“Angola” found survivors from the “Wray Castle”

Picture form the portuguese steamer Angola

The "Angola" rescued the shipwreked from the Wray Castle
(Postcard, Uknown author)


Captain: Nazareth Cardoso
Type: Long Range Steamer
Tonnage: 7884
Owner: Companhia Nacional de Navegação 

Homeport: Lisboa/ Lisbon
Built: Bélgica, 1912
Event: On 4 may 1941 it rescued 43 shipwreked from the ship "Wray Castle" sunk the day before.

The passenger ship “Angola” travelled between the islands of Saint Vicente, in Cape Verde, and Saint Thomas on a trip through the Portuguese African colonies, when at 01:15 am on May 4, 1941, some crew members saw at the distance, some red lights and a white light that made them change course.

Fifteen minutes later the engines were stopped after they had located the whaler carrying 43 castaways from the British freighter “Wray Castle”, sunk some hours before (20.45 hours) by U-103.

Captain Nazareth Cardoso questioned Captain Dobeson about the possibility of other shipwrecked, but the latter informed him that the entire crew of the “Wray Castle” were on those lifeboats, and only an Arab fire-fighter was missing but he had disappeared when the ship sank.

Interestingly, the Governor of the Island of Saint Thomas designated by Lisbon, Amadeu Gomes de Figueiredo, was on board of the “Angola”, and he quickly made contact with the shipwrecked, getting everything they needed when they arrived on the 7th of May.

On May 8 the shipwrecked went on board of the passenger steamer Lourenco Marques who took them to Freetown where they arrived on the 14th of the same month. The treatment they received from both Nazareth Cardoso and Amadeu Gomes de Figueiredo led the British commander to request that both be "officially acknowledged" by the British authorities.


The sinking of Wray Castle

Wray Castle had left Cape town alone with orders to delivery 6.9 tons of sugar in Freetown. The inexistence of information about the presence of u-boats in the South Atlantic in the days leading up to the departure gave Commander Dobeson enough confidence to make the trip.

On May 3 the ship was hit by two torpedoes that caused heavy damage to the hull and superstructure. In spite of the destruction, the communications officer stayed at his post trying to repair a radio system and call for help, but failed to do so in good time, having been dragged by the commander of his post. One of the whalers was also equipped with a small retransmitter that was used to issue several distress calls that did not have any results and even the nearest ship, the “Angola”, did not receive any transmission.

The Portuguese ship was sighted at the distance due to the fact that it was completely illuminated, reason why several red rockets were launched.

Wray Castle

Captain: Gerald Dobeson
Type: Steam Merchant
Tonnage: 4253 
Owner: James Chambers & Co Ltd

Homeport: Liverpoll
Built: Glasgow, 1938
Fate: Sunk on May 3, 1941 by U-103. 1 killed, 56 survivors.

Fontes/ Resources:

  • Archives: Arquivos Nacionais Torre do Tombo (PT); National Archives UK, Kew (GB); Arquivo Histórico da Marinha (PT); Arquivo Histórico do MNE (PT);  
  • Sites: uboat.net; 
  • Books & publications: Shipping Company Losses of the second World War, Ian M. Malcolm; Lista dos Navios da Marinha Portuguesa, datas 1939 a 1945;