Date(s) - Jun 4, Fri
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SS Salsette was a 5,842 gross tons passenger mail liner, measuring 440 ft in length. She was built in 1908 by J. Caird & Co. and owned by the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. Her 1 535 n.h.p. quadruple expansion engines gave her a speed of 20 knots.
On July 19th, 1917, Salsette was on a voyage with 258 crew and 31 passengers from London to Marseille and Bombay. Some documentation has her carrying 20 tons general cargo, others to a much larger cargo of up to 700 tons. She was also carrying 23 bags of confidential mail under the personal charge of the master. As Salsette passed the Shambles on the 20th, she had already been spotted by the German U-boat SM UB-40 under the command of Oberleutnant Hans Howaldt. He positioned his U-boat so Salsette would pass close by, and as it did so released one of its torpedoes. The torpedo smashed into the starboard side amidships killing 14 of her crew and destroying several lifeboats. The captain of Salsette, gave orders to abandon ship, and threw the confidential papers overboard in a weighted bag. In just 5 minutes all aboard were evacuated bar 15 crew who unfortunately perished in the engine room. Torpedo boat 80 went to Salsette’s aid. They arrived to find Salsette on an even keel, but listing heavily to port. The torpedo boats blanketed the area with depth charges – meanwhile Howaldt and his men sat it out on the bottom. Salsette sank within 15 minutes of her single torpedo strike.
Salsette was just one of the 100 ships to fall victim to SM UB-40 during the U-boat’s 28 patrols. A significant number of UB-40’s sinkings were in Dorset waters, including the LH Carl, sunk on the same day. Distance from Weymouth 17 miles.