The Loss of RFA Montenol


The Loss of RFA Montenol


Montenol 03


RFA MONTENOL had sailed from Liverpool on 12 May 1942 for Freetown, Sierra Leone in the escorted convoy OS28 together with 38 other merchant ships and 12 Royal Navy escorts. She was the only RFA in the convoy


She was struck by a torpedo (or torpedoes) at 0027hrs on 21 May 1942 whilst sailing in a position 36°41N, 22°45W (approx) which had been fired by the German submarine U159 (Kapitänleutnant Helmut Witte)

Following an explosion that destroyed the lifeboats on the port side, the ship was abandoned and all the crew were picked up by HMS WELLINGTON. WELLINGTON then rejoined the convoy and the corvette HMS WOODRUFF stood by MONTENOL.

At daylight a boarding party of MONTENOL’s Master, the officers and DEMS gunners, together with a Lieutenant and CPO from WOODRUFF boarded the stricken vessel – they assessed she was listing to starboard by 10 degrees, the engine room was flooded and main engines had been torn from their bed plates and thrown to the starboard side of the ship. The stokehold was flooded, the port bunker was holed and forward pump room was filling. The forward and after main decks were awash, the amidships accommodation was flooded to a depth of one foot. The side plating buckled and upper and alley decks severely buckled. A decision followed that despite the calm conditions it was impractical to salvage the tanker. The boarding party then abandoned the ship and returned to HMS WOODRUFF and RFA MONTENOL’s sinking was expedited by gunfire.