Monument to the Struma and Mefküre in Ashdod, Israel
|Operator:||Jean D Pandelis|
|Port of registry:||Istanbul or Şile|
|Out of service:||5 August 1944|
|Fate:||sunk by Soviet submarine|
|Tonnage:||52 GRT or 120 GRT; 40 NRT|
|Length:||35 m (115 ft)|
|Beam:||8 m (26 ft)|
|Propulsion:||diesel engine of about 75 BHP;
maximum 11.5 knots (21.3 km/h; 13.2 mph);
MV Mefküre (often referred to as Mefkura) was a Turkish wooden-hulled motor schooner chartered to carry Jewish Holocaust refugees from Romania to Istanbul, sailing under the Turkish and Red Cross flags. On 5 August 1944 a Soviet submarine sank her in the Black Sea by torpedo and shellfire, killing more than 300 refugees.
Final voyage and sinking
Mefküre and two other refugee ships, Bulbul and Morina, sailed from the Romanian port of Constanța before dawn on 5 August 1944. The exact number of refugees aboard Mefküre is unknown; estimates vary between 289 and 394. The Romanian navy escorted them and provided signal flags to aid their passage from the harbour and through the mined area around it.
After midnight Mefküre was about 25 miles northeast of İğneada in Turkey when flares from an unknown vessel illuminated her. Mefküre failed to respond and carried on. The vessel was a Soviet Shchuka-class submarine, Shch-215, which then attacked. As well as torpedoing Mefküre, Shch-215 fired 90 rounds from her 45-mm guns and 650 rounds from her 7.62 mm machine guns. Mefküre caught fire and sank. Her captain, Kazım Turan, and six of his crew escaped in a lifeboat but only five of the refugees survived. The number of refugees killed is unknown, but one estimate suggests it includes 37 children. The Bulbul was also intercepted, but was allowed to proceed after identifying herself. Shch-215's commander, A.I. Strizhak, claimed that he had seen about 200 armed men aboard Mefküre.
A fortnight after the sinking a news report alleged that three surface craft had sunk Mefküre. The same report stated that after Bulbul had been intercepted, at daybreak she rescued Mefküre's survivors. Bulbul continued to İğneada, whence her 395 refugees and the five surviving Mefküre refugees continued by road and rail to Istanbul. Morina also reached Turkey, and refugees from both ships continued overland to Palestine.
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