On July 21, 1918, a German submarine, the U-156, surfaced off of Nauset Beach and shelled the tugboat Perth Amboy towing four barges with their families and crews. The tug badly damaged, the barges were sunk, and two people were injured. Several shots fired from the U-boat hit the Orleans shore, making Orleans the only place on US soil to receive enemy gunfire during World War I.
The story of this attack is fascinating, complex, compelling, surprising and filled with tales of bravery, mystery, and resiliency. The Coast Guard, the Navy, the French Cable Station, the Militia, the press, and most importantly the citizens of Orleans all play major parts in the drama.
Local historians from the Orleans Historical Commission, Historical Society, and the French Cable Station will discuss the attack, its context, and its significance. A view of what Orleans was like in 1918 will also be presented.