Ships hit by U-boats

James W. Denver

American Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of Alvin T. Kemble, Jr.

NameJames W. Denver
Type:Steam merchant (Liberty)
Tonnage7,200 tons
Completed1943 - Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards Inc, Baltimore MD 
OwnerCalmar SS Co Inc, New York 
Date of attack11 Apr 1943Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-195 (Heinz Buchholz)
Position28° 52'N, 26° 30'W - Grid DG 9248
Complement69 (2 dead and 67 survivors).
ConvoyUGS-7 (straggler)
RouteBaltimore - New York (1 Apr) - Casablanca 
Cargo6000 tons of sugar, acid, flour, aircraft parts, vehicles, bulldozers and 12 P-38 aircraft on deck 
History Completed in March 1943 
Notes on event

At 20.41 hours on 11 April 1943 the unescorted James W. Denver (Master Everett William Staley) was hit by one of three torpedoes fired by U-195 about 475 miles west of Las Palmas, Canary Islands. The ship straggled on her maiden voyage from convoy UGS-7 due to overheated engine bearings and was proceeding alone on a straggler route at 11 knots. The torpedo was spotted by the coxswain when it was 40 yards from the ship, but it struck on the starboard side between the #2 and #3 holds before evasive manouevers were taken. The engines were secured and the ship took a heavy list and settled by the head, bringing the propeller out of the water. 20 minutes after the hit the eight officers, 34 crewmen, 26 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in and nine 20mm guns) and one passenger (US Army security officer) abandoned ship in five lifeboats. A motorboat capsized during launching and threw 18 men into the sea, but they all get into other boats. The master stayed on board for an hour and later stayed with his lifeboat in the vicinity of the sinking until the next morning. The other four boats set together sail for the African coast, but became separated during the second night. The U-boat fired at 22.07 hours a coup de grâce, which missed. The vessel was sunk by another coup de grâce at 01.20 hours on 12 April.

At 22.43 hours on 13 April, a lifeboat from James W. Denver was spotted by U-159 (Witte) and the occupants questioned. Five crew members and six armed guards in a boat were picked up after seven days by the Spanish steam merchant Cabo Huertas in 28°N/23°W and landed at Las Palmas on 21 April. Another boat with ten crew members and five armed guards was picked up in 22°42N/35°05W by the Spanish steam merchant Campana after 13 days and landed at Aruba on 3 May. On 6 May, the master, eight crew members and four armed guards landed about 90 miles north of Port Etienne, Rio de Oro. These men might have died there on the desert, but they were spotted by a British patrol aircraft after three days, which dropped food and medical supplies to them. They were picked up the following day by the submarine chasers PC-2040 and PC-1041 and landed at Port Etienne on 11 May. After 23 days at sea, seven crew members and four armed guards were rescued by the Portuguese steam fishing trawler Albufeira in 21°55N/17°10W and landed at Lisbon on 10 May, but the second engineer died of exposure and was buried at sea. The remaining 19 survivors in the last boat were rescued after 35 days by the Spanish sailing vessel Juan near Belle Nassent and taken to La Aguerrio, Rio de Oro, but an oiler later died in a hospital at Gibraltar.

On boardWe have details of 69 people who were on board

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