Torpedoed, but Saved
ORPEDOED on a Caribbean tanker,
Ensign Paul Leonard Mangold, Wisconsin '40 (now Lieutenant, j.g.), lived to
tell the tale, and a thrilling tale it is. Let
him tell it his own way.
"That was my third trip from an
American port to the Caribbean, but the
first time that anything happened. I had
just gone out on the deck after supper
when the first torpedo hit the loaded
aft on the port side. The sea was heavy
and the glare of the strong sun made it
impossible to sight the periscope of a
submarine off in the distance.
"When the torpedo hit, I ran up to
the boat deck as general quarters were
sounded. The ship started to settle back
aft. I ran to my room to get my life
jacket, pistol, and confidential papers.
Then I returned to the deck and, as
commander of the armed gun crew, I
ordered the crew to the forward guns.
"On the portside we could see the
periscope one hundred feet astern. A
petty officer on the portside fired a machine gun and shattered the periscope. I
went to the starboard wing of the bridge.
I could see the sub maneuvering for position. Then it let loose another torpedo.
Three minutes after the first torpedo hit
the captain ordered: 'Abandon ship!'
Booml The second torpedo hit a minute
later. I was just ten feet away, inside of a
gun shield, and the force of the torpedo
knocked me five feet.
"With Captain Johannsen of the
tanker, the last two to leave the ship, I
was thrown into the sea when she rolled
over on her starboard side and sank. I
was drawn under water at least twentyfive feet by the suction of the sinking
ship, and it seemed an age before I could
reach the air. As I struggled, I freed a
messman who was caught in a guy wire
of the stack about ten feet below the
surface. We swam about together in the
shark-infested waters until we reached
a lifeboat which was capsized in the
heavy sea. We clung to this for half an
hour when another lifeboat maneuvered
to stand by and pick us up. With twenty-
PAUL LEONARD MANGOLD, Wisconsin
four other sailors, we spent the night in
the lifeboat in a driving rain.
"Two lifeboats were overturned when
the tanker keeled on her side. Of the
crew of forty-five, seven were lost; one
was killed when the first torpedo exploded, and six were drowned when the
lifeboats were swamped. Many of the
men had back injuries and one sailor's
forehead was crushed by a rivet which
struck him in the eye.
"As soon as the first torpedo hit, our
radio operator sent out an SOS. That
was a good thing because the ship sank
within seven minutes. The submarine
passed by us but fired no bullets. It
didn't bother us any more. We were busy
in the lifeboat giving first aid, but the
guys kept talking and singing in spite of
everything. We sent up several flares and
a plane circled over us in the darkness,
but that was all we saw of it.