Ships hit by U-boats


Panamanian Steam merchant

Cathrine under her former name Silverlight. Photo courtesy of Rick Cox Collection

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage1,885 tons
Completed1904 - Osbourne, Graham & Co Ltd, North Hylton, Sunderland 
OwnerAlexander Inkapööl (E. Jakobson & others), Tallinn 
Date of attack24 Jun 1940Nationality:      Panamanian
FateSunk by U-47 (Günther Prien)
Position50° 08'N, 14° 00'W - Grid BE 3292
Complement19 (0 dead and 19 survivors).
RouteJacksonville, Florida (5 Jun) – Falmouth - London 
CargoGeneral cargo, including wheat, Pitch Pine lumber, turpentine rosin and paper pulp 
History Completed in March 1904 as Russian Inzhener Avdakov (Engineer Avdakoff) for P. Regier & Sons, Odessa. 1920 taken over by Britain and renamed Silverlight for Shamrock Shipping Co Ltd (H.A. Brightman & Co), London. 1939 sold to Estonia and renamed Cathrine for Alexander Inkapööl, Tallinn. In April 1940 registered in Panama for the same owner. 
Notes on event

At 02.48 hours on 24 June 1940, U-47 opened fire with the deck gun at the unescorted and unarmed Cathrine (Master Part) in heavy seas after two torpedoes had missed the vessel at 02.18 and 02.41 hours. The Germans fired 113 rounds and scored 12 hits that caused the ship to sink after 52 minutes about 190 miles west-southwest of Cape Clear. The Estonian crew immediately stopped the engines and abandoned ship in two lifeboats after the U-boat had opened fire. The master was questioned by the Germans who laughed after being told that the ship was bound for Antwerp and handed the survivors some tinned bread, sausage and two bottles of wine before leaving the area. The survivors were picked up by the British decoy ship HMS Orchy (X 72) (Cdr Charles V. Jack, RN), disguised as Antoine, in position 51°26N/10°38W at 17.30 hours on 25 June. Great difficulties were experienced with the boats alongside as the ship was pitching in the rough sea and heavy swell. All survivors were very cold, tired and wet and given hot drinks and dry clothes, but were kept from the after mess and gun decks to prevent that the true nature of the vessel became known to them. Among the survivors was a female cook who was accommodated in a vacant cabin until they were all landed at Milford Haven on 26 June.


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