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Posts tagged with 'battle of the atlantic'

Surviving the TSS Yorkshire sinking

6 March 2017 by Ben

TSS Yorkshire painted by Ernest Barrett. 1987.118.3.37

TSS Yorkshire painted by Ernest Barrett. 1987.118.3.37

The maritime history department at Merseyside Maritime Museum have recently collected an object connected to the sinking of the TSS Yorkshire in 1939.

TSS Yorkshire was built in 1920 by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the Liverpool based Bibby Line.  The ship was on her way to Liverpool from Rangoon as part of the allied convoy HG-3.  The Dixon family had joined the ship at Gibraltar, including brother and sister Cyril (aged 15) and Maureen (aged 8), and their mother and father.  On 17 October, 1939 the convoy was in the North Atlantic 160 miles off the north-west coast of Spain.  That afternoon the convoy was attacked by the German U-boat U-37.  Yorkshire was hit and sank with the loss of 58 lives.  Read more…

The City of Benares legacy 75 years on

20 October 2015 by Jen

John Baker holding a page from a newspaper

City of Benares survivor John Baker holding a copy of his local paper in which he was interviewed. Picture taken on his recent visit to the maritime Museum.

One of the great things about working on projects around events within living memory is that often they prompt people to come forward and talk about their own experiences or family story. At a 75 year remove, with most of the children not from the local area, I wasn’t sure how much impact our City of Benares feature would have in this respect but I was pleasantly surprised. Some people got in touch to say they’d known or knew people who had been on board, a representative of the Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade (SVLB) made contact to say they were marking the 75th anniversary with a service and small display, and one of the child survivors even turned up at the Maritime Museum for a chat.  Read more…

‘Back from the dead!’ The amazing survival story of Lifeboat 12

25 September 2015 by Jen

HMS ANTHONY rescuing survivors from lifeboat 12 © IWM (CH 1354)

HMS Anthony rescuing survivors from lifeboat 12 © IWM (CH 1354)

The sinking of the City of Benares is a story with few bright spots.  Horrific loss of life, particularly amongst children, makes for grim research. There are stories from the tragedy that show the full strength of human endurance, two teenage girls clinging on to an upturned lifeboat for 18 hours through the night in freezing waters and managing to survive, a 7 year old boy who survived the night on a raft amongst sleet and hail and choppy seas. One story of endurance however was only realised 8 days after the sinking, when a further 45 survivors were discovered.  Newspaper headlines described them as, ‘back from the dead’.  Read more…

75 years since sinking of ‘Children’s Ship’ City of Benares

14 September 2015 by Jen

Mural showing Michael Rennie, children's escort in the lifeboat with child from the City of Benares. Copyright The Parish Church of St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Mural showing Michael Rennie, children’s escort, in the lifeboat with children from the City of Benares. Copyright The Parish Church of St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the loss of the City of Benares, torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in the North Atlantic during the Second World War.  What makes her loss stand out amongst the many lost merchant ships however is the 90 children she was carrying.  They were travelling under the government’s CORB (Children’s Overseas Reception Board) scheme to evacuate children away from a Britain facing the Blitz, and the ever growing possibility of invasion, to the safer shores of the Dominions, particularly Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.  Read more…

Recognition for those who served on WWII Arctic Convoys

18 May 2015 by Jen

Brenda Shackleton holding her Father's Artic Star

Brenda Shackleton holding her Father’s Arctic Star.  Image courtesy of Brenda Shackleton.

Last December I blogged about Brenda Shackleton’s fight for greater recognition of the remarkable story of the Merchant Navy Rescue ships and their vital contribution to the Second World War. Men of the Merchant Navy, including Brenda’s father Bill Hartley, crewed these small coastal vessels following the Allied convoys from 1940 onwards, with the sole purpose of rescuing survivors should any of the ships be torpedoed. It was a dangerous and difficult task but their actions succeeded in saving the lives of 4194 men throughout the Second World War.

The ships on all the convoys suffered high risks and terrible losses but there was one particular convoy route described by Churchill himself as:

“The worst journey in the world.”

Read more…

Rescue Ships addition to Battle of the Atlantic gallery

4 December 2014 by Jen

Brenda Shackleton on gallery with new Rescue Ships panel

Brenda Shackleton on gallery with new Rescue Ships panel

Many people are familiar with the important role the shipping convoys played during the Second World War and the dangers they faced to keep Britain supplied. Shipping provided all the oil, half of all the food, and most raw materials required by Britain. By 1939 this was 55 million tons of food and raw materials per year. The convoys were famously escorted by the Royal Navy, who worked hard to offer protection to the vital shipping, but there was another group supporting them whose role is less well known. Read more…



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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.