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Built: 1920

Tonnage: 5,271 8,200 tons

Cargo: Ballast

Route: Port Said - Aden - Lourenço Marques - Capetown - Rio de Janeiro - Buenos Aires

Sunk 8 OCT 42 by U-68 on pos. 34° 50'S 18° 40'E

0 Dead

57 Survivors

At 22.02 hours on 8 Oct 1942 the unescorted Sarthe (Master Charles Ernest Mason) was hit on the port side amidships underneath the bridge by one torpedo from U-68 while steaming on a non-evasive course at 7.5 knots 35 miles south-southwest of the Cape of Good Hope. The ship had witnessed the sinking of Swiftsure about 8 miles ahead and tried to flee by altering the course towards the coast at full speed, but was too slow to escape and unable to evade the torpedo track spotted by a lookout. The explosion stopped the vessel and destroyed the port side of the bridge and the port forward lifeboat, wrecked the accommodation in that area, damaged the davits of the starboard forward lifeboat and opened a great split on the foredeck.

The picture above shows when SS Sarthe broke in  two after being hit forward of the bridge by one torpedo.

Photo. 121177563_3345825935454656_3556030987075052770_n.jpg (595×367) (

As the ship settled quickly by the head with a slight list to port, the crew of 49 and eight gunners (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 40mm and five machine guns) immediately abandoned ship in the two after lifeboats in ten minutes without sending a distress signal as the aerials were brought down. At 22.39 hours, a coup de grâce struck the ship on the starboard side just forward of the bridge, broke her in two and blew debris and wreckage into the air that fell into the water around the lifeboats.

The bow sank at once, followed a few minutes later by the after part that sank perpendicular. The survivors were not questioned by the Germans, but they observed the U-boat twice during the night and saw it leaving at high speed. U-68 was reloading two torpedoes from the upper deck containers and had to hurry when Examelia was spotted later that night. At 07.00 hours on 9 October, the survivors were picked up by the South African whaler HMSAS Vereeniging (T 62) and landed at Simonstown later that day.

By  Sarthe (British Steam merchant) - Ships hit by German U-boats during WWII -




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