MOROSINI under Fraternale sank the OSCILLA on the 16th and on later patrols the PEDER BOGEN and TYSA well to the east of the Bahamas. Fraternale’s colleague Guidice sank the CHARLES RACINE on the 10th of March 580 miles east south east of Grand Turk Light. All of these events occurred on the outer fringe of the range but deserve coverage as they are not included in many other studies and serve to pinpoint the important Italian contribution.
According to K. W. L. Bezemer in “Geschiedenis van de Neerlande Koopvaardij in de Tweede Weredoorlog” (Volume 1, pp.546-549), the Oscilla was a Dutch-flagged tanker of 6,341 tons built by “Giessen Van der Giessen & Zonenaes Scheepswerven, NV in Krimpen Netherlands in 1939. She was owned and operated by “La Carona” – the NV Petroleum Maatschappij. She had left Liverpool in a convoy of 42 ships named Convoy ON-71 as part over her overall voyage from Gourock Scotland to Curacao, Netherlands West Indies, presumably in ballast to load petroleum cargo. Here master was M.A.F. Kuypers, one of the officers was named William Kaning, and there were 55 persons on board in total. Though the convoy was proceeding to Halifax, on the 8thof March the Oscilla was told by Admiralty to split off and proceed independently, starting the following day, which it did. It was to be the ship’s death warrant, probably issued to urgently expedite the import of oil into the UK.
Just an hour and a quarter before midnight on the 17th of March the Oscilla was struck by one torpedo from the Italian submarine Morosini. Right away Oscilla listed to the port side as much as 35 degrees, making the lowering of the life boat on the opposite side very difficult along the exposed side of the ship. Twenty five minutes later – at 23:10, while the crew were trying to lower a lifeboat on the port side, Morosini’s second torpedo struck the ship. “Those working on the boat barely managed to hold on because of the water crashing down on them. Those who could, abandoned ship” (Bezemer, Vol. 1, pp.546-549). Once the boats – with 51 of the total complement of 55 on board – were clear of the ship, Fraternale began shelling her. The missing included Captain Kuypers, the Chinese Quartermaster (helmsman), the cook, and a Chinese sailor.
Fortunately for the many polyglot survivors, the American ship Explorer happened upon the scene that same afternoon, and rescued all survivors. According to the Morosini records, the submarine had fired five expensive torpedoes at the Oscilla in order to secure Oscilla’s loss, not including the shelling and gunfire. There was a sad footnote to this initial loss which occurred with relatively low fatalities. Less than two months later four of the Oscilla’s surviving officers moved aboard the Dutch cargo ship Leto in Quebec, Canada for the passage from Montreal, Quebec and Halifax to the UK. She was carrying grain and airplane engines when sunk by U-553 under Karl Thurmann East of Canada. Of the 53 persons on board the Leto, 12 were killed including officers from the Oscilla. Mr. William Kaning was amongst them.
The Oscilla’s First Mate managed to stay afloat on a drifting wooden spar and was rescued, but he subsequently died of hypothermia, perhaps of the condition called “after-drop” where after rescued the cold blood still manages to overwhelm the warm in the body, sometimes as a result of changing physical positions, or the simple act of standing up and walking (contributions from Visje, guest of warsailors.com forum on January 13 2007 entitled “Sinking of Dutch Oscilla by Italian Submarine”. See also Nederlandse Scheepvaart Catalogus / NSC. See also von Munching, de Nederlandse kooopvaardijvloot in de Tweede Wereldoorlog,Vol. 2, p. 28). “Offshore from the Gaspé coast [on May 12, 1942]…the Dutch cargo ship SS Leto[was sunk in the St. Lawrence]. This …marked the beginning of the Battle of the St. Lawrence (navy.forces.gc.ca/navres).