Ships hit by U-boats


British Steam merchant

Photo Courtesy of Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage5,298 tons
Completed1918 - Short Bros, Pallion, Sunderland 
OwnerLamport & Holt Ltd, Liverpool 
Date of attack15 Feb 1942Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-98 (Robert Gysae)
Position41° 15'N, 47° 18'W - Grid CC 3675
Complement50 (50 dead - no survivors)
ConvoyON-62 (dispersed)
RouteLiverpool (1 Feb) - Buenos Aires 
CargoGeneral cargo 
History Completed in September 1918 as War Mastiff for The Shipping Controller, managed by J. & C. Harrison, London. 1919 renamed Biela for Lamport & Holt Ltd, Liverpool. On 18 Nov 1940, the Biela was bombed and damaged by a German aircraft about 230 miles west of Ireland in 52°26N/16°31W. 
Notes on event

At 00.26 hours on 15 Feb 1942 the unescorted Biela (Master David Anderson), dispersed from station #32 in convoy ON-62, was hit by two torpedoes from U-98 about 400 miles southeast of Cape Race. The U-boat had spotted the ship more than 11 hours earlier and missed her with a spread of four torpedoes at 13.38 hours on 14 February, probably because the launch of the torpedo from the third tube failed. The Germans then temporarily lost contact with Biela when chasing her in bad visibility until suddenly spotting the ship again in a distance of only 1000 meters at 17.53 hours. The ship immediately sent a distress signal with her name and that she was chased by a U-boat and tried to escape on a zigzag course at high speed, but the U-boat eventually managed to carry out a successful attack during the night after a chase of more than 100 miles. The freighter developed a heavy list after being hit and the crew was observed to abandon ship in three lifeboats and several rafts after sending another distress signal. Biela broke in two and sank after being struck by a coup de grâce fired from the stern torpedo tube at 00.46 hours. Before leaving the area, the Germans questioned the survivors in the lifeboats who confirmed the name of the vessel already known from her distress signals. However, the survivors were never seen again and the master, 44 crew members and five gunners were lost. The ship was presumed lost in 42°55N/45°40W, the last position mentioned in her distress signals, but this is about 120 miles from the sinking position recorded by the Germans.

On boardWe have details of 50 people who were on board

If you can help us with any additional information on this vessel then please contact us.

Return to Allied Ships hit by U-boats