Rescuing survivors from torpedoed merchant ship

Rescuing survivors from torpedoed merchant ship

After spending four days in a lifeboat, seafarers from a torpedoed British merchant ship, the Mentor, are about to be rescued in the Gulf of Mexico in early 1942. Survivors of ships sunk while sailing alone faced the prospect of days or weeks adrift, awaiting a rescue that might never come.

Community contributions

9 comments have been posted about Rescuing survivors from torpedoed merchant ship

What do you know?


Posted: 30 Nov 2023

Could it have been this Ship? My grandfather was Alexander Bradley and was in a life boat for 9 days, I believe that there were two boats that were both made land in different places.

At 19.43 hours on 11 May 1942 the unescorted Cape of Good Hope (Master Alexander Campbell) was torpedoed and sunk by gunfire by U-502 northeast of the Virgin Islands. The boat of the master with 18 survivors landed on Tortola, Virgin Islands on 24 May. The boat of the chief officer with 19 survivors landed after 18 days at Burgentra near Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.


Posted: 08 Nov 2020

Replying to Natalie.

Was one of the names on the list Stanley Aneurin Rees - from Swansea in South Wales? He was my grandfather and served as a radio officer in the British Merchant Navy. He was torpedoed and survived on a lifeboat.

Natalie Jackson

Posted: 30 Aug 2019

Hi there. I don't know if this post is still open, but I would very much like to communicate with someone regarding a torpedoed and sunk merchant navy ship that my father - then a 16 year old seaman boy - was on. He would hardly ever speak about it, and died in 1982 at age 56, so we have been left with just a few clues, and so many questions. I have a scrap of paper with a list of names and nationalities of the eight men who I believe survived with him on a life boat, which they were on for 9 days. I believe it was written in the days after they were rescued. I have neither dates nor the name of his ship or rescue ship, but I have another scrap of paper with the names and types of some ships that must be in some way related. If there is anyone out there who would be interested in helping me with this puzzle, I would love to hear from them. Many thanks. Bucko's (Bob Richardson's) daughter.

E. Manny Hawthorne

Posted: 09 Feb 2018

If you wish, I have the story and photographs post on my Facebook page. Search Manny Hawthorne , The story never told, The Sinking of the Dinsdale.

Ozires moraes

Posted: 25 Mar 2013

Dear Emanuel:
I currently run a website which deals with all aspects of the War Two in the south Atlantic. You are correct when say that many details pertaining the sinking of several ships are not known to date. I would like to attach the commentary you posted regarding the fate of SS Dinsdale.
With the due credits. I enclosed the page.
With my respects.
Capt. Ozires Moraes Recife Brazil.

Billy McGee

Posted: 02 Dec 2011

Interested in the survivors reports for the RFA tanker Dinsdale for a book I am writing in regard to over 2000 Merchant ships commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London. Rgds Billy McGee MNA Archivist

Emanuel Hawthorne

Posted: 06 Nov 2011

The sinking of the R.F.A. Dinsdale is a story that little has been written about and must be told. It is a story of one of the many heroic contributions made by the Merchant Navy during WWII. Unfortunately, and with good reason, little has been written of the demise of the RFA Dinsdale and / or of her survivors. As a security measure during this period of time, photographs and publications of the RFA Dinsdale (a tanker) were strictly prohibited. Regretfully, and almost certainly related to the security measures in force, the story of the surviving crew members who suffered 17 days lost at sea, to my knowledge, has never been written; until today! This is their story, an account of what actually happened on the night of 30th June, 1942. The story, as told to me by two creditable seamen who served on the RFA Dinsdale and coincidently who were rescued from the same lifeboat. One version was told to me by my father, the late William-David Hawthorne (Billy). The second version I received via correspondence letters from Mr. James Wilson (Jim) resident of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, England. If interested in the complete story with a rare photo of the Dinsdale, please contact me.