The Battle of Bell Island


The incident began on September 4, 1942.  On a moonless night U-513 crept into the convoy anchorage in Conception Bay.  How they got in was reminiscent of a plot from an old Hollywood war movie:  U-513, tucked itself under the stern of the SS Evelyn B and followed her in to the anchorage.  After arriving in the bay U-513, commanded by Captain Rolf Ruggeberg, decided to wait until the following day to attack.   He placed his U-boat on the bottom of the bay and waited.  In the morning Ruggeberg surfaced, selected a target--the SS Lord Strathcona--and fired.  But the two torpedoes missed.  U-513's crew hadn't armed  the detonation switch  and they merely ran out of fuel and sank to the bottom.  But the sub had been spotted.  Ironically by the ship U-513 had followed into the harbor, the Evelyn B.  At that point, everything began to heat up.  Tthe Evelyn B  opened fired with their deck gun forcing U-513 to dive.  But from their submerged position U-513 selected another target—the SS Saganaga and quickly fired two torpedoes.  This time there were no mistakes.  Both torpedoes hit the ship.  Filled with iron ore, she went down in minutes.  Astonishingly two months later U-518 slipped in pulled of virtually the same attack.  The story of those two battles and the aftermath that sits on the bottom of Conception Bay is the subject of this documentary, written, directed and hosted by Robert Osborne.