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Built 1931

Tonnage 2,261 / 3,972 tons

Cargo: General cargo and timber

Sunk 08 APR 43 by U-123 on pos 09º46”N 16º50”W

18 Dead

29 Survivors

On April 8, 1943, Castillo Montealegre was sailing under Captain Don Francisco Zamora, with 47 crew and a cargo of wood from Equatorial Guinea, when at noon she was sighted by the German Uboat U-123. Although the ship carried the Spanish flag painted on its sides as maritime regulations stipulated for ships from neutral countries, Commander Horst von Schroeter ordered the firing of three torpedoes that sank Montealegre in less than a minute. Five men disappeared with the boat and the rest were saved thanks to a boat that miraculously floated and the remains scattered in the sea. The German commander merely emerged - the survivors described him with a blond beard and captain's cap, looking out over the turret - asked "What ship?" and, despite confirming that he had scuttled a neutral, he plunged back without giving any help to the survivors.

The boat that had been left afloat was damaged; And while some survivors caulked him with pieces of clothing, plugged holes, and drained water, others, including five wounded, gathered on a raft made from wreckage. At last, twenty-nine men remained in the boat and thirteen in the raft; but when they were joined by a line, and the boat was damaged, the rough sea and the tugging of the raft threatened to sink them all.
There were discussions. And at night, the raft was released - Salvador said that someone cut the line under cover of darkness. The boat's twenty-nine were rescued two days later by the English corvette HMS Inkpen. Of those who remained in the raft, it was never known: the night swallowed them forever, and they became part of the extensive relationship of mysteries that the sea holds in its bowels. The torpedoing of a neutral did not harm the career of Commander Von Schroeter, who would later receive the knight's cross, survived the war, and became an admiral in NATO naval forces. As for the survivors of the Castillo Montealegre, the good relations between the Franco government and Nazi Germany put the matter to rest: they were ordered to close their mouths.




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