Daily Event for June 16, 2009

After discharging a load of oil in Rouen, France the Standard Oil Company tanker John D. Archbold set sail for New York in ballast. After making about 400 miles the ship was southwest of the Ile d' Ouessant on June 16, 1917 when Oberleutnant zur See Kurt Ramien fired a torpedo from his SMS UC-48 into her side. As the ship was sinking the French steamer Angers was nearing the scene, her master was alerted by a lookout that a large ship was sinking a few miles from his position. The captain, Walter O'Brien steered his ship toward the stricken vessel rather than taking evasive action to avoid the U-boat, which he must have suspected might be in the area.

He approached the survivors who identified their ship as the Archbold, but they declined rescue choosing to wait for a patrol boat which presumably had been sent to their assistance. After leaving the survivors O'Brien said that the periscope of the U-boat was seen just off his bow and a torpedo track could be seen, he turned his ship to avoid the torpedo and he said it "skimmed along the length of his ship about two feet away."

Having turned stern to the subamrine the gunners opened fire. Four shells were fired at the unseen submarine, three missed, but a direct hit was claimed of the fourth shell. O'Brien said "the last one made a great splash followed by a cloud of vapor and the submarine disappeared." As far as O'Brien and his crew were concerned they had avenged the Archbold. However this was not the case, UC-48 survived until March of 1918 when, damaged by a depth charge attack, she was interned in Spain.

At least four and maybe six men were killed in the ship.
© 2009 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Honor
In memory of those who lost their lives in
John D. Archbold
June 16, 1917
"Their names are etched into history as American Patriots"

Rank / Rate
Johansen, J. M.
1st Engineer
Lago, Domingo
Spanish national
Martinez, Jose
Spanish national
Soza, Lorenzo
Spanish national
  *Note, two other men may have died in the ship, but their names are known only to God.

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2005 Daily Event
2008 Daily Event