Abandoning ship in the North Atlantic brought particular problems, with cold temperatures that could be deadly. In the South Atlantic, the dangers included burning sun and a lack of rainfall to collect drinkable water.
In 1943, the merchant ship Lulworth Hill was sailing from Mauritius to Liverpool, the ship was torpedoed on 19 March by an Italian submarine. It sank in just 90 seconds.
Of the 39 crew – including several teenagers, the youngest just 15-years old – only 14 made it to the life rafts. And only two of those survived the 50 day ordeal adrift at sea. These were two Hull locals, Kenneth Cooke, the ship’s carpenter, and Able Seaman Colin Armitage who both received the George Medal.
They were also awarded the Lloyd’s Medal, sometimes called the Merchant Navy’s Victoria Cross, since merchant sailors were not eligible for military medals like the VC.
More detail about the ship and its crew can be found here.