OB-249 To Newfoundland

The Fourth Voyage

After repairs in Glasgow the Dorelian with Alister sailed on 24th November 1940 joining 53 other ships in convoy OB-249. The Dorelian had a new Captain James Cook.

Out in the Atlantic the convoy dispersed on 28th. After dispersal, that evening (at 20:24) the St Elwyn was hit and sunk by U-103 with the loss of 24 lives, 16 were rescued.

U-103 had left Lorient on 9th November and returned on 12th December having sunk 7 merchant ships killing 509 sailors. When she sank Calibra inbound for Liverpool on 8th December she killed 128 crew and 230 Indian sailors travelling as passengers; crew intended for other ships. In her career U-103 sunk 45 ships and damaged three. The last success was on 13th December 1942. Though she carried on patrolling through 1943 she had no more hits and became a training boat.

During the Battle of the Atlantic around 25% of the crew on UK vessels were from India and China. More than 6,000 Indians (known as Lascars) and 2,000 Chinese sailors were killed.

The Dorelian arrived in St John’s Newfoundland on 9th December, leaving 9 days later for Halifax arriving on 20th December 1940. It is notable that she did not go on to Montreal as on previous voyages.  In 2009 Montreal is open all year but it seems that in 1940 it was closed by ice during the winter.

View Convoy OB-249 in a larger map

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