Ships hit by U-boats

HMS Cape Howe (X 02)

British Special service vessel

Cape Howe before her conversion to a Q-ship

NameHMS Cape Howe (X 02)
Type:Special service vessel (SSV)
Tonnage4,443 tons
Completed1930 - Lithgows Ltd, Port Glasgow 
OwnerThe Admiralty 
Date of attack21 Jun 1940Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-28 (Günter Kuhnke)
Position49° 44'N, 8° 52'W - Grid BF 1561
Complement97 (57 dead and 40 survivors).
RouteScapa Flow (14 June) - patrol area off Ireland - Halifax 
CargoBuoyant cargo 
History Completed in July 1930 as steam merchant Knight Almoner for Ottoman Line Ltd (Pardoe-Thomas & Co), Newport. 1934 renamed Cape Howe for Lyle Shipping Co Ltd, Glasgow. On 15 September 1939 requisitioned by the Royal Navy and converted to a Q-ship in Portsmouth, fitted with Asdic and a concealed armament of seven 4in guns, four machine guns, four 21in torpedo tubes and 100 depth charges. Commissioned in March 1940 as special service vessel (SSV) HMS Cape Howe (X 02) with the cover name Prunella in service as Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). 
Notes on event

At 08.46 hours on 21 June 1940 HMS Cape Howe (X 02) (A/Cdr E.L. Woodhall, DSO, MVO, RN), disguised as Prunella, was hit on the starboard side near the bridge by one of two torpedoes fired by U-28 about 100 miles west of the Isles of Scilly. The explosion blew open the hatches of #1 hold, put the Asdic and steering gear out of order and mortally injured two crewmen. The panic party abandoned the now slowly circling ship in two lifeboats but the U-boat did not surface and fired a coup de grâce after about one hour that hit on port side amidships, causing her to slowly settle by the bow until sinking with a list to port at 12.30 hours.

The ship settling by the bow after being torpedoed.

The survivors found themselves in two lifeboats, one jolly boat, two Carley floats and a raft which they tried to keep together until losing touch the next morning in bad weather. Two days after the sinking, the 27 survivors in one of the lifeboats were picked up after being spotted by a Sunderland by the French steam merchant Casamance in 48°10N/08°28W and landed in Falmouth on 25 June. 13 survivors were picked up from a raft by HMS Versatile (D 32) (Cdr J.H. Jauncey, RN) in 48°47N/07°59W on 27 June and landed the next day in Devonport. The commander, seven officers and 49 ratings were lost.

On boardWe have details of 57 people who were on board

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Media links

In Peril on the Sea

Kane, James S.

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