WAR AND PEACE
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Commemorating

The Battle of the Atlantic 1943-1945

 

 
 

The Battle of the Atlantic

The Diaries of Joseph Hart

Document archive
 
  Organisational Convoy Chart HX348 3rd April 1945   War Losses Ice Collisions
6th August 2014
Remembering 100 years ago today
R A Lloyd
 
Follow the photograph links for text relating to that particular ship
 
 
 
Torpedoed & sunk in Convoy OB 218 by U137 W off Main Head, Ireland 54º53N 10º22"W - 58 lost
 
1939-1945 Requisitioned by the Admiralty as a minelayer & an Auxiliary.
Photo: Manchester Liners
 
Photo: Manchester Liners
 
 
 
Torpedoed & sunk in position 5 50N 2 22E off Accra ,W.Africa by U508 on 9th July 1943 - 15 Lost
 
With paravane boom fitted

Photo: John Slavin Collection

 

Photo: Charles Downs - Ted Gray Collection

 
 
 

Anchored in Bedford Basin Halifax Nova Scotia

 
With barrage balloon behind main mast
Photo: © National Maritime Museum London - P23333
 
Photo: © National Maritime Museum London - P23334
 
 
 
Torpedoed March 27 1916 west of the Coningbeg Light Vessel
 
7th June 1943
Photo: Unknown - Ray Lloyd Collection
 
Photo: © National Maritime Museum London - P23335
 
  Manchester Merchant (1) - Boer War Transport 92
 
Boer War Transport No. 92
 
Painting: Attributed to Reginald Arthur Borstel (1875-1922)   
Photo: © National Maritime Museum London - G30
 
Courtesy of The British Mercantile Marine Memorial Association
 
  Manchester Port (2)
 
Torpedoed & sunk in Convoy ON 166, by U628 45º10"N 43º23"W, E of Cape Race - 36 lost
 
Dressed overall possibly for the Armistice 1918
Painting: Dr Nick Robins
 
Photo: Ted Gray Collection
 
Manchester Port (3)   Manchester Progress (1)
 
Entering the Manchester Ship Canal
 
Off Cammell Laird's Birkenhead
Photo: © National Maritime Museum London - P23337
 
Photo: © National Maritime Museum London - G3943
 
Manchester Regiment (1) Manchester Shipper (2)
 
Lost in convoy collision with S.S. Orepesa S.W. off Cape Race - 04 Dec 1939.
 
Underway, rigged with anti-torpedo nets
Photo: © National Maritime Museum London - P16575
 
Photo: © National Maritime Museum London - P23339
 
  Manchester Trader (3)
 
Scuttled as Normandy block ship 1944 part of Gooseberry Harbour No 4 - Juno Beach
 
At anchor in the River Mersey
photo: John Slavin collection
 
Photo: © National Maritime Museum London - G3944

BOER WAR

Manchester Merchant (1) was completed by Palmers of Jarrow in February 1900 and then immediately requisitioned by H.M. Government for service as a transport vessel during the Boer War and is flying the defaced blue ensign of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and displaying her official No: 92 on both bows and quarters.

Manchester Corporation was used during the South African War the vessel as a troopship carrying 500 troops and 400 horses without loss.

   

Manchester Shipper (1)'s first trip as an emigrant vessel was in October 1901 sailing from Dunkirk and Bordeaux to Quebec carrying only 226 passengers including 9 first class!   Her final voyage on such a mission followed her Norwegian venture when in June 1902 she carried 2 first class and 233 steerage class from Le Havre to Halifax before resuming her normal routine.  Captain Robert Smith my wife’s Grandfather was Assistant Captain of Manchester Shipper (1) during the latter two years of the First World War after being torpedoed twice.  She saw the war out safely, and was broken up at Briton Ferry in 1930.

S.S. MANCHESTER SHIPPER (1) - 1900

R.A.Lloyd 

Whilst researching the maritime career  of my Wife’s Grandfather, and in particular his twenty years as an officer with Manchester Liners, an early  and seemingly little reported excursion into the emigrant carrying world came to light.   The activity affected only one vessel, but was the last ship commanded by Captain Robert Smith before he left the company and emigrated himself to Australia in the mid 1920’s.

In Norway around the turn of the 19th century there was a growing disillusionment within the younger working classes with the social conditions and the increasing rate of unemployment.   These conditions led to unrest, and with word of the much better standard of living on the other side of the Atlantic, the thoughts of emigration (something that had already been going on ) gained momentum in their minds.   A ticket on a normal service to New York was approximately 100 K, and with the average annual income of the male at that time at 220-300K, it would take too long to save for the passage, and for the unemployed it was but an empty dream.

In 1898 rich deposits of iron ore were discovered in the southern area of the Algoma district of Central Canada to the north of Lake Huron.   The Canadian Pacific Railway ran through the more central area of the district, but a railroad was required from the area of the iron deposits to transport it to Sault Ste. Marie, where it was the intention of the American industrialist FRANCES CLERGUE to build a steel mill.  In 1898 Clergue formed the Algoma Central Railway Co.   The area was not heavily populated, and the Algoma Co. could not recruit enough labourers for all the ongoing projects.   It was reasoned that because of the hard winters endured in these latitudes, Scandinavian immigrants would adapt themselves the better.   In particular Norwegians and Swedes were to be recruited, and that decision was applauded in the local newspaper as being a sound judgement. A total of about 2,000 men would be needed, and with the steady stream of immigration into the U.S.A. and Canada a company,‘Franco-Canadian Steam Navigation Company’ was formed, and in 1901 they chartered the “ MANCHESTER SHIPPER (1)”  for three transatlantic voyages, this to be the second of such.  She was slow and small in comparison to Cunard’s “SAXONIA” and “IVERNIA” and White Star’s “CELTIC” each of which had preceded her in the task of carrying emigrants across the Atlantic, and were after all built to carry passengers in some comfort.  “MANCHESTER SHIPPER” had ‘compartments’ for eight persons, two berths high each passenger being supplied with a straw mattress and a woollen blanket, the vessel herself not being capable of more than 12 knots.  In letters home to relatives passengers described the passage as “not much of a pleasure” which is hardly surprising when the vessel was said to have “hordes of lice”.    A local newspaper in Kristiania   (Oslo) described conditions on board as “not looking too bad”.  At least “MANCHESTER SHIPPER” was virtually brand new (built 1899) and probably had not carried multiple cargoes of coal by then!!  The meals aboard left a bit to be desired by Cunard and White Star standards.  I imagine three meals a day would be the norm on most immigrant ships, and on “MANCHESTER SHIPPER” according to a passenger writing home on arrival said the weather had been  “nice, but the food was not edible“. The menu was not to the taste of the Scandinavians.  For breakfast at 8-00a.m. they had a small slice of bread without butter and a cup of coffee.  Dinner at noon must have been eagerly awaited, as it was the highlight of the day in the culinary sense when they had pea  porridge and a piece of pork the size of a finger (one wonders which finger as it might mean the difference between life and death) sometimes with potatoes.  Supper at 6-00 p.m. consisted of ‘greyish water’ which went for tea, and biscuits and a microscopic lump of butter.  No red wine which had been promised, those with money could buy wine for a Norwegian Krone and in the afternoon at the same cost you could buy a plate pie.

The advertisement inserted in the Kristiania newspaper was printed in the “SOCIAL DEMOKRATEN” on the 5th March 1902, and read as follows. “Free passage to North America and guaranteed good paid work is now offered to men who can and will work.  As only a limited number is required, those who want to take advantage of this offer should immediately address the Algoma Commercial Company’s representative E.Koefod who will soon be at Raadhusgaden No 14,II, where more information will be provided”.

The 6th March saw crowds at the stated address to learn more, and were somewhat shocked to hear the ‘small print’.   The passage was not strictly “free” as they had to sign to work for the company, which according to a law of 1869 was illegal.  The U.S. stated that it would certainly be illegal there.   The working day would be 12 hours, and workers would have to go where directed by the company, be those factories, mines, lumber camps or anywhere else.   In the days following however 512 signed up, average age 24, with only 200 listed as labourers.  The contract was for a year, when they expected to have earned 50-60 $ and will then be free to go to the U.S. if so desired.                                           

On Saturday 6 April 1902 large crowds awaited the “MANCHESTER SHIPPER” but disappointedly left when she failed to show up.  Next morning Captain Goldsworthy brought in “MANCHESTER SHIPPER” to dock at the new pier at Vippetangen.  She had arrived from Antwerp with about 300 Italian labourers aboard allocated space in the forepart of the ship.  A newspaper reporting the scene said “It sets our mind to a huge amphitheatre, just that the scene was the ship’s deck, and the audience numbered at about 12,000 was crowded together on the pier, on the log tacks, and the hills of crushed stone, and on the ramparts of Vippetangen.  It was conjectured that each man must have five girlfriends judged by the number of young girls on the pier”.   After a while the light hearted exchanges between the Italians aboard, and the crowds took a turn for the worse, when instead of throwing biscuits and orange peel ashore, one Italian decided to throw a rotten orange which hit one of the Norwegians ashore full in the face.   The reprisals came in the form of snowballs and ice from the boys ashore, and when the supply of rotten oranges was exhausted, the Italians took cover below decks. The next morning saw a calming down by both parties, as the Italians emerged on deck, many wrapped in their blankets against the chill morning air.   None of those already on board were permitted to go ashore, and it must be said they looked a dishevelled lot dressed in their tattered clothing.   Those on the shore did what they could to ease the obvious discomfort, throwing small gifts and tobacco on board which the Italians fought over.

As the Norwegians boarded the vessel  and after the registration of them and their luggage, they were to be inspected by the state physician.   This consisted of every man sticking out his tongue for the M.O. to conduct his ‘medical’ much to the amusement of the recipients who referred to it as  ‘the meat control’.   Finally a gospel according to St.Luke and a prayer book was given to each man and by 4-00 p.m. boarding was completed.  As might be expected, when some men had been drinking throughout the day, and now with 800 young men and no women aboard, and the 300 Italians now having to share their hitherto spacious run of the ship, had now to suffer some restriction of movement and fights flared up here and there.   Nearing departure time a young wife ran up the gangway and demanded the police help look for her husband, claiming that he intended to  “abandon his country and beloved friend” Having located the man his wife triumphantly marched him ashore, much to his total embarrassment  I’m sure!    

Captain Goldsworthy was finally able to cast off at 7-45 p.m. with the help of a local tug accompanied by cheering and chanting from those on the quayside, the ship responding to the occasion by blowing her steam whistle, and releasing half a dozen rockets.  Once out in the bay anchored,  approximately 50 of the recently boarded emigrants left the ship by means of a host os small boats surrounding the ship.   Many went to the local police station complaining that they did not feel safe aboard and demanding better security.   Captain Goldsworthy stated he would sail on schedule even if the absconders had not returned to the ship.  In the event, the departure was delayed for some time.

Departure for Halifax Nova Scotia took place finally on the 8 April 1902, but two days away from her destination on the 19 April, the Norwegians demanded that Captain Goldsworthy  return to Kristiania.   This demand was of course resisted and the ship docked early on the 21 April at Halifax where the 384 Italians and 300 tons of cargo (mainly glass) were to be off-loaded.   The remaining Norwegians and Swedes were to remain on board for the remaining short journey to St.John New Brunswick… After being confined to the “MANCHESTER SHIPPER” for upwards of a fortnight, they almost to a man swarmed ashore and “livened things up” and earned the reputation of being one of the roughest crowds ever brought here, and the Captain of the steamer is not over anxious to take them any further”  (Halifax Morning Chronicle Tuesday 22April 1902).  The same newspaper reported on the following day that  “A special train left at 1-30.a.m. yesterday carrying the Scandinavian steerage passengers who came by the,  “MANCHESTER SHIPPER” for the Clergue works at Saulte Ste. Marie and the Algoma Central Railway.  There were 467 passengers on the train.   The other passengers for different points left at 8.00.o’clock Monday evening.  The next Manchester steamer will bring about 700 passengers”.   The train journey to Sault Ste.Marie. Would take three days, but by all accounts the men were treated well in comparison to their conditions on the ship.

The Norwegians proved to be good workers, in comparison to those they largely replaced, (mainly Italians) and it was agreed by the employers that two ‘Northmen’ were worth three Italians.   The wages were $1-50 per day and the fare of 125 NoK had to be repaid over an agreed period of time, but after three months there were only 50 or so  workers remaining as most had evaporated over the border with the U.S.A.   The Algoma Company said they would recruit no more workers from Kristiania as they had not behaved well.

“MANCHESTER SHIPPER’s first trip as an emigrant vessel was in October 1901 sailing from Dunkirk and Bordeaux to Quebec carrying only 226 passengers including 9 first class!   Her final voyage on such a mission followed her Norwegian venture when in June 1902 she carried 2 first class and 233 steerage class from Le Havre to Halifax before resuming her normal routine.  Captain Robert Smith my wife’s Grandfather was Assistant Captain of  “MANCHESTER SHIPPER” during the latter two years of the First World War after being torpedoed twice.  She saw the war out safely, and was broken up at Briton Ferry in 1930.

  SS.Manchester Shipper (1)  
 
Photo: Norwegian Heritage Web Site- http://norwayheritage.com
 

The picture shows “MANCHESTER SHIPPER” at the port of Kristiania  (Oslo) ready to take on board the Norwegian emigrants in 1902, and is reproduced with the kind permission of  the Norwegian Heritage web site.  http://norwayheritage.com

   

FIRST WORLD WAR

6th August 2014

Manchester Engineer (1) and Manchester Importer 6th August 1914

Remembering that today 100 years ago Captain Robert Smith and Captain P. Linton and their vessels were requisitioned to transport men, horses and stores to France for the conflict ahead.

Captain Linton and Manchester Importer did this successfully until May 20 1918 when torpedoed in mid Channel, but got his ship safely to Southampton.

Captain Smith and Manchester Engineer was successful until she caught fire in March 1915, but was repaired. In June 1915 she was diverted to transport goods and supplies from the more familiar U.S.A  ports, but was lost on the third of such voyages being torpedoed (without loss of any lives) by U44 off the south west coast of Ireland.

R.A.Lloyd

   

This is an EXACT transcript of an original document from the late Captain J. Barclay, which has been passed down to his nephew Captain Peter Cullen. The punctation and spellings have been retained to preserve its authenticity.

MANCHESTER LINERS

FIRST WORLD WAR

Manchester Engineer during third trip from U.S.A. with supplies was torpedoed off Waterford on 27.3.1916

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Manchester Importer was requisitioned two days after war was declared and landed her first cargo of "Old Contemptibles" to the Western Front at Havre on 17.8.1914. Kahki was not available, and troops went to France in their scarlet jackets and busbies and continued doing this until she was torpedoed on 20.5.1918 was under the command of Capt.P.Linton and managed to reach Southampton safely.

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Manchester Commerce on 26/27.10.1914 was sunk by a mine off Tory Island and was first ship to be mined. One lifeboat was launched and the master, Capt Payne and other crew m embers were preparing to launch another lifeboat when the ship sank, within seven minutes of striking the mine. those left on board had to jump into very rough sea; some made it to the first lifeboat, but the captain and thirteen others drowned. Fleetwood trawler City of London put into Carnlough Bay Co Antrim with 30 survivors.

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AT outbreak of war Austrian Lloyd had a vessel on the stocks; this 11-knot ship was taken over, completed by the Liners and named Manchester Hero. Under command of Capt Perry, she was pursued and shelled by a submarine off the West Coast of Ireland but escaped through volunteers in the stokehold whipping her up to a speed of 16 knots, from which effort, it is said, she never fully recovered.

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12.11.1915 Manchester Merchant (Capt.E.W.C.Beggs and Chief Officer (later Capt) H. Brown en route from Canada saved 15 men from the Brazilian barque Storeng foundering in a gale.

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Manchester Engineer (Capt.R.Smith) was sunk 27.3.1916

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Manchester Inventor (Capt.H.Williams) sunk off Ireland on 18.1,1917

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Manchester Citizen (Capt.J.E.Everest) sunk26.4.1916 in Atlantic.

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Manchester Trader(ex-Archenbloe) engaged a submarine in a running fight in the Mediterranean berfore being sunk- Capt.F.D.Struss and Chief Engineer W.R.Stobo received the Distinguished Service Cross. 4.6.1916.

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Manchester Miller (Capt W.A.Caldwell) sunk 190 miles N.W. of the Fastnet with the loss of eight lives 5.6.1916

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During First World War liners adopted the ruse that if a ship was sunk another ship was aquired and given the same name. So when the enemy received a report from his agents that the Manchester Inventor had been sunk off the Irish Coast in January, it became very difficult to reconcile it with a report that the same ship(actually ex-Celtic King) had arrived at Archangel on4.6.1917, to be sunk again on 30.7.1917.

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The second Manchester Commerce(Capt.R.Smith) was sunk on 29.7.1917. Bought in 1916 as the King only made one voyage to Archangel, and the Mediterranean.

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The Nation was acquired and became the second Manchester Engineer (Capt.Owens) and did a trip to Archangel. on her return was sunk off the Tyne on August 16.

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Manchester Spinner (Capt.W.A.Caldell )made two trips to the Mediterranean on Government Service in 1916,and in 1918 delivered supplies to Salonika. On her way home from the Far East was sunk in the Mediterranean by an enemy submarine on 22.1.1918 and was liners last casualty.

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liners could give as well as take June 1917 Manchester Port en route to Canada beat off submarine attack with gun fire.

The new Manchester Division on her maiden voyage from West Hartlepool to join a convoy at Plymouth rammed and sank a German submarine off Flamborough Head.

   

Near the end of WWI, the Manchester Exchange carrying 220 cavalry horses was struck by a heavy gale during which 78 animals were lost overboard or had to be destroyed.

   

Captain J. Barclay's Diary Continues:

1918-1939

8.12.1929. Manchester Regiment (Capt.Philip.Linton ) steamed 60 miles through a gale to reach sinking Glasgow steamer Voulmnia. Alifeboat was launched manned by Second Officer (now Captain) W.H.Downing, Third Officer now Captain )E.W.Espley, Bo'sun J.Bromage, Able Seamen J.Stringer, Patrick Kearns, H.Childlow, J.Manins and Mr.R.P,Ziegler, passenger, and saved the crew of 45. On returning home the King awarded the Silver Medal for Gallantty in Saving Life at Sea to officers and crew of the lifeboat.

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1938 Manchester Regiment collided with and sank the Clan Mackenzie in Liverpool Bay

   

SECOND WORLD WAR

1939 Manchester Producer sold and became the Botway and was sunk by U-Boat on 26.7.1941.

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At outbreak of World War 2 the liners fleet had Manchester Brigade (Capt.F.L.Osborne); Manchester Citizen (Capt.G.M.Mitchell ); Manchester City (Capt J Barclay );Manchester Commerce(Capt.J.E.Riley); Manchester Division (Capt.E.E.Bonnaud); Manchester Exporter (Capt.G.S.Ronald);Manchester Port (Capt.F.D.Struss); Manchester Progress (Capt.P.Linton ); Manchester Regimeny (Capt.W.E.Raper );Manchester Spinner (Capt.F.Clough )

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Proceeding westbound without navigation lights in the winter of 1939 the Regiment (Capt.W,E,Raper. ) was sunk by the Orepesa-which vessel had been detached from an eastbound convoy for special duty-unfortunately with the loss of nine lives.

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On 26.9.1940 Manchester Brigade (Capt.F.Clough) was torpedoed ans sunk by U-137 Kapitanleutnant Wohlfarth. Only 4 survivors.

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On 30.11.1942 Manchester Division received a signal while on her way to Table Bay to proceed to the Dunedin Star which had been beached on an isolated and rugged coast with very heavy swell and surf running. 43 members of the crew and 212 passengers,including 7 women and 3 children,had been landed ashore in an exposed position. For 3 days,breaking radio silence, the Division stood by and 40 crew and passengers were taken aboard and landed in Capetown.

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Manchester City (Capt J.Barclay ) became a naval auxiliaryminelaying "mother" ship until Dec 1940 when she was transferred to the Admiralty; later she was sent to the Indian Ocean, where she played her full part in the Far Eastern war.

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Manchester Progress (Capt J.Barclay ) returned independent of convoy in Dec 1941, from Rangoon, being one of the last ships to leave this port, and fortunately escaped damage from patrolling Japanese planes. After a further trip with supplies for the Eighth Army in the Middle East she returned to the Battle of the Atlantic and in 1942,under Capy Bonnaud, towed the motorship Forest, then a "lame duck", several hundred miles towards the safety of Iceland without a naval escort and under very difficult conditions.

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Manchester Spinner was mainly on the Western Ocean, but in1942 sailed on a 9 months trip with supplies to India, under Capt F.Downing. In 1944 she was sold for "special service" and under volunteer Capt F.Lewis led a line of blockships off the Normandy coast on June 7 1944, to act as a breakwater to assist the landing of troops ans stores on the beaches.

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Manchester Port under Capt.E.E.Bonnaud to the Middle East with supplies in 1941, and in Nov 1942,equipped as a troopship and with landing craft aboard she landed the first troops and stores on Apple Beach near Algiers.

She followed up with a second trip.

Also see: Organisational Convoy Chart HX348 3rd April 1945

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1941 Manchester Citizen (Capt.T.Makin ) took supplies for the Eighth Army and in 1942, under Capt.F.L.Osborne was one of the first ships to enter Bone on the North African Coast and was under fire almost continuously for 16 days and nights. After two further trips under Capt.Swales she proceeded to the West Coast of Africa and was sunk by U-508 Kapitanleutnant Staats on 9.7.43 with loss of 15 lives.

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Manchester Trader was launchedin 1941and under Capt E.W.Rapertook her part, usually as commodore ship, in the Atlantic, except for atrip to North Africa in Dec 1942 andanother to Bone in Sept 1943.

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The new Manchester Merchant was delivered in May 1940 and was on the North Atlantic service until Feb 1943 when on her return from Algiers she was torpedoed by U-628 Kapitanleutnant Hasenchar on 25.2.1943. there were 36 of the crew lost but Capt.F.D.Struss was saved after being in the water for some time and was awarded with the O.B.E. (Other Buggers Energy )

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Manchester Commerce played her part in the North African invasion, making two trips under Capt C.A.Walker. when commodore ship she was attacked by enemy aircraft off Gibraltar,three were brought down. In 1943 she made a further trip to Alezandria.Next trip was Syracuse then on to New York, from where Capt,W.H.Downing took her to India with mules; she spent most of the next year ferrying mules from South africa to India

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Manchester Exporter first under Capt. G.Ronald was also on the North Atlantic run. Under Capt. W.H.Downing, she was hit by a tanker in Belfast Lough in Dec 1942, and so much damage was done that only good seamanship saved her. Later under Capt. F.Downing. she took supplies to Syracuse for the Sicilian invasion and later supplies for Naples, which had just been captured.

   

POST WAR

A story about Sir James Knott, founder of the Prince Line, concerns an occasion when Knott met a group of cadets on the quayside at Newcastle and inquired,"What ship are you from my boys?""the SAilor Orince",-one of the Prince Line vessels-said one of the cadets."Well" said Sir James "I'm Knott". came the reply, You'relucky."

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Sailing in remote and icy northern regions in the 1950s involved not only the difficulties of serving rather primitive ports but also of being guided by an Eskimo pilot believed to be around 95 years old also blind, assisted as deputy pilot by his son a youngster of about 65."Legend has it that the son wouldsay"Onk Onk,Onk",meaning "There is a lone pine tree on the starboard bow" said Mr Stoker. Father would say "Oink" which meant "Put your wheel hard to port" "The ship would be steered like this for something like 34 miles.

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Another story from Northern Canada concerns John Killick head salesman who was in Savannah,Georgia, U.S.A. and was complaining about the heat. He was sent to the cold far North-- to Churchill on Hudsons Bay, joining colleague Harry Harrison,who was awaiting the arrival of the next Manchester Liners ship. Harrison, later to become manager in Vancouver, is the man, who after six weeks in Churchill earned immortality by sending his boss apostcard picture of an Eskimo woman smoking a pipe. Wrote Harrison, She is starting to look attractive. Please can I come home.

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Whisky was one of the most vulnerable conventionally-- shipped cargoes. Cases were easily opened, bottles taken and bricks of the right weight sugstituted. A case dropped on its corner would enable a bowler hat to be filled. A St john N.B.legend is that some people,knowing the exact spot in the shed where the whisky would be stowed, would go out on Sundays in a boat complete with a bathtub rowing underneath the shed. As the tide lifted the boat to the underside of the floor they would drill with an awl through the floor into the barrel,filling the bath-tub. The change to containers certainly cut pilferage.

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For some years after the First World War Manchester Liners carried up to 12 passengers in the cargo ships this ending after the Second World War as passenger airliners began to take over. On one passenger trip,the master, Cape Horner, Capt Foale, had been told to be specially politeto an important guest,a lady who while diningcould not get the salt out of the saltcellar. Gallantly,the captain said,"Let me help you madam". He picked up the salt cellar and blew down its top!

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When the Manchester Shipper and Manchester Pioneer were chosen to star in Shelagh Delaney's novel "A Taste of Honey", it was not known that part of the plot involved a drunken seaman taking his girl friend on board, and also involving a drunken first officer! When the Premieretook place,the company had to take space in the programme to point out that Manchester Liners neither approved nor allowed such conduct.

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During the unofficial strke of seamen in 1960, directed more at officers of the union than the shipowners, the wives of strikers were given a breakdown of earnings of their husbands. It was not a popular move in some quarters. In an effort to keep matters good humoured, Mr Stoker offered a "Kentucky breakfast" to any seaman who had received lessthan a certain figure on a trip.A"Kentucky breakfast" is a bottle of whisky and a steak- you give the steak to the dog! An argument developed over whether " Sundays at sea money" should be included. Compromising,Mr Stoker presented a bottle of rum,which was promptly raffled by the unofficial strke committee as"the managements personal contribution to the strike fund. On hearing of this ingenuity,Mr Stoker commented "Thank goodness I didn't offer 200 bottles of whisky".

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During a visit to Canada, the Russion leader Kosygin expressed a wish to see the Manchester Liners Container Terminal at Montreal. Mr P.V.O.Evans and Mr Stoker- who was carrying a shooting stick and wearing a Sherlock Holmes hat- went there to meet him. A posse of police arrived on motor cycles, then a car with the flag of the lilies of Quebec, out of which stepped Port manager Monsieur Guy Beaudet, followed by a car bearing a hammer and sickle motif, carrying Mr Kosygin and his aides. M Beaudet and Mr Stoker exchanged cordial greetings. Mr Kosygin pointed at Mr Stokes and said with some disfavours: " That is an Englishman?""Yes", said M Beaudet.

"But you seem very friendly with him" said Mr Kosygin. "Well he's a nice chap" said M beaudet.

Mr Kosygin then said "Yes, but what is he doing here."

M Beaudet relied: "He runs his ships up here."

" Do you charge him less than you charge me?" asked Mr Kosygin.

Mr Stokes felt he really ought to intervene so he said. " Now, Mr Kosygin you see all those containers stacked up there? I painted them red especially for you. And you might as well know that our strong ice-strengthened ships come up the St Lawrence breaking the ice for yours that come along behind- and we don't charge you anything".

Mr Kosygin immediatly burst out laughing. This at first seemed puzzling as all the conversation was being translated by an interpreter into Russian.

However it transpired that Mr Kosygin had started his working life as an apprentice with Platt Brothers in Oldham, and knew English perfectly!

The party then became quite informal and friendly.

As a tailpiece to this story,Mr Stoker wasin Greece some time later when he was invited on board a Russian cruise ship as a guest of the head of the Russian Merchant Marine, to whom he said, "By the way, I was talking to your boss the other day."

"But I haven't got a boss" the Russian replied.

Mr Stoker explained that he was referring to a"chap called Kosygin" to which the reply was, "Oh, you mean God!"

Evidently, Russia is not entirely an atheist country.

   

WAR losses

Manchester Liners Fleet List lost in two World Wars

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Manchester Trader built 1890. (ex-Parkmore ) Bought from E.D.and Co Ltd and 1913 renamed Ferdinand Melsom. Resold 1915 to Westfal Larsen ( Norway ) and renamed Kaupanger. Torpedoed in the Mediterranean Dec 13 1916.

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Manchester Commerce built 1899. Mined off Tory island Oct 27,1914

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Manchester Engineer Built 1902. Torpedoed Mar 27 1916 West of Coningbeg lightvessel.

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Manchester Inventor built 1902. Torpedoed off the Fastnet, Jan 18 1917.

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Manchester Spinner built1903. Torpedoed South of Malta Jan22 1918

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Manchester Miller built1903.Long time charter to Watts, Watts and Company renamed Fulham in 1905. Back to Manchester Liners in 1908 as Manchester Miller. Torpedoed June 5 1917,190 miles N.W. of the Fastnet.

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Manchester Port built 1904. Sold in 1925 to H Vogemann Hamburg and renamed Vogesan. Mined off Vinga May 7 1940.

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Manchester Mariner built 1904.Mined in English Channel Dec 4 1917, but towed in.Sold in 1925 to Finland; became Mercator. Mined and sunk S.E.Buchan Ness, Dec 1 1939

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Manchester Citizen built 1912. Torpedoed Apr 261917 N.W. of Fastnet.

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Manchester Civilian built 1913.Sold to Greece as Tasis in 1933.Taken by Vichy France at Dakar in June 1940 and renamed Equateur. Taken over by Italy in 1942 and renamed Bari.Lost by air attack at Naples Aug 1 1943.

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Manchester Hero built 1916. Sold in 1937 to B and N. Shipping Company and renamed St Winifred. Sold to Italy in 1939 as Capo Vita. torpedoed west of Lampedusa Island Mar 9 1941 by British Submarine.

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Manchester Trader built 1902. Purchased from ( ex Archenbloe ) Purdie Glen and Company, Glasgow in 1916. Sunk by submarine gunfire, June 4 1917, in Mediterranean, off Pantellaria.

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Manchester Engineer Purchased in 1917 ( ex nation ex Craidvar ) from W Thaner and Company, Liverpool for the one lost above in this year. Torpedoed Aug 16 1917 North Sea of Flamborough Head.

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Manchester Inventor (ex Celtic King ) Sunk by submarine gunfire in North Sea N.E. Muckle Fluggs July 30 1917

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Manchester Commerce Purchased about 1916 (ex King ) . Torpedoed N.W. of Cape Spartel July 1917

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Manchester Brigade built 1918 . Torpedoed West of Malin Head Sept 26 1940.

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Manchester Producer built 1918. ( ex Start Point ) Sold 1939 Botwey (Board of Trade) Torpedoed N.W. of St Kilda July 26 1941

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Manchester Spinner built 1918. Purchased (ex Grampian Range ) from Furness Whithy April 4 1921 sunk Normandy Beaches as block ship for Mulberry Harbour June 1944

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Manchester Regiment built 1922. Lost in convoy collision with steamer Orepesa S.W. of Cape Race Dec 4 1939.

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Manchester Citizen built 1925. Torpedoed and sunk S.E of Accra July 9 1943.

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El Argentino built 1928. Aquired half interest. Sold in 1937. Sunk by air attack N.W.of Lisbon July 26 1943

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Manchester Merchant built 1940. Torpedoed Feb 25 1943 East of Cape Race.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

   

PERILS AND RESCUES AT SEA

Extract from Part 4 - Manchester Liners 1959 - 1984, By Robert Burdon Stoker

© 470 February 1985 of "Sea Breezes" with their kind permission.

Through two World Wars and intervening years of peace the vessels and crews of Manchester Liners have been involved in their share of hazards and deeds of heroism. The 25 years from 1958 to 1983 were no exception.

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During the early 1960s the Manchester Progress and Manchester Faith played a vital part in rescuing passengers and crew of a Constellation airliner which had ditched in mid-Atlantic, the former acting as a relay station for the rescue operation while the latter a far smaller vessel, picked up some of the survivors from rafts, 48 out of a total of 76 being saved.

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In August 1967 the Manchester Exporter was some 450 miles off Northern Ireland when there was a fire on board, apparently caused by chemicals in the cargo. In the after hold were drums of sodium peroxide and one had apparently spilled some of the contents. The chemical reaction on making contact with organic matter — whether rope, dunnage or skeleton case — was to cause spontaneous combustion. The after hatch was blown off.

Capt. L. Taylor and his crew fought the heat, fumes and smoke from 05.10 hours until 13.50 hours. Some of the crew were in the poop and had to reach the centre castle by means of the tunnel escape. Unfortunately, the exertion was too much for one of the engine staff, Mr. McVeigh, who suffered a heart attack. The Manchester Merchant and Manchester Faith were among the vessels standing by.

Finally, the Manchester Exporter was able to proceed under her own steam to Belfast and the 12 passengers who were on board were flown on to their destinations.

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A year later a similar fate befell the Manchester Miller in New York when loading chemicals. Before the fire was put out Capt. A. G. Rowlands found himself host to 200 firemen, 42 appliances, two fire tenders and attendant tugs.

With water at 500 lbs per sq. in. from eight-inch hoses and holes cut in the side of the ship to put out the fire and with the ship settling on the bottom at a seven-degree list, there is little doubt that if it happened at sea the Manchester Miller would have been a total wreck.

However the ship, with almost the whole of her after accommodation destroyed, was taken to Todd's Shipyard, temporary repairs were carried out and, with a smaller crew living in the passenger accommodation, the vessel came home via the Azores for permanent repairs.

The crew quarters were not replaced, the crew continuing to use cabins built for passengers. It meant that the vessel provided superb comfort for the engineers.

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In 1969 a fire developed in the cargo of the Manchester Merchant bound from the USA. On board was a full cargo and a number of passengers.

The fire, reported at 02.00 hours in No. 3 hatch, forward of the funnel and aft of the bridge, seemed to be developing in bales of nylon, the cause — although never completely established — possibly being due to friction of steel bands on the nylon bales.

The flames were soon 6ft high accompanied by a very nasty smell. The crew, wearing smoke helmets and breathing apparatus, played hoses on the flames. The fire was very close to oil fuel and preparations were made to abandon ship but, after seven hours, the blaze was extinguished, thanks to the fine efforts of Capt. D. S. Millard, his officers and crew, and the vessel sailed to Halifax.

The nuclear ship Savannah — the first atomic merchant ship of her kind — and the Rotadyke had answered distress calls, the Savannah standing by until the end of the emergency.

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In December 1974 a "Mayday" call from the Canadian motorship Jennifer off Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in Lake Michigan, sent the Fortuna on a course 30 miles across the lake to help. The Jennifer's cargo of steel had shifted, causing her to heel over 40 deg. gradually righting to a 25 deg. starboard list, and the vessel was rolling heavily in 10 ft. waves.

The wind was blowing at gale force out of the North East over Lake Michigan on the night of November 30, when the Fortuna sailed from Burns Harbour, bound for Cleveland with a cargo of containers.

Capt. H. M. Bunker reported later that the vessel, fighting through short, steep and nasty waters, was "ducking and weaving like a heavyweight boxer" At 23.00 hours the distress call from the Jennifer was received.

By 01.10 hours the Fortuna had reached the Jennifer which was still heading North East at six knots although her starboard bulwark was under water and heavy spray was sweeping the decks. Slowly, her list in-creased. Just after 04.00 hours a US Coast Guard helicopter took off four crew members.

The Fortuna fired a rocket line but it parted. At 05.00 hours the Jennifer's captain decided to abandon ship. The Fortuna, the Venus and a Spanish freighter Monte Zaraya all closed in. A lifeboat pulled clear of the stricken ship which settled by the head and then plunged down.

The Fortuna drifted to the lifeboat which had 11 men aboard. They scrambled up nets and the pilot ladder. One man fell back into the boat. The Fortune launched one of her own boats so that the man could climb into it and be hoisted aboard on the davits.

US Rear Admiral J. S. Gracey commended the Fortune's captain and crew for their expeditious actions, responsible for saving the 11 men. None of the Jennifer's crew was lost.

On August 21, 1978, the 17,385 ton Seatrain Trenton (ex-Manchester Vanguard), out on charter, not only rescued two people from the stranded yacht Desert Princess but also saved the yacht, earning a letter of commendation from the US Coast Guard.

The container ship was en route between Tokyo and Los Angeles when Capt. P. D. Cullen was told of a distress call that a 26 ft. yacht adrift with two people on board with little food and water remaining. Contact was made with a Starmaster US Coast Guard reconnaissance aircraft which reported that the Desert Princess was only about 40 miles away.

Course was altered to the yachts indicated position and, as the sun was setting, radar contact was made at a distance of 7½ miles. The yacht, on passage from Hawaii to San Diego, had been drifting for four days with smashed steering gear.

The husband and wife crew on the yacht, from Arizona, were brought on board the Seatrain Trenton and then the yacht itself was lifted on to the big ship's deck.

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Rescue assistance which not only hit the headlines but was also featured on television news bulletins was given in 1982 by the new Manchester Challenge when she went to the aid of the Greek tanker Victory.

The Victory, on her way from Florida to Liverpool with a cargo of molasses, had broken in half in a Force 12 gale when 800 miles off Land's End. The Manchester Challenge en route from Montreal to Felixstowe, received the Victory's distress call at 00.29 GMT on Friday, February 12. Ship's master Capt. John McKay. still on duty because of the weather, said: We were about 95 miles away. Because of the weather we couldn't head straight for the Victory but we reached her by mid-afternoon. It took us 12 hours.

"The sight was amazing- Only 100 ft of the 500 ft. long 12,480 ton Victory remained afloat — the bridge, radio room, crew's quarters, engine room and a few feet of deck. Huddled on the hulk, which was "bobbing about like a cork" were half of the crew including the captain.

A Belgian cargo ship the Potomac had been trying. without success, to get a line aboard. She pulled away for the Manchester Challenge to try. Third mate Colin Eke fired one of the vessel's four rockets and got a hit the first time. The Greeks collected the line, but because of the weather, it parted. A second shot missed. The third shot was successful.

Said Capt. McKay: We wanted them to heave in the line so that we could pass a stronger one, attach a raft, into which they could put half a dozen men and we could heave them back.

They were reluctant to leave the ship and get into the water. We could understand their thinking. After all, 13 fellows in the bow section had abandoned ship and not been seen in the mountainous seas. They wanted helicopters.

By the time we got the second line aboard it was towards 17.00 hours and getting dark. We knew the Dutch Navy would not get there until daylight and their helicopter couldn't be in action till then.

"But they were right, weren't they? The maxim is to hang on to the biggest, thing afloat and that's just what they did "

As night fell, Falmouth rescue headquarters in Cornwall asked two ships to stand by. The Potomac proceeded, the Manchester Challenge and the Dusseldorf Express stood off a short distance away, the former keeping on their searchlight to provide a bit of comfort.

Around midnight the Greeks asked the Manchester Challenge to come back. The hulk was listing badly. Apparently three men had taken to the water, not to be seen again.

We fired our last rocket — and missed" said Capt. McKay. But the list became stabilised and the weather was improving. It was down to gale force."

In daylight the Dutch frigate Van Speyk arrived. A Lynx helicopter from the frigate managed to airlift the remaining 17 men — one unfortunately found to be dead when brought on board the frigate — and the Greek captain, last to leave his ship.

After a search for survivors — none being found — the Manchester Challenge went on to Felixstowe. Capt. McKay had been hard at it without sleep for 48 hours. not only directing operations but also, when pressures eased, talking to journalists by radio telephone, explaining what was happening. His account was broadcast on TV networks, synchronised with amazing film shots of the scene taken from an RAF Nimrod aircraft.

Thanks were received from the Greek Government. from the owners of the Victory, from Falmouth rescue headquarters — and the Victory's Greek captain.

   

Manchester Spinner (2)

Scuttled in 1944 as a part of Gooseberry Harbour No 4 off Juno Beach. Normandy.

See Port Winston Then and what remains now - Chris Howlett Head of Seabed Data, UKHO

   

Manchester Engineer (1) 27 March 1916

A  Brief  Encounter - Sinking of Manchester Engineer (1) 27th March 1916 by U-44

R.A. Lloyd

The 27th March 1916 dawned with a dead calm sea and good visibility off the south east coast of Ireland as U-44 commanded by the thirty-two year old Commander Paul Wagenfuhr cruised lazily on the surface after a night of charging her batteries as a steamer came into sight. Paul Wagenfuhr assessed the black hulled vessel with dark grey superstructure, noting that she was heavily laden, and with no identification markings.  After making all these observations it was prudent to dive and prepare to attack    U-44 had only been in her allotted patrol area a matter of days, her only success thus far had been the sinking of the Russian barquentine “Ottomar” two days previously, and he had the captain and crew aboard who were becoming something of an embarrassment consuming the limited supplies of food that a U-boat could store on a patrol. Remembering the furore caused by his fellow U-boat Captain Schwieger when he had torpedoed without warning the “Lusitania”,he had let her near sister ship “Mauretania” go on her way despite having her firmly in his sights, so the vessel  now in his sights was Wagenfuhr’s first ‘big fish’.

The ‘.big fish’ in question was a traditional ‘tramp steamer’ the “Manchester Engineer” belonging to Manchester Liners Ltd. of that city which had been, since the outbreak of war on the 4 August 1914 requisitioned by the government and was currently near the completion of her third return voyage between her home port and St.John, New Brunswick and Philadelphia carrying vital supplies for the increasingly beleaguered population of the British Isles.  The policy adopted by the Kaiser and the German high command was to gradually choke off the imports necessary to continue the struggle and to this end there was an increasing emphasis on the use of submarines, a virtually ‘new’ weapon whose potential was only just being recognised.  The requisitioned “Manchester Engineer” together with her near sister “Manchester Importer” had arrived in Southampton two days after the declaration of war to ferry troops and equipment across the Channel a task she had continued to perform until the need for supplies saw her diverted to the transatlantic voyages, a route she would have been more familiar with and which led to her unexpected rendezvous with Herr Wagenfuhr.

“Manchester Engineer”, built in 1902 on the Tyne had been under the command of fourty-two year old Captain Robert Smith of Maryport since July 1913  and was on the last leg of her journey some 20 miles west by south of Coningbeg light vessel which marks the dangerous Saltee Islands off the Wexford coast.  An experienced seaman Captain Smith had served his time on giant four masted sailing ships; his first voyage on the “Auchencairn”was that vessel’s maiden voyage and was from Cardiff to San Francisco taking 108 days including the rounding of Cape Horn.  He also had the distinction of serving on the first of the 183 ‘Turret’ steamers when in early 1897 he signed as an AB aboard “Turret” the first of the class, later signing on as 2nd Mate and later still as 1st Mate. He subsequently sailed on “Turret Court”, “Turret Chief” and “Turret Crown” in the latter two capacities; however none of this would have prepared him for the actions about to be undertaken by Herr Wagenfuhr.

The diary (log) of U-44 for the 27th March 1916 states; “South coast of Ireland, Wind west, dead calm, 2 visibility good. Steamer in sight. Dived and prepared for attack. Steamer is 6,000 tons, black hull grey superstructure, fairly heavily laden, no markings.  Bow torpedo fired.  Steamer down by the head. Crew leave the vessel in two boats.  Leave submerged, as shortly after shot two fishing boats approach.  Surface, in addition to the two fishing boats, another patrol vessel with two funnels appears alongside the steamer.  Steamer disappears from view listing heavily, and appears to be sinking.”  It was reported later by the captain of the barquentine that Wagenfuhr had tried to confuse the Russian and his crew by stating that he had sighted coastal lights indicating that they were off the Scillies, whereas they were actually off the south east coast of Ireland an intentional lie so as not to give away their position as it was his intention to off load his ’guests’ into the lifeboats of his next victim.  The Russian captain said that not only did he hear the torpedo leave the tube, but also felt the concussion when it struck its target.

The crew of the stricken steamer, (32 in number) boarded two lifeboats and pulled away from the danger.  Within a short time the armed trawler “HMT Heron“appeared and took the survivors on board.  It was soon realised that the vessel was not in immediate danger of sinking and the Skipper of the trawler and Captain Smith agreed that it was possible to attempt to tow the ship nearer the shore.  Captain Smith and a few of his crew went back to “Manchester Engineer” with a hawser and the trawler began to tow the steamer.  Having been alerted of the nearby incident another armed trawler “HMT Margate” hurried to the scene to render assistance.  With “Heron” towing the steamer stern first from the port quarter, Captain Smith and his party returned with another hawser from “Margate” to the starboard quarter. The intended destination was a sandy beach inside Hook Point and the two trawlers managed a steady tow at about 2 -3 knots.   An hour later, the sloop “HMS Lavender” arrived on the scene and offered to take over the towing duties, but Captain Smith sent a message that the joint tow by the trawlers was going well, and that to disturb matters would not help.  The sloop captain was content to let the tow continue, as steady progress was being made.  Unfortunately “Margate” got ahead of “Heron” and her propeller cut through the hawser, and the steamer quickly got out of control.  At this juncture the Commander of “Lavender” asserted his authority and took over the tow on her own with Queenstown being the destination.  After a short while another ‘Flower’ class sloop “HMS Laburnum” came up from the east and yet another visit by Captain Smith and some of his crew to their stricken vessel was necessary.  The two sloops commenced towing at 2-00pm with the two trawlers acting as escorts. At 3-30 the “Manchester Engineer” decided to have the last word, as a bulkhead appeared to give way under the pressure of the water, the two sloops had to hastily let go their towing lines and five minutes later she plunged beneath the surface into thirty-four fathoms.  By the time this was happening the four would-be rescuers had been joined by the Admiralty tug “HMS Stormcock” and another armed trawler “HMT Brock”.  All the 32 crew were then transferred to the tug and taken to Queenstown, then onward to Manchester next day.

After the Vice Admiral at Queenstown had  evaluated the logs, reports and depositions by all parties he issued what can only be interpreted as a mild rebuke to the two commanding officers of the sloops, stating that as the trawler captains had demonstrated, the policy with a loaded vessel and a smooth sea was to make for the nearest sandy shoreline until in about 10 fathoms, and he deemed that by keep stopping to change the towing vessels, they were endangering the safety of the four vessels and their crews from a possible further attack from  lurking U-boats, and that the plight of the stricken ship was made more acute by their actions.
This encounter started something of a ‘golden patch’ for the U-boat Commander,  as before the month of March was out, he recorded two of his career best kills in one day, when on the 31st he sank two ships of over 7,000 tons when he sent  “Goldmouth” and Blue Funnel’s  “Achilles” built by Scotts of Greenock in 1900 to the bottom some 90 miles  west north west of Ushant. His  ‘biggest fish’ was the Standard Oil Company’s 9,000 ton steamer “Narrangansett” which had been living on borrowed time after responding to the distress calls put out by the “Lusitania” ten months earlier, when she reported a torpedo missing her by eight feet, passing between her stern and the streaming log line!  Paul Wagenfuhr’s final haul was 24 ships sunk and a further 2 damaged, with the total tonnage amounting to 72,761.     U-44’s demise however was sealed when she tangled with “HMS Chagford”alias the Admiralty collier “Brackondale” the ‘Q’ ship who in an encounter off north west Ireland injured the U-boat seriously enough for seawater to enter the battery compartment which meant the release of chlorine gas and U-44 had to limp along on the surface, only daring to submerge for about ten minutes at a time.  Due to the interception by the Royal Navy of her radio messages to base it led to her ramming by “HMS Oracle” off the Norwegian coast with the loss of her entire crew of  44 officers and  men.

Captain Robert Smith on the other hand was given the command of more ships in the Manchester Liners fleet,  and went on to meet  Germany’s number two  U-boat ‘Ace’ of WW1, becoming another notch on that Commander’s belt, he did see out the war however, but there lies a whole new story for another day!

   

Manchester Commerce (2) 29 July1917

Manchester Commerce (II) encounters U-39 ~ or Robert Smith meets Walther Forstmann 29 July 1917

R.A.Lloyd 

This is a faithful interpretation of the factual report submitted by Captain Robert Smith of Manchester Liners to the Admiralty and the Board of Trade a few days after he and his crew were torpedoed some fifteen miles off the Moroccan coast as he attempted the most hazardous final few miles of his voyage from Cardiff to Gibraltar.   “Manchester Commerce (II)” was the vessel purchased by the Manchester Liners to replace the original   ‘Commerce’ mined off Tory Island two months into the war which was the company’s first casualty of the conflict.

“Manchester Commerce (II)” was originally “King” built for State Steamship Company in 1906 and was acquired by Manchester Liners and on her ‘maiden voyage’ for the company from Archangel to Cardiff, there to load coal and general cargo for the base at Gibraltar.  With a gun mounted in the bow two D.E.M.S. gunners were additional to the normal crew.   Approaching the ‘squeeze’ of the Straits of Gibraltar, and as per Admiralty instructions Robert Smith was steering a zig zag course at near top speed of nine knots.  When some 15 miles off Cape Spartel Morocco the two D.E.M.S. gunners in the fo’c’sle only saw the wake of the onrushing torpedo seconds before it struck below the bridge and the wireless operator’s cabin.  The Wireless Operator was eighteen years old Harold Sudell of Liverpool who was swept overboard by the upward column of water and drowned, Captain Robert Smith gave the order to abandon ship for the second time in his seafaring career.   Three lifeboats were successfully launched from the port side as Captain Smith instructed the occupants (35) to “row for the African coast”.

Hoisting the “Red Duster” on the foremast, and dumping the ship’s papers and code books overboard in a weighted bag,  Robert, his First Mate (W.Owen of Nevin ), and the Bosun (J.H.Collier of Plymouth) boarded a third lifeboat and followed his crew.  Without warning, and to the surprise of all concerned, “U39” suddenly surfaced almost beneath Robert’s lifeboat, an officer emerged in the conning tower, and in perfect English ordered Robert aboard the submarine to present his ship’s  papers.  After carrying out his bidding, Captain Smith replied that he had destroyed the log etc; the officer then ordered Robert to return to his lifeboat, simultaneously sending eight shells in as many minutes into his hapless quarry, sinking her within minutes.  “U39” submerged and was not seen again that day.  The three lifeboats were met a short time later by  Royal Navy patrol boat “90 “based at Gibraltar, to where the survivors were taken.

In the remaining days of July that year, U39 sank a further four vessels helping to bolster the total tonnage sunk by Forstmann in the conflict, and helping elevate him to the number two U-boat ‘Ace’ and second only to Lothar von Arnauld de la Periere with 384,000 tons sunk.  He was promoted two months later to Chief of the III  U-boat Flotille.  After the war he became a director of an industrial firm, and died in 1973 aged 90.

The picture below is of the incident referred to in the eyes of the author and  from an idea depicted by the German war artist Felix Schwormstadt. and from  reports and depositions made by Robert Smith as required by the Admiralty and the Board of Trade.    It is by the well known Liverpool professional aviation and maritime artist. Ossie Jones who was commissioned by the writer of the article.

As there appears to be no existing photographs or pictures of the original “King” or “Manchester Commerce”(II) from her short life, the actual steamer depicted is ‘of the Manchester Liner style’.

     
   
 
S.S. Manchester Commerce (2) - sinking by U 39 on 29th July 1917
 
 
Painting: Ossie Jones
 

 

 

ICE Collisions

S.S. Manchester Citizen (2) 03/07/1927   S.S. Manchester Citizen (2) 24/04/1929  
  S.S. Manchester Commerce (1) 01/11/1913   S.S. Manchester Corporation 29/07/1901  
  S.S. Manchester Corporation 06/08/1922   S.S. Manchester Inventor 24/07/1912  
  S.S. Manchester Port (1) 15/11/1899   S.S. Manchester Spinner (1) 16/05/1914  

S.S. Manchester Citizen (2)  
     
   
 
S.S. Manchester Citizen (2)
 
 
Photo: British Shipping Fleets
 
     
Data courtesy of: Brian T Hill - National Research Council Canada - Institute of Ocean Technology - St John's Nfld.
Original Source: New York Maritime Register, Newspaper
Date: 03/07/1927
Passage: Montréal to Manchester
Cargo:  
Location: Strait of Belle Isle and Approaches
Position: Lat 50º 30' N Long 58º 38' W, (Estimated)
Speed at Collision: Not known
Visibilty: Good, clear, low light
Sea State: Not known
Radar:

Not known

Damage Cause:

Grazed an iceberg in the Strait of Belle Isle.

Scenario: Glancing blow
Fatalities/Injuries: No
Damage Description: One port bow plate and 3 propeller tips damaged.
Damage Location: Propeller
Damage Severity: Denting
Damage Length: Not known
Damage Name: Propulsar
Iceberg Shape: Not known
Iceberg Size: Not known
Down Time: Not known

S.S. Manchester Citizen (2)  
     
   
 
S.S. Manchester Citizen (2)
 
 
Photo: British Shipping Fleets
 
     
Data courtesy of: Brian T Hill - National Research Council Canada - Institute of Ocean Technology - St John's Nfld..
Original Source: New York Maritime Register - Newspaper
Date: 24/04/1929
Passage: Manchester to Montréal
Cargo:  
Location: Grand Banks
Position: Lat 46 º00' N Long 53º 00' W, (Estimated)
Speed at Collision: Not known
Visibilty: Not known
Sea State: Not known
Radar:

Not known

Damage Cause:

Off Cape Race, hit iceberg in many places along starboard side below the water line.

Scenario: Glancing blow
Fatalities/Injuries: No
Damage Description: Rivets driven out 60 feet from bow on starboard side and began leaking. Arrived Montreal May 2.
Damage Location: Hull
Damage Severity: Puncture
Damage Length: 18 feet
Damage Name: Plate
Iceberg Shape: Not known
Iceberg Size: Not known
Down Time: Not known

S.S. Manchester COMMERCE (1)  
     
   
 
S.S. Manchester Commerce (1)
 
 
Photo: British Shipping Fleets
 
     
Data courtesy of: Brian T Hill - National Research Council Canada - Institute of Ocean Technology - St John's Nfld..
Original Source: New York Maritime Register - Newspaper, Evening Telegram 04-11-1913, Daily News 05-11-1913
Date: 01/11/1913
Passage: Montréal to Manchester
Cargo: General cargo, apples, cheese, deals and pulp.
Location: Strait of Belle Isle and Approaches
Position: Lat 51º 40' N Long 52º 38' W
Speed at Collision: 12 knots
Visibilty: 25 miles, Good, clear, low light
Sea State: Not known
Radar: No
Damage Cause: Struck a large low lying berg at full speed [12 kts?] 100 miles E of the Strait of Belle Isle early in the morning at 3 a.m. Weather clear and fine and lights could be seen for 25 miles (40 km).
Scenario: Not known
Fatalities/Injuries: No
Damage Description: Direct impact. Severe damage, bows crushed to forward bulkhead. Plates on port side bent over starboard. Leaking port side. Hole in starboard bow above waterline. Arrived St. John's November 4, repairs estimated at 2 months.
Damage Location: Bow
Damage Severity: Bow crushed
Damage Length: Not known
Damage Name: Plate
Iceberg Shape: Large
Iceberg Size: Tabular
Down Time 2 months

S.S. Manchester CORPORATION  
     
 
S.S. Manchester Corporation
S.S. Manchester Corporation
Photo: Claude Meldrum Collection
Photo: World Ship Photo Library
     
Data courtesy of: Brian T Hill - National Research Council Canada - Institute of Ocean Technology - St John's Nfld.
Original Source: Northern Shipwreck Database, Record 26984
Date: 29/07/1901
Passage: Québec to Manchester
Cargo: Not known
Location: Strait of Belle Isle and Approaches
Position: Lat 51º 45' N Long 54º 00' W
Speed at Collision: Not known
Visibilty: Not known
Sea State: Not known
Radar: No
Damage Cause: Hit submerged ice, likely in the Strait of Belle Isle.
Scenario: Striking concealed growler/bergy bit in waves
Fatalities/Injuries: Not known
Damage Description: No. 2 hold filled with water. Voyage completed with pumps constantly going. Arrived Manchester August 9.
Damage Location: Hull
Damage Severity: Hole
Damage Length: Not known
Damage Name: Plate
Iceberg Shape: Not known
Iceberg Size: Not known
Down Time Not known

S.S. Manchester CORPORATION  
     
 
S.S. Manchester Corporation
S.S. Manchester Corporation
Photo: Claude Meldrum Collection
Photo: World Ship Photo Library
     
Data courtesy of: Brian T Hill - National Research Council Canada - Institute of Ocean Technology - St John's Nfld.
Original Source: Northern Shipwreck Database, Record 26984
Date: 06/08/1922
Passage: Manchester to Montréal
Cargo: Not known
Location: Strait of Belle Isle and Approaches
Position: Lat 51º 36' N Long 56º 13' W
Speed at Collision: Not known
Visibility: Not known
Sea State: Not known
Radar: No
Damage Cause: Hit a berg in the Strait of Belle Isle.
Scenario: Direct Impact
Fatalities/Injuries: Not known
Damage Description: Bow damaged from forefoot to forecastle, stem broken, plates broken and twisted, anchors broken and lost.
Damage Location: Bow
Damage Severity: Crushed
Damage Length: Not known
Damage Name: Plate
Iceberg Shape: Not known
Iceberg Size: Not known
Down Time Not known

S.S. Manchester INVENTOR  
     
 
No photograph of vessel in collection
 
 
 
Data courtesy of: Brian T Hill - National Research Council Canada - Institute of Ocean Technology - St John's Nfld.
Original Source:

New York Maritime Register - Newspaper, Evening Telegram 30-07-1912,

Date: 24/07/1912
Passage: Montréal to Manchester
Cargo: 3000 tons of hay, provisions, wheat, oats and grain.
Location: Strait of Belle Isle and Approaches
Position: Lat 51º 57' N Long 54º 00' W
Speed at Collision: 5 Knots
Visibility: Poor, thick fog
Sea State: Not known
Radar: No
Damage Cause: Damaged by a growler when going slow 50 miles E of Belle Isle.
Scenario: Direct Impact
Fatalities/Injuries: Not known
Damage Description: Put into St. John's July 29 with forepeak full of water and water in No. 1 hold. Part of cargo had to be jettisoned.
Damage Location: Bow and tanks
Damage Severity: Hole
Damage Length: Not known
Damage Name: Plate
Iceberg Shape: Not known
Iceberg Size: Not known
Down Time Not known

S.S. Manchester Port (1)  
     
   
 
Ex S.S. Manchester Port (1) - S.S. Hydaspes
 
 
Photo: © National Maritime Museum London - N43242
 
     
Data courtesy of: Brian T Hill - National Research Council Canada - Institute of Ocean Technology - St John's Nfld.
Original Source: Lloyd's List - Newspaper
Date: 15/11/1899
Passage: Montréal to Manchester
Cargo: Cattle and grain.
Location: Strait of Belle Isle and Approaches
Position: Lat 51º 30' N Long 51º 40' W (Estimated)
Speed at Collision: Not known
Visibilty: Not known
Sea State: Not known
Radar: No
Damage Cause: Collided with ice in the Strait of Belle Isle.
Scenario: Direct Impact
Fatalities/Injuries: Not known
Damage Description: Starboard bow damaged, few plates gone, stem twisted, leaking badly. 300 tons of cargo jettisoned. Cattle uninjured beyond a few bruises.
Damage Location: Bow
Damage Severity: Crushed
Damage Length: Not known
Damage Name: Plate
Iceberg Shape: Not known
Iceberg Size: Not known
Down Time Not known

S.S. Manchester SPINNER (1)  
     
   
S.S. Manchester Spinner (1)
 
 
Photo: Ted Gray
 
     
Data courtesy of: Brian T Hill - National Research Council Canada - Institute of Ocean Technology - St John's Nfld.
Original Source: New York Maritime Register - Newspaper
Date: 16/05/1914
Passage: Not known
Cargo: Not known
Location: Grand Banks
Position: Lat 44º 00' N Long 49º 13' W
Speed at Collision: Not known
Visibilty: Poor, fog.
Sea State: Not known
Radar: No
Damage Cause: Touched an iceberg.
Scenario: Glancing Blow
Fatalities/Injuries: Not known
Damage Description: Slight damage to bows.
Damage Location: Bow
Damage Severity: Denting
Damage Length: Not known
Damage Name: Plate
Iceberg Shape: Not known
Iceberg Size: Not known
Down Time Not known
   
See also Wikipedia - Manchester Liners
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