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GERMAN BLOCKADE RUNNERS - 22 SHIPS

24)WESERLAND




Built as Ermland 1922   


Tonnage 6,528 / 9,475 dwt   


Sunk 3 JAN 44 by USS Destroyer Sommers on pos. 17º 00’S 21º 00’W   


5 Dead   


133 POW   


Grand Admiral Doenitz, in a desperate effort to bring his blockade runners safe and sound with the badly needed cargo to their destination ports, ordered the same to sail in pairs, following a route western of Ascension and within two days interval. The ruse did not work and  the Weserland was caught.   


On 1/Jan/44, aircraft B-9 of VB – 107, under pilot Samuel Taylor, spotted a suspect which soon opened fire, hitting engine #2 and injuring one gunner, McGregor, although with no gravity. Damaged, the plane limped its way back to Ascension.    


Meanwhile, surface units were homed in and as USS Sommers swept the area, other planes took off from their bases for a large sweep in search of the ghost ship, which as a ruse gave her identification as  the British merchant Glenbank. Flying in that same quadrant, aircraft 107 B-12 piloted by Lt.Cap. Robert Johnson, NR, spotted the ship.   


USS Sommers searched the area, but Cap. Johnson’s aircraft was caught by violent anti aircraft fire and after receiving several hits had to return to base. In the following day, Cap. Johnson made another approach to the runner and once again was hit by heavy fire and limping made his way to the base.    


Weserland accurate fire had punctured the fuel tanks of Cap. Johnson aircraft, but the same had time to home in two other planes, however due to damages inflicted upon his plane which impaired the run of 3 engines, Cap. Johnson’s valiant B- 24 could not keep airborne to reach Ascension and crashed in the sea only 70 miles off his base and sunk. Despite the precise position of his plane have been radioed to the base, the same could never be found.   


With the loss of VB 107 B-12, 9 brave crewmen gave their lives for their country. Having avoided that first menace, in the morning of  3/Jan/44, when ploughing the waters halfway between Ascension and Caravelas , Bahia, blockade Weserland was  not so lucky as in the previous days and was sighted by destroyer Sommers, under Cap. Hughes with no hesitation sent her to the bottom with no mercy using his 5 inch guns.   


Destroyer Sommers which meritoriously received the deserved accolades for the sinking, had sailed from Recife on 30/Dec/43, along with cruiser Memphis as an element of Task Group 41.5. Nevertheless, soon after leaving the coast behind, cruiser Memphis received an order to abandon that patrol sweep and set for Salvador, Bahia.  


Her new assignment which came directly from Washington, determined  she had to transport Adm Ingram to Montevideo, Uruguay, in special mission. USS Sommers returned to Recife carrying survivors of  blockade runner Weserland, 17 officers and 116 men, and had to join cruiser Memphis in her long journey as an escort to Montevideo.   



DD 381 Sommers. One of the most active Destroyers at the Fourth Fleet. She chased the German Blockade Runner  and with no mercy sent her to the bottom. 133 men managed to survive.


 

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