Ships hit by U-boats

Clan Mactavish

British Steam merchant

Photo Courtesy of Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart

NameClan Mactavish
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage7,631 tons
Completed1921 - Ayrshire Dockyard Co Ltd, Irvine 
OwnerThe Clan Line Steamers Ltd (Cayzer, Irvine & Co Ltd), London 
Date of attack8 Oct 1942Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-159 (Helmut Friedrich Witte)
Position34° 53'S, 16° 45'E - Grid GR 5856
Complement128 (61 dead and 67 survivors).
RouteBeira - Durban (4 Oct) - Trinidad - New York 
Cargo4597 tons of copper, 1180 tons of extract, 280 tons of general cargo and 1877 bags of POW mail 
History Completed in May 1921 
Notes on event

At 09.07 hours on 8 Oct 1942 the unescorted Clan Mactavish (Master Ernest Edwin Arthur) was hit on the port side in #2 hold by one torpedo from U-159 about 100 miles west-southwest of Capetown. The U-boat had spotted the ship steaming at full speed of 9.5 knots towards Capetown shortly after she picked up 35 survivors of Boringia, which had been sunk by the same U-boat only a few hours earlier and then missed her with a first torpedo at 09.05 hours. The vessel settled rapidly by the head and sank by the bow within two minutes, leaving the crew no time to launch the three lifeboats and they rescued themselves on rafts that floated free or clung to wreckage and upturned boats. The master, 51 crew members, two gunners (the ship was armed with one 4.7in, one 12pdr and four machine guns) and seven of the survivors were lost. Two of the capsized lifeboats were later righted and picked up the men swimming in the water. At 09.45 hours, U-159 surfaced to question the survivors but had to dive again when an aircraft approached shortly thereafter. The U-boat was not spotted, but the presence of the aircraft prevented it to get into an attack position on the British steam merchant Matheran, which was directed to the lifeboats by the aircraft and picked up 36 crew members, three gunners and 28 survivors at 13.20 hours and landed them at Capetown on 9 October.

On boardWe have details of 60 people who were on board

If you can help us with any additional information on this vessel then please contact us.

Return to Allied Ships hit by U-boats