Daily Event for March 31, 2015

It was the first ship attacked by Kapitänleutnant Fritz Stuhr and SMS U-10, the sailing vessel Nor, a Norwegian ship built in 1873 and owned by H. Jacobsen of Fredrikstad. Stuhr had stopped two ships, Nor and SS Unita, another Norwegian ship. The Germans boarded Unita and checked her cargo for contraband, it was deemed legal and the ship was ordered to stand by. When Nor was stopped her master, Capt. Simensen, was ordered to come aboard the U-boat where his papers were gone over. Stuhr told Simensen that his cargo was indeed contraband and that his ship would be sunk. Simensen and his crew were put in boats and rowed over to the waiting Unita.

Before he left Stuhr handed Simensen a document that read;

"I have this day, March 31 (1915), ordered the Captain and crew of the Norwegian sailing ship Nor to leave their vessel and go aboard the steamer Unita and go to Rotterdam. The Nor is to be destroyed on account of contraband under Articles 24, 17, 33 and 34C and 39, 40 and 49D. (of the London Declaration) Signed Stuhr."

A receipt for his vessel, a move that sum what surprised Simensen, however this was not as uncommon as one might think. Many German commanders offered such "receipts" to their victims early in the war. They were about 140 miles west of Thorsminde, Denmark when Unita sailed away with the crew of Nor embarked. Originally Simensen was bound for Hull with his cargo of treated wood, but now he and his men would be deposited in Rotterdam, where they arrived on Apr. 1st.

Simensen did not see his ship destroyed before he sailed away, but he knew that two Germans had rowed over to her to set her alight. His cargo of wood would have kept her afloat should she just be holed by gunfire, so the Germans burnt her. A gentlemanly encounter one hundred years ago today with no casualties except one small ship. This of course would not continue for long as the Great War progressed. The bloodiest conflict to date, many horrors would await other sea captains on both sides, including Stuhr himself.

He was the only commanding officer U-10 ever had and only sunk six other ships, none of any size. In fact all were smaller than the 544 ton Nor, his total was just over 1,600 tons. It also appears that none of the crews of any of his victims were killed. However neither Stuhr or U-10 survived the war, in fact just over a year later, in June of 1916, Stuhr and his crew disappeared in U-10 somewhere in the Gulf of Finland.
© 2015 Michael W. Pocock