Ships hit by U-boats


British Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of H. Perdersen

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage4,362 tons
Completed1911 - Ateliers & Chantiers de France, Dunkirk 
OwnerE.R. Management Co Ltd, Cardiff 
Date of attack24 May 1941Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-38 (Heinrich Liebe)
Position9° 20'N, 15° 35'W - Grid ET 2281
Complement42 (7 dead and 35 survivors).
ConvoyOB-317 (dispersed)
RouteNewport - Barry - Freetown 
Cargo4617 tons of coal 
History Completed in October 1911 as French Vulcain for Cie des Affrêteurs Français, Rouen. 1934 transferred to Société Anonyme les Cargos Algériens, Rouen. In July 1940 taken over at Milford Haven by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). 
Notes on event

At 02.49 hours on 24 May 1941 the unescorted Vulcain (Master Jack Reginald Lewis), dispersed from convoy OB-317 on 6 May, was hit on the starboard side underneath the bridge in #2 hold by one G7a torpedo from U-38 165 miles northwest of Freetown. The ship was steaming on a zigzag course at only 6 knots as she had boiler troubles and sank rapidly by the bow after being hit. Seven crew members were lost. The U-boat had spotted her while chasing the Berhala in the evening on 23 May, sank the other ship and managed to locate Vulcain again, but missed with a spread of two G7a torpedoes at 00.32 hours on 24 May. One of the torpedo that missed had been observed passing from port by the third mate on watch and the crew of 38 and four gunners (the ship was armed with one 12pdr, one 25mm and four machine guns) heard and felt the concussion after it detonated at the end of its run, so they were alert and able to quickly abandon ship in the lifeboats when hit. The survivors later made landfall at Boffa, French West Africa, where they were interned by the Vichy French authorities and after some months repatriated to Freetown. The master was awarded the Lloyds War Medal for bravery at sea.

On boardWe have details of 11 people who were on board

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