Daily Event for March 7, 2012

The steamer Bengrove, a 3,840 ton freighter built in 1910, became the 4th victim of Kapitänleutnant Walther Schwieger and the soon to be famous SMS U-20 on March 7, 1915. Even though the ship had been torpedoed, all thirty-three men got off the ship into lifeboats. They were picked up by SS Paignton (herself sunk a little over two years later on Mar. 14, 1917 by SMS U-81) and landed at Ilfrancombe.

The ships owner, Joseph Hoult of Liverpool, placed a £500 bounty on the next four U-boats that were sunk by any British Mercantile Marine ship or trawler. In response to this a Mr. Henry Kimber, Bt. (former MP) added £100 per U-boat and encouraged four friends to add £100 each to the bounty bringing the total to £1,000 per boat.

This was a period of unrestricted submarine warfare and Schwieger would be partly responsible for bringing this to an end. After the sinking of the Lusitania in May and the loss of several other ships, Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered an end to unrestricted submarine warfare due to international (mainly U.S.) outrage which lasted until Jan. 31, 1917. Schwieger, by then commander of SMS U-88, was lost with his entire crew in Sept. of that year.
© 2012 Michael W. Pocock

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