Ships hit by U-boats


Norwegian Motor merchant

Type:Motor merchant
Tonnage4,801 tons
Completed1939 - Kockums Mekaniska Verksteds A/B, Malmö 
OwnerS. Holter-Sørensen, Oslo 
Date of attack15 Sep 1942Nationality:      Norwegian
FateSunk by U-515 (Werner Henke)
Position10° 45'N, 60° 00'W - Grid EO 1129
Complement38 (7 dead and 31 survivors).
RouteBuenos Aires (29 Aug) - Trinidad - New York 
Cargo8500 tons of general cargo, including canned meats, 2600 tons of hides, wool and 2300 tons of vegeta 
History Completed in March 1939 
Notes on event

At 07.14 hours on 15 Sep 1942 the unescorted Sørholt (Master Jørgen Alfred Jacobsen) was hit by two torpedoes from U-515 about 100 miles east of Trinidad. The first struck on the starboard side aft and destroyed the cabins, opened up #5 hatch and detonated the ammunition of the 4in stern gun. Three men were killed in the cabins and another was blown overboard through the hole in the side and was later picked up by the lifeboats. One gunner was killed under the gun platform, while a second gunner was trapped there. The second torpedo hit amidships in the engine room, disabled the engine, killed two men on watch below and destroyed both starboard lifeboats. The surviving crew members and passengers tried to launch a port lifeboat, but due to the damage on the boat deck, it had to be released before reaching the water, so it swamped and drifted off with only three occupants on board. Ten survivors abandoned ship in the gig, the only remaining lifeboat that could be used. In the meantime the master and some other crew members released two rafts on the fore deck and nine men boarded the one on starboard.

As the ship settled by the stern, she was hit on the starboard side about amidships in the deep tank by a coup de grâce about 10 minutes after the first hit. The explosion lifted the ship up, which broke her in two and sank within seconds. The U-boat surfaced and took the master aboard for questioning. The Germans allowed him to go back to the lifeboats, made apologies for having had to sink his ship, handed over some canned food and cigarettes and left the area.

Several shipmates had tried to help the trapped gunner, but they had to left him behind as the ship settled. Only the detonation of the third torpedo freed him and he managed to jump overboard despite of his serious wounds. After clinging to some debris for some hours, he later swam to an empty raft. During the night, the lifeboat was rightened and the rafts and the gig stayed together. They also picked up eight men from the water and noticed that eight men were missing. At dawn, five men used the gig to investigate the sinking position where they found the gunner. Thereafter, the lifeboats set sail for Trinidad, towing the two rafts. Several aircraft were spotted during the day and that afternoon an American aircraft spotted them and circled above. The weather became worse during the night, but the following morning, they saw land an estimated 15 miles off. In order to increase their speed, one of the rafts was let go after having transferred those who were on it to the lifeboat, and that afternoon they were picked up by two motor torpedo boats and landed at Port of Spain a few hours later. Four of the survivors had been seriously injured.

More infoMore on this vessel 
On boardWe have details of 38 people who were on board

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