This Laconia was built to replace Cunard's original that had been sunk by U50 during WW1. The new ship was one of three Scythia class ships sailing from Liverpool to the Eastern seaboard of the USA. Requisitioned by the Admiralty at the start of WW2 she became a troop ship and was sunk by U156 some 800 miles from Freetown, Sierra Leone. The U-boat captain surfaced to take some officer prisoners but when he heard that the ship had been caying a very large number of Italian prisoners of war from Suez to the UK, he decided to take some of the lifeboats in tow and called up several other submarines and warships to help in the rescue. Two other U-boats, an Italian submarine and several Vichy French warships including the cruiser Gloire joined in flying red cross flags but were attacked by Allied aircraft. Something over 750 people were rescued and taken to Casablanca but Doenitz issued an order that U-boats should not in future attempt to rescue shipwrecked sailors or civilians. The affair became known as the Laconia Incident and was one of the war crimes for which Doenitz stood trial at Nuremberg (he was acquitted).