The Background to the Requirement for Rescue Ships:

 

by

 

James R. Smith

 RFA Historical Society consultant

 

During WW2 the British Merchant Navy suffered enormous losses in both ships and personnel – a total of 32,952 registered seamen which equated to a 17.8% loss of the total strength.

 

During WW2 the British Merchant Navy suffered enormous losses in both ships and personnel – a total of 32,952 registered seamen which equated to a 17.8% loss of the total strength.

This is put in perspective when one considers that the Royal Navy lost just 9.7% of its personnel!  Between September and December 1939, 126 British merchant ships were lost as a result of enemy action and whilst these figures dropped to 66 in the first quarter of 1940, the Admiralty’s prediction of higher losses bore fruit when 216 British ships were sunk in the third quarter of that year which rose to a staggering 263 vessels lost in the final quarter of that year. After the fall of France, this was mainly due to the increased effectiveness of submarines and the presence of long range bomber aircraft which were now based on the French Atlantic Coast. During this same period, numerous Allied vessels were also lost.

With the introduction of the Convoy system, where ships sailed together in a number of rows, the rear end ship of each row was designated as a Rescue Ship should a ship ahead of her be hit. If the rear end ship itself were hit, then it fell upon one of the Convoy Escort warships to conduct rescue operations. Despite the incipient reaction of seamen to rescue others whose ship had been lost whatever the circumstances, in wartime this sometimes became difficult to enforce as some merchant ships refused to stop to conduct rescue operations as this meant leaving the protection of the Convoy System especially in the cases of heavily-laden ships where they became a potential further loss with the concurrent loss of valuable and desperately needed cargoes. Furthermore, merchant ships, especially when in ballast, were not particularly manoeuvrable or well-suited to conduct such operations and nor were they fitted with suitable rescue equipment or additional accommodation to accommodate any rescued survivors.

This drain on experienced Merchant Navy personnel was of grave concern to the Admiralty, as although lost ships could be replaced by new-builds or acquisition from other sources, loss of personnel drew upon a finite resource. Moreover, the effect on morale amongst merchant seamen can also be imagined and obviously this state of affairs could not be allowed to continue.

On 22 September 1940, the Commander-in-Chief Western Approaches, Admiral Sir Martin Dunbar-Nasmith V.C., K.C.B., K.C.M.G., wrote to the Admiralty expressing his grave concerns at these unsatisfactory arrangements and he advocated the acquisition and introduction of enhanced specialised “Picking Up” ships, to follow astern of Convoys and to transfer from an outbound to an inbound Convoy along with the Convoy escorts. Initially the CRS accompanied an outbound Convoy for 3 – 5 days before then transferring to an inbound one. In the early days this involved the CRS loitering at the meeting point and during one such case, the first CRS was sunk.

The Admiralty acted with alacrity after the C-in-C’s letter and began requisitioning vessels through the offices of the Ministry of Shipping (which later became the Ministry of War Transport) and their Sea Transport Department. As far as possible, the aim was to have them commanded by Masters familiar with them and were mostly requisitioned from companies who were engaged in coastal work around the U.K. coastline and many were passenger carrying vessels too with a speed of 11-12 knots which enabled them to catch up with 10-knot Convoys after any rescue work.. Retaining their mercantile crews, these vessels nonetheless flew the Blue Ensign as non-commissioned Mercantile Fleet Auxiliaries (NOT Royal Fleet Auxiliaries as sometimes erroneously stated). The ships were initially based at Greenock but this was soon after changed to the Principal Sea Transport Officer’s (PSTO) offices in Glasgow as this initial arrangement proved to be less than satisfactory. All eleven ships of the 1939 Clyde Shipping Co fleet were requisitioned, seven becoming Rescue Ships under the Sea Transport Division of the MoWT, four former London & North Eastern Railway Co steamers whilst two former General Steam Navigation Co vessels were re-acquired by the MoWT and placed under management of their former owners along with another four ships. All in all twenty nine vessels were taken up and whilst the earlier ships had minimal work done before being pressed into service, as the War progressed more facilities were added. They carried additional rescue boats and Carley floats, extra basic accommodation was added, water capacity was increased by the use of double bottoms, ships’ ranges were increased, scrambling nets were fitted, booms with nets rigged outboard at right angles to the ship could pick up seamen on drifting rafts, medical facilities were added which included a sick bay and separate operating theatre if space permitted and a naval surgeon and sick berth attendant(s) as well.

The first dedicated Rescue Ship sailed in her first Convoy on 9 October 1940, less than three weeks after the letter was received. This was the Clyde Shipping Co’s coastal steamer BEACHY which had but a swift alteration, with the provision of mattresses on gratings secured to the deck to accommodate any survivors and limited additional ablution and latrine facilities installed. This applied to all of the earlier conversions. BEACHY also undertook trials of special signal apparatus which was possibly a prototype HF/DF receiver. Certainly effective models of this equipment, known as HUFF-DUFF, became available in 1941 and with the later Rescue Ships’ size and displacement, this could also be fitted to them thus enabling cross bearings to be taken and passed to the Escorts, of the shortest transmissions on HF frequencies, usually by submarines. In this way valuable reinforcement of Convoy protection was obtained. BEACHY was sunk by aerial bombing nine months later. The small Dutch vessel HONTESTROOM came next, sailing on her first voyage on 10 January 1941, but numerous deficiencies led to her being returned to her owners as unsuitable for the task just over four months later. At the end of January 1941, after minimal work which involved the removal of her cattle fittings and the provision of mattresses on gratings on the deck, another unit in the Clyde Shipping Co’s fleet, the steamer TOWARD became the third Rescue Ship, sailing in her first Convoy on 26 January 1941. She was sunk by a U-boat just over twelve months later. Her sister COPELAND too joined the Rescue service, sailing in her first Convoy on 31 January 1941 but unlike her sister, she survived the War. The General Steam Navigation Co’s-managed sister ships ZAMALEK and ZAAFARAN which had in fact been owned by that Company until sold in 1934. Re-purchased by the MoWT in 1940, they were ready for service as Rescue Ships under management of their former owners on 26 February and 23 March 1941 respectively. ZAMALEK went on to claim the record for the highest number of rescues conducted and then had a sad ending, being sunk as a block ship in the Suez Canal during the 1956 Suez Crisis whilst her sister became another wartime casualty. The next early but larger conversion was the Dundee, Perth & London Shipping Co’s steamer PERTH which had already been requisitioned for service as an Accommodation Ship for workers at Rosyth Dockyard who were engaged in finishing work on the battleship KING GEORGE V. After completion of these duties, she was converted for her new role and sailed in her first Convoy on 05 May 1941. She survived the War.

Formation of the Rescue Service

The success of these six early Rescue Ships and the increase in the number of Convoys requiring escort, necessitated further requisition to provide the numbers needed. In June 1941 the PSTO for Scottish ports, the Head of the Rescue Ship organisation, appointed one of his Staff as Rescue Ship Officer to devote his whole time to the administration of the ships. He was later joined by a Technical Officer also. These later acquisitions benefited from the earlier experiences of rescue work and from the preparation of their conversion plans and direct control of the refits by the Rescue Service Staff. Despite active opposition from the MoWT, the Admiralty’s case for additional tonnage prevailed and further vessels were requisitioned for conversion. The Union Castle Line’s WALMER CASTLE was next. She had been used on her owner’s Southampton-Bremen-Hamburg feeder service and had already been requisitioned in 190 for use as an armed supply vessel based at Scapa Flow. She was taken up for conversion into a Rescue Ship in June 1941 to replace HONTESTROOM which had been retuned to her owners as being unsuitable and sailed in her first and only Convoy on 13 September 1941. Sadly she was bombed just a week later by a Focke Wulf Kondor operating out of Bordeaux and was badly damaged and set on fire with the loss of thirteen of her crew. After sixty four survivors had been rescued by the sloop HMS DEPTFORD and the corvette HMS MARIGOLD, the former feeder ship was sunk by gunfire from HMS MARIGOLD as she posed a danger to navigation. A sister to BEACHY, named RATHLIN, was also taken in hand for conversion, and sailed in her first Convoy on 3 October 1941. During the period of hostilities she rescued no fewer than six hundred and thirty four survivors before being handed back to her owners on completion of her wartime service. The small Faroese-registered steamer named TJALDUR, which had been seized as a Prize in June 1941 and allocated to the British Government a month later, was pressed into service despite the advice of PSTO Staff that she was really too small for the Rescue Service which she entered in October 1941 as the tenth Rescue Ship. Their misgiving proved to be correct and after just two months she was discarded as being unsuitable for the tasks involved. The former London & North East Railway steamer DEWSBURY was next to join the ever-growing Rescue Ship Fleet and sailed in her first Convoy on 1 December 1941. She was joined by her two sisters STOCKPORT, a replacement for her sister BLACKBURN which was lost on her maiden voyage, which sailed in her first Convoy on 21 December 1941 and BURY which sailed in her first Convoy on 31 December that year. The next acquisition was the Leith, Hull & Hamburg Steam Packet Co Ltd steamer GOTHLAND which sailed in her first Convoy on 24 February 1942 followed by the Hull & Netherlands S.S. Co Ltd vessel MELROSE ABBEY which sailed in her first Convoy on 12 May that year. Both of these vessels served with distinction and survived the War. Next came a fourth former L & NER steamer ACCRINGTON, a sister to the earlier three acquisitions and she sailed in her first Convoy on 31 August 1942. All four ships were elderly ladies and leaked considerably in heavy weather with the consequent flooding of accommodation and working areas and even the machinery spaces, but constant work during their lay-over periods on the Clyde gradually eliminated these problems. STOCKPORT became a wartime casualty but the other three were returned to the owners on cessation of hostilities. The next steamer to sail in her first Convoy after conversion was the North of Scotland, Orkney & Shetland  Steam Navigation Co Ltd ST SUNNIVA which departed on 3 January 1943 only to founder on her first voyage.. Another sister to both TOWARD and COPELAND named GOODWIN she sailed in her first Convoy on 12 March 1943. She too survived the war. It was not until 9 August that year that another Dundee, Perth & London Shipping Co Ltd steamer, DUNDEE, sailed in her first Convoy. FASTNET, the eigth steamer to be requisitioned for service as a Rescue Ship from the Clyde Shipping Co Ltd, sailed in her first Convoy on 11 October 1943 and became the twenyth Rescue Ship. She was returned to her owners on cessation of hostilities. She was quickly followed by her sister EDDYSTONE which sailed in he first Convoy on 23 October. The Aberdeen, Newcastle & Hull Steam Co Ltd steamer ABOYNE came next and sailed in her first Convoy on 13 November 1943. She had a long career which spanned twenty six years in total. Just under a month later the MacAndrew & Co steamer PINTO sailed in her first Convoy on 8 December and was lost when she was torpedoed and sunk in 1944. A week later the Prince Line steamer SYRIAN PRINCE sailed in her first Convoy on 15 December. Another North of Scotland, Orkney & Shetland Steam Navigation Co vessel named ST CLAIR, a former running mate to the ill-fated ST SUNNIVA, sailed in her first Convoy on 18 July 1944. The final ships acquired had originally been designed as units of the CASTLE CLASS of corvettes, orders for which commenced in December 1942. The lessening tempo of the submarine assault in late 1943 led to large order cancellations at the same time that the Admiralty wished to increase the Rescue Ship fleet so five were completed as Rescue Ships. The first of these conversions, renamed EMPIRE REST sailed in her first Convoy on 12 November 1944, followed by EMPIRE LIFEGUARD on 25 November, EMPIRE PEACEMAKER on 10 February 1945, EMPIRE COMFORT on 25 February and finally EMPIRE SHELTER on 17 April. All five ships saw service post-war as troop transports before all being scrapped by December 1955.

These little ships gave tremendous service and many of their crews were decorated for their efforts. These twenty nine ships covered around 2.5 million miles, conducted three hundred and ninety six round voyages and rescued close on four thousand two hundred seamen from British and Allied ships and this number also included four German sailors who were rescued by ZAMALEK from the submarine U-523 after she had been sunk and who required medical aid not available on any of the escorts.

Ships’ Pre and Post-War Career Details

 

ABOYNE:

Official Number            165246

Signal Letters:             GSJZ

Tonnages:                  1020 grt    832 nrt

Dimensions:                248.7 ft x 37.7 ft x 15.1 ft

Machinery:                  T 3 cyl 19” 32½” & 56” – 42” by J.G. Kincaid & Co Ltd, Greenock. 264 nhp. Speed 13 knots. Single shaft.

Career Data:

28/12/36                      launched by Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Dundee (Y.N.364) as ABOYNE for the Aberdeen, Newcastle & Hull Steam Co Ltd (R.C. Cowper, Managers)

02/37                           completed.

24/06/43                      Requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted by Smith’s Dock at Middlesbrough.

29/10/43                      conversion completed,

13/11/43                      sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy ON 211 and over the next two years she escorted twenty six Convoys and rescued fourteen survivors from two sunken ships and three crashed aircrew from the British MACship EMPIRE MACCOLL and three from the Dutch MACShip GADILA.

15/06/45                      arrived Dundee on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners.

  1. Purchased by Clyde Shipping Co Ltd and renamed ARKLOW  
  2. Purchased by G Heyn & Sons and renamed FAIR HEAD

1954                             purchased by Palgrave Murphy Ltd and renamed CITY OF HAMBURG

1958                             purchased by Hellenic Med Lines and renamed LIGURIA

1960                             purchased by T & F Athanassiades and renamed THOMAS A

04/06/63                       suffered a fire in position 36.45N 14.35E.

18/06/63                       was beached near Scalambri

ACCRINGTON

 

 

 

Accrington-01

 

Official Number             127863

Signal Letters               GDMJ

Tonnages                     1678 grt    1098 nrt

Dimensions                   265.0 ft x 36.0 ft x 17.4 ft

Machinery                     T. 3 cyl 22” 35” & 60” – 12” by the shipbuilder. 309 nhp. Speed 13 kts

Single shaft.

Career Data

08/09                          ordered along with her sister DEWSBURY

07/06/10                      launched by Earle’s Co Ltd, Hull (Y.N. 565) as ACCRINGTON for the Great Central Railway.

08/10                          completed

1914 – 1918                acted in various roles, including a P.O.W. accommodation ship and a naval munitions supply vessel, carrying munitions to France.

17/04/17 – 29/11/18     commissioned as an Admiralty training ship at Portsmouth.

11/18                          along with her sisters DEWSBURY and STOCKPORT she was chartered to the Great Eastern Railway for repatriation duties between Rotterdam and Harwich

01/01/23                      transfered to the newly-formed London & North Eastern Railway, same name.

05/35                          associated Humber Lines was formed to manage the ships of the L & NER.

04/03/42                      requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted by Wm Gray & Co Ltd at West Hartlepool.

26/07/42                      conversion completed. 

31/08/42                      sailed from the Clyde in Convoy OG 89 on her first voyage and during the next three years she escorted forty Convoys and rescued a total of one hundred and thirty two survivors from three sunken ships and three crashed aircrew from HMS BITER, three from HMS CAMPANIA and three from the MACship EMPIRE MACCALLUM.

18/05/45                      arrived on the Clyde in Convoy MKS 100 on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners.

01/01/48                      transfered to the British Transport Commission Eastern Region, same name.

06/01/51                      final voyage Antwerp – Harwich after which she was laid up and sold for scrap shortly afterwards for £19,000. Replaced on the run by her sister DEWSBURY.

02/05/51                      arrived Dunston for demolition by Clayton & Davie Ltd.

BEACHY:

 

 ss beachy

 

Official Number           164102

Signal Letters             GZCK

Tonnages                  1600 grt    1170 nrt

Dimensions                 272.5 ft x 38.4 ft x 17.2 ft

Machinery                  T 3 cyl 21” 34” & 56” – 39” by the shipbuilder. 196 nhp. Speed 12 kts.

Single shaft.

 

 

Career Data:

 

01/10/36                      launched by Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd, Linthouse (Y.N. 551) as BEACHY for the Clyde Shipping Co Ltd.

12/36                           completed

09/10/40                      conversion completed as a Convoy Rescue Ship, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy OB 226 and in a very short career as such, she escorted just five Convoys before being herself sunk.

11/01/41                      was bombed and sunk by aircraft in position 53.29 N 16.24 W approx five hundred miles West of Ireland with the loss of five of her crew of thirty eight. Those killed are remembered with pride on the Tower Hill Memorial

Beachy

 image courtesy of Brian Watson

 

BURY:

 

Bury-01

 

Official Number            132093

Signal Letters              GRNM

Tonnages                   1686 grt    1098 nrt

Dimensions                  265.0 ft x 36.0 ft x 17.4 ft.

Machinery                   T 3 cyl 22” 35” & 60” – 42” by the shipbuilder. 309 nhp. Speed 13 kts.

Single shaft.

 

Career Data:

 

November 1909  ordered

3 November 1910 launched by Earle’s Co Ltd, Hull ( Y.N. 569) as BURY for the Great Central Railway.

January 1911 completed.

4 August 1914 was seized by the Germans at Hamburg and her crew were interned at Ruhleben for the duration of WW1. She was used as an accommodation ship at Wilhelmshaven for the civilian pilots working for the Kriegsmarine up the Jade River Waterway into Jade Bay.

January 1919 was towed back to Grimsby and returned to her owners.

1 January 1923 transferred to the newly-formed London & North Eastern Railway Co, same name

May 1935  associated Humber Lines was formed to manage the ships of the L & NER.

14 August 1941 requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted by Swan Hunter’s Neptune Yard on the Tyne.

27 December 1941 conversion completed.

31 December 1941 sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy ON 52 and during the next four years she escorted forty eight Convoys and rescued two hundred and thirty seven survivors from nine sunken ships

26 June 1945 arrived Immingham on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners.

18 February 1946 Bosun William Russell BEM discharged dead. He is buried in Cleethorpes Cemetery in section AA grave H55

1 January 1948 transferred to the British Transport Commission Eastern Region, same name.

28 May 1958 last sailing from Hull – Rotterdam where she was sold to Dutch breakers.

1 July 1958 arrived New Waterway in tow of United Towing Co’s tug AIRMAN  for demolition by N.V. Machinehandel en Sleepsloperij “De Koophandel” at Nieuw Lekkerkerk.

 

 

 

COPELAND:

Official Number             147874

Signal Letters               GJVW

Tonnages                    1526 grt    1150 nrt

Dimensions                   270.0 ft x 37.2 ft x 17.4 ft

Machinery                    T 3 cyl 21” 34” &56” – 39” by the shipbuilder. 196 nhp. Sped 12½ kts

Single shaft.

 

Career Data:

18/06/23                      launched by Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Dundee (Y.N. 284) as COPELAND for the Clyde Shipping Co Ltd.

08/23                           completed

20/12/40                      requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted by Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd at Linthouse

29/01/41                      conversion completed.

31/01/41                      sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy OB 280 and over the next four years she escorted seventyone Convoys and rescued two hundred and seventy survivors from ten sunken ships and a further one hundred and sixty three survivors who were transferred to her by the escort ships of Convoy PQ18.

01/06/45                      arrived on the Clyde in Convoy ON 305 on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners.

1945                            purchased by North Continental Shipping Co Ltd (G. Heyn & Sons, Managers) and renamed NORTH DOWN

1947                            purchased by Mountain S.S.Co Ltd (G Heyn & Sons, Managers) same name.

10/54                           purchased by Union International Co Ltd (Blue Star Line, Managers) and renamed DROVER

1954                            purchased by Belfast S.S. Co Ltd and renamed ULSTER HERDSMAN

05/10/63                      arrived Passage West for demolition by Haulbowline Industries Ltd.

 

DEWSBURY

 DEWSBURY1910

 

Official Number            127859

Signal Letters              GRNK

Tonnages                   1678 grt    1103 nrt

Dimensions                  265.0 ft x 36.0 ft x 17.4 ft

Machinery                   T 3 cyl 22” 35” & 60” – 42” by the shipbuilder. 309 nhp. Speed 13 kts Single shaft.

Career Data:

 

08/09                          ordered along with her sister ACCRINGTON.

14/04/10                      launched by Earle’s Co Ltd, Hull (Y.N. 564) as DEWSBURY for the Great Central Railway.

06/10                           completed at a cost of £41,000.

17/06/10                      entered service

01/01/23                      Transfered to the newly-formed London & North Eastern Railway, same name

05/35                           associated Humber Lines was formed to manage the ships of the L & NER.

24/07/41                      requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson on the Tyne..

01/12/41                      conversion completed, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy ON42 and over the next four years she escorted forty three Convoys and rescued five survivors from sunken ships.

26/06/45                      arrived Grimsby on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners.

01/01/48                      Transfered to the British Transport Commission Eastern Region, name unchanged

31/01/59                      final sailing from Antwerp – Harwich.

10/03/59                      arrived Flushing for demolition by the Brussels Shipbreaking Co.

 

DUNDEE

Official Number           144713

Signal Letters             GWRS

Tonnages                  1541 grt    1178 nrt

Dimensions                 283.8 ft x 42.1 ft x 15.8 ft.

Machinery                  T 3 cyl 20½” 35” & 59” – 42” by A. Stephen & Sons Ltd, Glasgow. 361 nhp. Speed 12½ knots. Single shaft.

Career Data:

28/12/33                      launched by Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Dundee (Y.N. 345) as DUNDEE for the Dundee, Perth & London Shipping Co Ltd.

02/34                           completed.

18/04/43                      requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted by Amos & Smith Ltd at Hull.

08/08/43                      conversion completed.

09/08/43                      sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy ON196 and over the next two years she escorted twenty six Convoys and rescued eleven survivors from sunken ships.

06/45                           was returned to her owners on completion of her wartime service

1948                            transfered to the British & Continental S.S. Co Ltd and renamed DOTTEREL

28/08/61                      Arrived Bilbao for demolition.

 

EDDYSTONE

 

 EDDYSTONE 787

 

Official Number           160177

Signal Letters             GNKJ

Tonnages                  1550 grt    1140 nrt

Dimensions                 270.5 ft x 37.1 ft x 17.2 ft

Machinery                  T 3 cyl 21” 34” & 56” – 33” by the shipbuilder. 180 nhp. Speed 12½ kts Single shaft.

Career Data:

12/07/27                      Launched by D & W Henderson & Co Ltd, Meadowside (Y.N. 787m) as

EDDYSTONE for the Clyde Shipping Co Ltd.

15/09/27                      Completed.

22/04/43                      Requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted at London

22/10/43                      Conversion completed.

23/10/43                      Sailed from the Thames on her first voyage in Convoy FN 1159 and over the next 2 years she escorted 24 Convoys and rescued 61 survivors from a sunken American ship and 3 crashed aircrew from the MACship EMPIRE MACKAY.

10/06/45                      Arrived on the Clyde after an independent passage from Halifax N.S. on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners.

1948                            Purchased by Belfast Mersey & Manchester S.S. Co Ltd and renamed BROOKMOUNT.

05/09/59                      Arrived Barrow for demolition by T.W. Ward Ltd

EMPIRE COMFORT

Empire_Comfort

Official Number            169519

Signal Letters              GFZN

Tonnages                   1333 grt

Dimensions                  252.0 ft x 36.0 ft x 13.5 ft

Machinery                   T 3 cyl 18½” 31” & 38½- 30”. 2889 ihp. Speed 16½knots. 2 shafts.

 

Career Data

19/01/43                      Ordered

20/09/44                      launched by Ferguson Bros Ltd, Port Glasgow (Y.N. 372) as YORK CASTLE for the Royal Navy as a unit of the CASTLE CLASS of corvettes. Pennant Nr K 537

12/44                           construction cancelled; completed for the MoWT as EMPIRE COMFORT under management of Ellerman City Lines.

25/02/45                      conversion completed as a Convoy Rescue Ship sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy OS 113/KMS 87 and over the next few months she escorted eight Convoys where she initially took part in the Gibraltar and North Atlantic Convoys before WW2 ended.

27/05/45                      arrived on the Clyde in Convoy HX 356 from Halifax N.S. on completion of her wartime service and was laid up on the Gareloch. She then became an accommodation ship for the 3rd Submarine Flotilla based on HMS FORTH in the Holy Loch. After this she was utilised as a ferry on the U.K./ Hook of Holland service before proceeding to the Mediterranean where she transported personnel and refugees between Cyprus and Libya.

1954                            transfered to the MoT and was laid up in the River Fal.

07/55                           was towed to Antwerp after sale for reconditioning for further service in the Belgian Congo.

10/55                           intended service never materialised so was broken up by Jos de Smedt at Ghent.

 

 

 

EMPIRE LIFEGUARD

 

 

Empire_Lifeguard

 

Official Number            169421

Signal Letters              GFZW

Tonnages                   1333grt

Dimensions                 252.0 ft x 36.0 ft x 13.5 ft

Machinery                   T 3 cyl 18½” 31” & 38½- 30”. 2889 ihp. Speed 16½knots. 2 shafts.

Career Data:

 

9 December 1942 ordered

8 June 1944 launched by Fleming & Ferguson Ltd, Paisley (Y.N. 664) as MAIDEN CASTLE for the Royal Navy as a unit of the CASTLE CLASS of corvettes. Pennant Nr K 443

November 1944 construction cancelled; completed for the MoWT as EMPIRE LIFEGUARD under management of Ellerman City Lines

2 November 1944 her deployment and the deployment of four sister ships were signalled by the C in C Western Approaches and this was reported in the Admiralty War Diary of this date

Convoy Rescue - signal war diary 2-11-44

25 November 1944 conversion completed as a Convoy Rescue Ship, she sailed from the Clyde to Liverpool for inspection by the Commander-in-Chief Western Approaches.

28 November 1944 sailed Liverpool for the Clyde nand suffered a major boiler accident on passage which required lengthy repairs.

8 March 1945 repairs finally completed, she sailed from the Clyde in Convoy OS 115 / KMS 89 and over the next two months she escorted just 6 Convoys before WW2 ended..

25/05/45                      arrived on the Clyde in Convoy HX355 from Halifax N.S. on completion of her wartime service.

11/06/45                      was laid up in the Gareloch

08/10/45                      became an Accommodation Ship for the 3rd Submarine Flotilla based on HMS FORTH in the Holy Loch. Afterwards reverted to the MoT and was employed as an Army Ferry on the U.K./Hook of Holland service before being sent to the Mediterranean.

23/07/47                      was holed after an underwater explosion in Haifa Harbour of limpet mines which had been fixed to her hull in Famagusta. She listed and sank soon after disembarking Jewish immigrants who had been brought from detention camps in Cyprus.

08/08/47                      was refloated.

22/08/47                      was towed to Port Said and docked there.

09/47                           repairs were finally completed, and during repairs she suffered three fires.

1954                            laid up in the River Fal

22/07/55                      arrived Antwerp in tow of the tug MARINIA (392/55)

10/55                           broken up by Jos de Smedt at Burght.

 

EMPIRE PEACEMAKER

 

Empire_Peacemaker

 

Official Number             169428

Signal Letters               GJBT

Tonnages                    1333 grt

Dimensions                   252.0 ft x 36.0 ft x 13.5 ft

Machinery                    T 3 cyl 18½” 31” & 38½- 30”. 2889 ihp. Speed 16½knots. 2 shafts.

Career Data

23 January 1943             ordered

8 September 1944           launched by Fleming & Ferguson Ltd, Paisley (Y.N. 665) as SCARBOROUGH CASTLE for the Royal Navy as a unit of the CASTLE CLASS of corvettes Pennant Nr K 536

2 November 1944            her deployment and the deployment of four sister ships were signalled by the C in C Western Approaches and this was reported in the Admiralty War Diary of this date

Convoy Rescue - signal war diary 2-11-44

January 1945                 construction cancelled; completed for the MoWT as EMPIRE PEACEMAKER under management of Ellerman City Line

18 January 1945             sailed from the builder’s yard.

10 February 1945            conversion completed as a Convoy Rescue Ship, she from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy OS 110 / KMS 84 and over the next three months she escorted eight Convoys and rescued three survivors from an aircraft which had overrun the flight deck of EMPIRE MACALPINE.

18 May 1945                  arrived on the Clyde in Convoy HX 354 from Halifax N.S.on completion of her wartime service and was laid up off Rosneath shortly afterwards. She then proceeded to Archangel to bring home the RN Party from there and finally served as an Army transport.

1954                             laid up in the River Fal.

July 1955                       sold to Belgian breakers and was towed to Antwerp

December 1955               broken up at Burght by Jos de Smedt.

 

EMPIRE REST

Empire Rest

Official Number              169516

Signal Letters                GJCW

Tonnages                      1333 grt

Dimensions                    252.0 ft x 36.0 ft x 13.5 ft

Machinery                     T 3 cyl 18½” 31” & 38½- 30”. 2889 ihp. Speed 16½knots. 2 shafts.

 

Career Data:

 

9 December 1942            ordered

19 June 1944                  launched by Ferguson Bros Ltd, Port Glasgow (Y.N. 371) as RAYLEIGH CASTLE for the Royal Navy as a unit of the CASTLE CLASS of corvettes. Pennant Nr K 695

October 1944                  construction cancelled; completed for the MoWT as EMPIRE REST under management of Ellerman City Line

26 October 1944              sailed from the builder’s yard

2 November 1944             her deployment and the deployment of four sister ships were signalled by the C in C Western Approaches and this was reported in the Admiralty War Diary of this date

Convoy Rescue - signal war diary 2-11-44

12 November 1944           conversion completed as a Convoy Rescue Ship, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy OS 95 /KMS 69 and over the next seven months she escorted eleven Convoys but was not called upon to rescue any survivors from sunken ships

11 June 1945                  sailed Halifax independently to the River Clyde arriving 21 June 1945 on completion of her wartime service and was laid up

7 October 1945               sailed the River Clyde independently to Rosneath arriving the next day

1 November 1945            sailed the River Clyde to Kiel to embark naval personnel for disembarkation at Devonport and was then used as an Army transport

10 November 1945          sailed Keil independently to Devonport arriving 13 November 1945

13 November 1945          sailed Devonport independently to the River Clyde arriving 15 November 1945

22 December 1945          sailed the River Clyde independently to Southampton arriving 25 December 1945

22 February 1947           arrived at Port Said

3 October 1947              carried four hundred and one Jewish immigrants from Haifa to Cyprus

17 May 1948                  arrived at Haifa

July 1948                       laid up in the River Fal.

30 August 1949 and 13 September 1949 the MoT advertised for offers for the ship in the Times of these days. The vessel was lying at Falmouth 

October 1951                  purchased by Lloyds Albert Yard & Motor Boat Packet Services Ltd (R.A. Beazeley, Managers)

6 June 1952                    arrived Briton Ferry for demolition by T.W. Ward Ltd..

 

 

EMPIRE SHELTER

 

Empire_Shelter

 

Official Number              169520

Signal Letters                GJCZ

Tonnages                      1333 grt

Dimensions                    252.0 ft x 36.0 ft x 13.5 ft

Machinery                     T 3 cyl 18½” 31” & 38½- 30”. 2889 ihp. Speed 16½knots. 2 shafts.

Career Data

19 January 1943              ordered.

5 October 1944               launched by Geo.Brown & Co (Marine) Ltd, Greenock (Y.N. 230) as BARNARD CASTLE for the Royal Navy as a unit of the CASTLE CLASS of corvettes. Pennant Nr K 694

2 November 1944                   her deployment and the deployment of four sister ships were signalled by the C in C Western Approaches and this was reported in the Admiralty War Diary of this date

Convoy Rescue - signal war diary 2-11-44

March 1945                    construction cancelled; completed for the MoWT as EMPIRE SHELTER under management of Ellerman City Line

12 March 1945                was registered at Greenock

27 March 1945                sailed from the builder’s yard.

17 April 1945            conversion completed as a Convoy Rescue Ship, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy OS 123 / KMS 97 and over the next month she escorted six Convoys but was not called upon to rescue any survivors from sunken ships.

22 May 1945                   arrived on the Clyde in Convoy MKS101 on completion of her wartime service and was laid up for a short while before becoming an Accommodation Ship, along with her sister EMPIRE COMFORT for the 3rd Submarine Flotilla based on HMS FORTH in the Holy Loch. She afterwards served as an army transport in the Mediterranean. Laid up in the River Fal.

29 July 1955 arrived Antwerp in tow of MARINIA after sale to Belgian breakers.

September 1955 broken up at Burght by Jos de Smedt.

 

FASTNET

Greypoint 03 

 

Official Number           160191

Signal Letters             GNRD

Tonnages                  1415 grt    1045 nrt

Dimensions                 249.8 ft x 37.2 ft x 17.2 ft

Machinery                   T 3 cyl 20” 33” & 53” – 39” by the shipbuilder. 175 nhp. Speed 12½ kts.

Single shaft.

Career Data:

24/11/27                      Launched by Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Dundee (Y.N. 315) as FASTNET for the Clyde Shipping Co Ltd.

02/28                           Completed

14/06/43                      Requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship

07/10/43                      Conversion completed.

11/10/43                      Sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy ON 206 and over the next 2 years she escorted 25 Convoys and rescued 35 survivors from one sunken ship, the Norwegian FJORDHEIM

01/06/45                      Arrived on the Clyde on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners.

1949                            Offered for sale by her owners

1950                            Tx to the Belfast, Mersey & Manchester Shipping Co Ltd , part of Coast Lines and renamed GREYPOINT.

28/08/57                      Arrived Preston for demolition

02/09/57                      Demolition commenced by T. W. Ward Ltd

GOODWIN

Official Number           137845

Signal Letters              GFLX

Tonnages                   1570 grt    1160 nrt

Dimensions                 270.3 ft x 37.2 ft x 17.3 ft

Machinery                   T 3 cyl 21” 34” & 56” – 39” by the shipbuilder. 196 nhp. Speed 12½ kts

Single shaft

Career Data

.

04/17                           launched by Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Dundee (Y.N. 244) as GOODWIN for the Clyde Shipping Co Ltd.

05/17                           completed

12/42                           requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted at Hull

12/03/43                      sailed from Hull for the Clyde in Convoys FN 975 and EN 209

12/04/43                      conversion completed as a CRS, she sailed from the Clyde in Convoy ON 188 and over the next two years she escorted twenty five Convoys and rescued one hundred and thirty three survivors from four sunken ships plus three crashed aircrew from HMCS SHERBROOKE

21/06/45                      arrived on the Clyde after an independent passage from Halifax N.S. on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners.

1946                            purchased by G Heyn & Sons Ltd and renamed NORTH TIPPERARY

1947                            purchased by Saorstat and Continental S.S. Co Ltd and renamed CITY OF CORK Owners became Palgrove Murphy Ltd

21/05/55                      arrived Dublin for demolition by the Hammond Lane Foundry Ltd

 

GOTHLAND

 

 

Gothland-03

 

Official Number           161829

Signal Letters              MJMS

Tonnages                   1286 grt    968 nrt

Dimensions                 251.5 ft x 38.2 ft x 15.9 ft

Machinery                   T 3 cyl212 34” & 56” – 39” by Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd, Glasgow.196 nhp. Speed 12 kts. Single shaft.

Career Data:

09/02/32                      Launched by H Robb Ltd, Leith (Y.N. 192) as GOTHLAND for the Leith, Hull & Hamburg Steam Packet Co Ltd (J Currie & Co, Managers)

03/32                           Completed

11/41                           Requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted at Plymouth.

05/02/42                      Conversion completed.

24/02/42                      She sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy OG 80  and over the next 3 years she escorted 41 Convoys and rescued 146 survivors from 7 sunken ships and also 3 crashed aircrew from the MACship RAPANA .

06/06/45                      Arrived on the Clyde in Convoy HX 358 from Halifax N.S. on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners. Purchased by the Claymore Shipping Co and renamed ASRAR.

17/04/61                      Arrived Perama for demolition

HONTESTROOM

 

Official Number

Signal Letters              PRSY

Tonnages                   1857 grt    1496 nrt

Dimensions                 265.5 ft x 37.2 ft x 20.2 ft

Machinery                  T 3 cyl 21” 33” & 57” – 39” by Maats. Fyenoord, Rotterdam. 203 nhp. Speed 12 kts. Single shaft.

 

Career Data

04/21                           completed by N.V. Haarlemsche Scheepsb. Mij, Haarlem (Y.N. 59) as HONTESTROOM for Hollandsche Stoomboot Mij

01/10/40                      requisioned at Fowey for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted at Bristol.

10/01/41                      conversion completed as a CRS, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy OB 272 over the next four months she escorted eleven Convoys and rescued sixtynine survivors from three sunken ships.

27/05/41                      arrived Reykjavik and owing to deficiencies in accommodation and basic facilities she was withdrawn from service as a CRS and returned to her owners

15/03/43                      Was wrecked on Skage Reef in Iceland.

 

MELROSE ABBEY

 

 

Melrose_Abbey

 

Official Number               160830

Signal Letters                 GSYW

Tonnages                       1908 grt    1247 nrt

Dimensions                      281.3 ft x 38.2 ft x 17.3 ft

Machinery                       T 3 cyl 21½” 37” & 64” – 42” by the shipbuilder 474 nhp. Speed 14 Kts. Single shaft. 

 

Career Data

 

28/02/29                      launched by Earle’s Co Ltd, Hull (Y.N. 674) as MELROSE ABBEY for the Hull & Netherlands S.S. Co Ltd (London & North Eastern Railway Co)

04/29                          completed

23/04/29                      delivered and placed on her owner’s Hull – Rotterdam service

5/35                            associated Humber Lines was formed to manage the ships of the Fleet.

2/41                           requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship

31/03/41                     ran aground on Newburgh Minch beach and due to a combination of weather delaying salvage and a drifting mine exploding alongside the stranded ship, she remained fast for the next 4 months.

26/07/41                      was finally refloated and was towed to Aberdeen for repairs.

11/02/43                      arrived on the Clyde for conversion by T. Tennerhill & Co.

12/05/43                      conversion completed she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy ON 94 and over the next two years she escorted fortysix Convoys and rescued eighty five survivors from five sunken ships.

28/05/45                      arrived on the Clyde in Convoy MKS 102 on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners.

01/01/48                      Tx to the British Transport Commission Eastern Region, same name.

04/58                           was renamed MELROSE ABBEY 11 to release her former name for a new ship.

01/59                           Was replaced by her new namesake and was laid up at Humber Dock in Hull.

04/59                           purchased by Typaldos Bros and rebuilt into a cruise ship renamed KRITI.

12/66                           following the HERAKLION disaster, she was laid up near Piraeus

1980                            was broken up at Perama

 

 

PERTH

 

PERTH

 

Official Number              123346

Signal Letters               GQXB

Tonnages                     2208 grt    1370 nrt

Dimensions                   280.2 ft x 40.2 ft x19.8 ft

Machinery                    T 3 cyl 24½” 39” & 64” – 42” by the shipbuilder. 345 nhp. Speed 12½ kts.

Single shaft.

 

Career Data

 

15/02/15                      launched by Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Dundee (Y.N. 240) as PERTH for the Dundee, Perth & London Shipping Co

07/15                           completed. Was requisitioned for service as an Armed Boarding Vessel in the Red Sea.

1919                            was returned to her owners.

14/10/40                      requisitioned for service as an Accommodation Ship for shipyard workers at Rosyth who were engaged in finishing work on the battleship HMS KING GEORGE V.

05/05/41                      on completion of the above she was allocated for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and conversion completed, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy OG 61. Over the next three years she escorted sixty Convoys and rescued four hundred and thirty nine survivors from twelve sunken ships plus three crashed aircrew from HMS BITER and three from the MACship EMPIRE MACANDREW..

21/05/45                      rrrived on the Clyde in Convoy SC 175 from Halifax N.S. on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners

1946                            purchased by the Falkland Islands Co and renamed LAFONIA.

1950                            purchased by Lloyd Mediterraneo and renamed VALFIORITA.

08/11/62                      arrived Porto Nogaro for demolition

 

 

PINTO

 

Official Number              149659

Signal Letters                GNJZ

Tonnages                      1346 grt    1055 nrt

Dimensions                    270.1 ft x 39.1. ft x 15.6 ft

Machinery                     1 x 6 cyl 24 – 51 diesel engine by the shipbuilder. 356 nhp. Speed 12kts. Single shaft.

Career Data

22/11/27                      launched by Harland & Wolff Ltd, Govan (Y.N. 744g) as PINTO for MacAndrews & Co.

02/02/28                      completed

09/07/43                      requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted at Glasgow By Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd.

08/12/43                      conversion completed, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy OS 61 / KMS 35. During the next 9 months she escorted 10 Convoys and rescued just 2 survivors from 1 sunken ship before being herself torpedoed the same day.

08/09/44                      having just rescued survivors from the torpedoed whale factory ship EMPIRE HERITAGE NNE of Tory Island, she herself was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-482 in position 55.27 N 08.01 W, while on passage from Halifax N.S. to Greenock in Convoy HXF 305 with the loss of twenty one of her crew.

 

RATHLIN

 

 

 

Rathlin-01

 

Official Number             164098

Signal Letters               MMBJ

Tonnages                    1600 grt    1170 nrt

Dimensions                   272.5 ft x 38.4 ft x 17.2 ft

Machinery                    T 3 cyl 21” 34” & 56” – 39” by the shipbuilder. 196 nhp. Speed 12½ kts. Single shaft.

 

Career Data

 

03/09/36                      launched by Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd, Linthouse (Y.N. 55) as RATHLIN for the Clyde Shipping Co Ltd.

11/36                           completed.

28/07/41                      requisitioned for service as a Rescue Ship and was converted at Glasgow by Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd with the assistance of T. Tannerhill & Co.

03/10/41                      conversion completed, she sailed on her first voyage from the Clyde in Convoy ON 22 to Iceland. Over the next four years she escorted forty seven Convoys and rescued six hundred and thirty four survivors from thirteen sunken ships including six Russian Convoys including the infamous PQ 17.

30/05/45                      arrived on the Clyde in Convoy RA 67 from the Kola Inlet on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners

1953                            purchased by Burns & Laird Lines Ltd and renamed LAIRDSCRAIG

1980                            purchased by British & Irish Steam Packet Co and renamed GLENGARIFF

30/12/63                      arrived Passage West for demolition by Haulbowline Industries Ltd after sale for £12,500.

 

ST CLAIR

 

Official Number              165247

Signal Letters                MMFX

Tonnages                     1637 grt    922 nrt

Dimensions                    253.4 ft x 38.1 ft x 15.4 ft

Machinery                     T 3 cyl 20” 35” & 59” – 39”  by the shipbuilder. 348 nhp. Speed 14 kts. Single shaft.

 

Career Data:

 

29/12/36                      launched by Hall, Russell & Co Ltd, Aberdeen (Y.N. 742) as ST CLAIR for the North of Scotland, Shetland & Orkney Steam Nav Co.

27/04/37                      completed.

06/05/37                      maiden voyage from Leith – Aberdeen – Orkney – Shetland

21/07/40                      requisitioned by the Admiralty for service as a Base and Accommodation Ship and was renamed HMS BALDUR. She took part in the occupation of Iceland and was stationed at Reykjavik.

10/43                    relieved at Reykjavik and proceeded to Aberdeen for conversion into a Convoy Rescue Ship by her original builders and reverted to her previous name.

18/07/44                      conversion completed, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy ON 245 to Halifax N.S. and for the next few months she escorted fourteen Convoys but was not called upon to rescue any survivors from sunken ships.

08/06/45                      arrived on the Clyde in Convoy SC 177 from Halifax N.S. on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners

1960                            was renamed ST CLAIR 11 and then ST MAGNUS

1966                            was renamed ST MAGNUS 11

30/03/67 – 01/04/67       completed her final voyage.

04/67                           arrived Bruges for demolition by Van Heyghen Freres.

 

ST SUNNIVA

 

Official Number               162280

Signal Letters                 GQTS

Tonnages                       1368 grt    761 nrt

Dimensions                     240.0 ft x 35.0 ft x 23.8 ft

Machinery                      T 3 cyl 20” 33½” & 56” – 36” by the shipbuilder. 255 nhp. Speed 12 knots. Single shaft.

Career Data:

02/04/31                      launched by Hall, Russell & Co Ltd, Aberdeen (Y.N. 723) as ST SUNNIVA for the North of Scotland, Orkney & Shetland Steam Nav Co Ltd.

05/31                           completed

29/08/39                      requisitioned by the Admiralty for service as an Accommodation Ship.

20/09/42                      allocated as a Convoy Rescue Ship to replace the lost ZAAFARAN (q.v.) and was converted by Amos & Smith Ltd at Hull.

07/12/42                      arrived on the Clyde.

03/01/43                      conversion completed, she sailed from the Clyde on her one and only voyage in Convoy ON 158 to Halifax N.S.

22/01/43                      lost, cause unknown but probably icing due to the extreme cold causing her to capsize without warning just two days out of Halifax with the loss of all hands.

 

STOCKPORT

 

Official Number               132111

Signal Letters                GRNL

Tonnages                      1683 grt    1098 nrt

Dimensions                    265.0 ft x 86.0 ft x 17.4 ft

Machinery                     T 3 cyl 22” 35” & 60” – 42” by the shipbuilder. 309 nhp. Speed 13 kts. Single shaft.

 

Career Data

 

12/10                           ordered as a replacement for her sister BLACKBURN which had been lost on her maiden voyage.

15/05/11                      launched by Earle’s Co Ltd, Hull (Y.N.577) as STOCKPORT for the Great Central Railway.

07/11                           completed

11/18                           was chartered to the Great Eastern Railway, along with her sisters ACCRINGTON and DEWSBURY for repatriation duties between Rotterdam and Harwich.

01/01/23                      Tx to the newly-formed London & North Eastern Railway, same name.

05/35                           Associated Humber Lines was formed to manage the ships of the L & NER.

08/07/41                      requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted by Messrs J R Evans at Liverpool.

21/12/41                      conversion completed, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy ON 49 and over the next couple of years she escorted sixteen Convoys and rescued three hundred and twenty two survivors from nine known sunken ships plus a further ninety one survivors from various ships which were sunk in Convoy ON 166 before she herself was sunk whilst trying to rejoin the remnants of that Convoy.

23/02/43                      torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U–604 in position 47.22 N 24.10W to the East of Cape Race whilst on passage from Greenock – St John’s NFL with the loss of all one hundred and sixty four persons aboard.

 

 

SYRIAN PRINCE

 

Syrian Prince

 

Official Number               165353

Signal Letters                 GZGZ

Tonnages                      1990 grt    1432 nrt

Dimensions                     296.5 ft x 44.2 ft x 16.4 ft

Machinery                      T 3 cyl 19” 31” & 55” – 36” by Richardsons, Westgarth & Co Ltd, Hartlepool. 315 nhp. Speed 12 kts. Single shaft.

Career Data

30/03/36                      laid down

01/10/36                      launched by Furness Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Haverton Hill (Y.N. 262) as SYRIAN PRINCE for Prince Line Ltd (Furness, Withy & Co Ltd, Managers)

12/36                           completed at a cost of £65,000.

07/43                           requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted at Hull by Amos & Smith Ltd.

15/12/43                      conversion completed, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy ONS 25 and over the next two years she escorted nineteen Convoys, including one to North Russia, but was not called upon to rescue any survivors from sunken ships.

16/05/45                      arrived on the Clyde in Convoy HX 353 from Halifax N.S. on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners.

1959                            purchased by D.T. Petropoulos and renamed SUNNY MED

1964                            purchased by Methinitis Bros and renamed DINOS

25/10/69                      arrived Savona for demolition

 

TJALDUR

 

tjaldur2

 

Official Number           145024

Signal Letters                GYSD

Tonnages                      1130 grt    912 nrt

Dimensions                    220.3 ft x 32.7 ft x 17.3 ft

Machinery                     T 3 cyl 17” 27” & 45” – 30” by the shipbuilder. 166 nhp. Speed 12 kts. Single shaft.

Career Data

08 June 1916                 launched by Kjobnhvns Flydk & Skbs, Copenhagen (Y.N. 126) as ST THOMAS for Det Ostasiatiske Kompagni.

October 1916                completed

1920                            purchased by United Baltic Corp Ltd and renamed BALTANNIC

1925                            purchased by P/Skipafelagid Foroyar and renamed TJALDUR

16 June 1941                 seized as a Prize in the Faroes

21 June 1941                 sailed the Faroes independently to Kirkwall arriving 23 June 1941 

1 July 1941                    sailed Kirkwall in convoy EC39 to Glasgow arriving 4 July 1941 

July 1941                       released to the British Govt by the Prize Court and came under MoWT control under management of the General Steam Navigation Co Ltd. Was requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted at Glasgow by Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd.

27 October 1941             conversion completed, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy ON 30 but was sent back the following day as it became apparent that she could only make less than half of the Convoy speed.

10 November 1941           sailed the Clyde in convoy ON35 - arrived short of bunkers at Reykjavik

18 November 1941           sailed from Reykjavik independently but returned there arriving 22 November 1941

3 December 1941            sailed Reykjavik independently to the River Clyde arriving 8 December 1941

24 December 1941           sailed the River Clyde in convoy ON50 but returned on 26 December 1941 with defects and was withdrawn as a CRS and returned to the MoWT. She was pllaced under management of the North of Scotland, Orkney & Shetland Steam Nav Co Ltd.

20 May 1941                  sailed Methil in convoy EN87

22 May 1942                  sailed Kirkwall in convoy WN286 to Aberdeen arriving 23 May 1942

23 June 1942                  sailed Methil in convoy EN101 to Kirkwall arriving on the next day

13 July 1942                   sailed Aberdeen in convoy EN110 to Kirkwall arriving the next day

17 July 1942                   sailed Kirkwall in convoy WN310 to Methil

11 June 1943                  sailed Aberdeen in convoy EN241 to Scapa Flow arriving 13 Jun 1943

27 June 1946                  was wrecked in position 62.07 N 06.35 W.

 

TOWARD

 

toward

 

Official Number              147862

Signal Letters                GJVX

Tonnages                      1571 grt    1164 nrt

Dimensions                    270.2 ft x 37.2 ft x 172 ft

Machinery                     T 3 cyl 21” 34” & 56” – 30” by the shipbuilder. 196 nhp. Speed  12½ kts    Single shaft

 

Career Data.

 

29/05/23                      launched by Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd, Linthouse (Y.N. 502) as TOWARD for the Clyde Shipping Co Ltd

06/23                           completed

14/12/40                      requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship

26/01/41                      Conversion completed, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy OG 51 and over the next two years she escorted forty five Convoys and rescued three hundred and thirty seven survivors from ten sunken ships before she herself was sunk

07/02/43                      Torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U402 S.E. of Cape Farewell in position 54.55 N 26.05 W while on passage from Halifax N.S.to Greenock in Convoy SC 118 with the loss of forty three of her crew while twenty eight were rescued by the corvette HMS MIGNONETTE and were landed at Londonderry

 

WALMER CASTLE

 

Walmer-Castle-ship-sunk-1941-595x367

 

Official Number           165337

Signal Letters             GZDF

Tonnages                   906 grt   681 nrt

Dimensions                 236.2 ft x 39.3 ft x 12.5 ft

Machinery                   1 x 8 cyl 19“– 35“ by the shipbuilder. 539 nhp. Speed 12½kts. Single shaft.

Career Data

17/09/36                      launched by Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast (Y.N. 983) as WALMER CASTLE for the Union Castle Mail Steamship Co Ltd.

30/11/36                      completed

1940                            requisitioned for service as an Armed Supply Ship based at Scapa Flow

1941                            allocated for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship to replace HONTESTROOM (q.v.)

12/09/41                      conversion completed.

13/09/41                      sailed from the Clyde on her first and only voyage in Convoy OG 74 and in the next week she rescued 81 survivors from 3 sunken ships before herself being sunk.

21/09/41                      was attacked and sunk by a FW200 aircraft about 700 miles West of Ushant in position 47.16 N 22.25 W which made several attacks and on the 4th attack the ship was heavily hit by bombs. Eleven of her Crew and twenty of the survivors from other ships were lost whilst sixty four other survivors were taken aboard the sloop HMS DEPTFORD and the corvette HMS MARIGOLD who then sank the stricken vessel with gunfire as she posed a danger to navigation..

 

ZAAFARAN

 

ss Zaafaran 

 

Official Number              146164

Signal Letters                GLSG

Tonnages                     1563 grt    1103 nrt

Dimensions                    270.4 ft x 39.2 ft x 14.9 ft

Machinery                     T 3 cyl 28” 37½ & 60” – 39” by the shipbuilder. 292 nhp. Speed 13 kts. Single shaft.

 

Career Data

 

24/02/21                      launched by Ailsa Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Troon (Y.N. 371) as PHILOMEL for the General Steam Navigation Co

11/21                           completed

1934                            purchased by the Khedivial Mail S.S. & Graving Dock Co Ltd (Lord E Hamilton, Manager) and renamed ZAAFARAN

Between 10/36 and 6/37 employed on her owners service Alexandria, Port Said, Jaffa, Haifa, Beirut, Tripoli, Lattakia (optional), Mersin, Alexandretta.
Return voyages: Alexandretta, Tripoli, Beirut, Larnaca (optional), Haifa, Jaffa, Port Said, Alexandria.

10/40                           purchased and requisitioned for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted at Barry by Messrs Bailey.

23/03/41                      conversion completed, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy OB 301 and over the next eighteen months or so she escorted twenty six Convoys and rescued two hundred and twenty survivors from seven sunken ships before being herself sunk

05/07/42                      was attacked by an aircraft in position 75.00 N 43.40 E whilst escorting Convoy PQ 17 along with her sister ZAMALEK and RATHLIN and was straddled by a stick of three bombs which caused extensive damage but incredibly only one person was killed. The remaining sixty one of her crew and the thirty six survivors from other ships aboard were rescued by ZAMALEK.

 

 

 

ZAMALEK

 

Official Number              146134

Signal Letters                BFWP

Tonnages                     1566 grt    1105 nrt

Dimensions                   270.4 ft x 39.2 ft x 14.9 ft

Machinery                     T 3 cyl 28” 37½ & 60” – 39” by the shipbuilder. 292 nhp. Speed 13 kts. Single shaft

 

Career Data

 

29/10/20                      launched by Ailsa Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Troon (Y.N. 370) as HALYCON for the General Steam Navigation Co Ltd

10/21                           completed

1934                            purchased by the Khedivial Mail S.S. & Graving Dock Co Ltd (Lord E Hamilton, manager) and renamed ZAMALEK

10/36 and 6/37 employed by her owners on Alexandria, Port Said, Jaffa, Haifa, Beirut, Tripoli, Lattakia (optional), Mersin, Alexandretta.
Return voyages: Alexandretta, Tripoli, Beirut, Larnaca (optional), Haifa, Jaffa, Port Said, Alexandria

1939                            re-purchased by the MoT and placed under the management of General Steam Navigation Co Ltd, same name

03/40                           requisitioned by the Admiralty

10/40                           allocated for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship and was converted at Govan by Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd.

26/02/41                      conversion completed, she sailed from the Clyde on her first voyage in Convoy OB 291 and over the next four years she escorted sixty eight Convoys and rescued a total of six hundred and sixty five survivors (the highest number of rescues of all of the CRS’s) from nineteen sunken ships, including two hundred and sixteen from seven ships sunk in Convoy PQ 17 (also escorted by her sister ZAAFARAN and her consort RATHLIN) and even four from German submarine U–523 which had also been sunk.

03/06/45                      arrived on the Clyde in Convoy HX 357 from Halifax N.S. on completion of her wartime service and for return to her owners.

05/11/56                      she was scuttled by the Egyptians in Suez Harbour during the Suez Crisis as a blockship and was finally cut up during clearance operations the following year.

 

 

Bibliography

Greenway A                 A Century of North Sea Passenger Steamers

Hague A                      Convoy Rescue Ships 1940 – 1945

Haws D                        Britain’s Railway Steamers

Lenton H T                   British and Empire Warships of the Second World War

Lloyds Register               Lloyds Registers of Shipping (various years)

Middlemiss  N                 Coast Lines

Mitchell and Sawyer        The Empire Ships

Robins N                       Birds of the Sea – 150 Years of the General Steam Navigation Company

Tennant A J                  British and Commonwealth Merchant Ship Losses to Axis Submarines 1939 - 1945

Periodical

World Ship Society        Marine News (various years)

Copyright © 2008 – 2016 Christopher J White

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