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Photo: Carlos Dufriche Archives kindly sent by Marcelo Lopes.

Built 1912

Tonnage 5,187 tons

Route: Rio de janeiro - Capetown - Durban

Cargo3500 tons of general cargo, including timber, palm oil, coffee, rice and cotton 

Sunk 3 Nov 42 by U-504 on pos. 35º27"S 28º02"E 

1 Dead

51 Survivors

Merchant Porto Alegre, Ex Italian Gilda, was owned by Companhia Carbonifera Sul Rio Grandense, 5187 tons of registry, sailed under master Jose Medeiros. Unarmed, she plied the waters off South Africa outbound for Durban and had departed from Capetown.  At 06:30 PM November 3rd 1942, at coordinates 35º 27 S 028º 02E, she was hit by one torpedo before sinking the radioman could send SOS. The assailant was U 504. In the previous day, the merchant was over flown by one aircraft which evolved at a distance. In this same day, Porto Alegre fished out 11 crewmen from British steamer Laplace including the master.

Dramatic view of the moment when Merchant Porto Alegre plunges to the bottom. Picture was taken from one survivor from the rescue ship off South African coast.

Upon the attack the submarine emerged and one officer interrogated master Medeiros in English with German accent and transmitted the answer to KapitanLieutenant Fritz Poske. The sub was a VII C type and had painted a wolf head emerging from water, an open mouth showing the prongs. Once the interrogation task was ended, the German officer made a Nazi salute, the hatch was closed and the sub disappeared. Merchant Porto Alegre carried 47 crewmen plus 11 survivors of Laplace. The lifeboats made their way to nearest land and beached on 7th November after four days of journey, 50 miles from Port Elizabeth. One man died.



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