Ships hit by U-boats


Norwegian Motor tanker

Photo courtesy of Bjørn Milde Collection

Type:Motor tanker
Tonnage6,852 tons
Completed1930 - William Doxford & Sons Ltd, Sunderland 
OwnerA/S Bill (L. Gill-Johannessen), Oslo 
Date of attack18 May 1942Nationality:      Norwegian
FateSunk by U-162 (Jürgen Wattenberg)
Position11° 48'N, 57° 32'W - Grid EE 7338
Complement31 (1 dead and 30 survivors).
RoutePort of Spain, Trinidad (16 May) - Freetown 
Cargo10,109 tons of fuel oil 
History Completed in September 1930. Since 1941 in Admiralty service as Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). 
Notes on event

At 02.10 hours on 18 May 1942 the unescorted Beth (Master Hans Gulliksen) was hit on starboard side in the bow by one of two G7a torpedoes from U-162 while steaming on a non-evasive course at 9.5 knots in a dark night without moon about 135 miles east-southeast of Barbados. The second torpedo missed about 15 meters astern. Her forecastle was folded up by the explosion and oil from the #1 tank blown all over the ship. Most of the crew of 31 men (the ship was armed with one 4.7in and two machine guns) abandoned ship in both lifeboats aft and the motorboat after sending a distress signal, picking up three men who had been blown overboard. As the tanker only settled slowly another G7a torpedo was fired by the U-boat as coup de grâce at 02.56 hours. It struck just aft of amidships in #5 tank and ignited the fuel oil in a big fireball, but the flames soon went out because the Beth immediately listed heavily to starboard and sank by the bow about five minutes after being hit. The only casualty was the boatswain who was last seen during the launch of a lifeboat aft and probably fell into the water and either drowned or was crushed between the boat and the side of the ship.

U-162 approached the lifeboats after the tanker had sunk and the Germans questioned the survivors, asking the usual questions about name, cargo and destination, but also if anyone was injured and whether they could be of any assistance. However, the survivors refused their help and the U-boat subsequently left the scene. The lifeboats had become separated in the darkness, but the motorboat with the master and three men managed to find the port boat with 17 occupants. Together they remained at the sinking position until daylight and then sailed towards Barbados, making landfall at Conset Bay after 36 hours. The third boat with nine survivors landed on Tobago in the evening of 20 May.

More infoMore on this vessel 
On boardWe have details of 31 people who were on board

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