Shipping Company Losses of the Second World War
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We were the first warship to go there and the Spaniards seemed quite friendly. Most of the crew went to a bullfight but as I abhor such activities I volunteered to stay aboard as duty officer. I heard that at the bullfight the mayor made a welcoming speech in which he thanked the captain for the compliment paid to Spain when we entered harbour. Evidently he thought that the red and yellow stripes on our Carley floats life-rafts had been put there because they were the colours of the Spanish national flag.
In reality they had been there all along, for easy identification by any rescuers. What we enjoyed most of all in Spain was the unlimited supply of bananas and oranges, which had not been seen in Britain for many years. The second mission was to escort a tug which was towing a surrendered U boat that for some reason we were handing over to the Russians. The U-boat did not move under its own power and she was manned by a British crew with one Russian Naval Officer on board as an observer.
In Libau we were moored alongside a dock and again no one was allowed ashore but we had been welcomed in Norway. In early we took Narbrough across the Atlantic to hand her back at Boston, Massachusetts. The crew then went by train to New York station where we were promptly taken by bus to the docks to board the Queen Elizabeth not the battleship I had served in during but the largest liner in the world which had been used as a troopship and was then far from luxurious. She brought us back to Britain and a spot of leave. My next posting was to HMS Opportune, a destroyer which had taken part in the famous battle at Narvik, Norway, when a flotilla of British destroyers attacked a similar German Flotilla.
My job was to be Navigating Officer and when I joined the ship she was in the Portsmouth dockyard awaiting the arrival of most of her new crew. I spent some time updating her charts from information in Admiralty Fleet Orders, such as the location of new shipping hazards, e. After two or three weeks I contracted German Measles, was sent to hospital and never rejoined Opportune. Altogether I dealt with 6 courts martial, all the charges being desertion.
It took some time for the demobilisation of the armed forces to take place and everyone had to await his turn in the prescribed order of release. Some sailors opted to go AWOL and then had to face the music. My job was to speak up for the accused if there was any defence I never found any! A prison sentence resulted in every case but I think I managed to have it made quite light in deserving cases. I also had to serve on a Court of Inquiry when a Sub-lieutenant had been caught smuggling a lot of duty free cigarettes out of the dockyard. I understood that my presence was required so as to have an officer of the same rank as the accused sitting on the court.
My recollection is that the villain escaped with a fine and a loss of seniority. But that is a different story and a very happy one; if we had not met, you would not be here! I send you all our love and hope your lives are just as enjoyable. Find out how you can use this.
Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules , please click here.
For any other comments, please Contact Us. Home Explore the BBC. This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving. Colin Wilkinson 30th January 1st January, February , July typed document transferred to word processed document and amended by Erik Wilkinson and Norah Kennedy. Maritime Archives and Library. Registry of Shipping and Seamen. Southampton Archives Service.
World War II Fast Facts
Email: city. The National Archives. Although care has been taken in preparing the information contained in this document, anyone using it shall be deemed to indemnify the National Maritime Museum from any and all injury or damage arising from such use. There is a wide range of material both in printed and manuscript form.
This is distributed across a number of libraries and archives and the researcher should be prepared to seek out material that addresses the particulars of the research problem. Lloyd's Register of Shipping for the years — and the Mercantile Navy List British ships for — only, as it was not published again until Because both are produced annually, some ships were too short-lived to be included, and some foreign-registered vessels were omitted from the Register because of the difficulty of gathering information in wartime.
Merchant Ships used by the Government Some British merchant ships were bought into the Royal Navy and commissioned as warships. Details of these can be found in: Jane's Fighting Ships , an illustrated guide to classes of Royal Navy vessels, annual editions for — G P Orde as the official history of the evacuation, named 'Operation Dynamo'. Though never published, copies are available in several places including the National Maritime Museum there is a separate information sheet on the List, see next steps below.
Issues for , , and are in the National Maritime Museum and other specialist libraries. Halford Vanwell Publishing, St.
Summaries of Japanese Shipping Losses
The London Gazette records awards to merchant seamen or other British citizens. Copies, together with indexes, are also available at the Guildhall Library.
Seedie's roll of naval honours and awards — Tisbury: Ripley Registers, gives a single alphabetical list by name, including merchant seamen. Wherever possible entries give a man's name, the nature of the award, his rating, ship, an indication of the action for which the award was made, and the date of the London Gazette entry. It is available at the National Maritime Museum. Lloyd's List published citations for some medals awarded to merchant seamen. Lloyd's Captains Registers Guildhall Mss.
Lloyd's War Losses: the Second World War London: Lloyd's of London Press Ltd, volumes 1 and 2, covers British, Allied and neutral merchant ships, including vessels missing or sunk by mines after the end of the war which are not covered by the Admiralty list. Axis Submarine Successes — , by Jurgen Rohwer Cambridge: Patrick Stephens Ltd, , English edition based on German Admiralty records, is a useful supplement to British lists, though neither is totally reliable.
Information on enemy merchant vessels sunk by war causes is often difficult to trace, particularly Japanese ships whose names can be represented in various ways: The original typescript of Lloyd's War Losses: the Second World War , volume 3, is at the Guildhall Library and is particularly useful. It uses the Romaji system of transcription for Japanese names, officially adopted in and used during the war, though later abandoned.
Prisoners of War There are extensive records of merchant seamen held as prisoners of war in the series BT at The National Archives. Deaths of seamen Many seamen died at sea either because of enemy action or the perils of their occupation. The information is alphabetical by deceased's name.
Also listed are ship name, official number, date, place and cause of death. The return for also includes supplement of merchant seamen who died while prisoners of war, — Deaths of Crewmen, January —s These contain forms giving personal details of the crewman and circumstances of death which sometimes includes a Coroner's report. They can also contain correspondence from UK consulates if a death occurred overseas. Death by Enemy Action, — A card index arranged alphabetically by name of seaman, containing the person's address, rank, date, place and cause or supposed cause of death, ship's name and official number.
Death by Natural Causes — A card index arranged alphabetically by name of seaman and gives the person's birthplace, rank and date and place of death and cause if known together with the ship's name and official number. The list gives each seaman's ship, date of loss and memorial on which he is named. Includes those who died in Prisoner of War camps in Germany and Japan. All but 15 of the crew died, which shows the heroic efforts they made to get disoriented passengers clear of the plunging hull.
The Merchant Marine Were the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Captain Ben Taverner, two of his sons and five other pairs of brothers were among the crew members lost, ripping the heart out of many families in Port-aux-Basques and Channel, the towns in southwest Newfoundland for whom the ferries had long been a business and way of life. Faced with the possibility of many U-boat attacks within sight of land, the government closed the gulf and river to overseas shipping in It remained until Only small coastal convoys and warships were allowed in or out. The result was that the amount of cargo shipped out of Canada fell by more than 25 per cent.
This amounted to a victory for the U-boats won at virtually no cost to Germany. The struggle entered its grimmest phase in the fall of Despite bombing raids on German construction yards and bases, the U-boat force increased. At first the Canadian escort groups held their own, but as the size of the wolf packs increased and winter storms swept the Atlantic, several convoys escorted by the RCN suffered heavy losses.
In November alone, Allied ships were lost. It did not, however, have the latest "very long-range" aircraft needed to reach the Black Pit, which harboured packs of U-boats ready to attack. The Battle of the Atlantic reached its climax in March ; in that month the U-boats sent Allied ships—, tonnes of vital shipping—to the bottom. These figures were lower than in November , but what was most disturbing was that 85 of the ships lost had been in convoy or straggling and most had been sunk in the North Atlantic.
The only glimmer of hope lay in the success the air and naval escorts had, sinking 16 U-boats. One important result of this meeting was that Britain and Canada were placed in complete charge of trade convoys on the northern routes. A Consolidated Liberator provides air-cover for a transatlantic convoy, U surrenders to Canadian forces, May Fortunately, the desperate holding actions of the merchantmen bought time for an adequate military buildup. In April and May , the tide finally began to turn as the Allied counter-measures started to come together. A number of factors combined to defeat the U-boat menace.
There were now more escorts ships with better trained and more experienced crews, and fitted with improved equipment.
Support Groups were formed to come to the aid of a threatened convoy. They consisted of fast ships which, instead of being tied to one convoy, could sail rapidly to any spot to intercept attackers before they could close in on the convoy.
They were particularly effective when they included the aircraft carriers converted from merchant ships. Also, the British innovation of small flight decks on merchant ships, equipped with three or four aircraft that flew off as needed, provided additional defence for the convoys. Furthermore, British Intelligence had broken the top secret German code that gave advance information to U-boat commanders. Most important, the dreaded Black Pit was closed by Liberator bombers, which now provided long-range aerial surveillance.
Japanese Naval and Merchant Shipping Losses - WWII
The combination of these powerful new forces was too much for the U-boats, and in May, no less than 41 of them failed to return to their bases. During June, July and August the destruction of merchant ships markedly declined.
Anti-submarine air and sea forces were now on the offensive, forcing the Germans to abandon their wolf-pack tactics that had been so successful earlier in the war. The turn of the tide in Allied favour did not, however, spell the end of the war at sea. The Battle of the Atlantic still had two long years to run.