On 22nd October 1942 over 350 ships sailed for the north-western African coast from Allied ports with what was the commencement of Operation Torch – The Allied invasion of North Africa. This operation was regarded to be a “dress rehearsal” for the eventual landings in France and therefore immensely important as it was the beginning of the turning point of the war.
The concern was for the ships to get through unmolested by the destructive forces of Germany’s Wolfpack U-boat fleet.
Thirty seven ships left the port of Freetown in Sierra Leone on 16th October 1942 making up convoy SL125 bound for Liverpool, England. Most were in ballast [not carrying any cargo] amongst them the Anglo-Maersk. As they approached the Canary Islands on 25th October 1942 the convoy was intercepted by eight U-boats of the Wolfpack Streitaxt consisting of U-134, U-203, U-409, U-509, U-510, U-572, U-604, and U-659.
The Anglo-Maersk was first attacked by U-509 and finished off by the U-604. From the night of the 25th through to 31st October twelve ships were sunk and a further seven damaged totalling 126,755 tons.
It is generally believed Allied sources deliberately leaked vital details of convoy SL125 to Axis forces in order to draw the U-boats away from the Straits of Gibraltar and the North African coast which was to be the designated landing site for Operation Torch.
It does seem too much of a coincidence that 350 ships of immense importance to the Allied war effort managed to sail unmolested in one of the most treacherous sea routes of the Atlantic, whilst 37 ships of no importance at all are practically annihilated by all U-boats that would normally patrol the straits of Gibraltar?
My own personal interest in this event stems back to the early 1990’s when I was approached by a friend to write a book about his uncle* who served as a communications officer aboard the Anglo-Maersk from 1940 -1941. Having started the research and eventual writing of the book SMITHY’S WAR I developed an immense interest of the entire conflict of World War II…
Of a total of 55,882 Allied merchant crewmen between 1939 and 1945, 25,864 died as a direct result of Axis naval and air forces.
Those who survived are barely remembered…
Leslie George Smith*, who was born in Sydney, Australia on 14th May 1908, was one such survivor. Serving as a communications officer aboard the 12,000 ton Danish oil tanker Anglo-Maersk, under British Flag from May 1940, his experiences reflecting the dangers of working on fairly unprotected merchant ships during wartime are quite moving, and are included in his own words within the pages of the book named SMITHY’S WAR.
SMITHY’S WAR traces what happened to the other merchant ships Leslie mentions in his text. It also includes the final hours of the Anglo-Maersk taken from the Logbook of the German U-boat U-604 which was responsible for the sinking of the tanker when it formed part of convoy SL.125.
The book looks at the chase and final destruction of the U-604 at the hands of the US Navy and US Navy aircraft.
SMITHY’S WAR has been structured chronologically and includes events that were happening around the world during the time Leslie was at sea and up until the end of that horrendous conflict known as World War II.
To commemorate the 72nd Anniversary of the demise of Convoy SL125 and the success of the Operation Torch landings I have decided to reduce the price of my book by 75% from now until the end of October 2014.
The promotional price is now only US$1.75
The link for the book is: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/263329
You will need to type in the Coupon Code: FS49U before you complete the purchase
RLB – Tomewriter