Ships hit by U-boats


British Steam passenger ship

Photo courtesy of State Library of New South Wales

Type:Steam passenger ship
Tonnage3,255 tons
Completed1917 - Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Dundee 
OwnerYeoward Line Ltd, Liverpool 
Date of attack19 Aug 1941Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-201 (Adalbert Schnee)
Position49° 23'N, 17° 56'W - Grid BE 2567
Complement168 (153 dead and 15 survivors).
RouteLiverpool (13 Aug) - Gibraltar - Lisbon 
Cargo1288 tons general cargo, including 397 bags of mail 
History Completed in November 1917

At 14.00 hours on 19 Aug 1940, the Aguila was attacked by the Italian submarine Barbarigo (Ghilieri) with her 4in gun in 31°15N/13°02W. The submarine reported five hits on the Aguila, which was identified by the xB-Dienst through sending SOS messages. In fact, the vessel was not hit. 
Notes on event

At 04.06 hours on 19 August 1941, U-201 fired a salvo of four torpedoes at convoy OG-71 west-southwest of Fastnet Rock and observed two detonations on a tanker and two further detonations on two ships beyond her. Schnee claimed three ships sunk with 20,000 grt, but in fact the Ciscar and Aguila were sunk.

The Aguila (Master Arthur Firth) was the ship of convoy commodore (Vice-Admiral Patrick E. Parker, DSO, RN) and sank within 90 seconds after being hit by two torpedoes. The commodore, five naval staff members, five gunners, 54 crew members and 88 passengers were lost. The master, five crew members, one naval staff member and two passengers were picked up by HMS Wallflower (K 44) (LtCdr I.J. Tyson, RN) and landed at Gibraltar. Five crew members and one passenger were rescued by the Empire Oak, but five of them were lost when this ship was sunk by U-564 (Suhren) on 22 August. One crew member was picked up by HMS Campanula (K 18) (LtCdr R.V.E. Case, DSC, RD, RNR), transferred to HMS Velox (D 34) (LtCdr E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) and landed at Gibraltar on 25 August.

Among the passengers on board the Aguila were 21 women from the WRNS (Womens Royal Navy Service) who had volunteered for cypher and wireless duties in Gibraltar. None of the Wrens survived the sinking. As a tribute to their memory, a lifeboat named Aguila Wren was built and launched on 28 June 1952 for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

On boardWe have details of 162 people who were on board

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