SS Lulworth Hill

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Name: SS Lulworth Hill
Owner: Dorset Steamship Co Ltd
Operator: Counties Ship Management Co Ltd, London
Builder: William Hamilton & Co, Port Glasgow[1]
Yard number: 440[1]
Launched: 1940
Completed: 1940
Out of service: 19 March 1943
Fate: Sunk by torpedo
General characteristics
Class and type: dry cargo
Tonnage: 7,628 long tons (8,543 ST; 7,750 t) gross tonnage[1]
Length: 421 feet (128 m)[1]
Beam: 61 feet (19 m)[1]
Draught: 35 feet (11 m)[1]
Installed power: 2,150 indicated horsepower[1]
Propulsion: 3 cylinder triple-expansion steam engine[1]
Speed: 11 knots (20 km/h)[1]
Crew: 39

SS Lulworth Hill was a cargo ship completed by William Hamilton & Co in Port Glasgow on the Firth of Clyde in 1940.[1] She was owned by Dorset Steamships Co Ltd and managed by Counties Ship Management Co Ltd of London (CSM), both of which were offshoots of the Rethymnis & Kulukundis shipbroking company.[2]


The Italian navy submarine Leonardo da Vinci torpedoed the Lulworth Hill in the South Atlantic on 19 March 1943.[3] Survivors took to the lifeboats, but the submarine surfaced and machine gunned them.[4] The Leonardo da Vinci captured one survivor.[1] After 29 days the UK authorities assumed that the Lulworth Hill had been lost with all hands and duly informed their families.[5]

On 7 May the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Rapid picked up one of the Lulworth Hill's liferafts.[5] 14 men had survived the sinking but after 50 days adrift only two, Seaman Shipwright (i.e. carpenter) Bill Cooke and Able Seaman Colin Armitage, remained alive.[6] On 7 November 1944 both men were awarded the Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea.[7] Armitage was also awarded the George Medal.[4] In 1985 a radio interview was broadcast in which Cooke described their ordeal and survival.[6]

On 23 May 1943 Leonardo da Vinci was in the North Atlantic returning from patrol 300 miles (480 km) west of Vigo, Spain when the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Active depth charged and sank her. There were no survivors, and presumably the prisoner from Lulworth Hill was still aboard the submarine and was lost.

Replacement ship

In 1947 Dorset Steamships bought the Empire ship Empire Mandarin and renamed her Lulworth Hill. In 1949 she was renamed Castle Hill. In 1950 she was transferred to a new Rethymnis & Kulukundis company, London & Overseas Freighters Ltd, who renamed her London Builder. LOF sold her in 1951 to new owners who registered her under the Panamanian flag of convenience as the Silver Wake. She changed owners and names several more times, becoming the Navarino in 1954, the Stanhope in 1955 and the Ardbrae in 1961. She was scrapped at Onomichi, Japan in 1966.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Allen, Tony (9 May 2008). "SS Lulworth Hill (+1943)". The Wreck Site. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  2. Fenton, Roy (2006). [ "Counties Ship Management 1934-2007"]. LOF-News. p. 1. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  3. Piccinotti, Andrea (2000-2006). "Sommergibili Classe Marconi". La storia della Regia Marina Italiana nella seconda guerra mondiale. Andrea Piccinotti. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 BBC @ The Living Museum (10 July 2005). "Merchant navy standard". WW2 People's War. BBC. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Slader, 1988, page 241
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Fifty Days". The LBC/IRN Audio Archive. British Universities Film & Video Council. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  7. de Neumann, Bernard (a5 January 2006). "Merchant Navy High Gallantry Awards". WW2 People's War. BBC. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 

Sources & further reading

Coordinates: 10°10′S 01°00′E / 10.167°S 1°E / -10.167; 1