Ships hit by U-boats

William Gaston

American Steam merchant

NameWilliam Gaston
Type:Steam merchant (Liberty)
Tonnage7,177 tons
Completed1942 - North Carolina Shipbuilding Co, Wilmington NC 
OwnerAmerican-West African Line Inc, New York 
Date of attack24 Jul 1944Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-861 (J├╝rgen Oesten)
Position26° 42'S, 46° 12'W - Grid GA 6843
Complement67 (0 dead and 67 survivors).
RouteRosario - Buenos Aires (19 Jul) - Rio de Janeiro - Trinidad - Baltimore, Maryland 
Cargo9038 tons of corn 
History Completed in June 1942 
Notes on event

At 03.24 hours on 24 July 1944 the unescorted William Gaston (Master Harry W. Chase) was hit on the starboard side by a torpedo from U-861 about 150 miles southeast of Florianopolis, Brazil. The torpedo struck between the #4 and #5 holds, blew off the hatch cover, opened a hole in the port side, ruptured steam lines and threw corn all over the deck. After about 10 minutes, another torpedo struck just forward of the stern post, causing the ship to roll over and sink stern first about three minutes later. The eight officers, 33 crewmen and 26 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5in, one 3in and eight .30cal guns) abandoned ship in four lifeboats and one raft, but one boat broke up on launching. Wreckage and the boats were spotted the same day by a patrol aircraft, which directed USS Matagorda (AVP 22) to the position. The survivors were picked up on 25 July and taken to Florianopolis the same day.

On boardWe have details of 4 people who were on board

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Media links

Two Years Behind the Mast

McCormick, Lt. Comm. Harold J.

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