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This Day In History, May 12th, 2022 – “War Comes to the Mississippi”


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It was just 80 years ago today, May 12, 1942, when the beautiful waters off the Gulf Coast became a killing ground for a sinister monster under the waves. America was at war, but the American people had not fully situated themselves to war time conditions. Most of our cargo ships left U.S. ports without protection, and most cities had not placed into effect blackout conditions, allowing German U-boats to sink, day and night, important cargo ships.

this day in history signals az may 12

S.S. Virginia. Image courtesy of U-Boat.net, Public Domain.

On this date, at the mouth of the Mississippi River, the tanker ship SS Virginia, carrying 180,000 barrels of gasoline, was torpedoed in broad daylight and in view of thousands, by U-507. This was U-507’s 2nd patrol, and she had eaten a lot. Before this, she had already sunk nine cargo ships around Florida and Cuba. The Virginia was just taking on a pilot to help navigate the waters, when U-507 struck. The ship was set ablaze, and the tanker sank, with the loss of 26 souls. Lessons are learned hard, and this was one of them. By 1943, patrols were constant off the coasts, both military and civilian. Blackouts were strictly enforced, and America found itself fully engaged in the war, to win. U-507 would have an end as well, in less than a year, she would be hunted and sunk by aircraft on January 13th, with no survivors. The war on the high seas during WWII was hard and unforgiving, death was a constant threat.

What was happening yesterday, on May 11th?


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