Ships hit by U-boats


British Motor merchant

Type:Motor merchant
Tonnage2,281 tons
Completed1939 - Hong Kong & Whampoa Dock Co Ltd, Kowloon, Hong Kong 
OwnerBurns, Philp & Co Ltd, Sydney NSW 
HomeportHong Kong 
Date of attack27 Mar 1944Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-532 (Ottoheinrich Junker)
Position11° 00'S, 78° 40'E - Grid LY 57
Complement54 (47 dead and 7 survivors).
RouteSydney, NSW (10 Mar) - Colombo 
Cargo1850 tons of flour and 380 bags of mail 
History Completed in July 1939 
Notes on event

At 19.40 hours on 27 March 1944 the unescorted Tulagi (Master Leonard Walter Aleric Millar) was hit on the starboard side by two torpedoes from U-532 while steaming on a non-evasive course at 11 knots in moderate weather about 500 miles southeast of Chagos Archipelago. The ship capsized and sank by the stern in less than 30 seconds, so fast that the crew had no time to send distress signals or to launch the lifeboats. Ten crew members and five Australian gunners (the ship was armed with one 12pdr and two 20mm guns) managed to rescue themselves onto four rafts that floated free, but the master and 38 crew members were lost. The survivors recovered the rations from the damaged lifeboats and tied the rafts together. However, after drifting for a month it was decided to distribute the 15 men on two rafts secured to each other with a painter in order to make better progress. On 19 May, the painter parted and no one was capable of securing the rafts again, all being very exhausted and weak because the men existed on rainwater and fish and birds they caught. One raft with the chief engineer and six crew members made landfall at the uninhabited Bijoutier Island in the Seychelles after drifting more than 1500 miles in 58 days. They were taken care of the local population from the neighboring Alphonse Island and brought to Port Victoria by an auxiliary schooner on 16 June and later to Bombay. The other raft in charge of the third officer with three crew members and the five gunners was never seen again, though a floor board which was in it had been washed up on St. Fran├žois Island.

On boardWe have details of 54 people who were on board

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