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Historic England Research Records

Sambut

Hob Uid: 1544031
Location :
Kent
Dover
Grid Ref : TR4920443885
Summary : Remains of 1944 wreck of English cargo vessel which foundered approximately 2.25 miles SE of the nearest point of the South Sand Head, Goodwin Sands. She was hit by shells from a long-range shore battery on the French side as she steamed from Southend with troops, ammunition, vehicles and petrol to take part in the D-Day landings. The shells caused explosions among her cargo, and a fire on board ship, which could not be controlled, and she was eventually sunk by a Royal Navy torpedo.Constructed of steel in the United States in 1943, she was one of the steam-driven Liberty Ships and one of the group loaned to Britain under the SAM prefix.
More information : Wreck Site and Archaeological Remains:

Vertical Datum: LAT (1)

10-MAR-1944: Totally submerged. (1)(9)

07-NOV-1961: Depth 87ft, in 173ft. (1)(9)

18-APR-1966: Depth 105ft in 164ft, lies NNE/SSW, 400ft long. (1)(9)

01-OCT-1969: Folkestone Salvage Co. applied to BOT for consent to sink unwanted caisson alongside this wreck. (1)

04-MAY-1970: The 10-ton phosphor bronze propeller was recovered from this wreck by Folkestone Salvage Co. Mar-Apr 1970. (9)

31-DEC-1970: Depth 33.4m in general depth 51m, scour 54.7m. Flat seabed, wreck lies NE/SW. (1)(9)

04-JAN-1972: Examined in 51 08.26N 001 33.55E [EUR] using hifix. Swept clear at 25m, foul at 25.2m. Least echosounder depth 24.9m in general depth 49m. Scour depth 51m. Approximately 460ft long, lying 074/254 degrees. (1)(9)

30-JUL-1986: Examined in 51 08.20N 001 33.56E [OSGB] using trisponder. Least echosounder depth 28.6m in general depth 49m. No scour. Remains intact, and causes massive surface disturbance in strong tidal stream and confused sea in foul weather. Gives strong magnetic anomaly. (1)(9)

16-SEP-1988: Examined with hydrosearch. Intact and lying 075/255 degrees with height 23.5m. Length 210m, width 34m. Highest part is funnel which still stands amidships. (1)(9)

14-SEP-1999: Vessel is armed and littered with shell cases. This is the SAMBUT. (9)

03-OCT-2006: Examined in 51 08.363N 001 33.778E [WGS 84] using DGPS. Least multibeam depth 32.16m in general depth 50.3m. Length 134.9m, width 22.3m, height 18.1m. Lies 079/259 degrees, bows at 079. Moderate magnetic anomaly, intact and upright. (9)

The wreck lies in 51m, 19m above the seabed.' (2)

Vessel lies 19m proud of the seabed. (3)

She now lies at 51 08.52N, 01 33.27E and is intact with her bows pointing south south west. Permission requested to sink a concrete caisson alongside her. (4)

A brass clock face with some workings attached marked "Chelsea Clock Company, Boston"; a radio direction receiver, brass, standing approximately 5ft high; and a stand with brass loop on top, recovered from the SAMBUT. (Droit 070/11) (17)


Wreck Event and Documentary Evidence:

Shelled. (1)

'Ex. C J JONES. Completed and launched in 17 days as the SAMBUT, one of the American Liberty ships, she was handed over to the British Government and placed in the management of P. Henderson & Co, Glasgow. This steamship left the Thames anchorage at 6 am on D-Day 06.06.1944, and headed for the invasion beachheads. She carried nearly 1,000 troops and 137 armoured vehicles, as well as ammunition and petrol in jerry cans stacked on the foredeck. Her crew consisted of 40 with 23 gunners manning her AA defence weapons. As she passed Dover, with another ship abeam, she was sighted by a Geman long-range shore battery near Calais. This opened fire on the convoy, two shells hitting the SAMBUT amidships at noon, setting her on fire. One of the shells exploded in No.4 mess-deck, killing 150 troops and injuring many others. The port lifeboats were launched. Still ablaze, the abandoned ship drifted down towards the Goodwins and sank.' (2)

A Liberty ship and one of the Sam ships. She was en route from Southend to Normandy with troops, armoured vehicles, ammunition and petrol aboard. She was sunk by gun action from a long-range shore battery and she caught fire. She drifted and stranded on the Goodwin Sands. (4)

Launched as C J JONES, 1943, for the US Government, then to Britain as SAMBUT 1944, registered in London. Shelled 06-JUN-1944 en route Thames for Normandy with troops and vehicles, in 51 08.6N 001 33.2E. (5)(6)

Tonnage, 7176 gross, deadweight tonnage 10,865; 134.6m x 17.4m. (5)

SAMBUT, left Southend on 6th June 1944, bound for Seine Bay, in convoy ETM 1, comprising 12 "Sam" ships (tonnage of all of which is recorded as 7,219 tons) with escorts and warships. Shelled and burnt out in the Straits of Dover. (7)

Eyewitness account from a survivor together with a painting of the incident. An escort ordered the barrage balloon to be lowered to avoid being seen from Calais but in passing Dover at midday two 15" shells struck the ship and set her on fire, causing explosions among the cargo. (8)

06-JUN-1944: SAMBUT, 7,219 tons, lost in 51.08N 001 33E, cause unknown or uncertain. (11)

06-JUN-1944: SAMBUT On His Majesty's Service, 7,219 tons, bound from the Thames for the invasion beaches with 497 troops and military vehicles, sunk by shore battery in position 51 08.6N 001 33.2E, with the loss of 3 crew and some troops. (12)

Designated a Mechanised Transport Ship, serial 3211. Included on board were No.102 Beach Flight, who brought with them a jeep, a lorry with two motorcycles inside, and 3 other motorcycles. (13)

From the Operations Record Book of No.1 Beach Squadron, as reproduced on this site:

'6th June 1215
SS SAMBUT - Serial 3211, London Convoy, hit off Dover by shell fire from Cross Channel guns . . .

6th June 1230
Ship hit by further salvo and orders given to abandon ship.' (13)

Photograph of the SAMBUT on fire in the Channel. (14)

Transcript of photograph of relevant page of 92nd LAA War Diary, as depicted on this webpage:

'3 [June] This HQ embarked from Camp T7 at Victoria Dock on MT2 (SS SAMBUT) for operations in France and proceeded to Southend.

'6 [June] MT2 left Southend and sailed west through the Straits of Dover. 1215 The ship was struck by shells from enemy shore batteries which caused damage and set the ship on fire. Subsequent explosions of ammunition etc. on board increased the fires and at approx 1245 the Master ordered abandon ship. All equipment of this HQ was lost with all records.' (15)

Struck 3 miles off Dover by 2 x 16in shells fired from German gun batteries at Calais, which 'could not have been aimed'. The first shell landed aft of the engine room, and destroyed much of the firefighting equipment, the second forward of the bridge. The deck cargo, comprising lorries laden with explosives and cases of fuel.

There was then an explosion in No.2 hold as gelignite exploded, which destroyed the bridge and the port side lifeboats.

Captain Willis gave an account of events:

The order to abandon ship was given and the crew got into the starboard lifeboats by 12.30, with the troops jumping overboard into the rafts. They were encouraged to jump in view of a potential imminent explosion, and had already been wearing lifebelts.

He, the chief officer, and the pilot were the last to leave at 12.40, and likewise jumped overboard and swam to a raft.

He felt that the motor launches that arrived from Dover were slow at picking up survivors.

The wreck was finally sunk by a torpedo from the Royal Navy at 51 08N 001 33E, because she was a hazard to the remainder of the fleet. (16)

Built: 1943 (2)(5)(16)
Builder: Oregon Ship Building Corporation (2)(5)(16)
Where built: Portland, Oregon (2)(5)(16)
Propulsion: Screw-driven, 3-cylinder triple-expansion engine (2)
Engine HP: 2500 (2)
Boilers: 2 (2)
Official Number: 169803 (6)
Master: M Willis (2); Mark Willis (16)
Crew: 63 (2)(13)(16); comprising 40 crew and 23 gunners (12)
Crew Lost: 6 (13)(16)
Passengers: 1000 (2); 497 (12); 562 (13)(16)
Passengers lost: 150 (2); 130 (13)
Owner: Ministry of War Transport (MOWT), managed by P Henderson & Co., Glasgow (2)

Date of Loss Qualifier: Actual date of loss

Additional sources cited in Shipwreck Index of the British Isles:
TLS p128

Additional sources cited in source (16):
Elphick, Peter, "Liberty - The Ships That Won The War", US Naval Institute Press, 2006

Sources :
Source Number : 1
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Source Number : 2
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Source details : Section 6, Kent Goodwin Sands (BF)
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Source Number : 11
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Source details : Section IV
Page(s) : 52
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Source Number : 12
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Page(s) : 755
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Source Number : 13
Source :
Source details : < http://www.rafbeachunits.info/html/102_beach_flight.html > on 06-JUN-2014
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Source Number : 14
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Source details : < http://trueloyals.com/page6/files/page6-1001-full.html > accessed on 06-JUN-2014
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Source Number : 15
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Source details : < http://trueloyals.com/page6/files/page6-1002-full.html > accessed on 06-JUN-2014
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Source Number : 16
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Source details : < http://trueloyals.com/page0/files/six.html > accessed on 06-JUN-2014
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Source Number : 17
Source :
Source details : 2011
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Source Number : 18
Source :
Source details : https://thewreckoftheweek.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/no-55-sambut/ accessed 15-MAY-2018
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Source Number : 3
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Source details : January 2004, No.171
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Source details : No.225
Page(s) : 86
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Source details : < http://www.miramarshipindex.org.nz/ship/show?nameid=245354&shipid=63423 > accessed on 05-AUG-2011
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Source details : < http://www.miramarshipindex.org.nz/ship/list?IDNo=1169803&search_op=OR > accessed on 05-AUG-2011
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Source Number : 7
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Source details : < http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/etm/index.html?etm.php?convoy=1!~etmmain > accessed on 05-AUG-2011
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Source Number : 8
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Source details : "92 LAA Regt. Loss of the SS SAMBUT on D-Day", William Wills, < http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/33/a4415933.shtml > accessed on 05-AUG-2011
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Source details : 13665
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Source details : Examination of EH deskGIS SeaZone data layer, 05-AUG-2011
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : Built 1943
Monument End Date : 1943
Monument Start Date : 1943
Monument Type : Cargo Vessel, Liberty Ship
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : Lost 1944
Monument End Date : 1944
Monument Start Date : 1944
Monument Type : Cargo Vessel, Armed Cargo Vessel, Transport Vessel, Troop Ship, Liberty Ship
Evidence : Vessel Structure, Multibeam Survey, Documentary Evidence

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Admiralty Chart
External Cross Reference Number : 1406 16-05-69
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Admiralty Chart
External Cross Reference Number : 1610 18-02-77
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Admiralty Chart
External Cross Reference Number : 1828b 30-04-82
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Admiralty Chart
External Cross Reference Number : 2449 22-08-86
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Admiralty Chart
External Cross Reference Number : 2451 08-02-91
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Admiralty Chart
External Cross Reference Number : 323 26-05-89
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Hydrographic Office Number
External Cross Reference Number : 12302958
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Hydrographic Office Number
External Cross Reference Number : 13665
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Droit Number
External Cross Reference Number : 070/11
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TR 44 SE 13
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
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