Survivors of the Greek Cleanthis found by the Lourenço Marques

The Portuguese Ship Lourenço Marques

The Portuguese Ship Lourenço Marques
(Postacard from unknown author)

Lourenço Marques

Type: Passenger Steamer
Tonnage: 6,281 Gt
Owner: Companhia Nacional de Navegação (CNN) 

Homeport: Lisboa
Built: Blohm & Voss, Germany (1905)

At 12:10 am on December 2, 1942, a rescue-boat with 22 castaways from the Greek ship Cleanthis, sunk on November 30 by the German submarine U-181, was sighted by the Portuguese liner Lourenço Marques.

The Portuguese ship traveling through the African colonies left Porto Amélia, northern Mozambique, was bound for the city of Lourenço Marques, where it arrived around midnight on December 2, hours after finding the castaways. These were all the survivors of the Cleanthis, namely, seven officers - including the first mate, the 2nd and 3rd pilots, the driver, and the 2nd and 3rd radio-telegraphers - and 15 crew members who had seen their ship attacked with torpedoes and cannon shots. Upon arrival fifteen men received medical assistance, but none had serious problems.

The attack took place at 05.31 hours on 30 November after a pursuit of about four hours. Two torpedoes missed the target and the submarine decided to attack with the deck artillery, firing about 80 rounds with the larger caliber weapon. With the ship on fire, smaller caliber shots were also fired against the hull near the waterline, which eventually accelerated the sinking.

The Greek commander and eleven crew members died in the attack. The radio system was destroyed right after the first shots, which prevented them from sending any distress messages.


Carlos Guerreiro


Cargo Steamer
Tonnage: 4,153 Gt
Owner: Pindos SS Co Ltd, Athens Atenas

Homeport: Piraeus
Built: Hawthorn, Leslie & Co Ltd, GB (1911)


National Archives UK, Kew (GB)  §  Arquivo Histórico da Marinha (PT)  § Arquivo Histórico do MNE (PT)  §  § Lista dos Navios da Marinha Portuguesa, datas 1939 a 1945  § Torre do Tombo (PT)  §  Roger Jordan, The Worlds Merchant Fleets - 1939, London, Chatham Publishing