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7)ARARA U-507

Built: 1907

Tonnage: 655/1,075 tons

Cargo: Scrap iron

Sunk 17 AUG 42 by U-507 on pos   13º20"S 38º49"W

20 Dead

16 Survivors

In the same environs, another victim of U 507 was torpedoed. The small Brazilian Lloyd, English built, 1705 ton, the steamer Arara, was sailing in opposite course of Itagiba. She had departed Salvador bound for Santos at Sao Paulo state, Master Jose Gomes, and carried scrap iron. At 10:45am, the lookouts sighted through binoculars, 20º  starboard side in 6 mile range one ship billowed by smoke. They noticed she was sinking stern first and in ten minutes she raised the bow steeply and plummeted.

Immediately he set for the site where arrived one hour later. Amid a large patch of debris one buoy identified as the steamer Itagiba. In this moment the topmast lookout pointed for what should be survivors waving for help. Having already fished out 18 survivors two lifeboats were lowered and when crewmen were boarding one man alerted for a torpedo wake at about 400 meters toward amidships.

With the engines stopped for the task of picking up survivors, the ship was a sitting duck. With the explosion wooden parts of the structure blown up sending debris 360º. Navigation room was also damaged. Master Jose Gomes was hit in the head, lost his senses and almost sank with his ship. In  super human effort  he got rid of debris which covered him, managed to stay afloat and jumped into one nearby lifeboat.

Before the attack, steamer Arara was in the surroundings, some 6 mile off Saint Paul Lighthouse. The following day, they went to the small village of Valença and from there taken aboard Brazilian cruiser Rio Grande do Sul that landed them at Salvador. Only 15 crewmen out of 35 managed to survive. Curiously these two sinkings were witnessed at a reasonable  distance by the crew of sloop Deus do Mar (God of the Sea), while in a routine fishing journey found one lifeboat from steamer Itagiba in waters off Saint Paul lighthouse. A few hours later when foundered at that familiar area for fishing, having the lighthouse at sight, around 10:00 am, 17th Aug, he saw one ship sailing northern course being torpedoed and sink, being followed by another vessel which came to aid in rescuing the survivors.

Within 48 hour lapse from Itagiba and Arara sinkings, one submarine, probably U-507, detained by warning shots a small barge, forcing the small crew to abandon it, and upon that sank her with gunfire. The episode occurred with the 89 ton barge Jacira, which sailed from Belmonte, southern Bahia bound to Salvador, and carried cocoa nuts, vegetal fiber, empty bottle crates and one truck in parts to be assembled in Salvador. The small, defenseless barge sailed independently as ever.

Master Norberto Santos, a seasoned man of the sea often used to recognize that idyllic landscape with flat top hills and the endless palm tree forest interrupted here and there by small fishing villages. For him, the war in his community was no more than occasional commentaries. Around 02:00am 19 Aug, the dark hull of one submarine, closed in and machine gunned the barge compelling her to a halt. From the conning tower two men and one officer went down and boarded a small raft, coming closer and through intimidating gestures, the officer ordered the men to abandon the tiny boat.

Once they boarded the only lifeboat, the 5 crewmen set for the coast. 40 minutes had elapsed when yet at a little distance from the barge; the men heard 3 gunshots and realized their boat had been destroyed. As it took all that time, the men concluded that the boat cargo had been inspected. When ashore, before the authorities master Norberto could not presume the exact position of the sinking, saying the attack occurred at 14º 30’ S parallel, a point between Ilheus and small fishing village of Itacare.

When midway to the coast they were sighted and intercepted by one sloop that landed them at Itacare, including one stowaway among them. Several mishaps were detected by the authorities during the investigation, having master Norberto been punished by Bahia port authority. As a thunderclap, war abruptly came to Brazilian shores and soon hit the nation. All of a sudden one single submarine, U 507, within 48 hour lapse unseen, undetected, laid havoc killing, drowning hundreds of men, women and children. When terror, death and destruction were “fait accompli”, then the ill fated U 507, stealthily, silently slipped away to prowl new promising hunting grounds.

In the artistic rendition above, SS Arara is seen following the attack by U-507 with crewmembers abandoning the ship.




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