RFA Hollyleaf after her RFA service and as British Holly


Previous name:                         Oleaster
Subsequent name:                    British Holly

Official Number:                        140257

Class:                                      Emergency Wartime Construction LEAF Group Freighting Tanker

Pennant No:                             Y7.160

Laid down:
Builder:                                      William Hamilton & Co, Glen Yard
Launched:                                  23 December 1916

Into Service:                               5 March 1917

Out of service:                            1920
Fate:                                          Broken up


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:  During WW1, eighteen vessels of varying types were acquired second hand and converted or purchased and converted while on the stocks or in a few cases building as tankers. Some were converted after serving with the Dummy Battleship Squadron by the insertion of cylindrical tanks in their holds. All were originally intended to operate as RFA’s, however owing to reasons of international law and the operation of the US Neutrality Act, these oilers became Mercantile Fleet Auxiliaries, being renamed with the LEAF nomenclature and placed under civilian management, although operationally they remained under Admiralty control


1916 laid down as a dry cargo ship

23 December 1916 launched by Wm Hamilton & Co Ltd, Glen Yard, Port Glasgow as Yard Nr: 302 named RFA OLEASTER

March 1917 completed for the Shipping Controller and placed under management of Lane & MacAndrew Ltd, London as an oiler transport and renamed HOLLYLEAF

31 May 1917 an Admiralty report on this ship showed she had completed only one round trip during which she was found to be in need of repairs to centre line division plates been tanks and suffering from leaky rivets resulting in her having to be dry docked at Invergordon for 23 days (including discharging time) - source MT23/808 at the TNA

25 October 1917 at 31°29N 22°16W stopped and boarded by HMS MOTAGUA - allowed to proceed


HMS Motagua



25 November 1917 escorted to Milo from Taranto by HMS RIBBLE

26 January 1918 sailed Milo escorted by HMS's COLNE and MARGUERITE

24 April 1918 Storekeeper John Savage discharged dead. He died in the International Hospital, Brindisi from a knife wound having been admitted the previous day.  He was originally buried in the Brindisi Communal Cemetery but he was moved by the CWGC to Bari War Cemetery, Italy in 1981




Image courtesy of The War Graves Photographic Project


30 April 1918 attacked by a submarine in the Mediterranean - the torpedo missed

17 October 1918 off Permin and sighted by HMS TOPAZE

20 November 1918 at Ismid - HMS LIVERPOOL berthed alongside and was refuelled with 44 tons of FFO

HMS Liverpool


22 November 1918 at Ismid - HMS CANTERBURY berthed alongside and was refuelled with 69 tons FFO

HMS Canterbury


8 December 1918 at Sevastopol - HMS CANTERBURY berthed alongside and was refuelled with 209 tons FFO

10 December 1918 at Hong Kong Cook You Ah discharged dead - drowned (These details were obtained from the 'Deaths at Sea register' but plainly there is an arror with ship being alongside a Royal Naval Cruiser two days previously at Sevastopol)

30 January 1919 passed Perim

26 August 1919 at the Seamans Rest, Port Said Chief Steward Frank Silk discharged dead - heart failure

8 September 1919 purchased by British Tanker Co, London name unchanged

14 November 1919 sailed Singapore

3 December 1919 arrived at Suez from Tarakan

17 January 1920 reported a floating mine at 3°S 110°E

11 March 1920 sailed Suez for Colombo

25 March 1920 arrived at Colombo

1 April 1920 arrived at Singapore from Colombo

8 April 1920 sailed Singapore for San Francisco

12 June 1920 sailed Colon for Malta

23 July 1920 arrived at New Orleans

24 July 1920 cleared New Orleans to Alexandria, Egypt

18 September 1920 sailed Abadan

1 October 1920 arrived at Suez when on passage from Abadan to Grangemouth

16 October 1920 arrived at Grangemouth. Captain McClure was the ships Master

21 October 1920 sailed Grangemouth

26 November 1920 in refit at Palmers, Hebburn on Tyne and renamed British Holly by her owners

12 December 1920 sailed the River Tyne for Port Arthur, Texas via Thameshaven

16 February 1921 arrived at Gravesend from Port Arthur, Texas and berthed at the Port of London - with a sailor with a case of Syphilis - to the Seaman's Hospital at Greenwich

28 February 1921 berthed at Smiths Dock, River Tyne

14 May 1921 arrived at Port Said from Swansea when on passage to Abadan

7 August 1921 at Bombay 4th Engineer Officer Hubert Stringwell discharged dead - died in St. Georges Hospital, Bombay from pneumonia



4th Engineer Officer Hubert Stringwell


28 December 1921 at 29.47N 48.47E Fireman Thomas Amor discharged dead - pneumonia

1 May 1922 arrived at Bombay after being involved in a collision - further details not known - source Page 6 of the Dundee Evening Telepgraph of 2 May 1922 and a Lloyd's telegram

6 June 1922 arrived at Suez from Abadan

18 June 1922 sailed Aden

20 June 1922 arrived Abadan

17 July 1922 sailed Karachi

31 July 1922 at Bombay

19 October 1922 at Bombay

12 December 1922 sailed Aden for Abadan

20 December 1922 arrived at Abadan from Aden

25 January 1923 arrived at Suez

29 January 1923 sailed Port Said for Abadan

3 February 1923 passed Perim

5 March 1923 passed Perim  when on passage from Abadan to Genoa, Italy

18 March 1923 at Genoa, Italy

21 September 1923 sailed Bombay for Abadan

27 December 1923 sailed Madras for Abadan

1 December 1924 sailed Madras

5 December 1924 sailed from Colombo

14 December 1924 at Abadan

5 January 1925 sailed from Bombay, Indian

26 January 1925 arrived at Aden from Abadan

29 January 1925 sailed from Aden

6 February 1925 at Abadan

3 March 1925 sailed from Aden

6 July 1925 at Colombo, Ceylon

19 September 1925 at Calcutta, India

4 October 1925 at Abadan

9 March 1926 sailed Swansea for Avonmouth to discharge

11 March 1926 sailed Avonmouth

22 March 1926 berthed at Salt End Jetty, Hull

16 June 1926 sailed Abadan for Colombo

26 October 1926 Captain Sidney John Daniel appeared before Guildhall Justices Room, City of London charged with fraudulent conversion of £127 10sh and, as an alternative, embezzlement of the same sum from his employer - the British Tanker Co Ltd. while Master of the ss British Holly.  He pleaded Guilty. The full amount missing was £1,184. Sentenced to 3 months imprisonment


 S J Daniel

Captain Sidney J Daniel

York Post 20 Oct 1926 Press Cutting


31 December 1926 arrived at Abadan

7 July 1927 passed Perim when on passage to Abadan

12 August 1927 sailed Port Natal for Abadan

9 September 1928 at the Government Hospital, Durban Ships Cook & Baker discharged dead - natural causes

30 December 1929 arrived at Hartlepool

22 January 1930 sailed from the River Tyne for Grangemouth

25 January 1920 sailed Grangemouth for Swansea with a cargo of creosote

31 January 1930 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west bound

8 February 1930 passed Gibraltar sailing east bound

16 February 1930 arrived at Port Said

23 February 1930 passed Perim

3 March 1930 arrived at Abadan

6 March 1930 sailed Abadan for Madras and Calcutta

20 March 1930 sailed Madras for Calcutta

25 March 1930 sailed Calcutta for Abadan

9 April 1930 sailed Abadan for Karachi

14 April 1930 berthed at Karachi

7 May 1930 sailed Aden for Abadan

15 May 1930 arrived at Abadan

26 June 1930 arrived Suez from Abadan

21 January 1931 at Abadan Deck Casab Hoosein Nakwa discharged dead - chronic nephritis

31 January 1931 arrived at Aden

23 March 1931 sailed Aden for Abadan

11 August 1931 sailed Bombay for Abadan

28 October 1931 purchased for £7,000 for demolition by  Torazo Haslimoto, Osaka


Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2018 Christopher J White

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