SS Siris

Steam Merchant Vessel
Built by Harland & Wolff Ltd.
Completed: 1919
Owned by Royal Mail Lines
Length: 400ft
Beam: 52ft 3in
Service speed: 10.5 knots
5,242 tons

Nationality: British

From "The World Ship Photograph Library"

SS Siris, with 3,600 tons of general cargo, sailed from Oban on July 2, 1942 to join Convoy OS.33. At noon on July 11, 1942, they were ordered to disperse from the convoy and make their own way independently to their destination port of Rio de Janeiro. That night, at 2200, they saw an explosion about 5 miles away (SS Cortona) and immediately turned away and went full speed ahead until midnight when they resumed their course at 10 knots. At 0225 on July 12, 1942, she was struck by a torpedo from U-201 on her starboard side and immediately the vessel took on a list of 35°. Only two port lifeboats were undamaged and the crew took to these. Later, some crew from the U-boat boarded the abandoned vessel but all confidential books, papers and codes had already been sunk in a weighted box. The U-boat then moved away from the vessel for about 200 yards and fired 50 rounds into Siris causing her to sink. U-201 reported the position of the sinking as grid reference DG 9296 (31.20N, 24.48W).

The complete crew which included 5 naval and 2 army gunners, numbering 55 in total, survived the sinking. Six officers and 22 men in one lifeboat sailed 7-800 miles over the next 10 days making for the African coast . They were eventually picked up by HMS Jonquil in position 23.48N, 18.59W, 150 miles from land, on July 21, 1942. After transferring to HMS Ibis, they were landed in Milford Haven on August 5, 1942. The remaining survivors in the Captain's boat made for the Cape Verde Islands and landed there after 16 days but one crew member and two gunners died after being landed.