Ships hit by U-boats

HMS Willamette Valley (X 39)

British Special service vessel

West Lynn before her conversion to a Q-ship. Photo Courtesy of Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart

NameHMS Willamette Valley (X 39)
Type:Special service vessel (SSV)
Tonnage4,724 tons
Completed1928 - Napier & Miller Ltd, Old Kilpatrick, Glasgow 
OwnerThe Admiralty 
Date of attack29 Jun 1940Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-51 (Dietrich Knorr)
Position49° 27'N, 15° 25'W - Grid BE 3476
Complement92 (67 dead and 25 survivors).
CargoBuoyant cargo 
History Completed in October 1928 as motor merchant West Lynn for Reardon Smith Line Ltd (Sir William Reardon Smith & Sons Ltd), Cardiff. 1931 renamed Willamette Valley for Oakwin SS Co Ltd (Sir William Reardon Smith & Sons Ltd), Bideford. On 17 September 1939 requisitioned by the Royal Navy and converted to a Q-ship at Chatham, fitted with Asdic and a concealed armament of nine 4in guns, one 12pdr gun, four machine guns, four 21in torpedo tubes and 100 depth charges. Commissioned in January 1940 as special service vessel (SSV) HMS Willamette Valley (X 39) with the cover name Edgehill in service as Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). 
Notes on event

At 00.12 hours on 29 June 1940 the unescorted HMS Willamette Valley (X 39) (LtCdr R.E.D. Ryder, RN), disguised as Edgehill, was hit amidships by one torpedo from U-51 about 250 miles west-southwest of Cape Clear. The ship stopped but did not sink due to her buoyant cargo. The U-boat surfaced and fired a coup de grĂ¢ce at 01.06 hours, but it needed a third torpedo at 01.24 hours to let the vessel sink slowly by the stern and capsizing to port. 23 survivors in a lifeboat were picked up by the French trawler Donibane on 4 July and landed at Penzance the next day. The commander rescued himself on a piece of flotsam and was rescued by a passing ship on 2 July and eventually landed at Plymouth. Another crew member was also rescued from a piece of debris on 6 July.

On boardWe have details of 73 people who were on board

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