Ships hit by U-boats


British Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of Rick Cox Collection

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage2,089 tons
Completed1918 - E. Finch & Co (1916) Ltd, Chepstow, Monmouthshire 
OwnerChristian Salvesen & Co, Edinburgh 
Date of attack23 Feb 1943Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-371 (Waldemar Mehl)
Position36° 57'N, 3° 41'E - Grid CH 9467
Complement35 (9 dead and 26 survivors).
RoutePhilippeville (22 Feb) - Algiers 
Cargo340 tons of military stores, including ammunition 
History Completed in May 1918 as Tutshill for E. Finch & Co Ltd, London. 1919 sold to Portugal and renamed Carcavellos for A. Maritima, Lisbon. 1927 sold to Britain and renamed Fintra for Christian Salvesen & Co, Edinburgh. 
Notes on event

At 13.50 hours on 23 Feb 1943, U-371 fired a spread of four torpedoes at a convoy of three merchant ships with two escorts (codenamed Ropsley) about 30 miles east-northeast of Algiers and heard one hit, followed by sinking noises shortly afterwards. The U-boat had spotted the ships only four minutes earlier and did not observe the result to avoid that its periscope was spotted in smooth seas. The torpedo struck the port quarter of Fintra (Master Richard John Roll) which proceeded at 8 knots as the port wing ship of the three steamers in a line abreast formation. Apparently the hit ignited the magazine of the stern gun and the explosion completely shattered the poop and after end of the ship, killing all five gunners (the ship was armed with one 12pdr and four machine guns) and four crew members. The ship settled so rapidly by the stern that the master, 24 crew members and one passenger (DBS) had no time to launch the lifeboats and jumped overboard after releasing both forward rafts. Just as everyone was clear of the ship, she suddenly reared up until vertical and sank stern first at 13.55 hours. All men swimming around eventually managed to climb on the two rafts with the master and five men on a small one and 20 on a bigger one. One of the escorts approached the survivors and asked if they were all right, steaming off when receiving a positive answer to assist HMS Felixstowe (J 126) (T/Lt C.G. Powney, RNVR) in a counter-attack on U-371, but returned already after 15 minutes because no Asdic contact could be obtained and picked up all survivors. They were landed at Algiers at 21.00 hours on 23 February.

On boardWe have details of 10 people who were on board

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