Fifteen castaways from Trevilley found by Cubango

The "Cubango"

The Portuguese "Cubango"
(Picture: Unknown author)


Type: Long Range Steamer
Tonnage: 5,727 GT
Owner: Companhia Nacional de Navegação 

Homeport: Lisbon
Built: Germany  (1903)

In the late afternoon of October 5, 1942, the Portuguese steamer Cubango entered the port of Lisbon bringing 28 crew-members from two different ships, namely 15 from the British Trevilley and 13 from the Dutch Breedijk. 

The first were found at 9.30 pm on September 20 in the Gulf of Guinea. According to the press, they had been exposed to stormy weather for ten days that had left them down, exhausted and hungry. Despite what they had been through, they managed to climb the rope ladder launched from the Cubango on their own. Informed that there could be more lifeboats in the vicinity, the Portuguese carried out searches until morning, without results.

At 18:00 hours, after resuming the route to Lisbon, they sighted another whaleboat with 13 men who belonged to the crew of the Breedijk, sunk on 14 September. As the Cubango didn’t had a shortwave radio, the situation was communicated to the nearby Portuguese freighter Malange, but they did not transmit it to Lisbon. The Navy in Lisbon would only become aware of the rescues when a new radio was sent, from Bissau, in Portuguese Guinea, where a stop was made.

The Trevilley was sunk on 12 September 1942 by U-68 who first torpedoed the ship and continued the attack with the deck artillery. The entire crew abandoned it in three lifeboats, but the submarine imprisoned the captain and another officer. Thirteen survivors were found by the French ship Annamite, which was looking for victims of the Laconia and were left in Dakar, French Vichy territory. Another landed on the Gold Coast, but lost two men along the way, not because they died, but because they jumped overboard when they had approached French territory days before. Both were interned for the duration of the war, unlike the others who preferred to continue rowing until reaching friendly territory.

Carlos Guerreiro


Captain: Richard Harvey
Type: Motor merchant
Tonnage: 5,296 GT
Owner: The Hain Steamship Co Ltd

Homeport: London
Built: Lightgowhs Ldt, Glasgow


National Archives UK, Kew (GB)  §   Arquivo Histórico da Marinha (PT)  §  Arquivo Histórico do MNE (PT)  §  § Shipping Company Losses of the second World War, Ian M. Malcolm  § Lista dos Navios da Marinha Portuguesa, datas 1939 a 1945 § NARA  § British and Commonwealth merchant ship Losses to Axis submarines 1939-1945, Alan J. Tennent  §  Diário de Notícias