French Submarine Surcouf and the Thompson Lykes

June 9, 2013


I read your Surcouf article and the response while researching the Free French submarine.  I have recently discovered that my grandfather was assigned to an Army Anti Aircraft unit on the Thompson Lykes prior to the US entry into WW2. I was trying to determine the identity of the submarine when I began my research.

He stated many times that he was on a Merchant Marine which struck a U Boat in the Caribbean off of Panama. He said that they heard calls for help but were unable to save anyone. Interestingly, he always stated that the Captain of the Thompson Lykes was in a state of panic and the first officer took charge of the situation.

I discovered that no U boats were recorded missing in the area. My sister found a letter where he states that he was on the Thompson Lykes and that they struck the "biggest sub you ever saw'. I had also heard the sub story at a squad reunion with my grandfather and two of the other men in the 1970s. The men then in their 60s said that the ship began taking on water and they were worried before reaching Panama.

His statements and similar story from a daughter of another soldier on the ship leads me to believe that the ship did indeed strike a large submarine. I also wonder if the damage to the ship was more severe than documented for war time reasons.

I would appreciate any information on obtaining interior photographs of the Surcouf or the Thompson Lykes.
Tim Collier
Lenoir City, TN


SEE THIS URL: Cross section with plan of the layout of the interior of the French Submarine 'Surcouf' (pen, ink & w/c on paper)

I cannot find any details for SS Thompson Lykes


back to letters index


This site was created as a resource for educational use and the promotion of historical awareness. All rights of publicity of the individuals named herein are expressly reserved, and, should be respected consistent with the reverence in which this memorial site was established.

Copyright© 1984/2014 Mackenzie J. Gregory All rights reserved