Eli Knudsen departed Aruba on May 30-1940 with a cargo of 1300 tons diesel and fuel oil for the U.K. via Bermuda for convoy, arriving the latter on June 5, leaving again on June 8 in the Bermuda portion of Convoy HX 49. On June 21, after the British tanker San Fernando had been torpedoed (U-47) in the middle of the convoy that day, approx. 100 n. miles southwest of Cape Clear, the Commodore gave the orders for the convoy to disperse and continue according to the secret positions stipulated by the Admiralty.
Unfortunately, Eli Knudsen was one of the slowest ships in the convoy and found herself alone on the ocean around midnight that night, and was torpedoed in the early hours of the following morning by U-32 (Jenisch), position 50 36N 08 44W. The torpedo struck in the foreship on the starboard side, sending flames and smoke high in the air, while water, oil and iron plates flew in all directions. The crew of 37 was rescued from 2 lifeboats just a few hours later by one of the escorts, HMS Sandwich, and landed in Liverpool the next day.
She remained afloat and an attempt was made the next day by the Australian rescue tug Coringa to tow her to port, but she sank on June 24, position 50 36N 07 51W. (Roy Martin, England has told me that the tug went missing on the same day the Eli Knudsen sank, cause unknown. She was believed to have capsized).