Ships hit by U-boats

Empire Arnold

British Steam merchant

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NameEmpire Arnold
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage7,045 tons
Completed1942 - William Gray & Co Ltd, West Hartlepool 
OwnerSir R. Ropner & Co Ltd, West Hartlepool 
HomeportWest Hartlepool 
Date of attack4 Aug 1942Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-155 (Adolf Cornelius Piening)
Position10° 45'N, 52° 30'W - Grid EF 7784
Complement57 (9 dead and 48 survivors).
ConvoyE-6 (dispersed)
RouteNew York - Port of Spain, Trinidad (1 Aug) - Capetown - Alexandria 
Cargo10,000 tons of military stores, including trucks, tanks and aircraft 
History Completed in May 1942 for Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) 
Notes on event

At 16.15 hours on 4 Aug 1942 the Empire Arnold (Master Frederick Tate), dispersed on 3 August from convoy E-6, was hit on the starboard side by two G7a stern torpedoes from U-155 while steaming on a zigzag course at 10 knots about 500 miles east of Trinidad. The first torpedo hit in #4 hold and the second in the engine room, killing six men on watch below and collapsing the funnel. The chief engineer standing on deck was killed by falling debris. The starboard aft lifeboat and raft were destroyed by the explosions and the port aft lifeboat swamped on launch, so the surviving crew members, eight gunners (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 20mm and four machine guns) and two passengers (American military personnel) began to abandon ship in the remaining two boats and two rafts. No distress signal was sent because the wireless station had been destroyed and the emergency set was lost with the swamped lifeboat. Five men tried to launch a third raft when the ship rapidly sank by the stern about 7 minutes after the hits, leaving a large field of wreckage on the surface. They were pulled down by the suction of the sinking ship and only three of them were rescued by the boats, a gunner and a crewman drowned. The U-boat surfaced and questioned the survivors in both lifeboats, taking the master as prisoner aboard. On 15 September, he was landed at Lorient and taken to the POW camp Milag Nord. The Germans gave the men in the boats the course to the nearest land and asked if they had enough water, also providing a pack of cigarettes when they were asked for it and taking care of two injured survivors. One of the German sailors even dived into the sea to rescue a boy clinging to debris and brought him to U-155, where he was questioned and then put in one of the boats. The U-boat commander apologized for sinking the ship and when the chief officer told him that it was a bad business and wished it was all over, he replied So do I.

All survivors were transferred into the two lifeboats and the rafts cut loose after taking all food and water from them. They set sail for Trinidad in fine weather and kept together for about five days until separated during a rain squall. On 11 August, the boat in charge of the second officer was spotted by an aircraft that dropped provisions and alerted the nearby Canadian steam merchant Lawrendoc, which picked up the 24 occupants (including both passengers) and landed them at Georgetown, British Guiana on 12 August. On 10 August, the boat of the chief officer had been spotted by an aircraft after a smoke float was ignited, but no help arrived until the 23 occupants were picked up by the Norwegian steam merchant Dalvangen after attracting her with flares in the evening on 11 August and landed at Georgetown on 14 August. The boat had sailed 480 miles in 7 days.

On boardWe have details of 35 people who were on board

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