British Troop transport
|Tonnage||19,695 tons (one of the largest ships sunk).|
|Completed||1922 - Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd, Wallsend, Sunderland|
|Owner||Cunard White Star Ltd, Liverpool|
|Date of attack||12 Sep 1942||Nationality: British|
|Fate||Sunk by U-156 (Werner Hartenstein)|
|Position||5° 05'S, 11° 38'W - Grid FF 7721|
|Complement||2741 (1658 dead and 1083 survivors).|
|Route||Suez - Aden - Mombasa - Durban - Capetown (1 Sep) - Canada|
|Cargo||366 passengers, 1809 Italian prisoners of war and 200 tons of general cargo|
|History||Completed in January 1922|
On 5 Sep 1939, the steam passenger ship Laconia was requisitioned by the Royal Navy as armed merchant cruiser. On 1 Oct 1941, the ship was transferred to the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) and used as troopship.
|Notes on event|
At 22.07 hours on 12 Sep 1942 the unescorted Laconia (Master Rudolph Sharp, OBE) was hit by two torpedoes from U-156 about 360 miles northeast of Ascension Island and sank at 23.23 hours. The master, 97 crew members, 133 passengers, 33 Polish guards and 1394 prisoners were lost. The U-boat began picking up survivors, took lifeboats in tow and notified the BdU about her rescue operation. On 15 September, U-506 (Würdemann), U-507 (Schacht) and the Italian submarine Cappellini (Marco Revedin) arrived and participated in the rescue. The next day, U-156 and another U-boat were attacked by American B-24 Liberator aircraft operating from Ascension, this incident lead to the famous Laconia order (for more info use the link at the bottom of this page).
Between 17 and 20 September, 1083 survivors (among them 415 Italians) were picked up from lifeboats or directly from the U-boats by the Vichy French warships Gloire, Dumont d´Urville and Annamite and taken to Dakar. The 668 Allied survivors were brought to Casablanca by Gloire on 26 September. On board were 1 officer and 178 ratings of the Royal Navy, 17 officers and 87 ratings from the British Army, 9 officers and 70 ratings from the Royal Air Force, 8 officers and 178 men from the Merchant Navy, 1 officer and 69 ratings from the Free Polish Army and 50 women and children.
|On board||We have details of 1579 people who were on board.|
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