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“Goodnight. Sorry for Sinking You,” Says U-Boat Commander After He Torpedoed a Ship

Historical Facts | April 15, 2016

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“Goodnight. Sorry for sinking you.”

These are the words spoken by Korvettenkapitän Karl-Friedrich Merten, Kommandant of U-68, after his crew torpedoed the British merchant ship City of Cairo on November 6, 1942.

After the ship went down, he surfaced and came close one of the lifeboats which carries the survivors of the torpedoed ship, and made enquiry of what ship he had sunk. (In the early years of the war U-Boats often surfaced to ask survivors what ship they had sunk)

After being told the name of the fallen ship, he then gave the survivors the best course to steer for land and apologized for sinking them.

In 1984, Karl Merten was invited, and attended, a reunion of some of the survivors of the SS City of Cairo, the ship he sunk.

“We couldn’t have been sunk by a nicer man”, said one of the survivors.

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Merten survived the war and had a successful career as a shipbuilder, which is somewhat ironic given all the ships he sunk. He died in 1993 at age 87.

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