Ships hit by U-boats


British Steam merchant

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Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage5,780 tons
Completed1927 - Lithgows Ltd, Port Glasgow 
OwnerJ. & J. Denholm Ltd, Glasgow 
Date of attack24 Oct 1942Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-516 (Gerhard Wiebe)
Position13° 11'N, 47° 00'W - Grid EF 8331
Complement50 (2 dead and 48 survivors).
RouteLourenço Marques - Capetown (30 Sep) - Trinidad - Philadelphia 
History Completed in March 1927 
Notes on event

At 11.07 hours on 24 Oct 1942 the unescorted Holmpark (Master Alfred Cromarty) was hit on the port side abreast the mainmast between #4 and #5 holds by one of two torpedoes from U-516 while steaming on a non-evasive course at 9 knots about 730 miles east of Barbados. The explosion stopped the engines, blew off the hatch covers, buckled the deck slightly and destroyed one of the rafts. The ship developed a slight list to port and settled quickly by the stern after both affected holds immediately flooded because the bulkhead between them had collapsed and sank in less than four minutes. Most of the 42 crew members and eight gunners (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 12pdr and four machine guns) began to abandon ship in both lifeboats in calm seas and the port boat in charge of the chief officer was safely lowered although the starboard boat in charge of the second officer had difficulties and had to be left behind, so these survivors released and boarded the remaining three rafts. The wireless operators sent two distress signals but received no reply and then tried to leave the ship in the jolly boat together with the master. However, the ship sank so fast that the three men had to jump overboard and swam to the nearby rafts. One crew member was pulled down by the suction of the sinking ship and drowned. In the meantime the U-boat surfaced off the starboard side and approached the port lifeboat to question the survivors. The Germans asked the chief officer the usual questions and wished the survivors good luck when departing.

Due to the haste of pulling away from the ship, the overcrowded lifeboat was slightly waterlogged and had to transfer six men to each rafts in order to bail it out. Six more men were transferred to the capsized starboard lifeboat to right it, but its tanks were damaged and could not be kept upright so they were taken aboard by the other boat again. The master then took charge of the lifeboat and set sail on a westerly course with the three rafts in tow. One of the rafts became waterlogged during the second day and the men and stores had to be transferred to the boat before it was cast adrift, this was also done with another raft on the third day and one day later the remaining raft had to be abandoned. A lifeboat designed for 40 men then held 49 and this made conditions very cramped with no room for anyone to lie down or move about, but it was necessary to continually bail it. The survivors had plenty of drinking water as it was raining nearly every day and enough food for another 18 days when sighting land on 8 November and making landfall at Port Dennery, St. Lucia. They had only once observed an aircraft during their voyage and no ships. The men were then taken by bus to St. Lucia, where quite a number of them were treated in a hospital as they were suffering from severe sunburn. A deck boy died of internal injuries while in the hospital on 13 November and was buried on St. Lucia.

The master Alfred Cromarty was awarded the OBE and Lloyd ’s War Medal for bravery at sea.

On boardWe have details of 8 people who were on board

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