Posts tagged with 'merchant navy'
Liverpool liner SS Ceramic sunk on 6 December 1942.
At first families back home in Liverpool were oblivious to the horror that had befallen their loved ones.
On November 23 1942 my grandmother watched from Crosby beach as Liverpool liner SS Ceramic left the River Mersey. Her husband Fred was aboard working as a steward. Clutching her three-month-old baby, Annie Felton waved the ship off, unaware that this would be the very final farewell.
The 18,400 ton Ceramic was launched in 1912 by Harland and Wolff in Belfast. She was the first ship built by White Star Line after Titanic and spent her years sailing the Liverpool to Australia route. Read more…
30 August 2012 by Sarah Starkey
Whilst remembering the contribution the merchant navy has made, and continues to make, to Britain, you may be tempted into a little family history research on your seafaring ancestors.
Merchant seafarers are well documented compared with other professions. Most of the records are held at the National Archives although to complicate matters the documentation changes over time as each system set up by the Board of Trade was overwhelmed by the growth of Britain’s merchant fleet. The Maritime Archive & Library has an information sheet that explains how to track the records down. Read more…
29 August 2012 by Rebecca
The Red Ensign or “Red Duster” is the offical flag of the British merchant marine (or fleet)
Sunday 2nd September marks National Merchant Navy Day which commemorates the 40,000 seafarers who died whilst in Britain’s Merchant Navy during the Second World War.
Those seafarers ranged in age from 14 years old to 78 years old, and also included 8,500 Asian seaman and seafarers from across the World who served in the British Merchant Navy.
The 3rd September marks the day when war was officially declared between Britain and Germany, and the nearest Sunday to this date is usually chosen to commemorate National Merchant Navy Day. This year the 2nd is the closet Sunday, and there will be a midday service at Our Lady & St Nicholas’ seafarers Church in Chapel Street, Liverpool.
After the church service there will be a parade from the Pier head, please see the link for details. Read more…
4 May 2012 by Stephen
8 March 2012 by Sarah Starkey
This is an entry from a wages book for a voyage on the Blue Funnel vessel Anchises beginning in August 1922. It might not look significant, but it is. This is the first voyage of Victoria Drummond, signed on as 10th Engineer and paid £12 a month. Drummond was the first woman to qualify as a marine engineer and she managed to have a successful career at sea despite encountering prejudice and discrimination. She was awarded the Lloyd’s Bravery Medal and an MBE for heroic actions during the Second World War when her ship Bonita was bombed. More information about her life can be found online here and the Maritime Archives & Library holds a copy of her biography. Her pioneering life is also remembered by the Victoria Drummond Award given by Nautilus, the Merchant Navy Union, to women whose achievements boost the profile of women at sea. Read more…
5 January 2012 by Stephen
At this time I was a 19-year-old junior reporter staying in lodgings at Preston while taking a block release course in practical journalism.
We did not have access to a TV so listened to the news reports on the radio. The war was one of the shortest in history but created major disruption to shipping.
The Suez Canal was closed for eight years, forcing operators to change their routes and commercial strategies.
The canal, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, opened in 1869 and slashed journey times between Europe, the East and Australasia.
The Six Day War and the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict resulted in an Egyptian blockade of the canal and shipping lines assumed correctly it would remain closed for a very long time.
The huge bulk oil tanker Titan was one of many Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) designed during this period when operators knew they could not use Suez. They were too big to go through the canal but their large size made them more cost-effective for travelling the extra distances.
Oil transportation was one of the most profitable shipping sectors at the time. When OPEC (the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) quadrupled oil prices in 1973 it triggered a worldwide slump in shipping.
Titan was built in 1970 in Gothenburg, Sweden, and registered in Liverpool with the famous Blue Funnel Line (Ocean Steam Ship Company).
There is a superb six-foot long model of the 113,551- ton tanker on display in Merseyside Maritime Museum (pictured).
Titan only sailed under Blue Funnel colours for five years before being sold to Mobil Oil in 1975. Just seven years later she was sold for scrap in South Korea.
By 1982, when there were 577 VLCCs in the world, it was found that 326 of them including Titan were surplus to requirements.
Photographs show other VLCCs of the era including a deck view of BP tanker British Admiral about 1970. The main engine room of the British Mariner shows crew members dwarfed by enormous pipes and machinery.
Titan was the fourth and last Blue Funnel ship to bear that name. The first Titan was built in 1885 by Scott & Co of Greenock and broken up in 1902.
The second Titan, built in 1906, was torpedoed and sunk in 1940 by the German submarine U-47 with the loss of six lives.
The U-boat was commanded by Günther Prien, a notorious ace who sank more than 30 Allied ships including the veteran British battleship Royal Oak. Titan was the 18th vessel he sent to the bottom.
This is an edited version of the Maritime Tale that originally appeared in the Liverpool Echo.
Many ships survive attacks in wartime and stay afloat and I like this story because the ship concerned was obviously built to last.
Some ships have a certain look about them – this is one reason vessels hold a great deal of interest to lots of people.
Eight men died in the torpedo attack by a German U-boat submarine but the ship stayed afloat – and went on to survive a second attack later in the First World War. Read more…
1 September 2011 by Sarah Starkey
Merchant Navy Day is celebrated on 3rd September, to commemorate the contribution the merchant navy has made, and continues to make, to Britain. There is a special service being held on Sunday 4th September at St Nicholas’ Church, Liverpool at 12pm.
This cartoon is taken from the wartime log kept by merchant seafarer Peter Rogan while he was a POW in Milag Nord during the Second World War. More images from the diary are on our website in a small online exhibition. With so much merchant navy history to cover, this is just a small example of the service given and hardship suffered by merchant seafarers, plenty more information is available in the records held by the Maritime Archives & Library or on display at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. Read more…
7 June 2011 by Lisa
I think this story illustrates how timing and quick-thinking can create major shifts in events.
In wartime things move very quickly and often with momentous consequences. I have often wondered what would have happened if war leaders had made different decisions. So often the individual plays a key part in the drama.
The controversial sinking of a British liner just hours after start of the Second World War and the foundering of a German U-boat submarine are strangely linked. Read more…
Seventy years since the May Blitz, the spirit of Pitt Street lives on.
Seventy years ago this month, a devastating aerial bombardment struck Liverpool, ending lives, demolishing homes and displacing whole communities. It is in tribute to “the spirit of an unconquered people” that Liverpool’s Anglo-Chinese community were part of the effort to keep calm and carry on, piecing back together not just buildings but homes and livelihoods.
Pitt Street, 1915, shaped by tall converted warehouse buildings and cobbled streets, stretches out under the constant watch of St Michaels Church spire, busy with dozens of Chinese businesses, from boarding houses to grocers and tobacconists. This was the birthplace of Liverpool’s Chinese community, the destination for seamen from all over the world including Spain, the Philippines, Italy, the West Indies and Scandinavia – to name just a few. To the people who lived and grew up there, this was ‘world’s end.’ Pitt Street was the place to go, bustling with shops and cafes all within easy reach of the docks. Kwong Shang Lung was one of the city’s earliest grocers to specialise in Chinese food, trading from 1915 until the bombs fell in 1941. Read more…