Somewhere on the ocean floor off Algeria in the Mediterranean Sea lies a once proud passenger liner. Whether it is lying on its port or starboard side or even erect we do not know…. but what we are aware of is a gaping hole at the water line on the port side caused by a torpedo from a German submarine which resulted in the liner capsizing.
A few hundred nautical miles away on the same Mediterranean seabed there also lies a U-Boat sunk by depth charges. Both these wrecks are only two of thousands that litter the sea beds throughout the oceans of the world, a testament to the famous saying by Scotland’s National Bard Robert Burns…” Mans inhumanity to man”
We have pleasure in publishing the story by the then famous Life Magazine
Photographer which is quite unique, All our stories have been from “amateur” recollections. Now we can read of a professional account of the U562 attack by a magazine employee who was actually there for the purposes of being a War Correspondent/Photographer. There are over 5000 stories of the U562 attack and the aftermath all of them poignant and fascinating.
Contribution by Stephen Graham
The Germans were too strong and established in Europe while the Allies were unprepared for a frontal assault on the continent….. but the North African Theatre of War gave them the opportunity to strike a blow at Germany where supply lines were stretched to the limit. While General Bernard Law Montgomery engaged the enemy under Desert Fox ‘General Erwin Rommel’……… commencing a massive artillery barrage at dawn on 23rd October 1942 at El Alamein… two giant convoys were sailing from American and British ports packed with troops and equipment……destination top secret…. known only to the commanders…..which was Algeria…Tunisia…Morocco in North Africa.
Thank you for keeping this website so that all relatives and friends can read stories from WW2 and in particular the events that took place with the SS Strathallan.
Thank you for your comments David.I will try and keep the website online as long as I am able.
I would like to mention my father, John Fredrick Thomas Johnson who was on board when the Strathallan was hit. He was with the RASC unit. Fortunately he was able to clamber on board a destroyer because at the time he couldn’t swim. He remembered having to climb numerous ladders in order to reach the main deck. He left his pipe and his mouth organ behind in the evacuation. On his 85th Birthday, one of his grand children ( Dan) gave him a pipe and mouth organ as a Birthday present. He was in tears.
My father who will be 94 in November was a survivor of the stricken Strathallan. Do you know how many survivors are still alive and has there ever been a reunion?
There was a re-union a few years ago but I am unsure if there will be another. I have details of the person that organised this, I would be happy to provide if you email me direct.
My father was on the strathallan when it was torpedoed. He remembered a destroyer returning
I have been researching World War I service men from the Dowerin district of Western Australia. It seems Herbert Hamilton, who served with the AIF between 1914 and 1917 and was wounded on 25 April 1915 at Gallipoli, was on the Strathallan and lost all his papers. I assume he was crew, as there does not seem to be a record of his enlisting in the Second World War, and when writing to request replacement papers uses his WWI number. Lovely to find more information, thank you.
Edward Ellsberg’s book No banners, no bugles seems to have an in depth narrative of the last hours of the Strathallan. He was a salvage officer and he gives a detailed account of fighting the onboard fires after the ship was abandoned
And a damning narrative it is. And yet there is no mention of the King Salvor’s attempts to save the Strathallan anywhere online. Did Ellbserg make it all up, risking a libel suit, or did it get swept under the rug?
My Grandad Percival Biddlecombe (98 years old) is a survivor of the Strathallan. He was talking to me about it just today 23/12/2017. He was reminiscing about how him and his fellow soldiers were sitting on deck after the torpedo hit singing hymns and Christmas carols while they awaited rescue. It has been great to find this web site and be able to read about this chapter of my family history
Clearing a relatives house , I came across a small penknife with a picture of a ship on one side & ” T.S.S. Strathallan ” on the other . It piqued my curiosity somewhat .
My dad says he sailed from Liverpool to Africa in a convey of ships at the start of the war, he was on the Strathallen, he says they had jolly good food on it, the best food in the whole war, he ended up in a prisoner of war camp for four years but still here at 98
My mom Lt. Helen C. Baniak was on the Strathallan. Her story was ship stoped in middle of night. Let staff officers off. Later heard two thuds or explosions. Left ship in lifeboat with only woman war photographer for Life Magazine. She took pics of ship going down. Mom said U-boat periscope crused by looking at survivors for high rank personnel. Said Lasker tribal help for British pulled boot knives. Took seats in lifeboat and tossed oars overboard. Picked up that am. Was on Ike’s Staff Hospital. Survived war. Married Capt. Don A. Schallock in Vatican Mass during war an unusual event. Much more to their story
My grandfather – Sidney Evans – was a survivor
I am currently researching my Grandfathers ww2 history. He served in the RAF and was onboard the Strathallan enroute to north africa. He survived but didn’t like to discuss his time in the war. I do recall him telling me he was in the water for some hours after abondoning the Strathallen before being rescued. Thankyou for this site – I have learned so much for my research.
My father, Kenneth South, sailed on the Strathallen and told of how they were recused by a Royal Navy Destroyer and taken to Oran. This was the 2’nd time he had been Torpedoed he was 19 years old at the time.