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Remembered Today:

S.S. Greenisland rams UB119


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I am interested in "Greenisland". Robert M. Grant in "U-Boat Hunters" writes

"The steamer Green Island, steering WNW between Rathlin Island and the Irish coast,sighted a periscope rising about twenty yards ahead and turned to ram it. The periscope dipped, but Green Island bumped heavily over an object under water and on turning back found large amounts of oil on the surface."

Can anybody expand on this or suggest sources.


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Thanks. I must get hold of this book of Grant's. Even Messimer in 2002 considered that UB 119 was lost to unknown causes.

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Donald, David, Ionia, just to `muddy the waters' a little - find the following.

Only the date `fits'. Cannot find Rathlin Is. on a map.

Skipper Browne received his DSC foa `attacking summat' !!

BROWNE Ernest R 2007WSA Skipper RNR 83P292 H.M. Drifter Smilax

Vice Admiral Milford Haven 21.06.18 Gazetted

Action with enemy submarines 05.05.18 DSC

Attacked an enemy submarine on the 5th May, 1918.

Their Lordships concur with the Vice Admiral that the Commanding Officer showed good judgement in not starting his engines when the periscope was just sighted and consider that the attack was well carried out.


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The only evidence Grant gives is that "according to her commander's usual procedure, he should have made another signal before noon on May 5th, but no further signals were picked up". He doesn't consider the case proved, but does consider it likely.


Rathlin is of Northern Ireland at pretty much the narrowest part of the North Channel. You can nearly throw a stone from it to Islay.


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A couple of points:

Robert Grant’s works (of which this is but the latest part) are very well researched, and second only to Spindler's official history in adding to our understanding of U-boat losses. And U-Boat Hunters contains a full set of notes -- Grant's information in this case comes from "ADM 116/1632; c.f. A.C. Dewar's note in C.B. 01292, OXO, Case 113 for 1918, and ADM 137/3917."

I would rate this as a strong probable but not a definite -- it is consistant with where UB 119 should have been and the lack of subsequant radio contact is notable for a HSF boat (it would not be for Flanders boat though as those boats radioed far less) and especially as UB 119's commander seemed rather radio happy. While oil ordinarily means little, oil from an underwater collision is more significant.

Note that there are several much weaker sinking claims than this that are still commonly accepted or have just recently been rejected.

Also, I think the name of the steamer was Greenisland, one word, not two.

Best wishes,


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Thanks Michael & David, the Greenisland I'm interested in is one word. As yet I haven't been able to check Lloyd's register to see if there was a two word one or not, but I think probably not. I'd love to know who her master was at this time. Probably a man called Davison.

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