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The sinking of the DIAMANTIS by U-35 on 03 October 1939, and subsequent related events.

On 03 October 1939, U-35 sighted the DIAMANTIS 40 miles west of Scillies off Lands End. DIAMANTIS was a Greek steamer of 4990t carrying 7700t of manganese from Freetown (West Africa) to Barrow-in-Furness. U-35 surfaced in bad weather and warned those aboard that their ship was about to be sunk. As the sea was rough and unsuitable for normal lifeboat operations, the crew of 28 men were taken aboard U-35.

Heinz Pfeifer: DiamantisRescue of the DIAMANTIS crew; painting by Heinz Pfeifer.

In the late afternoon of October 4th, after 30 to 35 hours on board, the Greeks were landed in Dingle Bay, in neutral Ireland, on a beach lined by local people. U-35 crew member Walter Kalabuch rowed the Greeks, several at a time, from the U-boat to the shore (He was awarded the Iron Cross, second class, for this on 12 October 1939). When all were ashore U-35 left slowly on the surface, watched by onlookers until it disappeared into the fog.

According to Panagos Pateras, master of the Diamantis [80]:
"When we were about 40 miles off Land's End on Tuesday the U-boat came to the surface about 1.30 p.m. The commander hailed us and we stopped. He then told us that he was going to sink the Diamantis. He did not ask for our papers.
He ordered us to abandon ship, but when he saw that the sea was so rough that our small boats could not possibly live in it he took us aboard the submarine. Four of us were taken across at a time, this necessitating seven trips as there were 28 of us. We were not allowed to take our belongings. When we got aboard the submarine three or four torpedoes were fired at our vessel and she sank in about 20 minutes.
Many of us were wet to the skin and the submarine's crew dried our clothes and gave us hot food and cigarettes.
Most of the members of my crew were able to sleep a little although all the time we were wishing that we were out of the submarine. The captain of the submarine spoke English and I was able to talk to him for short periods when he was off duty.
When we had been on board for about 34 hours we came to the surface off the Irish coast at about 5:30 yesterday evening. A collapsible boat was lowered and again seven trips were made to the shore. The submarine remained about 50 yards off the shore, which appeared to be deserted. Immediately the submarine had taken the boat aboard she submerged and that was the last we saw of her.
The crew waved good-bye to us. We were taken charge of by local policemen and the local people looked after us very well."


An American gum trading card from 1939, number 91 of the "War News Pictures" series, depicting the event:
U-Boat Lands Shipwrecked Crew in Ireland
After torpedoing the Greek steamer "Diamentis" 4990 tons, off Land's End on Tuesday, October 3, 1939, the German submarine rescued the crew of 28 from the sea and took the men aboard the U-Boat! There they stayed for 36 hours while the undersea craft sought a place on the Irish coast to land them. Finally the ship's crew was set down in a desolate region near Dingle. They were ferried to shore in a collapsible boat. The submarine exchanged greetings with persons on land, then moved from the coast and started to submerge before Civic Guards on patrol duty had time to detain it.

A number of local people witnessed the event, including Jimmy Fenton, Bearnard Ó Lubhaing (Bernard Long), Tadhg Ó Cíobháin (Timothy Kavanagh), and Eoghan Ó Cléirigh (Owen Cleary).

In London, some of the crew of the Diamantis, including Master Panagos Pateras. [80]

DIAMANTIS crew list:

Panagos Pateras (Πανάγος Πατέρας), Master.
Zannis Lemos (Ζαννής Λεμός), Chief Officer.
Petros Pontikos (Πέτρος Ποντικός), Second Officer.
Damianos Tsigaris (Δαμιανός Τσίγαρης), Deck Cadet
Constantinos Valasis (Κωνσταντίνος Βαλάσης), Radio Officer
Constantinos Monselas (Κωνσταντίνος Μονσελάς), Chief Engineer
Petros Pontikos (Πέτρος Ποντικός), Second Engineer.
Nicolaos Galinos (Νικόλαος Γαληνός), Third Engineer
Nicolaos Psarelis (Νικόλαος Ψαρέλης), Third Engineer.
Diamantis Pontikos (Διαμαντής Ποντικός), Boatswain / Bosun.
Panagiotis Syrichis (Παναγιώτης Συρίκ), Steward
Georgios Pontikos (Γεώργιος Ποντικός), Cook.
Antonios Spyrou (Αντώνιος Σπύρου), Donkey / Dockman
Themistoklis Tsarnas (Θεμιστοκλής Τσαρνάς), Able Seaman.
Pantelis Kypreos (Παντελής Κυπραίος), Able Seaman
Nicolaos Karvelis (Νικόλαος Καρβέλης), Able Seaman
Ioannis Zagorianos (Ιωάννης Ζαγοριανός), Able Seaman
Dimitrios Dimopoulos (Δημήτριος Δημόπουλος), Able Seaman
Michail Loizos (Μιχαήλ Λοΐζος), Able Seaman
Michail Fotinos (Μιχαήλ Φωτεινός), Deck Boy
Theodoros Matrozos (Θεόδωρος Ματρόζος), Fireman
Nicolaos Karagiozis (Νικόλαος Καραγκιόζης), Fireman
Georgios Koutsouras (Γεώργιος Κουτσουράς), Fireman
Georgios Markakis (Γιώργος Μαρκάκης), Fireman
Ioannis Stamboulis (Ιωάννης Σταμπουλής), Fireman.
Nicolaos Goumanis (Νικόλαος Γουμάνης), Collier
Michail Rompoglou (Μιχαήλ Ρομπόγλου), Collier [not Romspoglou/Ρομσπόγλου]
Dimitrios Kapiris (Δημήτριος Καπίρης), Collier.

This incident was reported in the British newspaper The Evening News on Thursday, October 5th, 1939 (click to view) [83], the Irish Newspaper The Kerryman on Saturday, 07 October 1939, and the British periodical The War Illustrated, October 28th, 1939 (click to view) [80].

U-35 was featured on the cover of the American magazine LIFE on 16 October 1939, and the Diamantis incident is mentioned. [81] Upper left is Obersteuermann Walter Arnaschus.

"LIFE'S COVER: The German submarine U-35, shown on the cover, distinguished itself last week by bagging a Greek steamer and bringing the survivors to the Irish shore. It is a 500-tonner built three years ago at Krupp's Germania yards at Kiel and flies the Nazi war flag with a red field. It is painted gray on the sides to blend with the sky and black on top to blend with the water when submerged. The rows of round holes are the intakes for induction valve. You are looking forward from about midships." [81]

The incident is described in the books In Time of War by Robert Fisk (click to view excerpt) [50] and in Ventry One by witness to the event Bernard Long (click to view excerpt), who passed away on 12 August 2001. [82].

For this show of compassion, Werner Lott, the commander of U-35, was later rebuked by the U-Boat command for putting his U-Boat and crew in danger. [4,5,23,25,38,42]

In 1977, Lord Mountbatten wrote to Werner Lott:

"I should like to take the belated opportunity of congratulating you on your magnanimous behaviour when you landed the crew of the Greek ship, DIAMANTIS, in a remote bay In Ireland about the 4th October 1939, at considerable risk. Those were the days when the two navies behaved particularly well to each other and to others at sea during the war."


Sean Cleary with Werner Lott in 1984 at Cleary's farmhouse in Ballymore, Ventry, Ireland, where the Greek crew found refuge after the DIAMANTIS was sunk. [34]

Jimmy Fenton with Werner Lott in 1984, at the point where U-35 landed the 28 Greek sailors at Ventry harbor, Ireland in October 1939. As a young boy, Jimmy Fenton witnessed this event. (Jimmy Fenton passed away on 02 March 2001.)

Werner Lott's visit to Ireland, and the Diamantis incident, were highlighted in two articles in The Kerryman (one article in 1984 (click to view) [34], and another article in 1999 (click to view) [41]), and in a 1999 article in the Irish Examiner (click to view) [84].

In Ventry on October 17th 2009, a plaque commemorating the event was unveiled by the German ambassador to Ireland, Dr. Busso von Alvensleben:

If you are related to crewmembers of the DIAMANTIS, please contact me:

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(relative of U-35 Chief Engineer Gerhard Stamer)