Ships hit by U-boats

Président Doumer

British Troop transport

Photo courtesy of Philippe Ramona

NamePrésident Doumer
Type:Troop transport
Tonnage11,898 tons
Completed1935 - Société Provençale de Constructions Navales, La Ciotat 
OwnerBibby Brothers & Co, Liverpool 
Date of attack30 Oct 1942Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-604 (Horst Höltring)
Position35° 08'N, 16° 44'W - Grid CF 9868
Complement345 (260 dead and 85 survivors).
RouteFreetown (16 Oct) - UK 
CargoGeneral cargo, including 50 tons of palm kernels 
History Completed in May 1935 as French motor passenger ship Président Doumer for Cie des Messageries Maritimes, Marseilles. On 3 Sep 1939, requisitioned by the French Navy as troopship and sailed on 18 Apr 1940 from Brest to Scapa Flow in convoy FP-2 together with the troopships Flandre and Djenné, escorted by Tartu, Chevalier-Paul and Milan to bring the 27th Demi-Brig. Chasseurs Alpins (LtCol Valentini) to Norway. The convoy left Scapa Flow on 24 April, the escort reinforced by HMS Codrington (D 65) and HMS Fame (H 78) and arrived three days later. On 28 April, they landed the troops in Salangen and Bogen near Narvik. Within a week the troops had to be re-embarked because Norway was evacuated.

On 19 Jul 1940, the Président Doumer was taken over by Britain in Ismaïlia, Suez and handed over to the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) as troopship. The master, Jean Paul Mantelet (a former pilot of the Suez Canal), 74 crew members and 20 French naval marines remained on board, while the rest of the crew was repatriated to France aboard the French steam passenger ship Athos II
Notes on event

At 21.29 hours on 30 Oct 1942 the Président Doumer (Master Jean Paul Mantelet) in convoy SL-125 was torpedoed and sunk by U-604 northeast of Madeira in very bad weather. Panic broke out and the lifeboats were cut down and crushed. Many of the survivors were struggling in the sea, while Alaska (Master Berge Mevatne) began to pick up survivors. The master, 173 crew members, 23 gunners and 63 troops were lost. 78 crew members and seven gunners were rescued by Alaska and HMS Cowslip (K 196) (LtCdr F. Granger, RNR), which landed them at Gibraltar.

At 00.03 hours on 31 October, the Alaska was hit by a torpedo from U-510 (Neitzel) and the 56 survivors who had been saved from the troopship again broke out in panic. The Norwegian crew had their hands full to prevent the lifeboats lines being cut before they reached the water. The ship did not sink and managed to reach Lisbon on 11 November.

On boardWe have details of 195 people who were on board

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