Ships hit by U-boats

Dorington Court

British Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of Clive Ketley

NameDorington Court
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage5,281 tons
Completed1939 - J.L. Thompson & Sons Ltd, North Sands, Sunderland 
OwnerCourt Line Ltd (Haldin & Philipps Ltd), London 
Date of attack24 Nov 1942Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-181 (Wolfgang Lüth)
Position27° 00'S, 34° 45'E - Grid KP 6159
Complement43 (4 dead and 39 survivors).
RouteCalcutta (26 Oct) - Madras (4 Nov) - Lourenço Marques - Durban - UK 
Cargo9261 tons of general cargo 
History Completed in May 1939. The design of this ship was selected by the Admiralty for the emergency shipbuilding program and was in many ways the model for the successful Liberty type ships. 
Notes on event

At 20.34 hours on 24 Nov 1942 the unescorted Dorington Court (Master Ernest Douglas Aynge Gibbs) was hit on the port side between engine and boiler room by one stern torpedo from U-181 while steaming at 8.5 knots 105 miles east-southeast of Inhaca Island near Lourenço Marques. The explosion blew off almost all hatch covers, destroyed the port lifeboat and killed four men on watch below. Due to the flooding of the engine and boiler rooms the ship settled bodily until the deck was almost awash but then remained afloat. The master, 29 crew members and five gunners (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 20mm and four machine guns) abandoned ship in the starboard lifeboat and a dinghy about 15 minutes after the hit. At 21.03 hours, the U-boat fired a coup de grâce that missed due to a malfunction and then surfaced after 20 minutes to use the deck gun. The ship caught fire after being shelled with 90 rounds of which 60 were hits and 7 of 40 incendiary rounds were duds, capsized to port and sank after about one hour. During the attack the 20mm AA gun was used, but only for a short time due to a damaged barrel. The U-boat then left the area without questioning the survivors because the identity of the ship was already known by her distress signals.

The survivors later claimed that two U-boats shelled the vessel, but this is not confirmed by German reports. The boats remained in the vicinity until daylight and then started the motor in the lifeboat and steered for Cape Inyack, towing the dinghy with 16 men in it. They also sent a distress signal with the emergency radio set in the lifeboat to warn the other ships in the area. In the early morning on 26 November, the boats reached the Pilot Hulk off Inhaca Island and were later that day towed into the harbor of Lourenço Marques by a tug.

On boardWe have details of 25 people who were on board

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