Benjamin Cohen, served as Conn
Assistant Steward, S.S. Almeda Star
Died 17 Jan 1941
Commemorated at Tower Hill Memorial
Benjamin was born in January 1917 in Bethnal Green, London to David and Elizabeth nee Abrahams and he was the eldest of four boys. In 1921 their father David worked as a hawker of fancy goods and in 1939 he was working as a tic-tac of racing (bookmaker).
On 22 December 1940 the Almeda Star was on the River Mersey in Liverpool when she was slightly damaged in an air raid. On 15 January she sailed from Liverpool bound for the River Plate, carrying 194 passengers including 142 members of the Fleet Air Arm from 749, 750 and 752 Squadrons en-route to RNAS Piarco on Trinidad.
At 0745 hrs on 17 January 1941 the ship was about 35 nautical miles north of Rockall in heavy seas when German U-Boat U-96 hit her amidships with one torpedo causing her to stop. She did not sink so U-96 fired again at 0805 and 0907 hrs, hitting her in the stern and again amidships. The ship had launched four lifeboats but still had people on deck when U-96 surfaced and opened fire on her with her deck gun. The fires on board soon went out so at 0955 hrs U-96 hit the ship with a fourth torpedo, which exploded in her forepart and within three minutes Almeda Star sank by her bow. Almeda Star had transmitted one distress message and the Royal Navy responded by sending seven destroyers to search the area. They found no survivors, boats or wreckage: all 360 people aboard were lost.