Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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SS Refah

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SS Refah was a Turkish cargo steamer of 3,512 tons built in 1901 by Robert Thompson and Sons as the SS Perseveranza for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Perseveranza S.S.Co Ltd (Cosulich), Lussinpiccolo.

In 1925 she had new owners and was renamed SS Persevera

1931 Renamed SS Rafah for Turkish owners Barzilay & Benjamin.

In 1941 she was torpedoed when 40 miles S of Mersin. She was a cargo steamer carrying 171 Turkish military personnel (150 seamen and 21 airmen) and 28 crew from Mersin to Egypt was sunk on June 23, 1941 by a torpedo fired by a Vichy France submarine. The vessel belonging to neutral Turkey was mistook for a vessel of Free France. Only 32 people survived the disaster.

Capt. Osman Ondes (Rt) on 12th December 2012 writes:

My recent book was based story on doubtful destiny of SS Refah that at present is filming for TV by Academie Production fm Istanbul.

According my research for some years, I reached more acceptable result that, SS Refah has been mined (Limpet mine) by one of Italian Underwater Attack Team which they sticked to steering and propeller area of some Allied merchant ships before leaving either Port of Mersin or Port of Iskenderun.

The most important name Cdr Luigi Ferraro was very experienced underwater attack team leader (Such Torpedo Men from II World War). During II World War he lived in Iskenderun as one of the Italian Consulate member but was Gamma member. He was able to stick limpet mines either at Port of Iskenderun or Port of Mersin (East Med of Turkey) to some merchant ships those were loading Chrome Mine on behalf of UK. He wrote his memories at his book " Un Italiano".

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