“Mirandella” found the shipwrecked from the “Queen Maud”


Capitão: J.(?) Oliveira
Type: Long Range Merchant Steamer
Tonnage: 5179
Owner: Sociedade Geral de Comércio Indústria e Transportes Lda.

Homeport: Lisboa
Built: Gemany, 1906
Event: They found a lifeboat with survivors of the "Queen Maud" but when they wanted to be rescued, the portuguese ship warned the British naval authorities that picked them up later.

Mirandella found a lifeboat with 22 castaways on 07 May 1941 at 0730 hours, about 200 miles from where their ship - the “Queen Maud" - had been torpedoed.

When Commander Oliveira, on the way to the Portuguese African colonies, wanted to take the men aboard, the officer who commanded the whaler refused to be picked up because he intended to reach Freetown. The rest of the crew also insisted on this.

The "Mirandella" several radios to alert any British ships nearby. It did not take long to got an positive answer from an English patrol not too far away. The Portuguese ship was further informed that another whaling vessel, whit the captain and other members of the crew on board, would not be far away.

By 9 o'clock the Portuguese ship continued its voyage after providing water and supplies that the shipwrecked needed, in addition they also gave them their true position and the course for Freetown.

At 0940 hours a British light cruiser was spotted on the Mirandella, and they asked them for the position of the whaler who would then about six miles from the stern. It was the "HMS Dragon" that, warned by the Portuguese radio, finally collected the two lifeboats of the “Queen Maud”.


The sinking of the "Queen Maud"

The “Queen Maud” departed from Milford Haven, in Wales, on 11 April 1941 on a convoy south, and on the 19th left the remaining ships to sail independently to Freetown in Sierra Leone. It carried military supplies and more than seven tons of coal.

On 5 May, at 08.00 hours, about 300 miles west of the port of arrival, they were struck by a torpedo that exploded inside the portside near the bridge. Some crew had still not realized what had happened when another torpedo exploded.

There was no explosion seen, no boiling or column of water, they only felt the impact from the weapon and saw a huge cloud of coal taking over the ship that began to sink quickly.

The crew was divided by two whaling boats and a raft. The latter, with five men, was caught by the collapse of the ship's superstructure when a third torpedo struck the “Queen Maud”, but almost miraculously all survived not only the fall of the structures but also the suction effect caused by the sinking. They were taken in by one of the two whalers.

The castaways then decided to reach Freetown, even though the French Guinea was closer. It was during this journey that they found the Mirandella, that alerted the British warships to the their presence. The survivors arrived in Sierra Leone on 8 May.

The submarine that carried out the attack was the U-38 commanded by the captain Heinrich Liebe, causing one dead among the 44 crew.

Queen Maud

Captain:  Robert John McDonald
Type: Motor Merchant
Tonnage: 4976
Owner: T. Dunlop & Sons, Glasgow

Homeport: Glasgow
Built: UK, 1936
Fate:  Sunk by U-38 on May 5, 1941. 1 death, 22 survivors.


  • Arquivos: Arquivos Nacionais Torre do Tombo (PT); National Archives UK, Kew (GB); Arquivo Histórico da Marinha (PT); Arquivo Histórico do MNE (PT); Hemeroteca de Lisboa (PT); Nara - National Archives and Records Administration (USA);
  • Sites: uboat.net; 
  • Livros & Publicações : Shipping Company Losses of the second World War, Ian M. Malcolm; Navios da Marinha Portuguesa, datas 1939 a 1945;