At 03.46 hours on 8 Oct 1942 the unescorted Gaasterkerk (Master Francois Maas) was hit on the port side aft of amidships in the engine room by one of two torpedoes from U-68 while steaming with dimmed navigational lights set on a non-evasive course at 14 knots about 15 miles west of the Cape of Good Hope. The crew sent distress signals and immediately abandoned ship in the lifeboats. At 04.16 hours, a coup de grâce was fired as she only settled slowly and the torpedo hit aft, igniting the magazine for the stern gun (the ship was armed with one 4.7 in, two 20mm and four machine guns). The resulting explosion completely blew off the stern and caused the Gaasterkerk to sink rapidly.
The U-boat had to retreat without questioning the survivors when debris from the explosion fell all around it and some even hit its deck. All survivors were picked up shortly afterwards by HMAS Nizam (G 38) (Cdr M.J. Clark, DSO, RAN) and landed in Capetown.
|Maas , F.
|465.8 feet (142 m)
|58.2 feet (17.8 m)
|31.7 feet (9.7 m)