St Essylt (1)

In March 1942 St Essylt was quarantined in Fremantle with a confirmed case of smallpox on board.

See Woodman Point Quarantine Station

At 21.40 hours on 4 Jul, 1943, U-375 fired a spread of four torpedoes at the convoy KMS-18B 10 miles north of Cape Tenez, Algeria and reported the sinking of a freighter with 8000 grt. In fact, the St. Essylt and City of Venice were hit and sunk.

The St. Essylt (Master Stephen Diggins) caught fire and blew up the next morning. One crew member and one military personnel were lost. The master, 53 crew members, 24 gunners and 319 troops were picked up by HMS Honeysuckle (K 27) (Lt H.M.D. MacKillican DSC) and HMS Rhododendron (K 78) (Lt O.B. Medley) and the HMS Restive (W 39) (Lt D.M. Richards) and landed at Algiers.

The master Stephen Diggins was awarded the Lloyds War Medal for bravery at sea.

The following tale of her sinking is taken from Bernard Edward’s fine book:

The Quiet Heroes - British Merchant Seamen at War

Various Saint Line Staff are mentioned in the article. More information can be found on their own pages:

Captain S. Diggins

D. Robertson

W. Marrs

R. Tucker

M. McNeil

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