Loss of HMS Curacoa

On 2 October 1942, she was escorting the ocean liner RMS Queen Mary carrying nearly 20,000 American troops of the 29th Infantry Division to join the Allied forces in Europe.

Both ships were following evasive zigzagging courses about 60 km north of the coast of Ireland when the Queen Mary cut across the path of the Curacoa with insufficient clearance, striking her amidships at a speed of 28 knots and cutting her in two. The Curacoa sank immediately, about 100 yards from the Queen Mary. Due to the risk of U-boat attacks, the Queen Mary did not assist in rescue operations and instead steamed onward with a fractured stem. Hours later, the convoy's lead escort returned to rescue 99 survivors from the Curacoa's crew of 338, including her captain John W. Boutwood.

And sure enough, the Queen Mary sliced the cruiser in two like a piece of butter, straight through the six inch armoured plating. The Queen Mary just carried on going (we were doing about 25 knots). It was the policy not to stop and pick up survivors even if they were waving at you. It was too dangerous as the threat of U-Boats was always present.”

— Alfred Johnson, Merchant Marine on the Queen Mary

Rammed and sunk by rms QUEEN MARY in North Channel during passage to UK with troops. Only 101 of her complement of 439 survived this disaster caused largely by lack of judgement of course changes by the liner to avoid submarine attack. (Note: HITLER’S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair records that the liner was under threat of attack by U407 but was sighted visually. This account suggests that in an attempt to prevent approach by U407, HMS CURACOA crossed the zig-zag path of QUEEN MARY.