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Photo A/G


Built: 1927

Tonnage: 7,313 / 11,170 tons

Cargo: Ballast.

Route: Freetown - Curaçao

Sunk 19 AUG 41 by Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli on pos. 05º 30’N 12º 50’W.

0 Dead

40 Survivors

Sildra departed Freetown again alone in ballast on Aug. 18-1941 in order to return to Curacao. She had a crew of 36 and 2 gunners, as well as 2 passengers, whom the Admiralty had asked the captain to take with him (see this Guestbook message from the son of these passengers). In the evening of Aug. 19 Sildra was hit by 4 torpedoes from the Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli (Fecia di Cossato), then shelled and sunk 05 30N 12 50W ("Nortraships flåte" gives the postion as 05 00N 12 10W).

The captain and the lookout man, Able Seaman Våland had seen the wake of 4 torpedoes from the bridge, all 4 coming in from a direction athwart on starboard, according to the captain's report. The helm was immediately put hard to port, while signal to go to the lifeboats was given, just as the ship was struck by 2 torpedoes in the forward part of the ship, probably between main tanks No. 3 and 6, and she heeled over to starboard. The other 2 torpedoes passed in front of the bow. They tried to send an SOS - 3rd Mate/Radio Operator Mjøs was on watch in the radio station - but the violent shaking caused by the torpedoes damaged the radio station so that no message could be sent out. About 3 minutes after the first 2 had struck, she was hit by a 3rd torpedo in way of the after deck on the starboard side. Fearing another torpedo in the engine room, orders were given to put the boats on the water and to abandon ship (the engine had been stopped by the 1st engineer soon after the first explosion).

The entire complement and the 2 passengers had gotten safely in 3 lifeboats and had just gotten clear of the ship when a 4th torpedo struck forward of the engine room, also on the starboard side. The 3 boats met up astern of the ship and watched as she heeled heavily to starboard and was very low in the water forward. The conning tower of the sub now became visible on the starboard quarter, then 2 shots were fired. The last shell was believed to have hit the boiler room, as a huge column of sparks and flames rose into the air, and Sildra quickly settled down in the water aft. The funnel could no longer be seen, so it was believed to have fallen down. A heavy rushing sound was heard as their ship went down.

The boats were ordered to stay together and remain on the scene until daylight. The starboard boat, manned by the 1st mate and 15 crew, and the captain's motor boat with the 3rd mate and 4 crew as well as the 2 passengers kept together through the night, but they had lost contact with the 2nd mate's port boat with 15 of the crew after an hour. At daylight the 2 boats set sail for land, reaching Manna Point, Sierra Leone on Aug. 21 where they were taken care of by the locals. Partly by boat and partly on foot they were taken to Bothne where they arrived that same evening and reported to the District Commissioner. A telegram about the loss of the ship and the missing lifeboat was sent to Freetown. They left Bothne in the evening of the 22nd and arrived Freetown by train the following evening.

An aircraft had been sent out to search for the other lifeboat, which was sighted close to shore off Cape St. Ann on the 22nd, but a patrol vessel that was searching for it could not find it. However, the port lifeboat landed safely south of Cape St. Ann in the afternoon of Aug. 22, where they got in touch with the Coast Guard. They spent the night in a hut, and the next day they were taken by boat to Bothne, and later to Freetown with arrival the latter on Aug. 26.




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