Ships hit by U-boats

William C. Gorgas

American Steam merchant

NameWilliam C. Gorgas
Type:Steam merchant (Liberty)
Tonnage7,197 tons
Completed1943 - Alabama Dry Dock & Shipbuilding Co, Mobile AL 
OwnerWaterman Steamship Co, Mobile AL 
Date of attack11 Mar 1943Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-757 (Friedrich Deetz)
Position51° 35'N, 28° 30'W - Grid AK 9872
Complement73 (22 dead and 51 survivors).
RouteMobile - New York (28 Feb) - Belfast Lough - Swansea 
Cargo8000 tons of general cargo, including metals, foodstuffs, cotton, 900 tons of explosives (TNT) and aircraft, a landing craft and two PT boats as deck cargo 
History Completed in January 1943 
Notes on event

At 02.42 hours on 11 March 1943 the William C. Gorgas (Master James Calvin Ellis Jr.) in station #131 of convoy HX-228 was hit on the starboard side amidships by one FAT torpedo from U-757. The explosion opened a hole 15 feet in diameter at the engine room, killed the three men on watch below and flooded the room. The survivors among the eight officers, 35 crewmen and 27 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) abandoned ship in four lifeboats in rough seas and snow, breaking one of the boats when lowered. The U-boat located the ship with a broken back behind convoy and questioned the survivors in one of the lifeboats, misunderstanding the name of the ship was William P. Palmer. At 04.38 hours, a coup de grâce hit aft and caused the ship first to settle by the stern and then to sink by the bow. The landing craft HMS LCT-2398 was lost with the ship. After one minute, the explosives stored in the #1 hold detonated underwater and seriously damaged the U-boat because it was lifted up and shaken badly. Several crewmen were injured and the starboard diesel and both batteries were put out of action, leaving the boat unable to dive. On 13 and 14 March, she met U-119 (Zech) for medical assistance, but due to high seas it was not possible to transfer the doctor, so U-757 had to be escorted by U-359 (Förster) to France.

51 survivors were picked up after five hours by HMS Harvester (H 19) (Cdr A.A. Tait, DSO, RN), but only eight crewmen and four armed guards survived when the destroyer was sunk by U-432 (Eckhardt) in the afternoon. They were rescued by FFL Aconit (K 58) and landed at Gourock.

On boardWe have details of 62 people who were on board

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