Ships hit by U-boats

Saint Denis

French Steam merchant

Saint Denis under her former name Viola. Photo courtesy of Danish Maritime Museum, Elsinore

NameSaint Denis
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage1,595 tons
Completed1929 - Helsingørs Jernskibs-og Maskinbyggeri A/S, Elsinore 
OwnerCie Delmas-Vieljeux, La Rochelle 
HomeportLa Rochelle 
Date of attack9 Dec 1941Nationality:      French
FateSunk by U-652 (Georg-Werner Fraatz)
Position38° 22'N, 3° 30'E - Grid CH 9122
Complement? men (3 dead and ? survivors).
RouteAlgiers - Marseilles 
CargoGeneral cargo, including scrap iron, esparto grass, wine and foodstuffs 
History Completed in September 1929 as Danish Viola for A/S D/S Torm (A. Schmiegelow & Axel Kampen), Copenhagen. On 17 April 1940 seized by a British warship near Gibraltar, but then handed over to the French at Oran as she was carrying cargo of French owners and renamed Saint Denis. Came under Vichy French control at Casablanca on 10 July 1940. 
Notes on event

At 12.42 hours on 9 December 1941 U-652 passed the unescorted and neutral Saint Denis about 60 miles south of Mallorca, Balearic Islands and intercepted a radio message that reported their position on the distress frequency. The Germans also noticed inadequate neutrality markings and therefore ordered the ship to stop for examination, but instead of sending a boat with the ship’s papers a further radio message was sent, stating that the ship was being attacked by a U-boat and again mentioning their position. Due to this hostile action U-652 hit the ship with a first torpedo at 14.01 hours, followed by a coup de grâce ten minutes later. Saint Denis sank immediately after being struck amidships by the second torpedo. The crew had abandoned ship after the first hit, but three men were lost.

On boardWe have details of 2 people who were on board

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