Pictures of Abbekerk’s lifeboats from HMS Wallflower

The two lifeboats with the 62 survivors of Abbekerk, seen from HMS Wallflower, sailing for Ireland 700 miles away. (Thanks to Roy Terry)

Roy Terry has send me a series of 5 really amazing pictures that were taken aboard the corvette HMS Wallflower when she spotted the lifeboats of Abbekerk and picked up the 64 survivors. Roy’s father was radio operator aboard HMS Wallflower and probably has taken this pictures himself.

HMS Wallflower was an escort in the outer screen of convoy ON-124. A bit lost herself the rescue of Abbekerk’s survivors was close to a miracle. Only months earlier she was equipped with radar (the dome behind the wheelhouse) and the chances of radar ‘seeing’ a wooden lifeboat are slim even with modern radar. The obvious very calm sea and weather must have helped. Thinking the radar spotted a submarine on the surface her captain asked the commodore permission to investigate. He got permission and found the lifeboats. The survivors were pulled aboard from the lifeboats quickly with HMS Wallflower slowing down (not stopping) only briefly, afraid Uboats may be shadowing the lifeboats waiting for an easy kill. The lifeboats were then destroyed by gunfire to avoid new rescues and to keep Abbekerks identity from Uboats that may find them. These Flower class corvettes had a top speed of only 15 knots, so she waisted no time and headed back to catch up with the convoy.

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The last picture only says “survivors”. Possibly Abbekerks, but more likely survivors of a sunken Uboat later in the war. Any Information on this picture is appreciated.