Ships hit by U-boats

Richard Bland

American Steam merchant

NameRichard Bland
Type:Steam merchant (Liberty)
Tonnage7,191 tons
Completed1942 - Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards Inc, Baltimore MD 
OwnerAmerican-South African Line Inc, New York 
Date of attack10 Mar 1943Nationality:      American
FateA total loss by U-255 (Reinhart Reche)
Position66° 53'N, 14° 10'W - Grid AE 2824
Complement69 (34 dead and 35 survivors).
RouteMurmansk (1 Mar) - Loch Ewe - New York 
Cargo4000 tons of lumber 
History Completed in April 1942 
Notes on event

At 09.26 hours on 5 March 1943, U-255 fired a spread of three torpedoes at convoy RA-53 in 72°44N/11°27E and heard two detonations. The Executive was sunk and Richard Bland was damaged, but five days later finished off by the same U-boat.

The Richard Bland (Master Lawrence Dodd) was struck on the starboard side by the third torpedo at the #1 hold. The torpedo did not explode, passed through the ship and went out the port side, creating holes of eight foot on either side. It cracked the deck and ruptured the collision bulkhead and flooded the forepeak tank, causing a starboard list. The ship remained with convoy with only a slightly reduced speed but on the night of 6 March straggled from convoy due gale force winds and rough seas and proceeded towards Iceland.

At 16.36 hours on 10 March, U-255 found the Richard Bland about 35 miles off Langanes, Iceland and fired a spread of three torpedoes, but only one torpedo struck on the port side at the #4 hatch. At 16.47 hours, a second torpedo hit on the port side at the fireroom, bending the propeller shaft, flooding the #4 and #5 holds. Soon after the torpedo hit, the ship broke in two just forward of the bridge . A coup de grâce at 16.56 hours missed, but another at 21.07 hours apparently hit the stern section, which sank at 22.03 hours. The forward section was towed to Akureyri, Iceland where the ship was declared a total loss.

After the first hit, the master ordered two weather boats launched, each carrying four men, and they rode at their painters until time to abandon ship. In attempting to pass these boats around the ship, the painters were lost and the boats drifted astern. The remaining men of the nine officers, 32 crewmen and 28 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 12lb, eight 20mm, two .50cal and two .30cal guns) had to abandon ship in two lifeboats after the second hit in rough seas. One overcrowded boat got away with only inches of freeboard, many clung to the side until they lost strength and drowned. The boat of the master is thought to have swamped and was never seen again. 27 survivors in the overcrowded boat were picked up after 13 hours by HMS Impulsive (D 11) (LtCdr E.G. Roper, DSO, DSC, RN) and landed at Seydisfjord, Iceland on 13 March. The two boats launched with four men in each were picked up the same morning, four of them landed at Reykjavik on 16 March and the others were taken to Scapa Flow. The master, five officers, 13 crewmen and 15 armed guards were lost.

On boardWe have details of 34 people who were on board

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