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The sinking of SS Mangkalihat, and the rescue by HMS Freesia, 1 August 1943:

HMS Freesia K43 was a Flower Class corvette which was adopted by Hungerford in 1940-41. £90,000 was collected locally. She went into service on 19th November 1940.

Flower class corvettes were small convoy escort boats, capable of surviving heavy seas and of matching U-boat speeds. They were armed with one 4 inch gun, a crew of 70, and reached a speed of 16 knots.

This article records just one example of how helpful HMS Freesia was after one of her convoy's ships was sunk be a U-boat.

Much of the article has kindly been translated from the Dutch record by Robert Bange who emailed the Virtual Museum June 2020 to say "I was doing some research on the Corvette HMS Freesia. This ship picked up my grandfather, chief engineer on the SS Mankalihat, when it was torpedoed on 1 August 1943. Here is a Dutch report praising the hospitality of the crew ... which I have translated." [Some additional information has been added from other reports available on the internet - HLP]

More on SS Mangkalihat:

SS Mangkalihat was the former German Steamer “SS Lindenfels”. It was seized by the Dutch in Sabang, in the former Dutch East Indies, 10th May 1940 (2 days after Germany had invaded Holland). It was handed over to the Stoomvaart Maatschappij ‘Nederland’ for convoy duties.

On 31st July 1943, it joined the small convoy BC2 from Beira (Mozambique) to Durban (South Africa) with 700 tons of military hardware.

More on submarine U-198:

U-198 started active service on 9 March 1943 and had a very successful first patrol. Over the next nearly five months she sank six ships.

The final kill of this patrol occurred on 1st August 1943.

U-198 fired two torpedoes at the Dutch steam merchant vessel SS Mangkalihat which was traveling in the Indian Ocean off Mozambique (25°06′S 34°14′E) with convoy BC-2, transporting a cargo of copper, sisal and tobacco. The first two shots missed, so the U-boat fired her last torpedo at 18.51 hours, scoring a hit that eventually sank the ship with the loss of eighteen of the 104 people aboard.

The survivors were rescued by HMS Freesia (Royal Navy). SS Mangkalihat was taken in tow, but foundered on 4 August at 25°44′S 33°32′E. U-198 turned for home and terminated this highly successful patrol at Bordeaux on 24 September 1943.

The report from SS Mangkalihat:

On 1st August a sudden and powerful explosion mid-ships was noticed, causing the engine room, boiler room and hold III to flood, but the ship kept afloat.

Panicked, Lascars** tried to lower the lifeboats without waiting for orders from the officers. The port-side boats were destroyed by the explosion. Due to incompetent lowering of the starboard boats by the Lascar crew, sloop 1 completely flooded and sloop 3 partially flooded. However, this sloop was still partially manned. It is thought that H. H. Bruinsma, oilman/gunner drowned during the launching of the boats.

Due to damage to the telegraph on the bridge, it was no longer possible to telegraph the engine room.

The second engineer had stopped the engines on his own initiative and closed the stop valves of the boilers - which he informed the captain. The ship continued at speed for some time.

The captain and other crew did their rounds of the ship to see if there were people left who needed help, but they did not find anybody.

After this the ship was abandoned using rafts and the remaining lifeboat which was lying by one of the aft hatches. The order was to remain close to the ship, because there was a small chance that the ship could be salvaged.

[**Lascaren, this term is used for (lesser) crew of Asian origin (Dutch and British East Indies, Philipines etc.)]

Follow this for the original report about the sinking (in Dutch).

Rescue by HMS Freesia:

During the night, those who had left the ship on rafts and the lifeboat, were picked up by an escort ship (HMS Freesia) and taken on board.

The next day it appeared that the ship was still afloat, and attempts were made to salvage her, first with the escort ship and later with a tug that had been called to help. The attempts failed; the ship was taking on too much water and was sinking deeper and deeper.

Attempts were made to use powerful pumps to remove the water from the compartments but this failed and on 4th August at 21.00 the ship sank into the deep.

Thanks to HMS Freesia:

The captain finished his report with words of praise and gratitude towards the commander and crew of HMS Freesia, the ship that harboured the shipwrecked crew for 3½ days. Everything was done to make their stay as comfortable as possible.

See also:

- HMS Freesia

- Second World War

- National Savings Campaign