“Gorgulho” picked up survivors from the “Aurillac”


Captain: António João Pereira
Type: Motor Merchant
Owner: Parceria Geral de Pescarias

Homeport: Lisbon
Event: Picked up 21 survivors form the "Aurillac" Sunk by the Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli on 15 April 1941.

At 3.25 am on April 25, 1941, the steamer "Gorgulho" found a lifeboat with 19 crew members of the ship "Aurillac", sunk ten days earlier, between Funchal and the United Kingdom, by two torpedoes fired by the Italian submarine "Enrico Tazzoli ".

The rescued were the 1st and 3rd pilots, 2nd and 4th machinists, 2nd telegraph, foreman and 13 crew. A 20th man aboard the lifeboat had died hours before they were found. The survivors were left in Funchal, under the orders of the British consul, on April 27, 1941.

In Madeira were already 21 other survivors of the same ship, among them Commander A. C. Radley. In contrast to the lifeboat found by the “Gorgulho”, where they decided to take advantage of the favourable winds in order to reach the area of ​​Cape de St. Vicente, in south Portugal, the second boat tried to reach Porto Santo, which was closer and in fact they managed to land on the island six days after the sinking.

Some news published in the Portuguese press of the time stated that this second lifeboat received some support from a fishing vessel of Machico, a place in Madeira, to arrive safely. None of the official documents I was able to see, English or Portuguese, confirm, these reports.


The sinking of Aurillac

The ship had left Freetown in the convoy SL-69, but several problems forced him to follow at low speed (6 to 7 knots) which created many difficulties to the commodore leading the fleet.

The “Aurillac” received several warnings to increase the speed, but as they tried to accomplish they forced the engine, damaging it further, forcing Commander Radley to leave the convoy and to go to Madeira for urgent repairs. They arrived there on April 6, 1941.

Seven days later they left the port of Funchal in route to Workington where they should deliver a cargo of manganese brought from Africa. The course was done in a zigzag and without problems until the 15th, when a submarine was sighted some distance away. They accentuated the evasion manoeuvres and a first torpedo fired in their direction failed the target. The same did not happen with the second that hit the hull and made it sink quickly.

Two boats were thrown to the water receiving all the 41 crew.



Captain: Alec Charles Radley
Type: Merchant Steamer
Tonnage: 4733 
Owner: British & Continetal Coal & Investiment  Co.
Homeport: Cardiff
Built: 1921
Fate: Sunk by Italian submarine "EnricoTazzoli" on the 15 april 1941. 1 killed, 40 survivors.


  • Archives: National Archives UK, Kew (GB); Arquivo Histórico da Marinha (PT); Arquivo Histórico do MNE (PT);
  • Sites: http://caribbeanrollofhonour-ww1-ww2.yolasite.com;
  • Books: Shipping Company Losses of the second World War, Ian M. Malcolm; British and Commonwealth Merchant Ship Losses To Axis subamrines 1939-1945, Alan J. Tennent; Lista dos Navios da Marinha Portuguesa, datas 1939 a 1945;