For the record

David Harrison, Sun Valley

In reference to SS Boringia you say U135, I think it was U159 (“Bale of rubber is a part of history”, Echo, July 26).

In our book (due out later this year to celebrate South African submarines’ 50th birthday) it states that on July 7 1942, the U-159 sinks the British freighter SS Boringia, 5 821 tons, in position 35.09S 16.32E, south west of Cape Town, with 25 dead, 35 survive.

Second engineer officer George Alexander Richard, from Johannesburg, dies aged 41. Third engineer officer Charles Henry Hicks, from Port Elizabeth, dies aged 30.

At 11.55pm the unescorted Boringia, while steaming on a non-evasive course at 13 knots about 190km west-southwest of Cape Town, is hit on the starboard side, in the fore part of hold number 3 by one torpedo from U-159.

The U-boat had first spotted the vessel with its navigational lights burning about three hours earlier and did not attack because its command headquarters had ordered all U-boats operating off South Africa to wait until September 10 1942, but shortly thereafter received a change of orders and then managed to locate her again.

The ship immediately stopped after the torpedo hit because the engine room flooded through a destroyed bulkhead and the ship then settled rapidly on an even keel.

The crew began to abandon ship in all four metal lifeboats while trying to send a distress signal but were unable to accomplish this because the aerials had been damaged by the explosion.

At 12.06am the following morning, they were struck by a second torpedo in the engine room, also on the starboard side, which caused her to sink after only 10 minutes.

Unfortunately both starboard boats were still alongside and the explosion destroyed both, killing most occupants as well as the chief officer who was standing on deck above where the torpedo struck.

His wife, serving as stewardess aboard, was badly injured and lowered into one of the intact boats.

Twenty-one crew and four gunners (the ship was armed with one 4.7in, one 12pdr and four machine guns) were lost.

The Germans questioned the survivors in one of the boats and gave them the direction to the nearest land, but misidentified their victim as the motor merchant ship SS Selandia (8 482 grt).

The captain, 33 crew members and one gunner in two lifeboats, set sail towards Cape Town and were picked up less than seven hours after the sinking by SS Clan Mactavish. However, she, in turn, was also sunk by U-159 at 9.07am that day.

Six crew members and the wounded stewardess from Bori-ngia died in the second sinking. The captain, 26 crew members and one gunner, were later that day picked up by the British steam merchant ship SS Matheran and landed at Cape Town on the 9th.