Ships hit by U-boats


Dutch Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of Allan C. Green Collection

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage8,685 tons
Completed1923 - New Waterway Shipbuilding Co, Schiedam 
OwnerNV Vereenigde Nederlandsche Scheepvaart Mij, The Hague 
HomeportThe Hague 
Date of attack24 Feb 1941Nationality:      Dutch
FateSunk by U-123 (Karl-Heinz Moehle)
Position56° 57'N, 23° 48'W - Grid AL 0152
Complement66 (66 dead - no survivors)
RouteSwansea (18 Feb) - Freetown - Penang - Singapore 
CargoCoal and general cargo 
History Completed in March 1923 as Grootendijk for NV Nederlandsche-Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Mij, Rotterdam. 1931 renamed Grootekerk for NV Vereenigde Nederlandsche Scheepvaart Mij, The Hague. 1932 lenghtened. 
Notes on event

The Grootekerk (Master Barend Albert Veen) was reported missing after leaving Swansea on 18 February 1941. At that time it was assumed that she had been sunk by the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in approx. 56°N/25°W.

In fact, U-123 came across Grootekerk during the morning of 23 February while heading for convoy OB-288, but misidentified her as Nestor or Ulysses of the Blue Funnel Line. Moehle began to chase the ship which steamed on a zigzag course at 14 knots and soon noticed that it is difficult to overtake her as the U-boat was only marginally faster. However, after a chase of nine hours the ship turned southward and slowed down, giving Moehle the opportunity to fire a first G7e torpedo at 23.35 hours, which missed. At 00.53 hours on 24 February, the U-boat fired a second G7e torpedo that hit the Grootekerk amidships after a running time of two minutes. She stopped and was then hit underneath the bridge by a coup de grâce at 01.05 hours, which was a surface runner that struck close to the area where the crew was lowering the lifeboats. The ship capsized to starboard and sank after 12 minutes about 330 miles west of Rockall. There were no survivors, all 18 Dutch and 35 Chinese crew members and 13 British passengers were lost.

On boardWe have details of 65 people who were on board

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