1918-Reichard Rescued from Torpedoed Boat

Several months ago I wrote about Emanuel and Emil Schumm, two brothers from the Schumm area who served in the U.S. armed forces during WWI.

They weren’t the only ones. There were many others from the area who also served in The War to End All Wars. Thank you to the Reichards for sending me several photos of their relatives who also served in WWI.

Today, a little about one of them, Willshire native William Denzil Reichard, who served in the Navy during WWI.  

William Denzil Reichard (1891-1982), WWI

William Denzil Reichard was born in Willshire, Ohio, 7 March 1891, the son of James Henry E. (1867-1945) and Malinda Mae (Sonday) (1872-1958) Reichard. William grew up in Willshire and enlisted in the U.S. Navy 4 December 1917.

William D. Reichard, 27, survived a harrowing Naval attack during the war.

William D. Reichard was sailing near Scotland, stationed on the cargo vessel USS Lakemoor. On 11 April 1918 the USS Lakemoor, aka Lake Moore, freighter/cargo vessel (ID-2180), was torpedoed and sunk in the Irish Sea, 3 miles off Corsewall Point Light, sunk by the German UB-64 [possibly UB-73]. 46 sailors perished but William D. Reichard was among the 18 survivors. [1] William was very lucky to have survived.  

An official announcement issued at Washington confirms the report that William D. Reichard, of Willshire, was among the rescued American soldiers on board the Lake Moor, when the vessel was torpedoed in a French port. [2]

Van Wert, O, April 25- William Densel [sic] Reichard, of Willshire, this county, was among those rescued from the cargo ship Lake Moor when it was sunk by a German submarine off the Irish coast. The navy officials gave the news to the parents, Mr. and Mrs. James Reichard. The message further stated that Reichard was landed at an Irish port and would soon return to the United States. Reichard enlisted in the navy three months ago. He had previously served one enlistment period. [3]

The Fort Wayne Sentinel, 25 Apr 1918.

A longer article, more detailed article from a Defiance, Ohio, newspaper:

William Demsel
[sic] Reichard, who was on the ill fated United States freight Lakemoor, which was torpedoed at eleven o’clock the night of April 11th by the Hun submarine rats and which sunk in two minutes after the torpedo was fired with the result that Reichard was in the water for five hours before he was picked up, will appear at the Community Sing at court house square this evening.

Mr. Reichard, who is an engineer in the naval service, was serving as a fireman on the Lakemoor when she was sunk.

His home is at Wilshire [sic], Ohio, and he is visiting his two brothers Charles and Fred, who board at the home of Charles Zeschke. He is home on a fifteen day furlough.

While he is very modest, he has been prevailed upon to appear at the Community Sing in full uniform this evening and will be introduced to the large audience.

“There were nineteen vessels in our fleet,” said Richard [sic]. “Two of them were sunk. They got us at 11 o’clock at night. I was sleeping in the coal bunkers when the crash came. It seemed that everything had come down on me. I had decided to give up when one of my pards said, ‘Hurry up, and get out of this.’ We found our way out and leaped into the water. We were in the water five hours when we were picked up by a Norwegian steamer. I had no life belt but we had a raft and just floated around. My legs became cramped and bent but we were picked up in time so that everything came out alright. I never saw any more of my pards in the fire room. There were 46 lost and 18 saved. The Hun threw his lights around for awhile after he had sunk us. It’s a good thing he didn’t find us or he probably would have shelled us.”

Mr. Reichard says that the Lakemoor was not armed and therefore could not put up a fight. He still feels the effects of the cold water on his limbs.

He returned to the United States on an American ship that formerly was a big German liner. An attempt was made to torpedo it and the torpedo missed it only a few feet, striking a British cruiser that was conveying it but not sinking the cruiser.

He says that the men in the Navy are especially in need of lens (glasses). The Germans camouflage their subs different every time they go out and it is almost impossible to distinguish one. With good lens it makes it easier to locate them. People back home who have opera glasses should give them to the Navy.

He will return in a few days to New York City to take a few more trips across and back.

Mr. Reichards [sic] was asked to appear at the Community Sing this evening. “Nothing doing,” said he. “I’m not a public speaker and I don’t want to face no crowd.” He was told that it would have a good effect on the people back home and finally consented to do so…

Dr. E.O. Crist will deliver a short patriotic address… [at] the Sing…College and High school voices will lead the singing… These Community Sings are being held all over the United States for the purpose of stimulating patriotism and enthusiasm. “America is singing herself to Victory” and Defiance is doing her share. Especially are the Community Sings proving popular in the eastern cities. [4] 

William D. Reichard was honorably discharged 18 September 1919. He married Gertrude Irene Resch (1898-1936) in New York, New York, on 22 Jun 1918. They resided with her parents in New York for a couple years but moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, between 1920-1921, where their infant son William died in 1921. William and Gertrude Reichard had three additional children. Gertrude died in 1936 and widower William D. Reichard married Bessie Cleo (Ribkee) Berry (1904-2000) on 11 March 1944 in Indiana. William D. Reichard died in Fort Wayne 13 Aug 1982 and is buried Greenlawn Memorial Park, Fort Wayne.

[1] Casualties of the United States Navy and Coast Guard, Naval History Homepage, viewed 9 Aug 2023.

[2] Van Wert Daily Bulletin, Van Wert, Ohio, 26 Apr 1918; NewspaperArchive.com, viewed 9 Aug 2023.

[3] The Fort Wayne Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 25 Apr 1918; Newspapers.com, viewed 9 Aug 2023.

[4] Defiance Crescent-News, Defiance, Ohio, Saturday, 11 May 1918, Newspaperarchive.com, viewed 9 Aug 2023.


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    • Deb Reichard on August 11, 2023 at 8:57 am
    • Reply

    Karen, you find the most interesting things! I had no idea about the torpedo story when I sent you the Reichard pictures. Thank you for posting and enlightening us more about the Reichard family history.

    Deb Bollenbacher Reichard

    1. This research turned out to be so very interesting. Surviving a torpedo strike that sunk a boat! Wow! I wondered if you knew. I am very happy to add to your family history. Thanks for writing.

    • ken schaefer on August 11, 2023 at 9:47 am
    • Reply

    Very moving harrowing story. Terrible situation war is.

    Thanks again Karen

    1. Totally agree. Thanks for writing!

    • Frank McCollister on August 13, 2023 at 10:58 am
    • Reply


    Fascinating story. As always you did a fantastic job with this.

    1. Thank you so very much!

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