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From the Star newspaper

Printed on Thursday November 7th 1940

 

RESCUE SHIP SUNK BY TORPEDO

U-BOAT SHELLS LIFEBOATS

 

Dramatic stories of the sinking by enemy submarines of the armed merchant cruisers Laurentic (18,724 Tons), and Patroclus (11,314 Tons), were told by survivors when they arrived singing and cheering at a north-west port.

The Patroclus was attacked by U-boats when hurrying to the assistance of the Laurentic, it was learned.

The Patroclus was picking up survivors when she was the victim of a concentrated U-boat attack.

Torpedoes were fired by a number of submarines, and within a few minutes the vessel heeled over and went down.

The shelling of the lifeboats followed almost immediately, as the men took to the boats.

 

THE LAST MEN ABOARD

 

A radio cadet who was on board the Patroclus said The order to abandon ship was given after a torpedo had found its mark on us, but a handful of men remained on board until just before the ship went down.

The Commander and the chief wireless operator got on a raft but were swept off. They saved themselves by clinging to a spar until they were picked up by separate lifeboats

 

PERISCOPE NEAR LIFEBOATS

 

The ship still remained afloat and we had been able to lower the boats in the calm sea or get aboard rafts. We were picked up by warships.

Later the vessel reared herself upright and plunged to the bottom.

The submarine after it had surfaced passed within 20 yards of some of the Patroclus lifeboats, and later when partially submerged her periscope could be seen two or three yards away from other lifeboats

 

OFFICER WHOSE HOME WAS BOMBED

 

The sinking of the Laurentic was described by an engineer-lieutenant, whose family was bombed out of their home on the south coast while he was at sea.

He said I was in the engine room when the torpedo struck. I shut off the steam valves.

There was no point in staying below then, so most of the men went on deck. It was not until some time later that the vessel foundered.

It was not a pleasant experience, but the crews of both ships behaved magnificently