Comrie airman Douglas Carr was reported missing at sea in late July 1941. His mother, 9 Glebe Cottage, Comrie was informed he was missing on the same day that she received a letter from him saying that he was well.
Leading Aircraftman Douglas Carr RAFVR, 981525, was 24 years of age and was previously employed at Abertuchill estate, two miles west of Comrie before being called up. Douglas Carr’s father, Corporal John Carr, R.A.S.C. died on service in the east during World War One.
Leading Aircraftman Douglas Carr was onboard SS Anselm when it was torpedoed by the German U-boat, U96 on 5 July 1941, about 300 miles north of the Azores. The SS Anselm was on passage from Gourock on the River Clyde to Freetown, Sierra Leone, and was carrying 1,200 troops.
HMS Challenger and SS Anselm were in line ahead formation being screened by three Flower-class corvettes, HMS Lavender, HMS Petunia and HMS Starwort. The Asdic (anti-submarine detection equipment) on HMS Starwort, was out of order, so it was stationed astern. All the escorts were keeping a listening watch in thick fog, but at 03.50am, the fog cleared.
HMS Lavender and HMS Petunia took up screening positions on either bow of HMS Challenger and commenced zigzagging on a course just east of south and at a speed of 11 knots. At 04.26am, in the approximate position of 44 30N, 28 30W, not far from the Canary Islands, the SS Anselm was stuck by a torpedo on the port side amidships. (German U-boat records show the position as 44°25′N 28°35′W)
The SS Anselm went down rapidly by the head, sinking 22 minutes after being hit. All the lifeboats got away except for one, No.6. By skilful manoeuvring HMS Challenger placed her bow alongside SS Anselm’s port quarter and rescued 60 men. Unfortunately, 254, including 175 RAF personnel were killed. It is probable that many of these were killed by the explosion of the torpedo which stuck the ship just below their accommodation space.
HMS Lavender and HMS Petunia counter attacked U96 with depth charges. The U-boat was seriously damaged and forced to curtail its patrol, arriving back at Saint Nazaire after 21 days at sea.
Leading Aircraftman Douglas Carr is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Aircraftman 1st Class John Tyndel Farquhar of Perth was also on-board SS Anselm and killed on 5 July 1941:
Aircraftman 1st Class John Tyndel Farquhar – Made in Perth ~ Official Website ~ SC044155
Research by Ken Bruce.
The SS Anselm was built in 1935 by Denny W. & Bros. Ltd in Dumbarton and owned by the Booth Steamship Co. (Booth Line) of Liverpool. SS Anselm was converted into a troop ship at the start of WW2. Powered by three Parsons steam turbines, it had a top speed of 12 knots and a weight of 5,954 grt (Gross Register Tonnage). (Gross register tonnage uses the total permanently enclosed capacity of the vessel as its basis for volume)
Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (Knights Cross) was the captain of the Type VIIC U-boat, U-96 which sank the SS Anselm. The fifth patrol of U96 started on 19 June 1941, departing from Saint Nazaire on the west coast of occupied France. Two weeks later, U96 made contact with the convoy and sank the SS Anselm.
The keel of U96 was laid down on 16 September 1939, by Germaniawerft, of Kiel as yard number 601. She was commissioned on 14 September 1940, with Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock in command. After active service during WW2, U96 from 8 February 1943 spent the rest of the war as a training vessel. U96 was decommissioned on 15 February 1945 in Wilhelmshaven and sunk in the Hipper basin at Wilhelmshaven by the US Eighth Air Force in a bombing attack on 30 March 1945. The remains were broken up after the war.
On 27 October 1941, for the seventh patrol of U96, the journalist (official artist), Lothar-Günther Buchheim joined the submarine to provide impressions of the German Navy and to take photographs which were to be used for propaganda purposes. U-Boat, U96 joined the Wolfpack Stosstrupp (30 October – 4 November 1941) and three days later. On 31 October 1941, U96 attacked convoy OS 10. At long range, a torpedo stuck the Dutch ship, SS Bennekom which sank. U96 was forced to dive and attacked underwater by twenty-seven depth charges. The next day U96 encountered more convoy escorts and managed to escape once more.
U96 entered the neutral port of Vigo in Spain on 27 November 1941 to be resupplied by the interned German MV Bessel. After leaving Vigo, U96 made for the Straits of Gibraltar where late on 30 November 1941 she was spotted by Fairy Swordfish aircraft of 812 Naval Squadron. Two bombs were dropped by the aircraft, unable to reach her destination, U96 returned to Saint Nazaire.
If all that about the seventh patrol of U96 sounds familiar, Lothar-Günther Buchheim authored a short story about his experience on board U96, “Die Eichenlaubfahrt” (The Oak-Leaves Patrol) and then in 1973, a novel which was to become an international best-seller, Das Boot (The Boat).
U96 was the number of the U-boat used as the fictional basis of the 1981 classic claustrophobic thriller movie based on the Das Boot book. The movie script was written by Wolfgang Petersen and starred Juergen Prochnow. The movie Das Boot was nominated for 6 Oscars, Best Director, Best Writing, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Effects. It was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture. The BBC also ran it as a miniseries in 1985.
The replica of U-96 used in Das Boot, was also used in Steven Spielberg’s 1981 film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, but had the number U-26.
On the night of the 3rd or 4th of February 1914 Aberuchill Castle was one of three properties in the Comrie area targeted by suffragettes (the others being the House of Ross and Allt-an-Fhionn at St Fillans). A fire was started in an arson attack and was discovered in a drawing room by six maids who had been asleep in the castle. Several sources differ on the extent of the damage. All seem to agree that numerous paintings, antiques, and pieces of furniture were destroyed but some state that the castle was gutted while others say that the fire was quickly extinguished, the thick walls of the castle seemingly preventing the fire from spreading. (Source http://www.stravaiging.com/)