Military Wiki
SS City of Pretoria
Career Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Name: SS City of Pretoria
Operator: Ellerman & Bucknall Steamship Co. Ltd, London
Builder: Cammell Laird & Co Ltd, Birkenhead
Launched: 21 September 1937
Completed: December 1937
Fate: sunk on 4 March 1943
General characteristics
Class & type: Steam merchant
Tonnage: 8,049 tons

The SS City of Pretoria was a British steam merchant. She was torpedoed and sunk in the Second World War with heavy loss of life.


She was built by Cammell Laird & Co Ltd, at their yards in Birkenhead in 1937. She was operated by the Ellerman & Bucknall Steamship Co. Ltd and homeported in London. She continued to be operated by the Ellerman Lines during the Second World War, making at least one voyage from New York to France, carrying materiel early in the war. Her final voyage took her from New York, which she departed on 27 February 1943, bound for Liverpool via Holyhead. She was carrying 7,032 tons of general cargo, along with 145 passengers and crew, commanded by her master, Frank Deighton. Her high speed meant that it was deemed an acceptable risk to travel unescorted rather than in a convoy.


She was travelling unescorted through the Atlantic Ocean, when she was spotted on 4 March at 06.09 hours by the U-boat U-172. U-172 torpedoed the City of Pretoria, causing her to explode and sink northwest of the Azores. All aboard her, including her master, 108 crew members, 24 gunners, seven passengers (DBS) and five apprentices were lost with her. The passengers were British seamen being repatriated to the UK, often because their previous ships had been sunk.

One of the passengers was James Allistair Whyte, previously the third officer of the SS City of Cairo, who had survived 51 days in a lifeboat after the City of Cairo had been torpedoed and sunk by U-68 on 6 November 1942.


Coordinates: 41°45′N 42°30′W / 41.75°N 42.5°W / 41.75; -42.5

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