16th January 1942 –
Llangibby Castle torpedoed

llangibbycastleLlangibby Castle was built in 1929 for Union Castle by Harland & Wolff at Govan. A motorship, she was 485 feet long and 11,951grt, and was principally used on the “Round Africa” service. She was requisitioned in July 1940, and converted into a troopship, initially transporting troops to South Africa. She was damaged in an air raid on Liverpool in December 1940 but was quickly repaired.

Llangibby_Castle_FL5793She was in Convoy WS-15, which sailed on 12th January 1942 from Liverpool and the Clyde for Durban, via Freetown. On 16th January Llangibby Castle was torpedoed by U-402, just north of the Azores. The torpedo blew off part of the stern, including her after gun, and her rudder and killed 26 men, but she remained afloat. In spite of repeated air attacks, and using her propellers to steer, she managed to reach Horta, Portugal, on 19th January.

1Llangibby4After emergency repairs, she sailed for Gibraltar, arriving on 8th February, having fought off several U-boat attacks, where she landed her troops. Finally on 6th April, after some repairs but still without a rudder, she sailed for the UK, arriving on 13th April, escorted by three destroyers. Llangibby Castle had sailed some 3,400 miles without a rudder, an amazing feat which earned her captain a CBE.

In November 1942 she took part in Operation Torch, landing troops in North Africa. Then in 1943 she took part in the Sicily landings, transporting Canadian commandos. She was converted into a Landing Ship Infantry in March 1944, carrying 18 landing craft and could also carry 1,590 troops. In 1944 she took part in the Normandy landings, making several trips with mainly Canadian troops to Juno Beach. It was later estimated that she had landed over 1,000 soldiers in 70 crossings. Later she was used as  troopship in the Far East.

Following the war Llangibby Castle was thoroughly refitted and in 1946 returned it commercial service. In June 1954 she was sold to shipbreakers in Newport, Monmouthshire.