British Landing ship
|Type:||Landing ship (LST-1)|
|Completed||1942 - Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp, Quincy MA|
|Date of attack||2 Mar 1944||Nationality: British|
|Fate||Sunk by U-744 (Heinz Blischke)|
|Position||48° 00'N, 17° 23'W - Grid BE 5221|
|Complement||180 officers and men (88 dead and 92 survivors).|
|Route||Bizerte, Tunisia - Gibraltar - Plymouth - Southampton|
|Cargo||11 Churchill tanks and 118 army personnel|
|History||Laid down in August 1942 for the US Navy, transferred to the Royal Navy upon completion in November 1942. |
|Notes on event|
At 02.50 hours on 2 March 1944 U-744 fired a spread of four torpedoes at a convoy of four small tankers about 370 miles southwest of Cape Clear and reported sinking three of them. The U-boat retreated after being attacked by a destroyer and unsuccessfully firing a Gnat from the stern torpedo tube at it. In fact, the attacked ships were a group of four landing ships (HMS LST-324, HMS LST-362, HMS LST-413 and HMS LST-427 ) that were detached from the combined convoy MKS-40/SL-149 on 1 March and escorted by HMS Rockwood (L 39) - only HMS LST-362 was actually hit and sunk in this attack.
HMS LST-362 (Lt R.W. Newton, RNR) was struck by one torpedo on starboard side amidships that broke her back. The fore part broke off and sank vertically after drifting away, none of the men in this part of the ship survived the sinking. The stern remained afloat for about three and a half hours before it capsized and sank. HMS LST-324 immediately stopped and began to rescue survivors, picking up 73 men (one officer and 35 ratings of the crew and two officers and 35 ratings of the passengers, but one army rating died and was buried at sea) until being ordered to proceed with the other landing ships and landed them at Falmouth on 3 March. HMS Rockwood (Lt S.R. Le H. Lombard-Hobson, RN) had been heavily damaged by a German gilder bomb in the Mediterranean in November 1943 and only received temporary repairs in order to enable her to return to a shipyard in the UK. Her fighting capability was greatly impaired as the maximum speed was reduced to 15 knots on only one screw, no torpedoes or searchlights were carried and the mixed crew consisted largely of passengers returning from the Middle East. Nevertheless, the commander of HMS Rockwood aggressively engaged the U-boat when it was detected by the radar aboard HMS LST-324 as his own was defective, her reduced speed unknowingly saving the warship from being hit by the Gnat fired at her, but also forcing the U-boat to submerge and carrying out a depth charge attack despite concerns that their detonations might cause sufficient damage to her own weakened engine. The escort destroyer then returned to the sinking position of HMS LST-362 and picked up 22 survivors (the commander, three officers and eight ratings of the crew and one officer and nine ratings of the passengers), but one naval and one army rating died and were buried at sea. The survivors were landed at Plymouth on 4 March.
|On board||We have details of 148 people who were on board.|
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