
> most costly submarine attack against a civilian
> vessel since the sinking of Lusitania in 1915.
> Several of the dead were American citizens.
> News of the tragedy reached Washington as
> President Woodrow Wilson considered his next move
> in peace discussions with Germany. Three days
> earlier, the Swiss minister, acting as
> intermediary for the Imperial German government,
> had handed Wilson a diplomatic note: "The German
> Government requests the President of the United
> States of America to take steps for the
> restoration of peace, to notify all belligerents
> of this request, and to invite them to delegate
> plenipotentiaries for the purpose of taking up
> negotiations. The German Government accepts, as a
> basis for peace negotiations, the programme laid
> down by the President of the United States in his
> message to Congress of 8 January 1918....
> "In order to avoid further bloodshed the German
> Government requests the President to bring about
> the immediate conclusion of an armistice on land,
> on water, and in the air."
> The German note represented the culmination of
> everything Wilson had worked for since the war
> began. Without consulting Britain or France, he
> quickly drafted an encouraging reply, asking
> Germany for clarification.
> Wilson, a political scientist with a profound
> knowledge of European history, had considered both
> sides at fault in the war. In August 1914, he
> admonished Americans to "be neutral in thought as
> well as in deed" and declared that the United
> States would stay out of the conflict. However,
> the sinking of the British liner Lusitania on May
> 7, 1915, and the deaths of 128 U.S. citizens
> outraged America and led to a sharp exchange of
> notes between the United States and Germany. The
> sinking of the British passenger liner Arabic on
> August 19, 1915, took the lives of two Americans
> and prompted Wilson to wam the German govemment
> that continuing submarine incidents would lead to
> a rupture of diplomatic relations. Kaiser Wilhelm
> II, on the advice of his foreign minister, ordered
> the German navy not to sink passenger ships
> without warning and without providing passengers
> an opportunity to escape.
> The kaiser's admirals argued that restrictions on
> submarine warfare endangered the U-boats and
> virtually neutralized Germany's most powerful
> weapon. In early 1916, Germany began attacking
> merchant vessels without warning in the war zone
> around Britain. One of the first casualties, the
> French-registered passenger ferry Sussex, was
> torpedoed in the English Channel. The vessel did
> not sink, but a number of passengers were killed
> and the injured included four Americans.
> The Sussex incident provoked a vociferous protest
> from the United States. Wilson dispatched an
> ultimatum: "Unless the Imperial Government should
> now immediately declare and effect an abandonment
> of its present methods of submarine warfare
> against passenger and freight-carrying vessels,
> the Government of the United States can have no
> choice but to sever diplomatic relations with the
> German Empire altogether."
> Under intense pressure from his foreign minister,
> the kaiser again reined in the U-boat campaign
> until February 1, 1917, when the Germans opted to
> gamble the fate of their empire and resumed
> unrestricted submarine warfare. By mid-March, the
> U-boats had sunk five American freighters. On
> April 6, the United States declared war on
> Germany.
> The United States had sided with the
> French-British Entente as an "Associated Power,"
> rather than an official ally. President Wilson had
> no desire to destroy Germany, which he saw as a
> counterweight to French power on the Continent and
> a profitable trading partner for the United
> States. On January 8, 1918, Wilson laid out in his
> "Fourteen Points" America's peace objectives, as
> the nation mobilized for total war. Wilson
> basically sought what he called a "peace without
> victory." In essence, the Fourteen Points required
> the Central Powers to vacate occupied territories
> and make good the damages done. All parties to the
> conflict would be required to reduce arms to
> defensive levels, respect freedom of the seas,
> move toward self-determination for colonies, and
> refrain from engaging in secret diplomacy.
> Germany's offer to negotiate peace directly with
> Wilson seemed to establish the Fourteen Points as
> the common goal of the Western alliance, but the
> British and French had never assented to them and
> had no intention of doing so. Having suffered
> terrible economic and human losses, they could
> settle for nothing less than a total, punishing
> victory over Germany.
> Public opinion in America had also turned against
> the Germans. More than 120,000 American casualties
> in the bloody spring and summer campaigns of 1918
> had made hawks of many who had opposed America's
> entry into the war. Senate hardliners introduced a
> resolution calling for "no cessation of
> hostilities and no armistice until the Imperial
> German Government shall disband its armies and
> surrender its arms and munitions, together with
> its navy." Newspaper editorials on both sides of
> the Atlantic denounced the German peace offer as a
> trick. General John J. Pershing, Wilson's
> commander in Europe, advised against an armistice,
> believing the Germans would use a cease-fire to
> rearm, regroup and attack again in the spring.
> Germany's second note, confirming her acceptance
> of the Fourteen Points "as the foundation of a
> permanent peace," arrived on Wilson's desk as he
> pondered the reports from Europe, describing
> Leinster's last agony. The leaders of the Entente
> lost no time exploiting the disaster to convince
> the U.S. president to back away from his
> unilateral peace negotiations.
> The Times of London called the sinking "one of the
> saddest and most unforgivable of the submarine
> murders. .. in some ways worse than the Lusitania,
> for the enemy made no pretense, such as he makes
> now, of anxiety for peace....The German government
> has not changed at all...."
> "At the very moment of asking the Allies for peace
> and uttering copious promises of reform, Germany
> has committed one of her foulest crimes against
> humanity," thundered the Irish Times.
> British Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour told
> American journalists that the sinking was "an
> outrage against an Irish packet boat carrying men,
> women, and children." Balfour said Leinster was
> carrying no military stores and "served no
> military ends."
> Balfour's remarks were a distortion of the truth,
> for Leinster was carrying hundreds of Allied
> troops, including an American military delegation
> led by Captain Hutchinson Cone, commanding officer
> of U.S. Navy air services in Europe. Most of the
> American victims were military personnel,
> including Cone himself, who was severely injured.
> However, the press, muzzled by wartime
> restrictions on reporting troop movements or
> casualties, continued to refer only to civilian
> victims.
> Wilson believed a generous peace with Germany was
> the best guarantee of future stability in Europe,
> but Leinster's sinking completely undermined his
> belief in Germany's sincerity. Although the German
> government quickly expressed regret for the
> incident, Wilson, under pressure at home and
> abroad, drafted a harsh reply to Germany's peace
> offer: "At the very moment that the German
> Government approaches the Government of the United
> States with proposals of peace, its submarines are
> engaged in sinking passenger ships at sea...."
> Germany's chance for a generous peace had slipped
> away. On October 20, the Kaiser's government
> abandoned unrestricted submarine warfare, but the
> measure was too little and too late. German armies
> continued to fall back toward the borders of the
> homeland. Insurrection broke out within Germany.
> Sailors mutinied at Kiel. On November 9, Kaiser
> Wilhelm abdicated. On November 11, German envoys
> in a railway car at Compiegne signed the
> humiliating armistice document that was to be a
> framework for a harsh and punitive peace.
> UB-123 never returned to Germany and is believed
> to have been blown up in a minefield in the North
> Sea on October 19. Because of rough seas,
> relatively few of Leinster's dead were recovered.
> Many of the civilian victims were buried in
> Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery, while the bodies of
> British military personnel lie under neat ranks of
> Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones in
> an immaculately kept, unmarked British military
> cemetery near Phoenix Park in Dublin.
> The wreck of Leinster lies 100 feet below the
> surface of the Irish Sea, four miles east of the
> Kish lighthouse. The winking of the light, easily
> visible from the mail boat pier in Dun Laoghaire
> Harbor, serves as a constant reminder of the 564
> souls who sailed to their deaths 80 years ago in
> the last great sea tragedy of World War I.

Subject Written By Posted
UB-123 Mike Y. 02/24/2004 03:36PM
Re: UB-123 Jim Pettit 02/24/2004 08:31PM
Re: UB-123 philip 04/29/2004 05:15AM
Re: UB-123 Jochen Romstedt 02/15/2017 06:15PM