Ships hit by U-boats

HMS Dunedin (D 93)

British Light cruiser

Photo courtesy of Allan C. Green Collection

NameHMS Dunedin (D 93)
Type:Light cruiser (D-class)
Tonnage4,850 tons
Completed1919 - Sir W.G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Co Ltd, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 
OwnerThe Admiralty 
Date of attack24 Nov 1941Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-124 (Johann Mohr)
Position3° 00'S, 26° 00'W - Grid ES 7985
Complement486 officers and men (419 dead and 67 survivors).
History Completed in October 1919 at the Devonport Dockyard.

HMS Dunedin (I 93) joined the 1st Cruiser Squadron in the Atlantic Fleet and was then loaned to the New Zealand Division in May 1924, replacing the cruiser HMS Chatham. She was refitted in 1931/32 and then returned to Portsmouth after her relief by HMS Leander (75) on 29 Mar 1937. The ship was placed in reserve and used as a training ship until mobilization. HMS Dunedin (D 93) (Capt C.E. Lambe, RN) was allocated to the 12th Cruiser Squadron in the Home Fleet and in September to the 11th Cruiser Squadron in the Orkneys and Shetland Command, based at Kirkwall for service on the Northern Patrol.

In January 1940, the cruiser then went to the Americas and West Indies Station, based at Bermuda. On 2 Mar 1940, HMS Dunedin (D 93) intercepted the German motor merchant Heidelberg (6530 grt), which was scuttled by her crew west of the Windward passage to avoid capture. On 7 Mar 1940, a boarding party from the cruiser prevented the scuttling of the German motor merchant Hannover, which had been captured by HMCS Assiniboine (I 18) (Cdr E. Mainguy, RCN) in the Mona Passage off Dominica. The merchant ship was towed to port by the cruiser and was later converted into the first escort carrier of the Royal Navy, HMS Audacity (D 10).
In June and July 1940, HMS Dunedin (D 93) blockaded the Vichy French Martinique together with HMS Trinidad (46) to get some French warships, among them the carrier Béarn. However, the French ships refused to join the Free French Navy and stayed in the West Indies.

The vessel returned to the Clyde in September 1940 and underwent degaussing and ammunitioning before moving in October to Portsmouth for anti-invasion duties under the new commander Captain R.S. Lovatt. HMS Dunedin (D 93) was then used as convoy escort on the Freetown - UK routes. In December 1940, she formed part of the escort for the troop convoy WS-5A (consisting of 20 merchants and the aircraft carriers HMS Argus (D 49) and HMS Furious (47), used to ferry aircraft to Takoradi), together with HMS Berwick (65) and HMS Bonaventure (31). In the morning of 25 December, the convoy was attacked by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper (Kpt z.S. Meisel) about 700 miles west of Cape Finisterre, but the action was inconclusive, the German cruiser was driven off by HMS Berwick (65), which was hit twice and only two ships in the convoy had been damaged. HMS Dunedin (D 93) did not get into action.

On 8 Apr 1941, HMS Dunedin (D 93) left England for the South Atlantic Station. In the aftermath of the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck, the cruiser was dispatched together with HMS Eagle (94) on 29 May to search for a German supply ship reported by the Enigma code-breakers of Bletchley Park as being somewhere in the area of 25°N/34°W. After extensive searching in the central Atlantic, a Swordfish aircraft from the carrier spotted and attacked the German fleet oiler Lothringen (10,746 grt) on 15 June. The tanker had been sent out to supply the Bismarck, but was then used to refuel U-boats after the loss of the battleship. HMS Dunedin (D 93), with one boiler out of action, made best speed to the scene and found the damaged tanker in 19°49N/30°30W. The German crew members from the merchant navy had refused to scuttle their vessel, so the cruiser was able to send a boarding party on board, which sailed the ship to Bermuda. Some important Enigma material was later found where it had fallen behind a filing cabinet in the wireless room. The tanker was repaired and then used by the Royal Navy as fleet oiler Empire Salvage.

On 22 Jun 1941, HMS Dunedin (D 93) captured the Vichy French Ville de Rouen off Natal, then on 30 June the Vichy French steam merchant Ville de Tamatave (4993 grt) east of the St. Paul’s Rocks and finally on 1 July the Vichy French D´Entrecasteaux
Notes on event

In November 1941 the Admiralty learned from decrypted Enigma messages that the German armed merchant raider Atlantis (Schiff 16) (Kpt z.S. Rogge) and the supply ship Python operated in the South Atlantic and ordered the three cruisers HMS Devonshire (39), HMS Dorsetshire (40) and HMS Dunedin (D 93) to track them down independently. On 22 November, HMS Devonshire (39) (Capt R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) encountered the Atlantis, which was refueling U-126 (Bauer) north of Ascension. The raider scuttled herself and the U-boat was not able to attack the cruiser, but then started a rescue operation for the survivors. Two days later the survivors were transferred to the Python, which was then ordered to refuel U-124.

In the afternoon on the same day, U-124, on her way to the rendezvous, sighted the unescorted HMS Dunedin (D 93) (Capt R.S. Lovatt, RN), steaming a zigzag pattern at 17 knots east of St. Paul’s Rock. The U-boat raced ahead of the ship´s path and dived for a submerged attack. The lookouts on the cruiser saw the periscope at 14.50 hours and changed course to chase the U-boat, but the course of the U-boat was mis-intepreted so HMS Dunedin (D 93) turned away. The approaching U-124 suddenly came to the surface for a brief moment, but remained unseen. The forward hydroplanes jammed and the LI had trouble to get the boat under control. As Mohr was able to see through his periscope again the cruiser was not in sight, but then he spotted the vessel at a range of over three miles, which was now well past of a favourable attack range. Mohr decided to fire a spread of three torpedoes at 15.21 hours. After 5 minutes and 23 seconds, two torpedoes struck the cruiser, which rolled first to port then to starboard before sinking stern first after 17 minutes. The first torpedo struck amidships and wrecked the main wireless station. The second torpedo struck further aft, probably near the quarters of the officers, dismounting the after 6in gun and blowing away the starboard screw. About 250 survivors managed to leave the ship by jumping overboard. They rescued themselves onto seven Carley floats and floating debris. The U-boat surfaced and circled the survivors for about ten minutes but then left.
Only 72 survivors were still alive on the six floats found by the American steam merchant Nishmaha, en route from Takoradi to Philadelphia, three days after the sinking. Many survivors drowned, some died of their injuries, others died of exhaustion and some were bitten and killed by sharks. Five of the rescued men died before the merchant ship reached Trinidad, thus only four officers and 63 ratings survived the sinking.

On 1 December, the Python (Kptlt Lueders), refueling UA (Eckermann) and U-68 (Merten), was found by the third cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (40) (Capt A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) in 27°53S/03°55W. Both U-boat immediately submerged and UA fired five torpedoes at the cruiser but missed. The Python scuttled herself after the first shots were fired by the cruiser. An operation was started by both U-boats to rescue the 414 survivors from Python and Atlantis and took their floats in tow. Two days later, U-129 (Clausen) took over the whole crew of Python and U-124 (Mohr) joined the other boats on 5 December. Between 14 and 18 December, the most survivors from Atlantis were transferred to the Italian submarines Luigi Torelli (KKpt de Giacomo), Enrico Tazzoli (KKpt Fecia di Cossato), Giuseppe Finzi (KKpt Giudice) and Pietro Calvi (KKpt Olivieri) and were taken to St. Nazaire. All survivors arrived in French ports between 23 and 29 December.

On boardWe have details of 424 people who were on board

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Media links

U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor
(£ 38.25)

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