Wednesday, January 22, 2014


"In 1942, the United States suffered one of its worst defeats of the Second World War. Between January and July, more than 65 German U-boats waged a withering, widespread campaign against Allied merchant vessels and their military defenders. Three hundred ninety-seven ships were sunk or damaged in just half a year. Nearly 5,000 people, including many civilians, were burned to death, crushed, drowned, or vanished into the sea....

"The greatest concentration of these attacks occurred in the war zone off North Carolina's Outer Banks on the approaches to Diamond Shoals, a notorious place feared for centuries as the Graveyard of the Atlantic."  -- War Zone, World War II off the North Carolina Coast, by Kevin P. Duffus, pp 23-24.

Sinking of the Tanker Dixie Arrow Mar. 26, 1942

According to the web site, Sunken Ships of the Outer Banks:
  • Over 70 ships sank off the Carolina coast
  • 3 German U-boats were sunk
  • More than 90% of ship sinkings off the Coast during the four years of submarine attacks during WWII occurred during the first 6 months of 1942
  • During March the U-boats averaged one sinking per day 
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous8:49 AM


    Any first-hand accounts by islanders of these days, and their observations, that you know of?

    1. Oh yes, I have listened to several older islanders telling of explosion offshore (fire & black smoke), and government mandated blackouts. Della Gaskill recounts some of these stories in her book, A Blessed Life (

  2. Anonymous10:01 AM

    If 70 ships were attacked and 90% of those sunk (63) ships were sunk during the first 6 months of 1942 , that averages to 10.5 ships per 6 month period. However, if March the average was one sinking per day and there are 31 days in March, this would mean approximately, if say 29 ships sank in March, then over the course of those remaining 5 months approximately 34 ships were sunk during this 5 month period, thus averaging 7 ships a month. during this period mentioned. Now, I wonder if at the time , would the decrease be due to the ability of the Military to ramp up a response or did the President delay in reducing the collateral damage?. Where was the outrage that it took soo long to quell the bloodshed

    1. Kevin Duffus' book, War Zone, is a thorough analysis of WWII off the Outer Banks. I am sure you can find detailed answers to your questions there. You can order the book here:

  3. Julie S3:30 PM

    Phillip- I am reading Duffus' book right now - am at the point that the "lifeboat baby" has been born. I am reading it on a kindle but because of the nature of detailed the info I wish I was reading it in book form. Very good book that gives a clear picture and answers even Anon's picky questions.