Ships hit by U-boats


Dutch Motor merchant

Berhala under her former name Rheinland. Photo courtesy of Marien Lindenborn Collection

Type:Motor merchant
Tonnage6,622 tons
Completed1927 - Deutsche Werft AG, Betrieb Finkenwärder, Hamburg 
OwnerKoninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd NV (W. Ruys & Zonen), Rotterdam 
Date of attack23 May 1941Nationality:      Dutch
FateSunk by U-38 (Heinrich Liebe)
Position9° 50'N, 17° 50'W - Grid ET 2178
Complement64 (3 dead and 61 survivors).
ConvoyOB-318 (dispersed)
RouteHull - Loch Ewe (2 May) - Freetown - Istanbul, Turkey - Piraeus, Greece 
Cargo7200 tons of general cargo, including tinplates, locomotives and aircraft 
History Completed in August 1927 as German Rheinland for Hamburg-Amerika Linie (HAPAG), Hamburg. On 10 May 1940 seized by the Netherlands in Padang, Netherlands East Indies where she had been interned since 3 September 1939 and renamed Berhala
Notes on event

At 19.25 hours on 23 May 1941 the unescorted Berhala (Master Lieuwe Jan Tijmons), dispersed from convoy OB-318 on 10 May, was hit on the port side in the engine room by one of two G7a torpedoes fired by U-38 while steaming on a non-evasive course in calm weather about 280 miles west-northwest of Freetown. The explosion killed three crew members on watch below and destroyed the port lifeboats. In their haste to leave the ship that developed a list the Chinese crew members cut through the ropes of both starboard lifeboats and rowed away in them. The survivors left behind were forced to jump overboard and swim to the boats when a G7a torpedo struck the ship on port side amidships as coup de grâce at 19.51 hours, causing the ship to break in two and sink within nine minutes. The U-boat did not question the survivors as it immediately departed the scene to chase and sink the Vulcain which had been spotted in the distance during this attack. Shortly after the sinking of Berhala, the survivors were picked up by HMS Boreas (H 77) (LtCdr D.H. Maitland-Makgill Crichton, DSC, RN) and taken to Freetown.

On boardWe have details of 62 people who were on board

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