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On December 5, 1941 departed Sydney via Brisbane and Cairns to Darwin when the Pacific War began. At Darwin, MV Tulagi was pressed into service with a convoy transporting troops and supplies to "Sparrow Force" on Timor.
The convoy departed on February 15, 1942 and was comprised of MV Tulagi with troops from the US Army 148th Field Artillery and supplies plus USAT Meigs, USAT Mauna Loa and USS Portmar, escorted by USS Houston, USS Peary, HMAS Warrego and HMAS Swan.
On February 16, 1942 the convoy was attacked by Japanese aircraft and the convoy aborted the mission and returned to Darwin Harbor, return during the afternoon of February 18.
On February 19, 1942 Japanese aircraft attacked Darwin Harbor, but only sustained superficial damage. Because of the troops aboard, Captain Thompson grounded the ship into a mud bank north of Harper's Folly and south of Sweir's Bluff allowing the crew to exit, although the area was crocodile infested.
After the raid, Captain Thompson and the Chief Engineer Mr. J. R. Ward went back on board and with the help of others floated the vessel, made repairs. Crewed by volunteers from MV Neptuna and MV British Motorist departed for Sydney, arriving 19 days later.
During the remainder of 1942 until 1944 transported supplies and troops from Australia to the South Pacific. During February 1944, returned to the United Kingdom Department of Defense to join the Royal Navy Fleet Train.
On March 27, 1944 while steaming in the Indian Ocean, spotted by German Submarine U-532. On March 28, 1944 at 1:00am the ship was hit by two torpedoes on the starboard side between the No. 3 hatch and the engine room, causing it to sink in only 20 seconds stern first, before rolling over to the starboard side. Thirty-nine went down with the ship.
Fates of the Crew
Their fate began one of the most epic drifts of survival. On April 21, twenty four days after the sinking, the fifteen were split into two raft groups, seven on one, eight on the other. On April 30, they saw smoke from a ship on the horizon. The ship passed at about 17:00 without seeing them. Around this time, the rope connecting the rafts rotted and caused them to separate.
One of these rafts was never seen nor heard from again and no evidence was found of survivors. On May 25 (fifty eight days after the sinking) the remaining raft with seven aboard saw white gulls and at 11:10pm the seven landed at Bijoutier Island in the Seychelles.
The seven survivors were:
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