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The Battle of the Atlantic

The Diaries of Joseph Hart

Exchange *
Historical Letter
Miller (1)
Exchange **
Shipper (2)
Capt J Barclay *
Capt J Barclay **
Progress (1)
Earnings 1933
Gold-Headed Cane
Capt Bill Moore
Pay Rise 1960
Mcr Dock Pass

Certificate of Discharge 1907

ML Historical Scrapbook
Convoy Chart HX348
The Battle of the Atlantic ~ The Diaries of Joseph Hart
Merchant (1) - Boer War Transport No: 92


“A first class cattle and cargo steamer with all the most modern improvement for the Atlantic trade''

was how the Manchester Guardian of September 26, 1899, described the s.s. Manchester Corporation built for Manchester Liners by Messrs Furness Withy & Co. of West Hartlepool.

The four masted vessel was 445 feet long, carried 756 head of cattle and was "rigged fore and aft with telescopic topmasts and funnel to suit the Manchester Canal bridges.'' On her trial trip the owners were represented by Mr. F. B. Stoker, grandfather of our present chairman, and Mr. Greenip; the shipbuilders by Mr H. Withy and Mr. G. W. Sivewnght and the engine builders by Mr. T. Westgarth, all well known present day shipping names.

During the South African War the vessel was used as a troopship carrying 500 troops and 400 horses without loss but at the end of World War One the Manchester Exchange carrying 220 cavalry horses struck a heavy gale during which 78 animals were lost overboard or had to be destroyed.

Source: Manchester Liners News

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– written by William Stein Second Cook S.S. Manchester Exchange 1917

This is a copy of the original article by Antony Steven that was published in the Manchester Genealogist Magazine. It is reproduced here with his kind permission.

Amongst material relating to my grandfather's service in the Merchant Navy I found a letter he had sent to my grandmother in 1917 whilst he was in Canada. I am sure that he wrote many more and she wrote many to him but this is the only survivor. My grandfather was not an educated man but the letter gives a brief glimpse into his impressions and feelings at this time in his life.

William Alfred Stein was born on the 28h October 1895 at 128 Tippng Street, Ardwick, Manchester to Johann Stein and Sarah Arm Martha (nrr Preston) and was the youngest of five children of which only three reached adulthood. Johann had been born in Koblenz, Germany in 1862, and in 1885 when he was to be conscripted into the Prussian army he ran away, or so the tale goes, and came to England working as a cook in the Victoria Hotel, Bradford where he met Sarah. Within a few months Sarah was pregnant and in January 1886 they married in the German Church in Bradford. The family later moved to Scarborough where Johann worked at the Grand Hotel before moving to Manchester and finding work as a chef in a restaurant. Sarah died in 1902 leaving Johann with three sons aged 12, 11 and 7 to bring up. He was fortunate that for some years his sister-in-law had lived with them and took over the responsibility of the boys.

On the 5th August 1914 William was embodied into the 7th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and, although he never spoke of it, he was discharged because his father was German. In 1915, after the sinking of the Lusitania, Johann was interned as an enemy alien in spite of the fact that he had lived and worked in England for thirty years. At the same time as their father was interned, his three sons were 'doing their bit for England'. The eldest, John Henry (Jack), was in the Merchant Navy and my grandfather William joined him in March 1916. The middle brother, George Arthur, was serving in the Labour Corps and was gassed, I believe on the Somme.

Most of William's service was with the Manchester Liners sailing to Canada and the USA, and his letter to Christina is written from Canada during a voyage that started with his engagement in Manchester on 23 May 1917 as second cook and finished with his discharge in Manchester 25 July 1917. The Manchester Miller referred to in his letter and on which he had previously sailed was sunk by U66 on 5 June 1917. He had also served on the Manchester Citizen which was sunk by U70 on 26 April 1917.

He again sailed to the USA on 17 August 1917 returning on 23 October, and on 29 October, he and Christina were married at the Register Office, Chorlton-on-Medlock. On 15 April 1918 they married again at St. James Church, Princess Road, Moss Side. No reason has been discovered for this second marriage and it was on this date they always celebrated their wedding anniversary. In 1919 William changed his surname by deed poll from Stein to his mother's maiden name of Preston due to the animosity to anyone with a German name following World War 1.

S/S Manchester Exchange
St. Johns NB.
June 9 1917

Dear Chris,
I have arrived here safely after a not very exciting voyage. We have had all kinds of weather through rain, cold, heat, fog and wind and at present it is raining here. I have not been ashore yet although Jack was ashore on his own last night for an hour or two. We leave here tomorrow morning for Philadelphia so will write a letter from there letting you know when I expect to be home again. I have not received the letter that you promised to send but perhaps it is the fault of the mails Chris. There are plenty of girls here I believe but I would rather be in England taking you for a walk round Princess Rd fields wouldn’t you Kid. You would laugh if you were to see this place. It is just like a wildwest mining town all the shanties are built of wood and there isn’t a decent paved street in the whole gordarnd town. Dear Chris I read in the paper this morning that my old ship the Manchester Miller has been torpedoed and two Americans killed by the explosion. I hope we get through home safely dear or I shant be able to take you to the Royal any more. Remember me to your Father & Mother. I don’t think there is any more to tell you so will close with

Lots of love
From Yours

Sources: family papers Birth, marriage and death certificates, Embodiment papers, Deed Poll, Continuous Certificate of Discharge, Manchester Liners a Pictorial History by Ted Gray.

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During the early years of the Second World War an order was placed with the Blythswood Shipbuilding Company at Glasgow for a repeat vessel similar to those built before the War for Manchester Liners. As was required by wartime regulations the order we notified to the Ministry of War Transport, and they instructed that, as an emergency measure the vessel be built to carry 72 passengers instead of the usual 12.

Thus began the career of the only “passenger liner'' built for the Company and the Manchester Shipper (second of that name) was delivered to the Company in mid 1943, Capt. F. D. Struss being the first Master.

The vessel was 444 feel long and 58 feet beam and her steam turbines gave her a speed of 14 knots. The extra passenger accommodation was built in the Shelter Decks and was reckoned to be of a high standard for its type. She carried a crew of 76 (including a doctor). Apart from one voyage to the Middle East she spent all the War on the Atlantic, and was very quickly returned to the Company's services at the end of the War.

The additional passenger accommodation was removed and the Shipper settled down to become a very valuable member of the Fleet. As befitted her place in such a “go-ahead'' Company as M.L., she became one of the first merchant vessels to be fitted with Radar in 1946 and in 1948 (the golden jubilee of the Company) Capt. J. Barclay used the radar to good effect to beat rivals into Montreal and win the traditional gold headed cane for the first vessel to dock after the winter dose down.

By the late l950's the vessel's boilers were showing the strain and a decision was taken to reboiler her. True to M.L. form this was done in a novel manner. In 1958 after loading the new boilers into her holds at Manchester the Shipper sailed to Cardiff where she was dry-docked, part of the vessel's shell plating and frames removed, the old boilers removed sideways through the holes, the new boilers inserted the same way and the sides closed up again.

Once again she took her full part in be Company's operations and after the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway she became a regular visitor to the Great Lakes ports in the summer months. In 1966 a decision had to be taken on the fate of the "old lady''. The oldest vessel in fleet, nearly 23 years old, due for a special survey and surrounded by her smart new sisters, the future seemed bleak, but it was decided to put her through the survey, refit her heavy lift derrick and use her on the so-called “C” service to Chicago, this being the pilot scheme to try out containers.

Finally, however, In 1969 the end had to come and Capt. F. Lewis took the Shipper out of Gladstone Dock on 30th June on her last voyage to Trieste where she was handed over to the breakers. So, after 26 years service, 160 round voyages and approximately one and a half million nautical miles to her credit, the “old lady” passed out of our lives.


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The following item has been put forward by Peter Cullen. It gives an interesting insight into the life of Capt James Barclay, and into one particular voyage on the square rigger "Cambrian Princess".


Dear Mrs. Taylor,

One of our Masters to hold a Square Rigged Ticket was the late Captain James Barclay, who on the 19th April 1948, commanded the "Manchester Shipper" which was the first vessel into the port of Montreal.
Captain Barclay first went to sea at the age of fourteen in 1906, when he served in the square rigged ship, "Cambrian Princess".

Many of our readers will remember Captain Jim, and recently we discovered a brief account of his second voyage in the same ship in 1907, which I thought some of our readers may find of interest.

Yours sincerely,

Captain. P.D. Cullen.

Voyage from Cardiff to South America
25/7/07 – 30/8/08
voyage Notes by Apprentice James Barclay.

25/7/07 Left Tips Bute Docks 2.15 pm. Left Cardiff 6.20 pm.
26/7/07 All hands make sail. Tug "Salion" left us 6.15 am. Boswn caught mackeral. Wore ship 8 bells.
27/7/07 A lot of steam trawlers about. Sighted a three inasted barque. Passed steamer "Kilmamo". Tacked ship.
28/7/07 Foggy in morning, clearing up towards evening, saw porpoises. Tasted Duff.
29/7/07 Wore ship twice.
30/7/07 Joe Colpus gone to cabin, 3rd Mate. Changed watches Wells in port, hill in sstarboard.
31/7/07 Passed a three masted barque, three days out from Lands End.
2/8/07 Tacked ship.
4/8/07 Captain had gramophone going.
15/8/07 John Sheppard a coloured man, fell from main upper topsail yard, struck main top and yard, and hit deck. He had a fit. Hove ship to at 2.55 p.m. Buried him in the usual way.
16/8/07 Boswn caught fish, had some for tea.
19/8/07 A Flying fish came aboard in the dogwatch. Mate skinned it.
25/8/07 Barque on port quarter.
26/8/07 Ship on port beam, taken for "lrrawarru", London.
29/8/07 Signalled "Glen Alvon", Liverpool, 40 days out from Antwerp for Seattle. Sighted two homeward bound barques.
30/8/07 Crossed lime, got "Shaved".
6/9/07 V. Jones AB, ran a knife into his eye
12/9/07 Caught sea birds. Roumanian stuffed them.
15/9/07 Big whale under port quarter. Thunder and Lightening. Saw St. Ehno's fire, and ball of fire drop into close to ship.
22/9/07 Spoke German barque of Hamburg, 77 days out from Barry.
27/9/07 Spoke "Celtic Race", Liverpool, 66 days from Tyne to Talquana Bay.
29/9/07 Looking for St. Johns light on Statten Isle.
11/10/07 Jib Stay carried away. Couldn’t heave too. Crane and goose neck of lower topsail yard carried away but upper topsail sheets hold. Lashed it.
13/10/07 Attempted to sand yard down, rolling too heavy.
30/10/07 97 days out, arrived Taltal in the evening, let go anchor.
2/11/07 Received orders for Mejillones, left anchorage at 5 pm.
4/11/07 Arrived Mejillones at 3 pm., dropped anchor.
6/11/07 Hove up, went closer in, put out stem moorings, fixed cargo gear.
7/11/07 Commenced cargo.
1/1/08 Took in stiffening.
13/2/08 Completed discharging coal.
1/4/08 Completed loading.
4/4/08 Departed Mejillones, 6 pm.
18/4/08 Signalled "Scottish Glens", Caleta Buena for Falmouth.
22/4/08 Killed Pig.
1/5/08 Passed outward bound four masted barque.
16/5/08 Caught two Dolphins.
21/5/08 Signalled four masted barque "Colonay" of Liverpool, Cardiff for Talchuana, 40 days out.
22/5/08 Signalled SS "Mat" Bristol Channel to Plate.
24/5/08 Crossed lime.
25/5/08 Signalled "Scottish Moors", Liverpool, Hamburg for San Francisco.
26/5/08 Signalled SS "Romney", Liverpool, belonging to Lamport & Holt.
27/5/08 Signalled "Kathleen", SS of Cardiff, asked him to report us all well on arrival. Course North.
28/5/08 Raining hard, Tack Ship, on braces all afternoon in rain.
29/5/08 Holy stone main deck, wind aft. Hauled forward towards afternoon, stretched awning across main deck connected it to main fw tank by pipe, to collect fresh water. Captain afraid of running short of water. Wind on port beam. course True North.
2/8/08 Passed Portmadoc topsail schooner "Gelcha",
5/8/08 Signalled Italian barque "Oraria", 63 days out, from Buenos Aires, crossed line, 30th June.
6/8/08 Sighted "Cunarder", hoisted numbers. Steamer did not take any notice, four masted barque in sight.
7/8/08 Going course SEXE, stand by SE Course. Signalled SS Suema of Liverpool, Bergan to U.S.A. in ballast for Oil. Little rain. Sighted Cunard Liner, SEXS course. Sighted liner in night, abreast about seven bells. Close enough to hear throb of propellers.
8/8/08 Calm, Square Yards. Three vessels in sight. "Oraria" barque, "Lyderhorm" four masted barque. "Queen Margaret" of Glasgow, Captain Scott, Master, Three skysail yarder, with skysail yards sent down.
10/8/08 Charles Roll, AB, coloured man, died about five minutes to light. He was carried out on to No. 3 hatch and wrapped up in canvas. The Captain then put Carbolic acid on it, and the sail maker sewed him up new canvas. At seven bells, we backed the main and cro'jack yards and gathered around the corpse which was on a stage rigged by the deck port, abreast the No. 3. hatch on the starboard side. The Captain read the usual service and the body went down with a splash. "Till the sea gives up its dead", We then braced up the yards and had dinner.
11/8/08 Slept in my bunk for first time since we were south of the line. Tried to back ship, wouldn’t stay, wore ship at eight bells.
14/8/08 Two steamers passed us. American Liner going to Southampton. German steamer going to Hamburg, reporting us. Mackerel about.
17/8/08 Sighted two schooners, two brigantines, one steam trawler. Sighted Bull, also Skellig and Greater Skellig. Tacked ship. Took Mizzen and Fore Gall' Sail off. Shackled cables.
18/8/08 Took in Fore & Ma'm. Top Gall & sails. Sighted two trawlers Standing by.
19/8/08 Let all sail, calm.
20/8/08 Hove Too in severe E'ly gale, shorten down to main lower topsail.
21/8/08 Gale moderated a little, wore ship, set sail, going course.
22/8/08 Lizard abeam 8 miles, took pilot aboard at 10 a.m. for Falmouth, Tug Dragon took hawser at 10.30 a.m dropped anchor at 12 noon in Falmouth, 140 days out.
26/8/08 Started heave up, bound Hamburg. 12 noon, Channel pilot onboard.
27/8/08 Heavy SW Gale, Isle of Wight abeam 0730.
28/8/08 South Foreland 0415, Goodwin Ship 0800, Foresheet carried away.
29/8/08 During night, WSW Gale, running under 3 lower topsails.
30/8/08 Gale moderated, took pilot on board 2 am., tug Sunferon following, bound Hamburg.
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Voyage 177 ended at Split

ON A BLEAK cheerless morning in early January the Manchester Progress sailedquietly out of her home port for the last time. Voyage 177, starting as so many before, would end when she beached at Spllt, Yugoslavia, as so much scrap metal.
Scrap she was to become, but her final voyage proved she was still very much ship to the end. After her useful, and at times exciting, career she possibly felt she deserved her retirement. Her farewell performance was admirable.
She made the canal passage in record time, negotiated the Bay of Biscay uneventfully and, as we basked in the warm sunshine of the North African coast, January in Halifax, N.S. and St. John, N.B., seemed far away places indeed.
When you are used to plying the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean gives you a feeling of Manchester's Deansgate in rush hour. Gone were the long watches with nothing sighted; here vessels of all descriptions were with us day and night.
The sandy coastline of North Africa gave way to the rocky, wooded shores of the Adriatic, and on the morning of 15th January, we entered Split harbour in weather conditions which put Manchesters' reputation to shame. As we berthed in wind and torrential rain the American vessel Tyson Lykes passed to berth ahead of us and as she did so, we were hailed with shouts of "just like number Nine Dock", which caused great amusement.
Medical and Customs' formalities were quickly dealt with and money and shore leave arranged. For the next thirty-six hours we lived on board until shifting to the breaking-up berth early on the Monday morning.
At precisely 0930 hours 17th January, 1966 I rang of the engines for the last time and 1100 hours saw the Manchester Progress formally delivered. Finally parting company with a ship is not the happiest of occasions.
An hour later found Officers and crew comfortably housed in the Hotel Marjan, a tall modern building overlooking the old harbour and town of Split, where, under the unusual role of tourists, we spent the remainder of the day exploring.
During the voyage, which was singularly full of interest, there was much speculation about means of transport to be provided for the flight home. Suggestions ranged from Boeing 707's to D.C.3's, all of which proved to be wrong. At a very early hour next morning, fortified by a continental breakfast (not to the delight of all), we left by coach for Dubrovnik. The route was along a precarious mountainous coastal road, occasionally treacherous and, once, non-existent owing to landslides following the heavy rain. We finally made the Airport and boarded an Airspeed Ambassador which brought us via Amsterdam to Manchester.
After a very interesting voyage, the flight home proved a pleasant conclusion.

Capt. N. W. Cockshoot.

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Peter Cullen submitted this gem. It highlights how conditions have changed since 1933 !

We have received from Commodore G.R.Thompson, a 38 year old wage docket he received as a Liner's apprentice in 1933. It reads as follows :-

1 months at £1 per month £1 0s 0d
13 days at 8d per day £0 8s 8d
Extras l s. per month £0 1s 5d
Postage £0 0s 1½d
Health and Pensions Insurance      
Contribution for 6 weeks ) £0 4s 6d
Unemployment Insurance      
Contributions for 6 weeks) £0 2s 6d
Cash on leaving Ship      
TOTAL DEDUCTIONS exclusive of      
Allotments (as above) £0 7s 1½d
without deducting Allotments £1 2s 11½d
FINAL BALANCE £1 2s 11½d

Extract from M.L. NEWS Vol 12 No 1 March 1972 - and they talk about the good old days!

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the gold-headed cane

The following information is from a book called The Gold-Headed Cane, published by the Port of Montréal Authority, who kindly gave us copyright permission to use it on the website. I am sending photo copies of the basic information about the award, and will type in the information on the award to Manchester Liners, because of the size of the file my scanner produces.

David S Lever

© Port of Montréal Authority - copied by kind permission.
© Port of Montréal Authority - copied by kind permission.
© Port of Montréal Authority - copied by kind permission.
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Pay Rise 1960

How incomes have changed. I was Second Mate when we got married in 1966 and my wife used to take £5 per week for housekeeping, this included her buying two joints of meat each week.

Derrick Howarth



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Kindly sent into us by Adrian Goode


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Thought you might be interested in this discharge certificate for inclusion in your website.
This gentleman is my wifes grandfather.

William Bullar


The certificate is for Mr Hamilton Blakely Mc Kinley born, in Dumbarton 1876, who joined the ship as a Cattleman in Montréal on 23/8/1907 and was discharged in Manchester on 6/9/1907.

Many thanks to Mr Bullar for sending a copy of this certificate into us.

Certificate of Discharge from S.S. Manchester Importer 1907 kindly sent in by William Bullar
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Good enough for a museum

S.S. Manchester Merchant (1) - Boer War Transport No: 92
Photo: Unknown

This photograph, sent in to the Website by Donald Pedlar, has been presented to the South Australian Army Museum, is of the Manchester Merchant (1), serving as Boer War Transport No; 92. It was taken at the Ocean Steamers Wharf at Port Adelaide.

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