HMCS GUYSBOROUGH -Bangor class minesweeper, was sunk by two torpedoes fired by U-878 in the Bay of Biscay on 17 March 1945. Of the ninety-two sailors in her ship’s company , fifty-one were killed.
GUYSBOROUGH was returning to the UK after a refit at Lunenburg, NS, sailing alone the minesweeper was off the coast of Ushant, France when an acoustic torpedo from U-878 struck her dead astern at 1850. The explosion curled up the mine-sweeping deck and rained debris onto the foc’s’le. Damage control parties closed up and were very effective, it appeared the ship might be saved.
With GUYSBOROUGH dead in the water, U-878 fired a second torpedo into the minesweeper at 1935 striking her amidships. Two of her ship’s company were killed and several others wounded in this explosion and the order to abandon ship was given. The little ship resisted her fate to the end, slowly settling by the stern and sinking thirty-five minutes after the second torpedo hit. Most minesweepers were lost within minutes of being struck by a single torpedo. Her ninety survivors gave their ship three cheers as she slipped below the waves.
With both sea boats destroyed the men crowded into the Carly floats to await rescue. With a rising sea the rafts became separated and as night fell, hypothermia began to take hold of the men. Rescue for the survivors would not come until 1400 the next day, by then forty-nine men had succumbed to exposure.
Photo courtesy the Naval Museum of Manitoba.