Ships hit by U-boats


British Motor merchant

Photo courtesy of Stuart Smith

Type:Motor merchant
Tonnage4,996 tons
Completed1936 - William Doxford & Sons Ltd, Sunderland 
OwnerWhalton Shipping Co Ltd (Stephens, Sutton Ltd), Newcastle-upon-Tyne 
Date of attack19 Oct 1942Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-332 (Johannes Liebe)
Position13° 34'N, 54° 34'W - Grid EE 6782
Complement42 (2 dead and 40 survivors).
RouteDurban (25 Sep) - Trinidad - New York 
CargoWater ballast 
History Completed in December 1936. In October 1940 the Rothley rescued 27 survivors from the Haulerwijk that had been sunk by U-32 (Jenisch) on 30 September. 
Notes on event

At 08.23 hours on 19 October 1942 the unescorted Rothley (Master Cyril John Forster) was hit on starboard side just ahead of the bridge by one G7e torpedo from U-332 while steaming on a non-evasive course at 11 knots in clear weather about 300 miles east of Barbados. The U-boat had chased the ship for three hours and observed how the explosion blew debris into the air. A fire broke out in tween decks and the immediate flooding of #1 and #2 holds caused the ship to sink vertically by the bow within 13 minutes. One crew member and one gunner were lost. The surviving crew members and gunners (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 12pdr and four machine guns) were not able to send a distress signal or launch a lifeboat, so all were thrown into the water at first and clung to wreckage until they were able to reach a waterlogged lifeboat and a raft that had floated free. The survivors in the boat were interrogated by the Germans before the U-boat left the area. The chief officer had answered the usual questions about name and route of the ship because the master remained silent when they asked for him. The lifeboat was bailed out and manned with 32 men, taking the raft with 8 men in tow when the sail was hoisted. After sailing 196 miles in four and a half days the survivors were picked up by the Spanish tanker Campeche in position 12°24N, 56°10W on 23 October and subsequently landed at Aruba three days later.

On boardWe have details of 5 people who were on board

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