Daily Event for April 27, 2013

The maiden voyage of the Liberty ship Lydia M. Child took her from San Francisco, California on Apr. 3, 1943 to Suez, Egypt with a stop in Sydney, Australia. Her cargo was a Lend-Lease load for the British which consisted of canned food, small tanks, steel plates, two locomotives and various other materials. The ship and the sixty-two men in her were unescorted on the long voyage, but the men kept a good lookout throughout.

After crossing the Pacific without incident the ship approached the Australian coast, she was about 100 miles east of Newcastle, NSW on April 27, 1943 when a torpedo was seen only 40 feet off the port bow, it passed within 10 feet of the ship and the helm was put hard to starboard. The maneuver could not save the ship as a second torpedo slammed into her port side between holds 2 and 3 about 15 feet below the waterline causing an immediate list to port.

The master, Carl M. Enstrom, ordered the engines reversed to bring the ship to a halt after which the engines were shut down. Dead in the water and sinking the Lydia M. Child would survive only 30 minutes, but in this time five lifeboats and at least one raft were launched and all sixty-two men got off the ship without incident or injury. Before taking to the boats the radio officer sent four separate distress signals, but received no response, he brought a small transmitter with him into the lifeboat, but no receiver was supplied and therefore he could not tell if his signals were being picked up.

Alone in the lifeboats the survivors may have been concerned that the submarine might surface and attack them as had been done to other crews, however they were not molested. It was later learned that the submarine was the I-178 under Commander Hidejiro Utsuki. This was his only success in I-178 and he only sank two ships earlier as commander of I-5. He would have no more successes and a short life, I-178 was sunk by a U.S. Sub-Chaser on May 28, 1943 while returning to Japan from her Australian patrol, Utsuki and all his men perished in her.

At around midnight on the 27/28 two Australian warships, HMAS Warrnambool J-202 and HMAS Deloraine J-232 got underway from Kurraba Oil Wharf in Sydney to search for the survivors. Hours went by, but all were finally recovered by the two ships, Warrnambool picking up forty-three and Deloraine picking up 19, the last 7 at 1600 on the 28th. They were all landed at Sydney that night.
© 2013 Michael W. Pocock

2005 Daily Event
2007 Daily Event
2010 Daily Event
2011 Daily Event