RE1017 dockopcoy

MV Saroena

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The Salvaging of Dutch vessel MV Saroena Beirut 1943 

Trawling through my father's personal war documents I came across an army form N1492 - dated after the war, 28 February 1947. This was for a payment of 20 ..described as...'Special award; salvaging of MV Saroena.
I managed to get the story behind this, and it transpires the Dutch MV Saroena was attacked by a Uboat on 10th February 1943 while enroute Tripoli - Syria - Haifa.
She limped into St George's Bay, Beirut where my father was stationed at the time with 1017 Dock operations company RE. This must have been the incident referred to on the form.
The interesting point is that the Uboat in question was U-81 which torpedoed and sank the 'Ark Royal' in 1941.

Form N1492 Special award salvage of MV Saroena

This is an extract from the report:
At 23.25 hours on 10 Feb, 1943, U-81 fired a spread of four torpedoes at the Saroena (Master W.L. Happee), which was escorted by an armed trawler and observed a hit in the stern that set the tanker on fire. Two Chinese crewmen and three gunners panicked and jumped overboard, two of them drowned. She was beached after four hours near Beirut and the crew reached the shore. After the fire was extinguished, the ship was refloated on 12 February and after temporary repairs towed to Port Said, where further repairs were made before the ship went to Calcutta for permanent repairs and then returned to service.
The above information was compiled from this site;

On researching further I cam across this site run by John Papenhuyzen in Sydney Australia -
The site hosts an article by one John Glenum, also from Sydney, who was 2nd officer on the Saroena the following year in 1944, and also describes the above incident

Below are illustrations of the vessel and the area in which it was attacked

MV Saroena

Position of vessel when attacked 33.47N, 35.09E

St George's Bay Beirut

Update - information collated from Kew National archives via the unit's war diaries concerning the Unit report on this incident. PDF file

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