Research Info : Very possibly a casualty of the sinking of SS President Doumer Ex-French passenger liner, a Ministry of War Transport of 11,898 tons (Bibby Line) serving as a troopship, sank which with the loss of 260 lives near Madeira.
SS President Doumer was part of UK bound convoy SL125 heading home from Freetown with 36 other cargo ships, and runs into a U-boat Wolfpack, opening a seven day battle with 10 U-boats. On the 30th October 1942 the SS President Doumer was struck by a torpedo from the U-604 ( Kptlt. Horst Höltring) about 151 nautical miles (280 kilometers) north of the Madeira Islands in position 35.08N, 16.44W. The weather was bad and made the rescue work difficult, but what was worse was the panic which arose amongst the 360 passengers during the 15 minutes the ship remained afloat. The lifeboats were cut down and many were crushed
Two of the crew members from SS Alaska [another Merchant Ship] were sent down into the water with rope tied around their waists to try and save those most weary, but it proved to be too risky and the attempt had to be abandoned, “due to high seas and a lot of sharks”, according to the report, but the second and third mates were sent down to one of the crushed lifeboats and managed to rescue 46 of the 48 onboard, despite the fact that many of them struggled in panic.
Seventy-eight crew members and seven gunners in total were rescued by SS Alaska (which was herself torpedoed and damaged by U-510 during the rescue) and HMS Cowslip and landed in Gibraltar.
The U-604 was scuttled on August 11, 1943, in the South Atlantic with the loss of 14 of her crew.