Summary: This two act play is the true story of the sinking of the Menominee, a commercial, unarmed tug, attacked during the early morning hours of March 31, 1942 at the beginning of WW II. It is important to the story to realize that the Menominee was the only unarmed, commercial tug sunk along the eastern seaboard of the United States by the waves of German subs (U-boats) that were off the Atlantic coast. Though there were other tugs sunk, these were in service to the Navy or Coast Guard and were generally armed. In the first six months of WW II (January to July) the Germans conducted Operation Drumbeat which was to sink as much shipping off the U.S. east coast as possible. For security reasons, the U.S. government was not forthcoming to the American public or to the seamen working these waters in the number of friendly ships sunk nor in the approximate number of German subs plying the shore lines. The U.S. Navy at the time was run pretty thin in trying to fight a war in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters as well as providing convoy escorts to ships going to Europe. This left the East coast of the U.S. virtually unprotected, at least during the very beginning of WW II. The coasts of Virginia and North Carolina as well as farther south off Florida were particularly popular hunting grounds for German subs. The mission was to sink ships (freighters) of 10,000 tons or more. The German U-boat captains had “tonnage wars” as to who could sink the most ships and achieve the highest tonnage sunk.
The watermen from Virginia, who traveled and fished the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean, had heard rumors of these German subs not long after Pearl Harbor. Many thought these were only rumors. Others felt that there was real danger. However, many could not imagine that a German sub would attack a small tug (440 tons) and her barges. On the early morning of March 31st, for
Captain Leslie L. Haynie of Reedville, Virginia and the crew of the Menominee, the unthinkable happened. U-754 under the command of Captain Hans Oestermann fired upon them. The Menominee sunk and 16 crew men of the 18 member crew died. This is their story.
Style: Dramatic. Duration: 90-120mins(approx.)
Actors: 10M (?), 2F
Note: Act One of the script can be downloaded from the link below. The full script may be obtained by contacting the author,
Susan Anthony Tolbert, 2216 Gilliams Road
Heathsville, Virginia 22473
The author is more than willing to allow any non-profit to use the script for free. However, a nominal fee will be charged for a "for-profit" group.