In January 1942 the "Llangibby Castle" sailed in convoy from Britain with 1,500 troops destined for the Far East. In command was Captain R.F. Bayer. At 08.15 on Janyary 16th the "Llangibby Castle" was struck in the stern by a torpedo. Twenty-six men were killed and four wounded, the damage to the ship was, whilst serious did not put the ship in a sinking position. The rudder was gone completely but there was no damage to the ship's propellors.
It was decided to take the ship to the Azores, a distance of 700 miles through some of the most dangerous sea areas. With one engine ahead and the other used to keep the ship heading in the approximate direction the voyage was accomplished in three eventful days. Just three hours into the trip the "Llangibby" was attacked by a Focke-Wolff Condor, the formidable long range bomber that was the scourge of shipping, but the "Llangibby"s anti-aircraft guns gave a good account of themselves and the bomber was seen losing height and smoke coming from the tail.
The "Llangibby Castle" arrived in Horta Bay and was granted fourteen days to effect repairs. (Portugal as a neutral country could only give limited sanctuary before interning the ship.)
At noon on February 2nd the "Llangibby" sailed for Gibraltar with an escort of three destroyers and an Admiralty tug. Even before the ship had sailed a German submarine was rammed and sunk by one of the escorts, there followed a battle royal as the German submarines, lying in wait for the crippled liner, did their best to attack whilst the destroyers drove them off. On February 8th the "Llangibby Castle" anchored in Gibraltar Bay. It was not possible to replace the rudder, the ship remained at Gibraltar for fifty-seven days whilst her stern was strapped up in preparation for the voyage back to England. Six days after sailing she arrived back in England, having voyaged in all 3,400 miles without a rudder.
Captain Bayer was again in the thick of action in Command of the "Durban Castle" at the landings in Sicily in July 1943.
27 February 1942
Gazette Issue 35472, Supplement 996, published 03 March 1942
Captain Ronald Frederic Bayer - CBE (CD) – when Master
Captain Ronald Frederic Bayer - Lloyd’s War Medal for Bravery at Sea – when Master
14 May 1943
Gazette Issue 36019, Supplement 2217, published 18 May 1943
Captain Ronald Frederic Bayer later was awarded an MID when Master of DURBAN CASTLE – Operation TORCH - Invasion of North Africa in November 1942
07 January 1944
Gazette Issue 36324, Supplement 221, published 11 January 1944
Captain Ronald Frederic Bayer later was awarded an MID when Master of DURBAN CASTLE - Operation HUSKY – Invasion of Sicily in July 1943