Ships hit by U-boats


British Steam merchant

Photo Courtesy of Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage5,352 tons
Completed1936 - W. Gray & Co Ltd, West Hartlepool 
OwnerW.H. Cockerline & Co, Hull 
Date of attack29 Mar 1941Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-48 (Herbert Schultze)
Position61° 18'N, 22° 05'W - Grid AE 7844
Complement40 (4 dead and 36 survivors).
RouteHalifax (17 Mar) - Liverpool 
Cargo7982 tons of wheat 
History Completed in November 1936 
Notes on event

At 06.27 hours on 29 March 1941, U-48 fired one torpedo at the British steam merchant Masunda in station #33 of convoy HX-115 about 170 miles south of Reykjavik, but the ship evaded the torpedo that missed ahead and the Germans claimed it struck the British motor tanker Athelprince beyond. However, this tanker in station #53 had failed to make the emergency turn carried out by convoy after Hylton was torpedoed and came close to Germanic (Master Richard Mortimer) in station #43 which was the ship actually hit by the torpedo. They had seen its track approaching from the port quarter too late before it struck at the after end of the engine room just forward of #4 hold. The explosion threw up a huge column of water and a terrific amount of debris, wrecked the engine, killed the four men on watch below and injured six crew members. No distress signals were sent because the aerials were gone. While the ship settled by the stern, the master, 34 crew members and one gunner (the ship was armed with one 4in and two machine guns) began to abandon ship in the starboard lifeboat as the other on the port side had been destroyed. The injured men were lowered into the boat lying alongside, one of them had been found lying on deck with a badly battered face after he apparently had been struck by debris of the port lifeboat. After ten minutes the boat left after everyone except the engine room staff was accounted for, but returned 15 minutes later when they saw a light flashed aboard. The chief and second engineer had been knocked unconscious as they were both in the vicinity of the explosion and recovered only after the boat left, suffering from severe shock but were otherwise not badly injured. They were taken aboard and the boat waited nearby in order to reboard their ship at daylight. At dawn the abandoned Hylton was spotted in some distance and her survivors rowed over to the lifeboat of Germanic to ask if some men could be transferred from their overcrowded boat, but they were also filled to capacity. Soon HMS Sabre (H 18) (Lt P.W. Gretton, DSC, RN) appeared and towed both lifeboats back to their vessels to check if they could be saved. The master wanted to go back aboard to recover some of the gear and asked a nearby armed trawler to take the injured men and the Arab crew members off first, but the trawler left to assist in the hunt for the U-boat. The survivors from both ships were eventually picked up by HMS Dianella (K 07) (T/Lt J.G. Rankin, RNR) and landed at Londonderry. While they were taken aboard the wreck of Germanic sank by the stern at about 12.30 hours.

On boardWe have details of 5 people who were on board

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