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24)BENLOMOND * U-172



Built 1922

Tonnage: 6,630 / 9,675  tons

Cargo: Ballast

Route: Port Said - Capetown - Paramaribo - New York 

Sunk 23 NOV 42 by U-172 on pos. 00º 30N 38º 45’ W 

55 Dead

1 Survivor

Completed in January 1922 as Cynthiana for Furness, Withy & Co Ltd, Liverpool. Later that year renamed Hoosac and 1923 renamed London Corporation for the same owner. 1937 sold to Greece and renamed Marionga J. Goulandris for Goulandris Bros, Piræus. 1938 sold to Britain and renamed Benlomond for Ben Line Steamers, Leith. 

At 14.10 hours on 23 Nov 1942 the unescorted Benlomond (Master John Maul) was hit by two torpedoes from U-172 and sank within 2 minutes about 750 miles east of the River Amazon, Brazil. The Germans questioned the survivors before leaving the area. The master, 44 crew members and eight gunners were lost. The sole survivor, the Chinese second mess steward Poon Lim, was rescued after an amazing 133 days alone on a Carley raft by a Brazilian fishing vessel east of Salinas and on 8 April 1943 landed at Belém, Brazil.

Chinese 2nd Steward Poon Lim, who is officially the longest survivor from a liferaft after his ship SS Benlomond was sunk 23rd November 1942. Poon Lim survived for 133 days adrift. His survival techniques were later used by the US Navy for training films. The photos attached are of Poon after he received the British Empire Medal from King George VI. The second is a photo taken of him an hour after being picked up by a fishing boat. The third is a reconstruction of the life raft he lived on for over 4 months

Poon was granted US citizenship in 1952 where he continued to work at sea retiring as Chief Steward in 1983. He died in Brooklyn 4th January 1991.
Although Poon is officially registered in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest survivor adrift, two Indian seamen, Thakar Miah and Mohamed Aftab, from the British Merchant Fort Longueil sunk 19th September 1943
, managed to survive on a raft and became Japanese prisoners on 1 Feb 1944, when the raft drifted ashore on Sumatra after 134 days at sea.

Poon Lim in the reconstruction of his raft at the request of the  US Navy.

My grateful thanks to Billy McGee for providing these pictures together with the text.

Archival footage of Poon Lim's arrival in England after his incredible ordeal.



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