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NAAS 16/09/1939 - Chairman of the UDC witnesses U-Boat Action

Leinster Leader 16/09/1939

Mid-Ocean Thrill-Sinking of Olive Grove, witnessed by Naas residents


The dramatic sinking of the English merchant ship Olive Grove was witnessed in mid-ocean by Mr. James Dowling, Chairman of Naas Urban Council, and Mrs. Dowling, who were on the American liner Washington, that arrived in Cobh on Friday evening. Mr. and Mrs. Dowling were on a visit to their son, Rev. Father Jas. Dowling, Fresno, California. Father Dowling was in New York when Mr. and Mrs, Dowling arrived, and they had planned to travel to California. The ominous war news, however, compelled them to change their itinerary, however, and they hurried back from Buffalo to New York, and having failed to secure a berth on a ship of the French line, all of whose sailings had been cancelled, were fortunate to be able to transfer to the American ship, Washington. American opinion at that stage veered to the opinion that there would be no war, but when a day out from New York, the announcement was made that war had been declared.

Everything went smoothly until Thursday when about twenty-four hours’ journey from Cobh, when great excitement was created by the news that a German submarine had wirelessed that it was about to sink an English Merchant vessel and asking the liner to take off the crew. The Washington hurried to the scene as indicated by the radio call, and the passengers saw the submarine which appeared to have no markings, fire the fatal torpedo that sent the Olive Grove to the bottom of the ocean. The crew of the vessel came on board the Washington, but not before they had been entertained and supplied with clothing by the Commander of the German submarine, who treated the men very kindly. The crew of the submarine spoke English fluently and their Commander spoke very friendly to the Captain of the liner. The Washington then went on to Cobh where Mr. and Mrs. Dowling disembarked and travelled by motor to Naas. After leaving Cobh the ship sailed to Plymouth. The Olive grove possessed no wireless equipment.

September 1939 - the early stages of World War II; Naas UDC Chairman witnessed the sinking of a British Merchant Vessel by a German U-Boat.

[compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh McCabe; final edit by Dee O'Brien]

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