Ships hit by U-boats

Empire Dryden

British Steam merchant

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NameEmpire Dryden
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage7,164 tons
Completed1942 - Wm. Doxford & Sons Ltd, Sunderland 
OwnerSir R. Ropner & Co Ltd, West Hartlepool 
Date of attack20 Apr 1942Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-572 (Heinz Hirsacker)
Position34° 21'N, 69° 00'W - Grid DC 3248
Complement51 (26 dead and 25 survivors).
RouteNew York (17 Apr) - Table Bay - Alexandria 
Cargo7000 tons of general cargo and military stores 
History Completed in February 1942 for Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). 
Notes on event

At 03.06 hours on 20 April 1942 the unescorted Empire Dryden (Master Robert Powley) was hit by one of three torpedoes from U-572 about 240 miles northwest of Bermuda. The torpedo struck on the starboard side in the after end of #2 hold and broke off the bow which sank immediately, while the rest of the ship settled and sank after 12 minutes. The crew had some difficulties to leave her because the starboard forward boat had been destroyed and the engines could not be stopped completely, but they were able to slow her down enough to abandon ship in the starboard after boat, the port motor boat and a jolly boat. The U-boat spotted two of the lifeboats but did not question the survivors before leaving the area. During the next day the small boat was making too much water, so the occupants were forced to abandon it and were divided between the two other lifeboats, with the master and 25 men in the motor boat and the chief officer and 24 men in the other boat. The boats tried to stay together but were separated during the evening of 21 April. The motor boat was seen again the next day, but went missing thereafter with the master, 22 crew members and three gunners (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 20mm and four machine guns). It is possible that it was swamped by the gale force wind that was experienced by the other boat during the following 44 hours. This boat then set sail and steered west for about 450 miles until it attracted the attention of the City of Birmingham by burning smoke floats and firing red flares in position 30°37N/77°15W on 5 May. The 22 crew members and three gunners in it were picked up by the ship and landed at Bermuda on 8 May.

The day before she was sunk, the Empire Dryden encountered a lifeboat from the Victoria which had been torpedoed by U-201 (Schnee) on 18 April. They did not pick up the survivors, but informed the nearby USS Owl (AM 2) of its presence and continued their voyage.

On boardWe have details of 35 people who were on board

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