“Tarrafal” picked up 85 survivors from “Clan Macdougall”

(Cabo Verde, Portugal)

Type: Coastal Steamer, water tanker
Tonnage: 111,82
Owner: Ferro & Comp Ld

Homeport: São Vicente, Cabo Verde
Built: Leith, England (1930)
Event: Found on the 1 June 1941 85 survivors from the British merchant  "Clan Macdougall", sunk the day before.

On the afternoon of 1 June 1941 the “Tarrafal”, a coasting vessel from Cape Verde, found four whalers carrying the survivors of the British steamer "Clan MacDougall", a total of 85 men, who had been at sea since the previous day when their ship was torpedoed.

In the first lifeboat to be sighted was the commander C. H. Parfitt who after the sinking had ordered all whalers to make way to the Island of Santo Antão, in Cape Verde. The encounter with the Portuguese ship happened 10 miles of land.

The crew was taken to the island of Santo Antão, but did not disembark and got the company of other shipwrecked from the British ship "Silveryew", who had arrived in the island days before. All were transported to San Vicente where they waited for repatriation.

The crew of the "Clan Macdougall" left Cape Verde divided into two groups. The first boarded the Portuguese Steamer "Mouzinho" on 25-07-1941 and headed for Bathurst while the others waited until 21-08-1941 to board the "Colonial" towards Cape Town.

In his report the British captain highlights the "good treatment" they received from the natives and the Portuguese during the seven weeks in Saint Vicent.


The sinking of the "Clan MacDougall"

The ship departed from Liverpool on 12 May 1941 for Freetown, but at the 28 received radio orders to go to Saint Vincent, where they arrived two days later.

Hours before landing they passed through two lifeboats, but the captain chose not to pick them up because the castaways were near the islands, and no one was contacted by the shipping authorities on arrival so that they could deal with the rescue. These were shipwrecked of the Silveryew, which they later met aboard the Tarrafal.

At 23:00 of May 30 they left the port for Cape Town, South Africa, but by 2:30 AM they were torpedoed for the first time. The commander gave orders to prepare to abandon ship and a few minutes later a second torpedo ripped the hull causing a gigantic explosion that lifted the ship of the water and condemned the ship.

The crew was separated in four lifeboats. Two of the 87 crew went missing and one man was seriously wounded.

Clan MacDougall

Captain: Cyril H. Parfitt
Type: Motor Merchant
Tonnage: 6843 
Owner:  The Clan Line Steamers, Lda.

Homeport: Glasgow
Built: GB, 1929
Fate: Sunk by U-106 on  31 May 1941 near Cape Verde. Two of the 87 crew died.


  • Archives: National Archives UK, Kew (GB); Arquivo Histórico do MNE (PT); 
  • Sites: uboat.net; 
  • Books & Publications: Shipping Company Losses of the second World War, Ian M. Malcolm; 
  • People: José Évora;