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Photographer:Gordy [View profile]Title:ALDINGTON COURTAdded:Apr 06, 2016
Photo Category: General cargo ships built 1940-1949 (Over 3000gt)

Type: Motor merchant

Tonnage 4,891 tons

Completed 1929 - William Pickersgill & Sons Ltd, Sunderland

Owner Court Line Ltd (Haldin & Philipps Ltd), London

Homeport: London

Date of attack 31 Oct 1942 Nationality: British

Fate Sunk by U-172 (Carl Emmermann)

Position 30 20'S, 2 10'W - Grid GP 3211

Complement 44 (34 dead and 10 survivors).

Convoy TRIN-16 (dispersed)

Route Philadelphia - Trinidad (9 Oct) - Saldanha Bay, South Africa - Alexandria

Cargo 6614 tons of government stores and general cargo, including coal, tractors, fuel and


History Completed in May 1929
Notes on event
At 22.21 hours on 31 Oct 1942 the unescorted Aldington Court (Master Alfred Stuart) was hit

by two G7a torpedoes from U-172 while steaming on a non-evasive course at 10 knots in fine

weather about 1000 miles west of Port Nolloth, South West Africa. The ship had left Trinidad

in convoy TRIN-16 which was dispersed during the night of 11/12 October. The torpedo tracks

were seen to approach from the starboard beam, but it was too late to take avoiding action

and they struck below the bridge and just forward of the engine room. The explosions threw

up a considerable amount of debris, destroyed both starboard lifeboats, wrecked the gun nest

on the starboard side of the bridge and collapsed the bridge ladders. The crew of 32 and

twelve gunners (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 12pdr, two 20mm and four machine guns)

began to abandon ship in the lifeboats on the port side with great difficulties as it was a

very dark night with no moon and the ship soon listed 35 to starboard. The jolly boat in

charge of the third officer was launched with 13 men in it and the only intact lifeboat was

in charge of the chief officer and left within five minutes with 15 occupants. Others jumped

overboard and swam to rafts that were released. The master, second officer, second radio

officer and a gunner were still aboard when the ship rolled over and sank about 10 minutes

after being hit. They clung to wreckage until two men were picked up by each boat. The U-

boat approached the survivors about 15 minutes later and the Germans asked for the master,

but on being told that he had not been saved they ordered the chief officer to come aboard.

He was taken below for questioning after being blindfolded, asked about the name of the

ship, the cargo and port of destination and handed a pack of 20 cigarettes before he was

sent back to his lifeboat.

At daylight the lifeboat took aboard six men from a nearby raft and the area was searched

for four missing men: three gunners who had been on duty at the stern gun and the first

radio officer who was still sending out distress signals when the ship sank. The jolly boat

only had capacity for seven men, so the number of survivors was reduced from 15 to 10 by

transferring five men to the lifeboat. The master took charge of the bigger boat and set

sail towards South Africa, ordering the jolly boat to keep as close as possible, but the

lifeboat eventually drew ahead as it had more sails and was last seen about 40 miles east-

southeast of the sinking position during the morning of 3 November. It was never found: the

master, 21 crew members and six gunners were lost. The jolly boat made about 4 knots over

the next days until the wind dropped and continued by pulling at intervals for a week,

making very little progress. Thirst became a problem as they were unable to collect rain

water despite seeing heavy squalls passing ahead and behind the boat. Once a large whale

passed the boat several times and almost capsized it. In the afternoon on 13 November, a

ship was sighted and the survivors attempted to attract its attention by igniting all three

available smoke floats; these either malfunctioned or had no effect. They were eventually

spotted after the third officer climbed the mast and waved with a shirt. The City of

Christiania picked up the seven crew members and three gunners, hoisted their boat on board

and unsuccessfully searched for the other lifeboat. The overcrowded jolly boat had sailed

260 miles in 13 days and everyone in it complained about swollen feet as they could barely

move. The survivors were landed in Montevideo on 26 November, where the boatswain was taken

to a hospital. During the rescue he had to be lifted aboard with a rope as he could no

longer move his legs and one of them had to be amputated in the hospital as it was

gangrenous. The remaining survivors were repatriated on the ship which had rescued them,

arriving in the UK on 2 Feb 1943.


Photo Credits: The South Australian State Library
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Photo Comments (1)

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Steve Hearn on Apr 06, 2016 11:24 (2 years ago)
Thank you. Very interesting description. Nice b/w photo.
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