Iron coffins by Nigel Turner; Eagle Rock Entertainment.; Independent

By Nigel Turner; Eagle Rock Entertainment.; Independent Television News (Great Britain); Discovery Channel (Firm); American Home Treasures, Inc

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But the hull itself held tightly. Only the gaskets and the seats of many valves had loosened, letting water trickle into the bilges in countless little streams. The force of the detonations had pressed the boat deeper, and the influx of water drove her still closer to the limit of her design. The escorts grouped for another attack, their Asdic chirping relentlessly. The minutes stretched into endless agony. We hardly risked breathing. Suddenly two distinct explosions came from the direction into which we had heard the convoy disappear.

It took 2 seconds to hit. With a long, hollow explosion, the proud vessel went down to the ocean floor. Thirty minutes after sundown we surfaced. In three hours we had put nine miles between our boat and the rafts. To insure rescue of the survivors, we released a standard SOS signal on the 600-meter international wave length. Minutes later, Paulssen transmitted the following radio message to Admiral U-boats: SUNK FIVE, TOTAL 30,000. ONLY FIVE TORPEDOES. LOW ON FUEL. U-557. Traveling at high speed for two days, U-557 took up the assigned position in grid square AJ 94.

We made no contact, however, and continued on a circular course approximately 250 miles west of the Irish coast to avoid detection by the British aircraft. Eventually, we arrived at the 58th Parallel, made a sharp turn to starboard, and went on an eastbound course toward the North Channel. Ten days after departing the French paradise, we reached a spot three miles northwest of the soaring cliffs of the Island Inishtrahull, which lay almost in the center of the shipping route. We tried to lurk there, for the island's lighthouse offered us an excellent navigational fix, but the strong current washing through the Channel forced us back into the Atlantic.

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