The U-Boat Attacks on British Evacuees

In June 1940, a new evacuation scheme was sanctioned by Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The plan was to send children from at-risk areas of the UK to the relative safety of the U.S. and Canada. 20,000 children were selected from over 200,000 applications and on 29th August 1940, 320 children boarded the SS Volendam to start their journey across the Atlantic.

However, late on 30th August, the SS Volendam was attacked by the German submarine U-60. The U-boat fired two torpedoes, both of which struck direct hits on the evacuee ship. Luckily all passengers and children were quickly rescued by other ships in the convoy and returned to the west coast of Scotland.

Two-weeks later, many of the surviving evacuees from the SS Volendam were killed in the sinking of the SS City of Benares, another evacuee ship attacked by a German U-boat.

Lee is a freelance writer with a keen interest in history and science.