During World War I, as well as during W.W.II, the iron trade from Sweden to Germany was vital for Germany. The British Royal Navy tried hard to stop this. Finally, in September 1915, British subs successfully passed into the Baltic Sea. On 11 October 1915, E-19 sank four German ships in a single day.
Just a week later the British sub E-9, commanded by Max Horton, was equally successful. He waited for passing-by prey between Landsort and Häradskär, south of the Stockholm archipelago. During 18 and 19 October, E-9 intercepted four German steamers. Each ship was hailed on international water. After inspection a decision was made to sink her, and the crew was given time to enter the lifeboats.
This was the first on the evening of 18 October. Soederhamn carried a cargo of Swedish wood. Despite setting off explosives in the engine room and having opened the bottom valves, this ship refused to sink. Apparently it floated on the cargo. E-9 finally gave up, the crew returned onboard, and managed to take the ship to the port of Oxelösund!
This ship was also sunk on the evening of 18 October.
Johannes Russ was caught by E-9 in the morning of 19 October. This ship carried coal destined for Sundsvall in north Sweden. She was stopped on international water, so after inspection a decision was made to sink it, and the crew was given time to enter the lifeboats. For some reason this ship refused to sink, and was left drifting.
The Swedish navy destroyer Wale arrived, taking the German crew onboard. Then Wale rushed to the steamer Dalälfven (below) that was already under attack by E-9. Once there, the British commander ordered the Swedish warship to stay away. "We are on international water and I am going to sink this ship". The Swedes obliged, rescued the German crew, and returned towards land.
They found that Johannes Russ was still floating, so they started towing the ship towards land. Later, a Swedish tugboat arrived and took over the tow towards land. But suddenly there was an explosion onboard and the steamer started to sink quickly. The tugboat had to cut the tow quickly to avoid being pulled down. In 1984 she was rediscovered. Read about the discovery.
This steamer from Hamburg was loaded with coal headed for Swedish port Gävle. It was the last ship caught by E-9. After the initial difficulties, and after arguing with the Swedish destroyer, commander Horton decided to use one of the expensive torpedoes for sinking. The ship sank as intended 10.30 AM and the crew was rescued by the destroyer Wale.
Per Åkesson, March 2000
rev feb -03
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