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Built: 1941

Tonnage : 7,628 / 11,400 tons

Cargo: 3,000 tons of coal, 1,796 tons of general cargo, war material and 11 aircrafts.

Route: Glasgow  - Takoradi – Apapa Nigeria

Sunk  29 Oct 1942 by UD-5 on pos. 18° 58'N 28° 40'W

3 Dead

46 Survivors

SS Primrose Hill was a British CAM ship that saw action in World War II, armed with a catapult on her bow to launch a Hawker Sea Hurricane.  She was completed by William Hamilton & Co in Port Glasgow on the Firth of Clyde in September 1941

On 16 October 1942 Primrose Hill sailed from Glasgow a mixed cargo including 3,000 tons of coal, 1,796 tons of general cargo, war material and 11 aircraft. She was as a member of convoy ON-139 for Takoradi on the Gold Coast and Apapa in Nigeria. The convoy dispersed, and at 21:18 hrs on 29 October she was northwest of the Cape Verde Islands when UD-5, a submarine that the Kriegsmarine had captured from the Dutch Navy after the surrender of the Netherlands, fired two torpedoes at her.

One missed but the other hit Primrose Hill in her engine room killing the second engineer, a greaser and a fireman, and setting the fuel oil in her bunkers on fire. Two of her lifeboats and a number of liferafts were destroyed by the concussion of the blast.

The Master, eight gunners and surviving 37 officers and men abandoned ship in four lifeboats and moved to windward as the fire spread throughout the ship. The officers destroyed their uniforms to conceal their identity. UD-5 surfaced and her commander, Bruno Mahn, questioned the survivors  asking for the Master to come aboard UD-5. The survivors claimed all their officers had been killed in the explosion and fire. Mahn clearly did not believe them, but being unable to identify his quarry he gave up and UD-5 left the survivors in the boats.

Primrose Hill remained afloat so at 22:46 hrs UD-5 fired her 88 mm (3.5 in) deck gun, hitting the steamship near her bridge. She continued to float so at 23:13 hrs UD-5 fired her deck gun again, hitting Primrose Hill's stern. She broke her back and sank at 2345 hrs.

The master and third officer had rescued sextants, a chronometer, charts and navigation books from Primrose Hill's bridge. However, the boats proved to be very short of rations and water for the number of men who had survived. On the morning of 30 October the four lifeboats, keeping close together, set sail and steered eastwards for the Cape Verde Islands. However, by the morning of 31 October wind and currents had taken them westwards. On 1 November they were further west and No. 2 lifeboat lost her rudder. One lifeboat was steel and sailed much worse than the three wooden ones, so on 2 November her occupants transferred themselves and her rations to the three wooden boats and cut the steel one adrift.

On 3 November the remaining boats had been carried further west so they lowered sail and tried rowing, but found the wind and current too strong. At 03:00 hrs on 4 November another U-boat found the boats, questioned the crew and then sailed on. Overnight to the 5th November the boats managed to row a little eastwards.

On 6 November the survivors were just giving up hope of making headway against the current towards Cape Verde and were turning to sail with the current 1,500 miles (2,400 km) in the opposite direction to Brazil, when after 14:30 hrs the survivors sighted the Elder Dempster Lines cargo ship MV Sansu about 6 miles (9.7 km) away heading southwards. The crew burned smoke flares to attract the Sansu's attention and rowed to meet her. At about 1530 hrs the Sansu picked up the survivors and on 11 November landed them at Freetown in Sierra Leone.

By wikipedia



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