Ships hit by U-boats

Paulus Potter

Dutch Steam merchant

The abandoned Paulus Potter as found by U-255

NamePaulus Potter
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage7,168 tons
Completed1942 - J.L. Thompson & Sons Ltd, North Sands, Sunderland 
OwnerErhardt & Dekkers, Rotterdam 
Date of attack13 Jul 1942Nationality:      Dutch
FateSunk by U-255 (Reinhart Reche)
Position75° 57'N, 40° 10'E - Grid AC 3437
Complement76 (0 dead and 76 survivors).
ConvoyPQ-17 (dispersed)
RouteGourock - Reykjavik - Archangel 
Cargo2250 tons of general cargo, ammunition, 34 tanks, 15 aircraft and 103 trucks 
History Completed in January 1942 as British Empire Johnson for the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) and managed by Sir R. Ropner & Co Ltd, West Hartlepool. 1942 bought by the Netherlands Government and renamed Paulus Potter for NV Stoomvaart Maatschappij Wijklijn (Erhardt & Dekkers), Rotterdam. 
Notes on event

The Paulus Potter (Master W.J. Sissingh) was in station #11 of convoy PQ-17, when convoy was dispersed on Admiralty order on 4 July 1942. The ship continued her journey together with the British steam merchant Bolton Castle and the American steam merchant Washington. The next day, they were attacked several times by German Ju 88 aircraft of the III./KG 30 east-northeast of Bear Island and all three ships were hit by bombs or badly damaged by near misses. The British ship caught fire and sank after a explosion, the American ship stayed afloat but sank the next day and the Dutch vessel was abandoned by the crew in lifeboats after two hits when they believed that she would sink in position 77°04N/34°30E. The 51 crew members, 14 gunners and eleven Russian passengers suffered terribly from exposure and hunger before they made landfall after five days at Novaya Zemlya where they managed to make a fire from timber they found on the shore and caught some ducks to cook them. On 14 July, the men came across the survivors from Washington and together they rowed southwards, where they found the abandoned American steam merchant Winston-Salem, which had run aground. They boarded the vessel and eat their first real meal in ten days. Later they were taken off by a Soviet whaling vessel and on 17 July transferred to the British steam merchant Empire Tide, anchored in the Matochkin Strait. On 20 July, the ship was part of a small convoy of five merchants and eleven escorts that left for Archangel where they arrived four days later.

On 13 July, the abandoned Paulus Potter was found drifting by U-255 during a sweep at the 76th parallel. The II. WO and two mates boarded the ship and tried to start the engines, but this was not possible because the engine room was flooded. They searched the ship and took blankets, cigarettes and other useful materials with them, including a heavy box with confidential documents found on the bridge. The ship was sunk by a coup de grâce at 08.25 hours.

On boardWe have details of 13 people who were on board

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Media links

S.O.S. Paulus Potter

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