Ships hit by U-boats

San Demetrio

British Motor tanker

Photo courtesy of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, P14592

NameSan Demetrio
Type:Motor tanker
Tonnage8,073 tons
Completed1938 - Blythswood Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Glasgow 
OwnerEagle Oil & Shipping Co Ltd, London 
Date of attack17 Mar 1942Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-404 (Otto von B├╝low)
Position37° 03'N, 73° 50'W - Grid CA 8163
Complement53 (19 dead and 34 survivors).
RouteBaltimore (14 Mar) - Halifax - UK 
Cargo4000 tons of alcohol and 7000 tons of motor spirit 
History Completed in December 1938

On 5 November 1940 the San Demetrio was shelled by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer in convoy HX-84 and the crew immediately abandoned her after the highly inflammable cargo caught fire. The lifeboat in charge of the Second Officer Arthur G. Hawkins with two engineers and 14 crewmen sighted the still burning tanker two days later, boarded the ship and got the fire under control. They brought the badly damaged tanker under own power into the Clyde on 16 November, despite having no charts, radio or navigating instrument - the Second Officer was awarded the OBE for his skill and gallantry. 
Notes on event

At 02.16 hours on 17 March 1942 the unescorted San Demetrio (Master Conrad Vidot) was torpedoed and sunk by U-404 northwest of Cape Charles, Virginia. 16 crew members and three gunners were lost. The U-boat inspected the lifeboats but did not communicate with the survivors and soon submerged again. The master, 26 crew members and seven gunners were picked up after two days by the American merchant Beta and landed at Norfolk, Viriginia.

The master Conrad Vidot was awarded the Lloyds War Medal for bravery at sea.

On boardWe have details of 53 people who were on board

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