George Albert Knowlton served in Ario, sunk by U-Boat U-158 off Frying Pan Shoals in WW2

(See correction thanks to Terry Leonard, Debby Boyce)

I'm interested in finding out info on the (North Carolina U boat) attacks.  I've been told my husband's grandfather George Knowlton was killed during one.  Is there a list of service members?
Carolyn Knowlton

I assume you refer to the year of 1942 when the German U-Boat arm operated off the East Coast of the US with about 5 U-Boats, and sank a lot of ships. Do you know the name of George Knowlton's ship? I would have more chance of possibly finding a crewman by knowing his ship.

I am not aware of just a list of those killed or who served at that time. Any further detail could be helpful.

Mac. Gregory.


I have found your husband's Grand father: here are the details as listed.

Name: George Albert Knowlton

Ship: Ario
Date of Death: 15th. of March 1942
Rating: Ordinary Seaman
Age: Unknown.

Now I have his ship, I will see if I can track down the U-Boat that sank it, more anon if I uncover it.

U-Boat U-158 that torpedoed SS Ario, was herself laid down on the 1st. of November 1940, and commissioned on the 25th. of September 1941 commanded by Kapitanleutnant Erwin Kostin, and he was awarded the Knight's Cross decoration. He sank 12 ships to total 101,321 tons, damaged 2 others of 15,164 tons.

U-158 was herself sunk on the 30th. of June 1942 off the Bermudas by a US Mariner aircraft USN VP-74. All the 54 crew of U-158 were killed.

SS Ario was finally sunk by gunfire from U-161. this boat was sunk by another Mariner Aircraft in the South Atlantic on the 27th. of September in 1943, and all 53 of the U-Boats crew were killed.

I will e-Mail a site so you can see what a Type IXC looked like Carolyn.

With that message I guess I have exhausted all I can help you with.

Kindest regards,

Here is the link about a Type IXC Submarine.

Click on this link, "
A History of Losses Around Frying Pan Shoals in WW2 by Michael K. Allen. The site will not allow me to E-Mail to you, the picture of SS Ario.
Scroll down the page to see a picture of SS Ario which was a tanker, she was Torpedoed and shelled, by U-158.
The ship sank and 8 crew members died.    


You are an angel. My husband doesn't know much about his dad's family. We've been trying to find out information. I'll forward this to him. He's in Iraq and will find this so interesting. Thank you for all of your hardwork. It was very nice of you to respond so quickly.



My pleasure to be able to help a little.

I do trust your Husband returns safely to you from IRAQ.

Best wishes,


Hello Mac,

You might want to pass this onto Carolyn.
At 0722 on 15 Mar, 1942, the unescorted and unarmed Ario (Master Thorolf R. Hannevig) was 11 miles southwest of the Cape Lookout Buoy and had to change her course, because a small vessel crossed the port bow. So the tanker was not steering a zigzag course, when she was struck three minutes later by a torpedo from U-158 on the starboard side at #9 tank. The radio operator sent a distress signal and received an answer. The master ordered the ship abandoned, but before any of the boats could be launched the U-boat opened fire at the vessel. For 30 minutes the ship was shelled with 40 rounds, while the crew of eight officers and 26 crewmen cleared the ship. The #3 boat containing 12 men was struck by a shell before it reached the water, killing five men, while two others were picked up by another lifeboat but died of injuries and one man died later in hospital. U-158 closed in to view the vessel and almost collided with a lifeboat before leaving the area. Later the master, the chief mate, the second mate, the chief engineer and an able seaman reboarded the Ario to check for possible salvage, but the vessel was in sinking condition. After seven hours the survivors were picked up by the USS Du Pont (DD 152) and landed at Charleston. One officer and seven men died in the attack. The Ario was still afloat when last seen at 18.30 hours on 15 March. She finally sank in shallow water about 10 miles east of Cape Lookout in 34°14N/76°27W.
Rgds Billy


I have my friend in UK Billy McGee to thank for this additional information about the sinking of the Tanker Ario.

The U-Boat site indicates that U-Boat U-161 actually sank her by gunfire, but there is no mention of that event in this report from Billy.

In the long haul it does not much matter how Ario was finally disposed of, all that is of concern is that your Husband's Grandfather died in the action, for which I am sorry.

I will look for a picture of the Du Pont for you.

My best wishes,

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