Ships hit by U-boats


British Troop transport

Type:Troop transport
Tonnage19,695 tons (one of the largest ships sunk).
Completed1922 - Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd, Wallsend, Sunderland 
OwnerCunard White Star Ltd, Liverpool 
Date of attack12 Sep 1942Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-156 (Werner Hartenstein)
Position5° 05'S, 11° 38'W - Grid FF 7721
Complement2741 (1658 dead and 1083 survivors).
RouteSuez - Aden - Mombasa - Durban - Capetown (1 Sep) - Canada 
Cargo366 passengers, 1809 Italian prisoners of war and 200 tons of general cargo 
History Completed in January 1922
On 5 Sep 1939, the steam passenger ship Laconia was requisitioned by the Royal Navy as armed merchant cruiser. On 1 Oct 1941, the ship was transferred to the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) and used as troopship. 
Notes on event

At 22.07 hours on 12 Sep 1942 the unescorted Laconia (Master Rudolph Sharp, OBE) was hit by two torpedoes from U-156 about 360 miles northeast of Ascension Island and sank at 23.23 hours. The master, 97 crew members, 133 passengers, 33 Polish guards and 1394 prisoners were lost. The U-boat began picking up survivors, took lifeboats in tow and notified the BdU about her rescue operation. On 15 September, U-506 (Würdemann), U-507 (Schacht) and the Italian submarine Cappellini (Marco Revedin) arrived and participated in the rescue. The next day, U-156 and another U-boat were attacked by American B-24 Liberator aircraft operating from Ascension, this incident lead to the famous Laconia order (for more info use the link at the bottom of this page).

Between 17 and 20 September, 1083 survivors (among them 415 Italians) were picked up from lifeboats or directly from the U-boats by the Vichy French warships Gloire, Dumont d´Urville and Annamite and taken to Dakar. The 668 Allied survivors were brought to Casablanca by Gloire on 26 September. On board were 1 officer and 178 ratings of the Royal Navy, 17 officers and 87 ratings from the British Army, 9 officers and 70 ratings from the Royal Air Force, 8 officers and 178 men from the Merchant Navy, 1 officer and 69 ratings from the Free Polish Army and 50 women and children.

More infoMore on this vessel 
On boardWe have details of 1579 people who were on board

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Media links

The sinking of the laconia and the u-boat war

Duffy, James P.

One Common Enemy

McLoughlin, Jim

The Sinking of the Laconia

Grossmith, Frederick

The Laconia Affair

Peillard, Léonce

Return to Allied Ships hit by U-boats

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