Florence M. Douglas, schooner

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The unarmed schooner Florence M. Douglas (Master Herbert Rexford Every) was sailing from Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles to Georgetown, British Guiana with a cargo of salt in May 1942.

A 119 tons sailing ship, completed in 1927 in Holetown, Barbados, the Florence M. Douglas was owned by Peter S. Hassell of St. Michel, Barbados. At 19.00 hours on 4 May, 1942, the schooner was stopped by a shot across her bow by U-162 about 75 miles north of Georgetown, British Guiana. The Germans then ordered the crew to abandon ship and fired two more rounds when the men attempted to collect personal belongings instead of leaving the ship immediately in the lifeboat.

After the men left, the U-boat opened fire with the deck gun from a distance of about 200 to 250 yards and fired 18 rounds, shooting away the rigging and halyards, felling the topmasts and destroying the superstructure until the schooner sank after being hit by a single round in the waterline at 19.35 hours. Shortly after the lifeboat began to row away in a southerly direction an aircraft approached the scene, but the U-boat evaded an attack by crash diving at 20.20 hours.

The survivors later made landfall at Anna Regina and were then transported to Georgetown, where they arrived on 7 May. After the Florence M. Douglas sank, a small black pig swam towards U-162 and was taken aboard by the Germans. Shortly afterwards the U-boat was forced to dive due to an aircraft and the crew members were amused by the animal that stood squeaking in the control room during the crash dive and regarded it as their lucky pig because no bombs were dropped. As the pig was too small to be slaughtered anyway it was adopted as mascot, named Douglas and kept in the engine room for the remaining duration of the war patrol.

When the U-boat returned to Lorient the pig was presented formally as booty to Victor Schütze, the commander of the Second Flotilla. Kapitän zur See Jürgen Wattenberg with Douglas the Bajan pig that jumped ship and some of the crew of U-162 on their return to Lorient Submarine Base, Brittany, France. Photo courtesy of Erhart Wattenberg.mention having a pig on board.

The crew of U-162 let “Douglas” live because he was third pig to come aboard the U-boat. Pig one and two and a turkey were killed and consumed right away. A crew member was a butcher in his civilian life before the war. U-boat crews were quite superstitious, so the crew of U-162 decided to let the third pig live and adopted it as pet for the remainder of the patrol.



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    Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024