CONFIDENTIAL                                                                               M.  
                                                                                                              T.D./139/1845.  
                                                                                                              16th June, 1943.  
 
SHIPPING CASUALTIES SECTION - TRADE DIVISION
 
 
REPORT OF AN INTERVIEW WITH THE MASTER, CAPTAIN J.E. TURGOOSE
 
 
s.s. "HARPERLEY" - 4,586 gross tons.
 
  CONVOY:  O.N.S.5                                                                   Struck by 2 torpedoes  
                                                                                                       from a U-boat on the  
                                                                                                       4th May, 1943  
     
     
 
All Times are A.T.S.
 
 
+ 2 hours for G.M.T.
 
 
 
  CAPTAIN TURGOOSE :  
     
          We sailed from Milford Have bound for Buenos Aires with a cargo of 6,000 tons of coal and nails.  We were armed with 1 - 4" gun, 1 - 12 pdr., 4 Oerlikons, 2 Twin Marlins, 2 P.A.M.S., and 4 P.A.C. Rockets.  The crew including 5 Naval and 2 Military gunners, numbered 49.  Of this number 2 were injured and 10 are missing, including the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Engineers, 1st and 3rd Wireless Operators, and 1 Naval Gunner named C. Laking.  All confidential and wireless books were in a weighted box and thrown overboard.  Degaussing was on.  There were approximately 200 bags of parcel mail addressed to Buenos Aries which went down with the ship.  
     
  2.  We left Milford Haven on the 20th April, 1943, and the following day, April 21st, joined convoy O.N.S.5 taking up position No. 13, the third ship in the Port wing column.  
     
  3.  No diversion signals or warnings were received about enemy submarines being in the vicinity, and we proceeded without incident until April 30th, when suddenly at 0600 a vessel, whose name I cannot recall, was torpedoed.  This was a near miss for us because the Chief Officer told me that he saw this torpedo pass 3/4 ft. ahead of our ship.  
     
  4.  The convoy continued until the afternoon of May 4th, when a warning was received that enemy submarines were in the vicinity, and during the night the s.s. HARBURY" was torpedoed on her starboard side.  Our alarm was given for "action stations" immediately, and the 2nd Engineer, who was not on watch at the time, voluntarily went down into the engine-room to assist the 4th Engineer as necessary.  Ten minutes later, at 2256 when in position 55° 00' N, 42° 58'W, whilst steaming at 7-1/2 knots, on a course 192° (approximately) we were struck by two torpedoes.  The weather was overcast, visibility good but very dark, rough sea with heavy swell, S.W. wind, force 5.  
     
 
C. in C Western Approaches N.I.D. (Cdr. R. Lister Kaye).
S.B.N.O. Western Atlantic. N.I.D. 1/P.W.
I.M.N.C. Cdr. Ard, U.S.N.R. (2 copies)
D.T.D. N.I.D. 3/P.W.
D.T.D. (D.E.M.S.) N.I.D. (Cdr. Winn)
D.A/S.W. D.N.O. (London)
D.T.S.D. D.N.C. (Bath)
D.T.M.I. (Lt. Road) Captain Boswick.
D.P.D. (Lt. Cdr. Dillon Robinson) Files
 
                                                                                                   / . . . . . . . . 5  
     

 

 
 
     
  s.s "HARPERLEY"                                         - 2 -     
     
  5.  Both torpedoes struck almost simultaneously on the port side, the first one in the vicinity of the engine-room, whilst the 2nd torpedo struck in the way of the fore-mast.  The explosion was not very violent, and appeared to be more of a dull thud.  I did not notice a flash, neither was there a column of water thrown up, although I later learned from survivors of another vessel that they saw a big flash.  Neither the submarine, nor the track of the torpedoes was observed.  
     
  6.  I was in the wheel-house at the time, and was surprised to find that apparently there was practically no visible damage.  Even the glass windows of the wheel-house were unbroken, the only visible damage being that one of the port boats was destroyed and No. 4 raft had carried away.  The ship listed very heavily to port, submerging the holes in ship's side, thus making it impossible to see the extent of the damage.  
     
  7.  Owing to the heavy list I ordered "abandon ship".  A W/T message was sent out, and the rockets fired, one of which failed to function.  I endeavoured to ring the engine-room telegraph but found that it was jammed, although the engines must have stopped when the first torpedo struck as it was the first torpedo which flooded the engine-room and caused the deaths of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Engineers.  I did not consider there was sufficient time to put the boat's wireless set into a lifeboat so it was left behind.  
     
  8.  We carried four lifeboats, so having lost one port boat, the three remaining one were manned and launched successfully, being clear of the ship within 8 minutes.  The only trouble experienced was that the painter of my boat was blown away, and the boat drifted away from the ship's side, so that we had to jump for it.  We had been in the boats 10/15 minutes when I saw the ship disappear.  She went down by the head, and sank approximately 20 minutes after the first torpedo struck.  
     
  9.  I heard two men moaning and shouting in the water, but owing to the rough seas I only managed to pick up one man, a gunner, after 25 minutes hard pulling; when I went to find the second man, who was also a naval gunner named C. Laking, I could find no trace of him.  
     
  10.  There were now 5 men in my boat, so I pulled over to the 2nd Officer who was in charge of a big lifeboat with a capacity for 36 men.  Although there were only 34 men in it he found it too crowded to use the oars, so I transferred 9 of his men into my boat, leaving him with a total of 25 men.  We now had 14 men, but, despite the fact that my boat was supposed to have a capacity for 16 persons, I found it much overcrowded.  
     
  11.  I next pulled over to the small boat which had capsized in the heavy seas, and found 23 men clinging to the bottom of it, but it was impossible to go alongside as my boat had already been damaged whilst being lowered and I was afraid any further damage might cause her to sink, so I told the men I would s"stand by" until day-light.  After being in the boats about 3-1/2 hours H.M. Trawler "NORTHERN SPRAY" came along and rescued us.  I reported to the Commanding Officer that there were two men clinging to an upturned boat, and he said he could see their red lights and was making towards them.  He later informed me that when he was half-way to them the lights suddenly disappeared, and he could find neither trace of the boat nor the men.  The survivors from the "HARBURY" were also picked up by the "NORTHERN SPRAY", and we were landed at St. John's, Newfoundland on May 8th, 1943.  
     
  12.  I would suggest that, taking into consideration the amount of equipment now carried, lifeboats are far to small.  As I have pointed out in this report, even when carrying less than the capacity there was still not sufficient room to use the oars.  
     
  13.  The 2nd Officer also complained that the engine of his motor boat was too high, although I believe this was an old type of boat.  
                                                                                                                         / . . . . . . . .14  
     
     

 

 
 
     
  s.s "HARPERLEY"                                         - 3 -     
     
  14.  All my crew behaved exceedingly well throughout, especially 2nd Engineer W. J. Gilbert, who, immediately the attack began, although he was not on watch at the time, voluntarily went down into the engine-room to assist the Engineer on watch as necessary, and in consequence lost his life when the 1st torpedo struck in the engine-room.  
     
 
--------------------------------
 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

 

 
 
     
  CONFIDENTIAL                                                                               MC.  
                                                                                                              T.D/139/1846.  
                                                                                                              17th June, 1943.  
 
SHIPPING CASUALTIES SECTION - TRADE DIVISION
 
 
REPORT OF AN INTERVIEW WITH THE MASTER, CAPTAIN R. STONE
 
 
s.s. GHARINDA - 5,306 gross tons.
 
  CONVOY:  O.N.S.5.                                                                  Struck by 1 torpedo from  
                                                                                                       U-boat, 5th May, 1943  
                                                                                                       Not seen to sink.  
     
     
 
All Times in CONVOY TIME
 
 
+ 2 hours for G.M.T.
 
 
-----------------------
 
  CAPTAIN STONE:  
     
          We were bound from the Clyde to Portland Maine, in ballast, armed with 1 - 4", 2 Pillar Boxes, 4 Oerlikons, 2 Twin Hotchkiss, 4 P.A.C. Rockets, and 2 P.A.C. "J".  The crew, including 6 Naval and 4 Army Gunners, numbered 92; there were no casualties.  All Confidential Books, including the Wireless Books, were thrown overboard in a weighted box and bag.  Degaussing was off.  
     
  2.  We left the Clyde on the 21st April, in Convoy O.N.S.5, taking up position No. 111, the leading ship of the starboard wing column.  After leaving the Clyde the weather became overcast and foggy, with a slight swell.  On the 23rd April we contacted the Oban and Milford Haven sections and for a day or two fine weather prevailed, with Easterly winds.  On the 1st May however, the weather deteriorated, and a very heavy Westerly wind rising to gale force was experienced, during which several ships straggled from the Convoy.  During this day an attack was made by submarines, which resulted in an American ship on the other side of the Convoy being torpedoed.  Bad weather continued, and on the night of the 3rd May, I discovered that we had lost contact with the ship next ahead and could not see the Commodore's ship, so I signalled to a destroyer, stating, "I have lost contact with the Convoy"; I continued on the course, with two destroyers and two corvettes keeping station on me, proceeding at the Convoy speed.  At daylight the following day, May 4th, we had completely lost contact with the rest of the Convoy, evidently they were being held back by the weather.  We turned round and steamed back in the direction from whence we had come at our full speed of 10-1/2 knots; eventually we sighted the Convoy trying to get clear of an ice flow.  I remained outside the ice until they were clear, and at 0900 on the 4th, rejoined the Convoy, again taking up my position of No. 111.  
     
  3.  The convoy was subjected to numerous attacks by submarines throughout the day of the 4th, the night of the 4/5th, and the whole of the 5th May, during which period several ships were torpedoed.  On the 5th May three ships were torpedoed within a very short time of each other.  The  
                                                                                                                        first/  . . . . . . . .  
 
C. in C Western Approaches N.I.D. (Cdr. R. Lister Kaye).
S.B.N.O. Western Atlantic. N.I.D. 1/P.W.
I.M.N.C. N.I.D. 3/P.W.
D.T.D. N.I.D. (Cdr. Winn)
D.T.D. (D.E.M.S.) Cdr. Ard, U.S.N. (2)
D.A/S.W. D.N.O. (London)
D.T.S.D. D.N.C. (Bath)
D.T.M.I. (Lt. Road) Captain Boswick.
D.P.D. (Cdr. Dillon Robinson) Files (2)
 
     
     

 

 
 
     
                                                                           -2-                                         s.s. GHARINDA .  
     
  The first was the SELVISTAN, No. 101, on our port beam, which was torpedoed at approximately 1741 on her port side.  About two minutes later, at 1743, when in position 53° 10' N. - 44° 40' W., steering 192° (approx.), at 5-1/2 knots, we were struck by a torpedo from a U-boat, and a minute or so later a Norwegian vessel, the s.s. BONDE, No. 103, was torpedoed on her starboard side.  The weather was dull, overcast with light rain; visibility was fair with a moderate sea and swell, and S.W.'ly wind, force 3.  
     
  4.  No-one saw the track of the torpedo which struck in No. 1 hold on the port side.  There was a very loud explosion, a huge column of water was thrown into the air which cascaded down over the bridge, and I saw a flash on the port side.  I was unable to see the size of the hole in the ship's side, as it was underwater.  The vessel did not list but settled rapidly by the head.  The hatches of No. 1 hold were blown on to the roof of the bridge, and both derricks were twisted and blown over to starboard.  
     
  5.  The "abandon ship" alarm bell was rung and I gave the order for all boats to be lowered into the water.  The ship carried six lifeboats, and five of these were successfully lowered; unfortunately, one of the sailors let the forward fall of No. 5 lifeboat which nose-dived in to the sea, became water logged, and was lost.  I then ordered the boats to pull away from the ship, but instructed the 3rd Officer, in charge of No. 2 motor boat, to stand by whilst I made a final inspection of the vessel.  After satisfying myself that everybody had left, I abandoned ship in this lifeboat.  All the boats, with the exception of No. 2 motor boat, were clear of the ship within a couple of minutes of the torpedo striking.  
     
  6.  I collected all the boats at a safe distance from the vessel, and transferred all the men with the exception of the 2nd Engineer and 3rd Officer, to the other boats.  It was my intention to return to the vessel with these two men as she was still afloat; although the propeller and rudder were out of the water, I thought there might be a chance of salving her.  Before I could carry out my intentions H.M.S. TAY, arrived on the scene, and commenced picking, or rather "hauling" up the survivors.  We were literally lifted bodily on board TAY, in fact I was hauled up by the scruff of my neck.  After some 30/40 minutes in the boats all survivors were safely on board.  
     
  7.  I outlined my idea about returning to my ship to the Captain of the H.M.S. TAY, but he would not allow me to do so as he said he fully expected her to receive another torpedo at any moment, and he had to pick up survivors from the torpedoed Norwegian vessel BONDE; the survivors of the SILVISTAN were already on board.  
     
  8.  At 1843, when all survivors from the various torpedoed ships were rescued, we left the scene, my ship then being well down by the head.  
     
  9.  The boat's wireless was put into one of the lifeboats, but owing to the hast with which H.M.S. TAY picked us up, no-one had time to collect it, consequently it was left in the lifeboat.  H.M.S. TAY took us to St. John's Newfoundland, where we arrived on the 8th May.  
     
  10.  I would mention that all my officers and the crew, including 68 Indians and 1 Chinaman, behaved extremely well throughout, and happily no-one was injured or lost.  This I attribute to the efficient and orderly way the officers and crew carried out their orders.  I am extremely pleased with the native crew, because they showed no sign of panic at any time.  I think this is partly due to the fact that on board my ship no English is spoken, all orders are given in the language of the natives, which I consider helps them to understand what is going on, and therefore they are  
     
                                                                                                              not/  . . . . . . . .  
     
     

 

 
 
     
                                                                           -3-                                         s.s. GHARINDA .  
     
  not liable to panic.  
     
  11.  I would specially like to mention the Indian Quarter Master, Shareatullah, son of Aboth Allee, who, in spite of the debris which was falling on the Bridge, remained at his post at the wheel until ordered to his boat by me.  I consider this man deserved some sort of recognition for his devotion to duty.  
     
  12.  Just after we were torpedoed, whilst I was on the Bridge, about to throw the Confidential Books overboard, I saw the Norwegian ship BONDE open fire with her Oerlikons.  Thinking she had sighted the periscope of a submarine I ordered our Oerlikons to open fire in the direction where the BONDE's shots were falling.  A few seconds later I saw the track of a torpedo approaching the BONDE, and saw the torpedo strike on the starboard side of the vessel.  
     
  13.  I wish to thank the Captain and Officers of H.M.S. TAY for their great kindness and consideration to me and my men under very trying circumstances, especially considering that the vessel's complement was more than doubled.  
     
 
--------------------------
 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

 

 
 
     
  CONFIDENTIAL                                                                               MG/DV  
                                                                                                              T.D/139/1879.  
                                                                                                              27th June, 1943.  
 
SHIPPING CASUALTIES SECTION . . . TRADE DIVISION
 
 
Report of an Interview with the First Officer - Mr. C.D. Head
 
 
s.s. SELVISTAN - 5,136 gross tons.
 
  CONVOY:  O.N.S.5                                                                   Struck by two torpedos from  
                                                                                                       U-boat, 5th May, 1943. Sank  
                                                                                                       in two minutes.  
     
     
 
All Times are A.T.S.
 
 
(+ 2 hours for G.M.T.)
 
 
 
  Mr. Head:  
     
          We were bound from Oban to Halifax, Nove Scotia, in ballast, armed with 1 - 4", 1 - 12 pdr., 2 Twin Lewis, 1 Oerlikon, and 4 P.A.C. Rockets.  The crew, including 4 Navy and 2 Army Gunners, numbered 46, of whom 1 was injured and subsequently died in the lifeboat (D.E.M.S. Naval Gunner Kell), and 5, including the 4th Engineer, 2 Army and 2 Navy Gunners, are missing.  All Confidentisl Books, including the Wireless Codes, went down with the ship.  Degaussing was on.  
     
  2.  We left Oban in Convoy O.N.S.5, bound for Halifax.  Nothing of incident occurred until the morning of the 28th April, when at 0600 an attack was made on the Convoy, during which an American ship on the far side of the convoy was torpedoed, and sank.  During the night of the 30th April several more ships were torpedoed, amongst them being the BRISTOL CITY and the HARCOLA.  
     
  3.  During the 1st May extremely bad weather was experienced; the Convoy became scattered, and when it eventually reformed on about the 4th May I counted only 26 ships.  The SELVISTAN then took position No. 121, the leading ship of the 12th column, as the ship which had formerly held this position had been sunk.  
     
  4.  Nothing of further incident occurred until the 5th May, when at 1740, in position 53° 10' N, 44° 40' W., steering 220° (approx.) at 6 knots, we were struck almost simultaneously by two torpedoes from a U-boat, two other ships, the GHARINDA, and a Norwegian vessel, BONDE being torpedoed a minute or two afterwards.  The weather was overcast, fine with a slight haze, and visibility was good; there was a smooth sea and light airs.  
     
  5.  Just before the first explosion I was on the Bridge; the SELVISTAN was rather close to the next ship abeam, which was an American Tanker, when suddenly I saw something moving through the water, which at first I thought was a porpoise, as it appeared to be spouting water.  This object passed very close across the American Tanker's bow, and when it was half way between the SILVEISTAN and the American ship, it jumped out of the waterm and then continued on its course; I immediately realised that it was a torpedo, si I rang "Full speed ahead", and put the helm hard to port, but unfortunately the ship did not have enough speed to swing clear.  This torpedo struck the ship in No. 5 hold,  
                                                                                             /on the  . . . . . . . .  
 
C. in C Western Approaches N.I.D. (Cdr. R. Lister Kaye).
S.B.N.O. Western Atlantic. N.I.D. 1/P.W.
I.M.N.C. N.I.D. 3/P.W.
D.T.D. N.I.D. (Cdr. Winn)
D.T.D. (D.E.M.S.) Lt. Cdr. J.M. Reynolds
D.A/S.W. D.N.O. (London)
D.T.S.D. D.N.C. (Bath)
D.T.M.I. (Lt. Road) Captain Boswick.
D.P.D. (Lt. Cdr. Dillon Robinson) Files
 
     
     

 

 
 
     
  Page 2                                                                                                         s.s. SELVISTAN.  
     
  on the port side; about five seconds later we were struck by a second torpedo in No. 4 hold, also on the port side.  Both were dull explosions, no flash was seen, and no water was thrown up.  The hatches and beams from Nos. 4 and 5 holds were blown off, and the ballast from those holds was flung high into the air.  The vessel did not list, but settled rapidly by the stern, with her bows rising in the air and within two minutes she was completely submerged.  
     
  6.  There was no time to lower either of the two lifeboats, but the two small bridge boats were launched, the Master released the forward starboard raft, and all the crew abandoned ship.  I do not know for certain if either of the lifeboats was damaged, but one of the men told me aftereards that when he was sitting on the raft he saw the port lifeboat break against the davits; he also saw the missing 4th Engineer running towards this boat, but before he could reach it the vessel sank under him.  
     
  7.  Gunner Kell, who's skull was smashed in, and Gunner Freeman, who seriously injured his leg, were clinging to a hatch, and as the vessel sank they floated off.  I was unable to pick them up as someone had kicked the pulg out of my boat and it was filling rapidly, but the 2nd Officer in charge of thte port bridge boat rescued them.  The Master's raft drifted close to my boat, and as it did so, several sailors jumped out of my boat on to it, leaving me with only the Indian fireman who were simply no use at all; they just sat in the boat, praying to Allah to save them, but not attempting to do anything to save themselves.  There were now only 4 men in the port bridge boat, 24 in my starboard bridge boat, and 12 on the Master's raft.  
     
  8.  After drifting about for some three quarters of an hour, H.M.S. TAY arrived on the scene and picked up the survivors.  The Doctor of H.M.S. TAY came down in to the port bridge boat to examine Gunner Kell, but after a brief examination he stated that Kell was beyond human help, and a few minutes later, before he could be lifted on board the TAY he died.  H.M.S. TAY took us to St. John's, Newfoundland, where we arrived on the 8th May.  
     
  9.  All the crew behaved extremely well throughout, and there is no-one whom I could specially mention as being outstanding.  
     
  10.  I watched the track of the first torpedo for quite a long time, and in my opinion there was an interval of several seconds between the time the torpedo should have hit the ship, and the explosion.  This torpedo painted a silvery grey, and was travelling at a speed of 10/12 knots, obviously nearing the end of its run.  
     
  11.  I widh to put on the record the gratitude of all survivors from s.s. SELVISTAN to the Officers and men of H.M.S. TAY.  They behaved magnificently towards us, and did everythng possible to make us comfortable.  
     
  12.  The boat's wireless was kept in a canvas covered box, on the boat deck; there was no time to get it away, and it went down with the ship.  
     
 
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  CONFIDENTIAL                                                                                              DV  
                                                                                                                             T.D/139/1835.  
                                                                                                                             9th June, 1943.  
 
SHIPPING CASUALTIES SECTION . . TRADE DIVISION
 
 
REport of an Interview with the Master - Captain A.L. Webb
 
 
s.s. BRISTOL CITY - 2,864 g.t.
 
     
  CONVOY O.N.S.5.                                                                     Sunk by two torpedoes from  
                                                                                                        U-boat, 5th May, 1943.  
                                                                                                         
 
All times are A.T.S.
 
 
+ 2 hours for G.M.T.
 
     
  Captain Webb:  
     
          We were bound from Milford Haven to New York with 2,500 tons of cargo comprising China Clay, food stores, and general goods.  We were armed with 1 - 4", 3 Twin Marlin, 2 Oerlikons, 1 Single Lewis and 4 P.A.C. Rockets.  My crew numbered 44, including 4 Navy and 2 Army Gunners.  Three were injured, and fifteen are missing.  The Confidential Books and Wireless Codes were thrown overboard in weighted boxes.  Degaussing was off.  
     
  2.  We left Milford Haven on 21st April and joined up with Convoy O.N.S.5, which consisted of about 54 ships formed in fourteen columns.  We took position No. 11, leading ship of the port column.  
     
  3.  The convoy proceeded as routed without incident until 0515 on 29th April, when an American ship No. 42, was torpedoed in No. 1 hold by an enemy submarine.  This ship carried on with the convoy for an hour after being torpedoed, then suddenly listed and sank rapidly.  
     
  4.  After this incident, I kept the crew on the alert at all times, but no further attack developed until the night of 4th/5th May.  The Convoy experienced exceptionally heavy weather from the 30th April, which continued throughout the first three days of May, with the wind at full gale force throughout.  At 2300 on the 4th May, No. 81 was torpedoed and sank, followed shortly after midnight by No. 13.  This ship was astern of me, and was torpedoed on her port side.  
     
  5.  We were the next ship to be attacked, and at 0255 on 5th May, when in position 54° 00 N, 43° 55' W, steering a course of 197° (approx.) at a speed of 6-1/2 knots, were were struck by one torpedo from a U-boat.  There was a heavy confused swell, with a S.W. wind, force 5.  The weather was overcast, it was very dark, but visibility was good.  
     
  6.  On-one saw the track of the torpedo, which struck in No. 4 hold on the port side.  The explosion was dull, much quieter than I would have expected.  I saw a flash, and a huge column of water was thrown in the air, which cascaded down and flooded the decks.  The port lifeboat and after rafts were destroyed by the explosion.  The main topmast collapsed, as the engine room also flooded rapidly.  I rang down from the bridge and ordered the engines to be stopped.  A large amount of debris was scattered about the deck, so it was impossible to see details of the deck damage.  
     
  Distribution  
 
C. in C Western Approaches N.I.D. (Cdr. R. Lister Kaye)
S.B.N.O. Western Atlantic. N.I.D. 1/P.W.
D.T.D. Cdr. Ard, U.S.A.
D.T.D. (D.E.M.S.) N.I.D. 3/P.W.
D.A/S.W. N.I.D. (Cdr. Winn)
D.T.S.D. D.N.O. (London)
D.T.M.I. (Lieut. Road) D.N.C. (Bath)
D.P.D. (Cdr. Dillon Robinson) Captain Boswick.
 
 
Files
 
     

 

 
 
     
  Page 2.                                                                                                      s.s. BRISTOL CITY  
     
  7.  A few minutes later, a second torpedo struck the ship in No. 1 hold.  There was no flash with this explosion.  China clay was thrown into the air, the fore topmast collapsed, and one of my officers reported that the windlass had disappeared.  The wireless room collapsed, No. 1 hatches were blown off, as were the hatches from a section of No. 2 hold, and one of the forward rafts was blown away.  It was obvious that the ship would sink.  The boat's wireless set was kept in the chart room, but it had to be left behind, owing to lack of time.  A ship in the next column sent up two rockets for us, as we did not fire any, nor did we send out a wireless signal.  Within eight minutes, one lifeboat was lowered, and some twenty men jumped into it from the deck.  I was waist deep in water as I left the ship, which had settled by the head and was steaming under.  Nine minutes after the first torpedo struck, the ship disappeared.  
     
  8.  A jolly boat was lowered with five men in it; it capsized on becoming waterborne, throwing its occupants into the sea.  Two of these were drowned, but the remaining three men managed to struggle on to a raft.  We eventually took these three men into the lifeboat, and picked up four others from the water.  All the crew were wearing their lifejackets with the red lights, and these greatly facilitated the rescue work.  
     
  9.  After just over an hour in the lifeboat, we were taken on board the corvette H.M.S. LOOSESTRIFE, which also picked up two other survivors from the water.  The attacks on the convoy continued throughout the night, and whilst we were on board, H.M.S. LOOSESTRIFE destroyed two submarines, one of which was blown clean out of the water.  I believe ten submarines were destroyed during the night.  The whole action was extremely exciting, and all my crew thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  
     
  10.  H.M.S. LOOSESTRIFE took us to St. John's, Newfoundland, arriving on 9th May.  
     
 
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  CONFIDENTIAL                                                                               E  
                                                                                                              T.D.139.1858.  
                                                                                                              24th June, 1943.  
 
SHIPPING CASUALTIES SECTION . . TRADE DIVISION
 
 
REPORT OF AN INTERVIEW WITH THE MASTER, CAPTAIN R.G. PHILLIPS
 
 
S.S. WENTWORTH - 5,212 Gr.Tons.
 
  CONVOY:  O.N.S.5.                                             DAMAGED BY ONE TORPEDO FROM  
                                                                                 U-BOAT ON 5TH MAY, 1943. SUNK  
                                                                                 BY DEPTH CHARGES & SHELL FIRE  
                                                                                 FROM H.M. SHIP 5TH MAY, 1943.  
     
 
All times in Zone Time
 
 
+ 2 hours for G.M.T.
 
 
-----------------------
 
  Captain R.G. Phillips.  
     
          We sailed from Oban bound for New York in ballast.  The ship was armed with one 4" gun, one Oerlikon, two twin Marlins, two Hotchkiss, two F.A.M.'s and four P.A.C. Rockets.  The crew numbered 47, including 3 Naval and 3 Military Gunners.  Five of the crew are missing.  The Confidential Books were kept in a locked weighted box on the bridge and went down with the ship.  The Wireless Books were in a weighted box in the wireless room which collapsed on top of them and they also went down with the ship.  Degaussing was on.  
     
  2.  We left Oban at 0230 on the 22nd April, joining up with Convoy O.N.S.5. at 1600 the same day.  The convoy was formed into fourteen columns, our position being No.33.  We proceeded in fine weather without incident until 0540 on the 30th April when there was a U-boat attack, during which the American Ship MCKEESPORT, No.42, was torpedoed.  From then onwards the weather deteriorated and we experienced heavy seas with the wind at gale force, however at daybreak on the 2nd May the wind and sea abated allowing the convoy to reform.  On the 4th May we received a signal from the Commodore "Keep Close.  Many submarines in vicinity".  
     
  3.  At 2300 on the 4th May the expected U-boat attack developed and two ships were torpedoed.  Ay 0100 on the 5th May I saw one of the port escorts firing star shells and oerlikon gun tracers so I presumed a submarine had been sighted on the surface.  I was down in my cabin when at 0300 I heard a dull explosion and the 2nd Officer rushed in and told me that the s.s. BRISTOL CITY, No.11, had been torpedoed, so I hurried on to the Bridge.  The BRISTOL CITY did not fire rockets or give any indication that she wanted assistance.  No emergency turn was made and the convoy continued on its course at 6 knots.  
     
  4.  At 0310 on the 5th May in position 53° 59'N.  43° 55' W., steaming at 6 knots on a course 220° (approx.), we were struck by a torpedo.  The weather was cloudy but clear, it was just dark and visibility was good.  There was a moderate sea and swell and light variable airs.  
                                                                                                           5.   . . . . . . .  
 
C. in C Western Approaches N.I.D. (Cdr. R. Lister Kaye).
S.B.N.O. Western Atlantic. N.I.D. 1/P.W.
I.M.N.C. N.I.D. 3/P.W.
D.T.D. N.I.D. (Cdr. Winn)
D.T.D. (D.E.M.S.) Cdr. Ard, U.S.N. (2)
D.A/S.W. D.N.O. (London)
D.T.S.D. D.N.C. (Bath)
D.T.M.I. (Lt. Road) Captain Boswick.
D.P.D. (Cdr. Dillon Robinson) Files (2)
 
     
     

 

 
 
     
  S.S. WENTWORTH.                                                                                            PAGE 2.  
     
  5.  The torpedo struck on the port side, midships, in the stokehold.  It was not a loud explosion, there was no flash or flame and only a very small amount of water was thrown up.  The funnel collapsed, the wireless room also collapsed, and all electricity failed.  The main deck was split across amidships, the port shell plates were cracked and there was a hole in the ship's side about 12' in diameter, extending about 3 ft. above the waterline.  
     
  6.  The Wireless Operator was unable to send out an S.O.S. message as the aerial had carried away.  The rockets could not be fired because the explosion had displaced the sockets.  The 3rd Engineer who was on watch stopped the engines immediately and made his escape through the tunnel escape so it was lucky for him that the watertight door was open.  I ordered the boats to be lowered and went down to the lower bridge to superintend the lowering of the starboard boat.  The two bunker derricks had fallen on the falls of this boat but after some difficulty we were able to clear them, the boat was lowered and drifted away with one man in it.  The remainder of the crew of this boat rushed to the boat deck.  I went over to the port motor boat on the boat deck, lowered it and gave the crew orders to stand by alongside and wait for me.  By 0330 all four boats were in the water and three of them were clear of the ship.  I went forward and tried to release the forward raft, but the slipping gear had jammed and I could not release it.  The ship began cracking so at 0350 I decided it was time to abandon.  When I left the ship in the port motor boat, it was broad daylight.  I found that a few of the crew who had jumped over the side had been picked up by the other boats with the exception of the Assistant Steward who could not be found.  The remainder of the missing men were in the engine room or stokehold when the explosion occurred.  
     
  7.  At 0400 I sighted a Corvette not far away.  I signalled to her with a torch which she acknowledged and shortly afterwards she steamed over.  By 0530 we were all on board H.M.S. LOOSESTRIFE.  The Captain asked me what had happened to the Confidential Books, on learning that they were still on board he steamed along the port side of the WENTWORTH and fires a depth charge which landed close to the ship's side.  He then steamed round on the starboard side and put two shells into No.2 hold, the ship was still afloat at 0600 when I went below, but at 0700 the CAptain sent down to inform me that she had sunk.  H.M.S. LOOSESTRIFE took us to St. John's where we landed at 0900 on the 9th May.  
     
  8.  I consider the speed of the convoy was too slow for my ship, I could easily have made a 9 knot convoy.  No emergency turn was made after the BRISTOL CITY was torpedoed.  We were fitted with A.W.D. but I think this apparatus is too sensitive.  
     
 
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STATEMENT OF H. SCHOEDEN, MASTER OF THE "EX" S.S. WEST MADAKET
 
 
CONCERNING TORPEDOING OF VESSEL ON MAY 5, 1943.
 
 
 
-oOo-
 
     
          On May 5th 1943, while in convoy with four other ships escorted by H.M.S. PINK, vessel was torpedoed by enemy submarine at 1453 G.M.T., in position 54-47 North - 44-12 West.  At the time of the torpedoing the ship was on a course of 240 degrees, true, at a speed of 8-1/2 knots; the weather clear.  
          A sudden jar was felt at that time and a heavy geyser of water was seen by the Officer of the Watch, and several members of the crew, on the port Quarter,  The vessel immediately started settling by the stern, and a large crack in the deck plating was observed amidships Port Side, from the fidley bulkhead, outboards, toward the sheer-strake plate.  
          After ascertaining that the dangerous condition of the vessel, due to her back being broken, would prevent her being salvaged, she was abandoned at 1515 G.M.T.  
          With complete crew of 1 Master, 7 Officers, and 31 men, together with 1 Armed Guard Officer and 21 Naval Gunners, were picked up by H.M.S. PINK at 1600 G.M.T.  
          I informed the Commanding Officer of the Pink of the condition of the WEST MADAKET, and same was sunk at 1805 G.M.T. by H.M.S. PINK using depth charges, so that the convoy could continue on its way.  All confidential and secret publications, which were in a metal container, were personally thrown overboard by me before leaving the ship.  
          When pulling away from the ship a crack was also noted in the sheer-strake plate, Starboard Side, midships, and one shell plate by Number 2 hatch had already buckled on the starboard side.  
     
     
     
                                                                                     (Sgd.) H. SCHROEDER, Master  
                                                                                             S.S. WEST MADAKET.  
     
     
     
     
     
     

 

 
 
     
  CONFIDENTIAL                                                                               DV  
                                                                                                              T.D/139/1842.  
                                                                                                              16th June, 1943.  
 
SHIPPING CASUALTIES SECTION . . TRADE DIVISION
 
 
Report of an Interview with the Master - Captain W.E. Cook.
 
 
s.s. HARBURY - 5,081 g.t.
 
  CONVOY:  O.N.S.5                                                                   Struck by one torpedo from  
                                                                                                       a U-boat, 4th May, 1943.  
                                                                                                       Not seen to sink.  
     
     
 
All Times are A.T.S.
 
 
+ 2 hours for G.M.T.
 
 
 
  Captain Cook:  
     
          We were bound from Milford Haven to St. John', New Brunswick, with a cargo of 6,820 tons of anthracite coal.  We were armed with 1 - 4", 1 - 12 pdr., 4 Oerlikons, 2 Twin Marlin, 2 U.P's, 2 F.A.M.S., and 4 P.A.C. Rockets.  This ship was fitted with A.W.D., which we found far too sensitive, as the alarm bell rang on the slightest provocation; I had, in fact, to remove the bell, in order to get some sleep.  My crew numbered 51, including 7 Navy and 2 Army Gunners.  Seven are missing, and six injured.  The Confidential Books and Wireless Codes were thrown overboard in a weighted box and weighted bag respectively.  Degaussing was on.  
     
  2.  We left Milford Haven on April 20th and formed up with Convoy O.N.S.5 on the 21st, taking position No. 83.  During the night of 23rd April, Nos. 81 and 82 straggled astern of convoy so I took up position No. 81, which was retained from that time onwards.  The Convoy proceeded without incident until 0600 on the 30th April, when one ship was torpedoed.  No further submarine attack developed for a few days, as the convoy passed through an ice field, which seemed to deter submarine operations.  During the afternoon of May 4th, the Commodore hoisted a flag signal to warn us that submarines were again operating in the area, and at approximately 2200 we heard several explosions from depth charges.  I did not attach much importance to this, as they seemed to be some distance away.  
     
  3.  At 2250 on 4th May, when in position 55° 01' N, 42° 59' W, steering a course of 192° (approx.), at a speed of 7 knots, we were struck by one torpedo from a U-boat.  There was a rough sea and heavy swell at the time with a S.W. wind, force 5.  The weather was overcast, very dark, but visibility was good.  Ten minutes later, the s.s. HARPERLEY, in No. 1 column, was torpedoed.  
     
  4.  No-one saw the track of the torpedo, which struck my ship on the starboard side in No. 5 hold.  There was a loud explosion, no flash was seen, but a huge column of water was thrown up.  The hatches were blown off No. 5 hold, which flooded immediately.  The after peak bulkhead collapsed and the tunnel door fractured, through which the engine room flooded slowly.  I made my way to the bridge, and observed that the vessel was settling rapidly by the stern.  The 2rd Officer fired the rockets, and I switched on the red light.  The Confidential Books were thrown over the side, and a distress W/T message transmitted.  The Chief Engineer stopped the engines, and reported to me that in his opinion the shaft had been bent by the explosion.  
                                                                                                   /5.  . . . . . . . .  
 
C. in C Western Approaches N.I.D. (Cdr. R. Lister Kaye).
S.B.N.O. Western Atlantic. N.I.D. 1/P.W.
I.M.N.C. Cdr. Ard, U.S.A.
D.T.D. N.I.D. 3/P.W.
D.T.D. (D.E.M.S.) N.I.D. (Cdr. Winn)
D.A/S.W. D.N.O. (London)
D.T.S.D. D.N.C. (Bath)
D.T.M.I. (Lt. Road) Captain Boswick.
D.P.D. (Lt. Cdr. Dillon Robinson) Files
 
     
     

 

 
 
     
  Page 2                                                                                                         s.s. HARBURY.  
     
  5.  As the well deck was now under water, I ordered "abandon ship".  The starboard quarter small lifeboat was thrown off the hooks into the belly band by the explosion, and was therefore useless.  The two main lifeboats amidships were successfully lowered, although there was some difficulty in clearing the port lifeboat, which fouled the bowaing wire.  The port quarter boat was also lowered, but capsized on becoming waterborne.  A number of men were forced to jump overboard, as they were marooned aft, resulting in some of them being lost.  The boat's wireless set was placed in one of the lifeboats, and everyone was clear of the ship within twenty minutes of the explosion.  I stayed on board with Able Seaman Robertson and D.E.M.S. Rating Maclean.  I ordered the 2nd Officer to stay alongside, to be ready to take us off, but owing to the rough sea the painter parted and the boat drifted astern.  
     
  6.  Robertson, Maclean and I then searched all the 'midship accommodation to see if anyone was left aboard; we could not get aft, as the well deck was flooded, so we shouted as loudly as we could, but received no answer.  I assumed that everyone had left the ship.  Towards midnight, we heard a grinding and wrenching noise from aft, and thinking that the vessel was about to sink the three of us went forward and boarded the forward starboard raft.  We cast off the painter, as the raft was bumping heavily against the ship's side, and drifted away from the vessel.  We lay to the sea anchor, and could see two white lights in the distance, which I assumed belonged to the 1st and 2nd Officer's lifeboats.  At 0120 on 5th May, we saw a shower of sparks, followed by a violent explosion, which appeared to be on the surface of the sea, approximately one to two cables from the raft.  A dense cloud of black smoke drifted across the water.  I cannot give any explanation for this, unless it was caused by a torpedo exploding at the end of its run.  Nothing was observed either before or after the explosion, which I was told later was heard by the crews of both lifeboats, and also by H.M.T. NORTHERN SPRAY, which was in the vicinity.  
     
  7.  At 0230 we sighted H.M.T. NORTHERN SPRAY, and fired rockets.  Those rockets were of the new type, throwing up five flares, and were extremely successful.  They are excellent for the job, but following my experience, I think instructions should be issued that the end of the rocket should be held firmly in the palm of the hand, otherwise the recoil after each star is liable to jerk the rocket out of the hand.  The Trawler sighted us on the raft, and after some difficulty, owing to the rough sea, we were hauled on board at approximately 0300, the men from both lifeboats being picked up later.  
     
  8.  At daylight the "HARBURY" was still afloat, so I decided to reboard her to make an inspection, and to obtain stores for H.M.T. NORTHERN SPRAY.  The First Lieutenant from the Trawler, my Chief Officer and I reboarded the ship at 0630 on the 5th May.  We found there were six to eight feet of water in the engine room and stokehold, the after well deck was underwater, with the poop deck just awash, the stern being so low that the sea was pouring into No. 4 main hold from the 'tween decks.  We stayed on board half an hour collecting stores, and left the ship at approximately 0730.  I did not see my ship again, but in view of her condition I am certain that she eventually sank.  Aircraft were sent out the following day to the scene, but no sign of the ship could be found.  
     
  9.  The Trawler took us to St. John's, Newfoundland, arriving on Saturday 8th May.  I would like to record the gratitude of my crew, officers and myself, for the wonderful hospitality and kindness received from the officers and men of H.M.T. NORTHERN SPRAY, under very trying circumstances, there being 140 to 150 survivors on board that small vessel.  
                                                                                                  /10.   . . . . . . . .  
     
     
     
     

 

 
 
     
  Page 3.                                                                                                         s.s. HARBURY.  
     
  10.  All my crew behaved exceptionally well throughout, and no-one showed the least a sign of panic.  I would specially bring to notice the 3rd Officer W. Skinner, who was most reliable and cool, setting a very fine example to all.  When I went to the bridge on hearing the torpedo strike, I found he was already firing the rockets.  He remained calm and cool throughout, and is a very fine type of officer.  Although only 21 or 22, he has previously been mined in the HARDINGHAM, and was also on the HARPASA when she was attacked by aircraft and sunk off Ceylon.  On the latter occasion he was picked up next day, but the rescuing ship was herself shelled and sunk by a Japanese cruiser, so he has had three very trying experiences, in spite of which he remains keen, efficient, and a splendid example to others.  
     
 
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  CONFIDENTIAL                                                                                              MG  
                                                                                                                             T.D/139/1841.  
                                                                                                                             15th June, 1943.  
 
SHIPPING CASUALTIES SECTION - TRADE DIVISION
 
 
REPORT OF AN INTERVIEW WITH THE MASTER, CAPTAIN G. R. CHEETHAM
 
 
m.v. DOLIUS - 5,507 gross tons
 
     
  CONVOY O.N.S.5.                                                                     Struck by 1 torpedo from  
                                                                                                        U-boat, 5th May, 1943.  
                                                                                                        Not seen to sink.  
 
All times are A.T.S.
 
 
+ 2 hours for G.M.T.
 
     
  CAPTAIN CHEETHAM:  
     
          We were bound from Milford Haven to New York in ballast, armed with 1 - 4", 2 Oerlikons, 2 Twin and 1 Single Hotchkiss, 1 Strip Lewis, 4 P.A.C. Rockets, and 2 F.A.M.S.  The crew, including 5 Naval and 4 Army Gunners, numbered 70, of whom 3 are missing, (4th Engineer, Junior Assistant Engineer and 1 Gunner), 2 Gunners were injured, and 1 Naval Gunner subsequently died in the lifeboat, whilst alongside the Corvette SUNFLOWER.  The Confidential Books were thrown overboard in a weighted box, and the Wireless Codes were handed in to the Naval Authorities at St. John's, Newfoundland.  Degaussing was on.  
     
  2.  We left Milford Haven on the 20th April, and joined Convoy O.N.S.5 on the 22nd, off the Isle of Man, taking up position No. 21, leading ship of the 2nd column.  
     
  3.  Nothing of incident occurred, and the Convoy proceeded as routed until the 30th April, when at 0600, whilst carrying out an alteration of course, submarine attacked the Convoy resulting in the MCKEESPORT being torpedoed.  A torpedo passed about 25 yards astern of us; this torpedo must have passed right through the Convoy, but luckily it did not hit anything.  The attacks continued at intervals, and depth charges were dropped by the escort.  Shortly after mid-night on the night of the 4th/5th May, three more ships were torpedoed, the HARPERLEY, HARSBURY and BRISTOL CITY, when the latter was torpedoed at 0230 we fired two rockets.  The other side of the Convoy was then attacked and there was little peace for anyone.  The attacks continued until 0930 on the 5th, when they ceased, so taking advantage of the quiet interlude, I left the Bridge and went to my cabin to write letters.  Whilst I was there, at 1040 on the 5th May, in position 54° 00' N. - 43° 35' W., steering 225° (approx.), at 6-1/2 knots, we were struck by a torpedo from a U-Boat.  The weather was overcast and cloudy, but the visibility was good, with a moderate sea and swell, and westerly wind, force 4.  
     
                                                                                    4./ . . . . . . . .  
     
  DISTRIBUTION  
 
C. in C Western Approaches N.I.D. (Cdr. R. Lister Kaye)
S.B.N.O. Western Atlantic. N.I.D. 1/P.W.
I.M.N.C. N.I.D. 3/P.W.
D.T.D. N.I.D. (Cdr. Winn)
D.T.D. (D.E.M.S.) Cdr. Ard, U.S.N. (2)
D.A/S.W. D.N.O. (London)
D.T.S.D. D.N.C. (Bath)
D.T.M.I. (Lt. Road) Captain Boswick.
D.P.D. (Cdr. Dillon Robinson) Files (2)
 
     
     

 

 
 
     
  Page 2                                                                                                             s.s. DOLIUS  
     
  4.  No-one saw the track of the torpedo which struck in the after part of the engine room on the starboard side.  There was a dull explosion, but no flash was seen.  No. 3 lifeboat was completely destroyed, and I saw a hole in the ship's starboard side measuring about 30 ft. long, extending 15/16 ft. above the water line.  The force of the explosion stopped the engines, and the engine room flooded immediately.  Later, when I tried to make an inspection of the damage, I could only get as far as the top platform, and looking down it appeared to me as if the engines had been shifted a couple of feet to port.  No. 4 bulkhead collapsed, and No. 4 hold flooded.  The after bulkhead in No. 4 hold was severely strained, I could hear water trickling into No. 5 hold, and I think this bulkhead also collapsed eventually.  The hatches of No. 4 hold were blown off, as were the locking bars of No. 5 hatches.  The vessel listed slightly, but quickly came upright again and settled by the stern.  
     
  5.  Immediately after the explosion I gave orders to stand by the lifeboats.  Some of the Chinese crew, in a momentary panic, rushed to one of the lifeboats and commenced lowering it, but, when I shouted to them, they stopped, and later seemed to have got over their fright as they all behaved very well.  
     
  6.  I made a thorough search of the ship to see if anyone had been injured, but as no-one seemed to be hurt, I gave orders to "abandon ship" and the remaining three lifeboats were successfully manned and lowered.  When the 3rd Officer's boat was a little distance from the ship a man was seen on board waving his arms.  The 3rd Officer pulled back to the ship, boarded her, and learned from this man that there was another man lying unconscious below.  Both were lowered in to the boat and as the 3rd Officer left the ship he reported that the after deck was awash.  All the crew were clear of the vessel approximately 25 minutes after the torpedo struck.  
     
  7.  All survivors were son picked up by the Corvette SUNFLOWER, under the command of Lt. Cdr. Plummer, and shortly after boarding, the Corvette was ordered away.  The Sunflower proceeded to rejoin the Convoy, leaving an American A.M.C. standing by the DOLIUS.  When I last saw my ship the counter was well down, with the after well deck awash, and in my opinion she could not have remained afloat for more than an hour.  
     
  8.  During the night of the 5th/6th May, after rejoining the Convoy, the SUNFLOWER rammed and sank a U-boat, and I and my crew thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Altogether ten U-boats were sunk that night, and three others probably sunk.  
     
  9.  We were eventually taken to St. John's Newfoundland, by the SUNFLOWER, where we landed on the 8th May.  
     
  10.  The boat's wireless transmitter was put into one of the lifeboats, but the receiving set was left on board.  The transmitter was left at St. John's, and is now being brought home by EMPIRE MAGPIE.  
     
  11.  I would mention that all my crew, including the Chinese, behaved extremely well throughout, but there is no-one I could specially recommend.  
     
  12.  I would like to state that several ships straggled from this Convoy, in my opinion deliberately.  The most annoying part about it was that a number of ships which kept good station were torpedoed, whilst the stragglers reached port safely four of five days behind time without even a scratch.  If this sort of thing is going to be allowed, I suggest a special "straggler's convoy" be forced for them.  
     
 
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