POW in Milag Nord nr. Bremen
The SS St Margaret (Master: David Sidney Davies) left Liverpool as part of convoy ON-165 at 0800 Tuesday 2nd February 1943. The vessel, sailing to South American ports, was carrying machinery, whisky, stout, textiles, military stores for the Falklands Islands and Yardley’s products,.
Among the passengers, on her way to join her husband in Buenos Aires, there was Octave Osten with her daughter Ruth Schaeffear and son in law Tony Schaeffear. They had managed to escape from Germany just before the war. Also on board was Matron Frances Gowans who was matron in charge at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands hospital. Having purchased her trousseau in England she was returning to be married. In addition, two Belgians and a Hungarian Jew were also travelling.
Overall, there were fifty persons aboard, the seven passengers and forty-three officers and crew.
At 13.55 19th Feb 1943 SS St Margaret was given orders to disperse from the convoy, and to continue her passage South to Pernambuco, Brazil for refuelling and subsequent delivery of supplies and passengers to their various destinations.
At 09.42 on Saturday 27th February the St Margaret was, by now, in the middle of the Sargasso Sea, in the central North Atlantic, when a huge explosion occurred. This was the result of a torpedo from a U-Boat hitting the engine room on the port side. On investigation three men were missing. George Brady, a 21 year old Fireman, Patrick Edward Loughran, a 24 year old Donkeyman and Capt. Davies’s very good friend, John Bradford Meadley the Chief Engineer.
Although severely damaged and stopped there was no immediate danger of the vessel sinking, so Captain Davies ordered everyone to abandon ship via the lifeboats.
This was eventually achieved, after some struggles with the lifeboats, and eventually all survivors were away from the St Margaret.
A little over an hour after being struck by the torpedo and as Capt. Davies had surmised, a further torpedo struck. 10 minutes later the St Margaret was gone.
The U-Boat that brought about the destruction of SS St Margaet was U-66, commanded by Lieutenant Captain Friedrich Markworth.
Markworth, knowing that the abandoned people in the lifeboats could not fight back, raised the U-Boat to the surface and approached the lifeboats. He than demanded that Captain Davies go aboard the U-Boat who was then taken as a Prisoner of War.
At 0815 on 2nd March, the other survivors were eventually rescued by USS Hobson and taken to Bermuda.
Meanwhile, Captain Davies had been transferred to another U-Boat. Around the 1st March 1943 he was transferred to U-460 commanded by Lieutenant Captain Ebe Schnoor, and taken to St. Nazaire. Four days later, on the 5th of March. Capt. Davies was sent to a merchant navy Prisoner of War camp, Milag Nord near Breman. This camp was liberated by the Welsh & Scots Guards at 10:30 pm on the 27th of April 1945 – they were a highly welcome sight to Davies, who was Welsh and spoke that language.
|SS St Margaret torpedoed 1943.jpg
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|David Sidney DAVIES