John H Marsh Maritime Research Centre

Interesting comments in letters between the JMMRC and clients about ships in the collection

Jan 2007
Dronz Arigho
Dear Sir,
I wonder whether you would be able to assist me in researching the History of the following vessel registered in Durban . I have contacted the last known Owners "Unicorn Shipping" but regrettably my request for information was unanswered.

Official Number 351024
GRT 1765.75
NRT 967.53
IHP 1750
Intl Callsign ZSNN

The vessel was purchased I believe from Scandinavian Owners by Durban Lines sometime during 1960

In late 1963 the Vessel was sold to another South African Company "African Coasters Pty" managed and owned by Grindrod and Gersigney. The name was then changed to ss BOUNDARY.

The Master at the time Durban Lines owned the vessel was Captain WA Nichols (Known everywhere as Nick - remarkable man himself , his father was Master of a Clipper Ship running between the UK and Australia and Nick was born on one voyage from the UK to Australia) Captain Nichols was either the Durban Port Captain or Deputy before he retired and commenced working for Durban Lines sometime around the 1960/s

What became of the ss BOUNDARY after 1963?

Who were the Original Owners of the Vessel when she was built? I seem to recollect seeing at one time bed linen which was embroidered with the name of a Swedish/Danish Company beginning with L . I have tried to back trace to Scandinavia from the information , todate have met with no success.

I was the Radio Officer on board from 1963 to 1965.and am researching the history of the various Ships that I served on during my time at sea and somehow I believe that the past history of the ss SHERWOOD must be very chequered especially during the 1939-1945 World War..

Any information you may be able to provide (No matter how small) will be most appreciated

Thanking you in anticipation .

Dronz Arigho R/O ss SHERWOOD

Peter du Toit of the JMMC wrote in Jan 2007:

Dear Dronz
Perhaps the following summary history from "Unicorn - Navigating New Frontiers" by Brian Ingpen will assist you;
(As you may know there were up to 6 Unicorn ships named Boundary )
General Cargo Ship.
Tonnage; 2 825 dwt, Length 93.3 metres, beam 12.7metres.
1936 Built by Helsingors Jernskib-og Maskinbyggeri A/S Denmark, as "Laila" for J. Lauritzen, Denmark ( re L on bed linen ! )
1940 Sailed to Chile when Germany invaded Denmark.
1941 Taken over by Chilean Government; renamed Maude.
1946 Returned to owners
1957 Bought by Concord Line, Denmark; renamed Lilian Cord.
1961 Bought by Durban Lines, Durban; renamed Sherwood.
1962 Bought by African Coasters, Durban; renamed Boundary 2.
1966 Sold to Seven Sea Transport, Panama; renamed Golden Adorer.
1969 27 February, wrecked, Hsiangshan, Taiwan; scrapped in situ by Hsing Nan Engineering.
It was interesting to know that you were Radio Officer on board Boundary 2. Thank you for the details you have added to the above. We always value the personal experience side for our records.
Best Wishes
Peter du Toit

Aug 10, 2006
Tritonch wrote

Hi Thanks very much for the photo of the Silver Laurel. I have attached some info about her.

71m Silver Laurel-18/12/1944-Dodman Point 7.5 miles SE 50.07.45N 04.39.05W

Voyage - Falmouth - Hull. 6142 tonne. Steamship. Cargo - Cocoa beans, palm oil, timber, lumber, rutile, coffee, ramie, rubber. 136.76 x 17.98 x 8.08

When part of convoy no. BTC10 was torpedoed by the German submarine U486 (Meyer), but remained afloat for about 1 hour before sinking. (Wreck lies in 56m) Is oriented NNE / SSW Decca (SW chain) Red A 18.95 Green F 39.95

She was a defensively armed British general cargo ship of 6142 tonnes carrying a crew of 48, 10 gunners and 9 passengers from Douala and Falmouth to Hull. On 18 December 1944, she was torpedoed 7 ˝ miles off Dodman Point and sank an hour later. Her cargo consisted of 2949 tons of cocoa beans, 2423 tons of palm oil, 758 tons of timber, 303 tons of lumber, 317 tons of rutile (a mineral), 66 tons of coffee, 30 tons of ramie (a fibre for making fabrics) and 195 tons of rubber. She lies in 66m with the top of the wreck in 56m.

Operations information for U-486

6.11.44 - 9.11.44 First Sailing U-486 left Kiel under the command of Gerhard Meyer on 6th Nov 1944 and arrived at Horten on 9th Nov 1944 after three days

17.11.44 - 20.11.44 Second Sailing On the 17th Nov 1944, U-486 left Horten under the command of Gerhard Meyer and after three days arrived at Egersund on 20th Nov 1944.

26.11.44 - 15.1.45 Third Sailing - active patrol U-486 departed under Gerhard Meyer from Egersund on 26th Nov 1944 and arrived at Bergen on 15th Jan 1945 after just over seven weeks. Gerhard Meyer hit four ships on this patrol, two of these ships were in convoy: One was from convoy BTC-10 and one was from convoy WEP-3. On 18th Dec 1944 he sank the British 6,142 ton Silver laurel, sailing with convoy BTC-10. On 24th Dec 1944 he sank the Belgian 11,509 ton Leopoldville, a member of convoy WEP-3. On 26th Dec 1944 he sank the British 1,085 ton HMS Capel. On 26th Dec 1944 he fatally damaged the British 1,085 ton HMS Affleck.

9.4.45 - 12.4.45 Fourth Sailing - active patrol U-486 left Bergen under the command of Gerhard Meyer on 9th Apr 1945. U-486 was sunk on 12th Apr 1945


October 2008
Jean D. Cross wrote
I believe my father, Captain Reginald Cross,?was her captain for some years, but by 1944 he had married and was working in the New York office of Kerr Steamship Co., I did not know she had been sunk.? Do?you have any info on Captain Cross?

Jean D. Cross, Millbrook New York

Origin of the ship Kildalkey
July 12, 2006
Ethna Gillespie wrote

Can you tell me the origin of the ship Kildalkey? Was she named after the village in Ireland of the same name?

Ethna Gillespie

JMMC wrote

Dear Ethna
I can trace a certain amount of information on this ship but the records do not indicate directly that the name Kildalkey is derived from the Irish village of that name. I feel it is a safe assumption however to say that it is the origin of the name.

There were a number of ships built at that time bearing names prefixed "Kil.." The ship that was with Kildalkey in Saldanha Bay, was named KILFENORA - would that also be an Irish place name?

The record in Lloyds Register of Shipping 1927/28 gives us the following details;
Tonnage 624 tons gross - Built 1918 by Cochrane & Sons, Selby - Owners; Kergeulen Sealing & Whaling Co Ltd, - Managers; Irvin & Johnson (South Africa) Ltd. - Port of Registry, Cape Town, (British flagged )

There were many other famous names of ships gone by such as Kildonan Castle, Kinfauns Castle, Kildale, Kildrummy, Killarney, Kilmarnock, and surely they were all Irish place names as well.

At Saldanha Bay, South Africa, the Kildalkey and Kilfenora, a pair of former World War 1 "Q" Ships were used as tankers for seal oil from Kergeulen until the industry closed. There was a whaling station at Donkergat, at the southern end of Saldanha Bay, which operated its own whalers working seawards and with Irvin & Johnson in Cape Town. The Company also had its own pelagic factory ship, Tafelberg, quite an advanced development for for a concern which up to that time had been interested only in fishing and sealing.

Kildalkey was eventually laid up at Saldalha Bay and after breaking loose from her moorings was wrecked there in Nov 1936. A series of photos in our historic collection show Kildalkey still lying on her side wrecked two years later in 1938.. Those are pictures of her half-submerged.

Kind Regards

Peter du Toit

Ussukuma / HMS Ajax / HMS Cumberland / Brisbane Maru
March 30, 2006
JMMC to Dr. Hautmann

We are also pleased to advise you of our success in researching the required information concerning the liner Ussukuma and the action by the Royal Navy cruisers HMS Ajax and HMS Cumberland.

An article in a past Cape Argus Shipping Column has clarified the matter which reads thus;
"Now living in retirement in Cape Town is ex-Chief Petty Officer E. D. Redgrave who served 24 years in the Royal Navy and had the unusual experience of spending seven and a half years in one ship, the heavy cruiser, HMS Cumberland (1939 - 46 ).
While serving on Cumberland, his ship, with HMS Ajax, intercepted the German passenger liner Ussukuma in the South Atlantic on December 5 1939. The Ussukuma, well-known and popular in South African waters duly scuttled herself whereupon her 82 crew members were picked up by the Cumberland.
C.P.O. Redgrave was put in charge of the prisoners and being a kindly man, made every effort to ease their lot until they were transferred to a prison hulk at the Falkland Islands. Following the Battle of the River plate they were again embarked and landed at Simons Town.
Redgrave organized concert parties for his charges and was also the ship`s unofficial photographer and when they left he presented each of them with a picture of the ship endorsed with a good luck message.
In the 1960`s a German Officer who was a survivor from the Ussukuma, spoke highly of a certain Unter-Offizier Redgrave who had been like a family uncle to them. In the course of events, a reunion took place between the German Officer and CPO Redgrave at which he produced for Redgrave`s inspection the photograph he had been given so many years before and which was still in mint condition.
On board the Cumberland, the German crew members were overwhelmed by the generosity of the British sailors who plied them with gifts and comforts, including blankets to combat the bitter Falklands weather.
One prisoner who had spurned all friendly overtures, surprised a highly gratified Redgrave when on final departure he thrust into his hands a knotted handkerchief with the words "Fur diene Mutter "
Inside the handkerchief was a gold-plated ladies wristwatch. CPO Redgrave spoke with fond nostalgia of the German sailors committed to his care, describing the majority of them as being "damn good chaps ".
One, Otto Hauptman, a youngster of 14, inscribed a farewell message in his host`s pocket diary.

This wartime recollection came from the late Captain C.J.Harris, who was the regular correspondent for Cape Town`s major newspaper. The role played by the Brisbane Maru is still a mystery but it would seem to be likely that she had perhaps transshipped the passengers from the Ussukuma whilst at Lourenco Marques. The photograph taken of her in Cape Town with her Neutral Markings, in February 1940, adds to this assumption.


Helen Moller
27 Mar 2006
Kevin Stevens to JMMC
I am not sure if you can help me, but my uncle (Derrick Warren) was on the Helen Moller when it was sunk by U183 05/06/1944.
I would be very greatful if you could let me know if have a Photo of the Helen Moller which was previously the Sierentz, Plus any other info on her.
Myself my Mother (Derricks Sister) would like any info you have and would like to obtain a crew list as we do not know what rank he held on board the Helen Moller, He Survived this and made Captain in 1947 and later became a Trinity House Pilot.

Kevin Stevens

JMMC to Kevin

Thank you for your kind message and we are pleased that the photograph of the Sierentz (Helen Moller ) is to your satisfaction.
As requested, we have pleasure in enclosing some information from our researcher`s files on the history of the Helen Moller;

"A tramp type tanker, she was built in 1918 as a World War 1 Standard A O Type ship for the Shipping Controller. Named the "War Cateran", she was built by C. Connell & Co Ltd., and belonged to what was the most common class of all ship designs built in Britain during and just after the First World War. The urgent need for the construction of simply designed standard ships became apparent late in 1916 and the initial orders were placed that winter.

In 1920 she was purchased by L. Dreyfus & Co with her port of Registry being Dunkirk in France. In 1933 she had her last change of ownership, being acquired by the Moller Line, with port of Registry now being Shanghai under the British flag.

With the outbreak of the Second World War the Helen Moller reformed valiant war service but her luck finally ran out on 5 June 1944 when bound from Colombo for Fremantle in ballast, she was sunk by submarine torpedo. Out of a crew of 64 and 9 gunners, 4 seamen lost their lives."

Ship Specifications; Helen Moller; Gross tonnage; 5259 tons, Built; 1918. Dimensions; 400.9ft length, 52.3ft breadth, 28.5ft draught.


Anil Soni from Canada in July 2006 wrote

I just read a posting on your site from Kevin Stevens dated March 27, 2006 enquiring about the ship Helen Moller that was sunk by U183 on June 5, 1944. My father was a convoy officer on that ship and he also survived with injuries. I am a Master Mariner and presently with Transport Canada as a Senior Ship Inspector.
Richard Seivers in August 2006 wrote:-
Also noticed a posting on your site from Kevin Stevens dated March 27 2006.

My Father Eric Seivers was also on the Helen Moller that fateful night. He was at the time a PO and one of the DEMS gunners. Have attached an extract from a book which details the history of the Australian DEMS during WW 11.("DEMS What's DEMS?" By Alex Marcus ISBN 0 86439 012 2.)

After helping others off the sinking ship and before getting off himself, my Father spoke to the Captain. The Captain though able refused to leave with Dad as there were still men on board and he went down with the ship.

Richard Seivers

Vincent in Sept 2006 wrote:-
Hi, i have just come across your web page looking for more info on SS.Helen Moller, i have just aquired for my collection a box and codolence slip and 3 ww2 medals address to Charles Frederick Paull, who i believe was killed on the 5/6/ 1944, and was a Master aged 50, i would presume that he went down with the ship and was he in charge of the SS. Helen Moller??????

any info would greatly be appreciated, thank-you,


March 2007
Anil Soni wrote:-
I recently noted that a Richard Seiver contacted you from Australia in August 2006 regarding the Helen Moller. During my research about my father who was the third officer on the Helen Moller when she was sunk on June 5, 1944, I have confirmed that a Mr. Eric Seiver ( Richard's father) rescued many sailors including my father.


Wooster Victory
March 28, 2006
JMMC to Issie Bronstein

We thoroughly enjoyed reading the story of the Wooster Victory by Lionel Slier ( S A Jewish Report - February 2006 ) and are pleased that we were able to provide this historic photograph.

When we first detected this superb and unique photograph in the John Marsh Collection files, we approached the Jacob Gitlin Library in Cape Town for further information. Besides being most helpful, Dr Ute Ben-Yosef, the Chief Librarian, expressed amazement on being shown the image. A copy of the image has since been framed and the Wooster Victory is now prominently displayed in the Gitlin Library.

Furthermore we were given the address of Professor Jonathan Goldstein of the Department of Far Eastern History at the State University of Western Georgia. He is an authority on Chinese and Japanese history and has actually lectured on the Wooster Victory at the University of Cape Town.

As a result we have made contact with Professor Goldstein and at the same time we have forwarded a copy of the John Marsh photograph of the ship to him, to be used in forthcoming lectures at Oxford University, where he is at present. Professor Goldstein has informed us that he has written a book "China and Israel 1948-98" with published accounts of the ship`s voyage.

There is also an article reporting the refugees needs in the South African Jewish Chronicle (2 December 1949 ) "Wooster Victory in Cape Town Docks". A cable from the ship to the SA Jewish Community in Cape Town makes for deeply moving reading. This account you may require from us in addition.

The "Wooster Victory" is an absorbing account in South African Jewish history and the John Marsh photograph bears witness to this poignant event.


Gary Gawronski wrote in Sept 2006:
I've been trying to track down any information or photos of the ship 'Wooster Victory', which my parents arrived in Australia on in 1949. It departed Naples on June 30th 1949 heading for Western Australia.
I was wondering if you could help me, or point me in the right direction please. Any help would be much appreciated.
Thanks very much,
Gary Gawronski.

Atlanta/Stella Polare 1908
March 30, 2006
JMMC to Christian Klammi

We have received a reply from our Italian source, Mauro Millefiorini.
He writes; "Regarding Atlanta, he has one (photo) taken in 1936 in the port of Genoa. From the picture it is evident that the ship was being used to transport civil workers to East Africa.


JMMC to Mauro

We have received a request for photographic material concerning the Atlanta/Stella Polare, the details of which are as follows;


Her maiden voyage started 1 April 1908 when she left Glasgow for New York and on 16 Feb 1909 she started her first voyage Trieste-Patras-New York. Her sixth and last voyage on this service started March 1912 and she was then used on the South American routes. In 1915 she was sold to Soc. Importazione Carne, Venice, renamed Stella Polare and used on the South American meat trade. Later taken over by the Italian Government and managed by D. Della Porte and in 1917 operated by the Italian State Railways. In 1919 transferred to Cosulich Soc Triestina de Nav, reverted to Atlanta and used on the South America emigrant service. In 1935 made 15 voyages as a troopship during the Italian war in East Africa. 1937 transferred to Italia Soc Anon for their Trieste-Buenos Aires route, June 1940, interned at Las Palmas.

We would be most pleased to learn whether you have a photograph of this ship, either as the Atlanta or Stella Polaris in your collection ( or both ) or otherwise inform us to whom we could send this enquiry.

JMMC to Christian

Regarding the WESERMARSCH we have been able to gain more information from Lloyds Registers.

She was a 250grt ferry coasting vessel which was built in 1939 by Luhring Kirch, Hammelwarden.

Her owners were Kreis Wesermarch - Otto W A Schreiber, with port of registry, as Brake in Germany. Her dimensions were 98.4 length X 39.4 breadth X 7.9 draught. Oil engines, machinery aft.

U.S. Lines: American Builder
JMMC to Ed Hessek
Mar 2006
Ed Hessek wrote
I was a Navy radio operator on this ship, which was damaged on the way to Durban in September 1943. We docked in Capetown for 3.5 months for repairs.
JMMC to Ed
The only relevant details that we have is from Lloyds Register 1944-45;



JMMC to Allan
8 Mar 2006
The vessel was owned by A Reimann (A/S Motortramp) and was built in 1936.

Details of the TUREBY
Tonnage; 4400 tons gross
Dimensions; 363 ft Length X 56ft Breadth X 25ft depth
Machinery; Oil engines, twin-screw, 12.5 knots, 3000 bhp.
Builders; Burmeister and Wain 1936
Complement; A few passengers.

Kos 23
JMMC to Peter Honiball
7 Feb 2006
We have ascertained, to the best of our knowledge, that the Kos 23, a whale-catcher, approximately 353 tons gross, was built between 1936 - 1940.
The Sandefjord concern, Anders Jahre, were almost totally consistent, naming their catchers "Kos", the series starting with Kos 1 and running up to Kos 55. She would appear to be one of a group of nine boats built by Smiths in Middlesbrough.
After the withdrawal of the Army from Greece and the decision to leave Suda Bay, it was necessary to dispense with the fleet of small craft that had become available there as patrol vessels.

In the publication "The Mediterranean Fleet - Greece to Tripoli - Naval Operations April 1941 to January 1943" mention is made of these vessels which comprised the Crete Patrol Force. Of these four were converted whalers, namely Kos 21,22,23 and the Syvern.
With the exception of the Kos 21, all the remaining were sunk having served with distinction. There was little to choose between the individual ships service rendered as the remnants of the Crete Patrol Force. Finally on 20 May 1941, the Kos 23 was bombed and beached.
We have images of Kos 22 and 24 in our files for sale both were photographed in Cape Town November 1939 and April 1946 respectively.


"Graveyard of the Atlantic"
John Hairr wrote to JMMC
Jan 2006
I am currently gathering information about locales along the Atlantic seaboard that have been referred to as "Graveyard of the Atlantic" due to shipwrecks, etc.. I have been told that the area of coast along Namibia now called the Skeleton Coast has been referred to as "Graveyard of the Atlantic" for such reasons. Do you have any knowledge or information about places along the African coast that have been or are now called, "Graveyard of the Atlantic." Any help or advice will be greatly appreciated.

JMMC to John on 5 Feb 2006
Your article on the Graveyard of the Atlantic sounds interesting. As you mention, Skeleton Coast has been called a forbidding land and a graveyard of ships. In the book "Skeleton Coast" by John Marsh, it is also referred to as the "Coast of Loneliness"

The whole South African coast - "Cape of Storms" - is a treacherous one and close on a thousand wrecks have occurred along the inhospitable coast.

One of the most informative books is "Shipwrecks and Salvage" (in South Africa - 1505 to the Present) Author; Malcolm Turner. This is a comprehensive publication on the subject - with the entire SA coast being aptly known as a graveyard of ships.


S S Rothley Gary Rigg
Jan 2006
Hi there I have buried my granddad today due to unfortunate illness over the Christmas period, during the funeral service I was interested to hear details of his time during the war aboard the SS Rothley.
I was told by my family today that my granddad was sunk by a german uboat , he survived on a raft for 17 days with 38 others and was finally rescued, any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
Gary Rigg

JMMC to Gary
As requested we hereby furnish you with the required information concerning the War loss of the SS Rothley which was at the height of the Battle of the Atantic in which so many British and Allied ships were sunk with enormous loss of life.
We have based our research on a World Ship Society publication - "Stephens Sutton Limited" by John Lingwood and Leonard Gray.
ROTHLEY (2) 1936-1942. Lloyds Official Number 161598. Tonnage; 4996 tons gross, dimensions;
Length 423.3ft X Breadth 54.2ft X Draught 26.1ft.
Engined; 3 Cylinder Doxford oil engine, Twin propeller, Port of Registry; Newcastle.
December 1936 building completed by William Doxford & Sons Ltd, Sunderland for the Whalton Shipping Company Ltd (Stephens Sutton Ltd - Managers)
October 19, 1942; Rothley was bound from Durban on passage to Trinidad and New York. Sailing in ballast with no cargo, the vessel carried a crew of 42, including gunners. In position 13.34N 54.34W, the Rothley was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U332 under the command of Kapitanleutnant Liebe, with the loss of one crew member and one gunner.
This latter fact would tie in with your granddads recollection of having survived for 17 days with 38 other survivors.
A fine photograph of the Rothley(2) appears in the Stephens Sutton publication above. Please advise if you wish to obtain contact details.
POSTSCRIPT: The U-Boat responsible for the sinking of the Rothley was herself destroyed on May 2 1943 after being depth-charged by a RAAF aircraft of No 461 Sqn. Off the Scilly Isles.

SS Watussi
Judith Shopley
Jan 2006
Id like to find out who was also a refugee with my father, Jack Shopley(Jacob Schopfleisch) on this ship in 1936 from Germany. He disembarked in Port Elizabeth and went to live in King Williams Town.

JMMC to Judith
While we at the Marsh Research Centre do not have passenger lists available, we are aware that a book on German refugees has been meticulously researched by a certain lady from Namibia. We do recall that the majority of the immigrants came to South Africa and South West Africa on board vessels of the Deutsche Ost Afrika Linie/ Woermann Line, such as Watussi, Ubena, Pretoria and Windhuk.


5 Dec 2010
Roelof de Haan wrote:
Friedrich Hermann Voigt was also on that ship as engineer.
He was my wife's grandfather.
The whole story is in possession of my father in law.
Kind regards
Roelof de Haan

There might be other references to this ship also on this site

US Army Hospital Ship; USS Marigold
Nov 2005
JMMC to Cynthia
As requested we have pleasure in furnishing you with information on the Marigold.
The vessel started her career as the steamship "Old North State" for the United States Shipping Board, Philadelphia. The builders were the New York SB Corp, Camden, and listed as Yard No 244.
The ships details; Gross Tonnage 10 533, service speed 14 knots. 78 passengers, crew 117.
The Old North State was launched on 29 Feb 1920. Maiden voyage New York to London in December 1920. The liner was managed by US Mail Line.
In August 1921 the owners went into Liquidation whereafter US Lines took over management.
In May 1922 she was renamed President van Buren and thereafter in September 1923, was sold to Dollar Line, San Francisco.
In May 1924 the ship undertook her first voyage in a round-the-world service New York-Hawaii-Far East-Mediterranean-New York route.
As a result of a further shipping merger in 1938 the Dollar Line was taken over by the US Government and continued as American President Line. A further step was in 1940 when renamed President Fillmore.
With the attack on Pearl Harbour by Japan in December 1941 the vessel was requisitioned as a US Army transport.
In October 1943 work commenced refitting her as a Hospital Ship, with the conversion lasting until 1944.
In June 1944 she entered service as the US Army hospital ship USS Marigold.
At the end of hostilities in 1946 the Marigold was returned to the United States Commission, renamed again President Fillmore and laid-up.
In 1948 the vessel was broken up at Oakland by Kaiser Co.
We trust you will find the foregoing of interest.
Cynthia A. Walsh wrote in Sept 2005
I am researching the US hospital ship known as the Marigold (it may have been renamed the USS General O.H. Ernst on the return trip from Japan to the USA)

My late mother served on the [USS] Marigold and was head surgical nurse at the 42nd General Hospital. I would like information on the ship.

Cynthia Walsh

Roland Schmidt wrote March 2006
I came home from Japan on the USS Marigold.I was a patient at 42nd General in Tokyo with which was later diagnosed as TB.I was suppose to fly home on a DC3 airplane but was scratched because an officer had emergency leave.I left Japan in late November 1945.I always said I came home on the Waldorf Astoria because I was treated so well.

Roland Schmidt,Garner,Iowa

Mblanan wrote August 2006
I have the book on the Marigold, and it is quite complete, including the names of the permanent crew assigned. I was an ANC passenger bound for the Philippines, and spent 43 days aboard her.

The. story of the hospital ship Marigold began in Seattle when ...

Laszlo Torocsik
Nov 2005
I looking for informations about TAMIRA / STAMURA passanger ship. I'm interesting for the names of original Italien builder , owner , and Copmany , which used it . I think it was in the early 30's years . How I know , later changed the property : the Germans owned it , got an English torpedo , and finaly was decomposed in a Greek port .

I interesting for the earlier Italian story .

Laszlo Torocsik

JMMC to Laszlo
Here is the information you request about the 1] Shipbuilders and the 2] First Owners of this ship;

Central Office: Via Cipro 11, Genoa.
Shipyard Engine Works & Repairing Works: Palermo and Ancona.
Managing Director Eng. Carlo Antonio Calcagno
Dry Dock; (Palermo) Length 562ft, breadth at entrance 85ft, depth on sill 27ft.
Number of Berths; 11
Maximum Annual Output: 50 000 tons.
According to the Directory of Shipbuilders for 1967, the Company was merged on Oct 31 1966 with Cantieri del Tirreno to form Cantieri Navali del Tirreno. Riuniti.

Merchant Ships 1939/1940 by EC Talbot-Booth - the Company operated on a small fleet of 6 ships, mainly motor vessels aggregating 6200 tons. In 1939 their name changed from Adriatica to Fuimana Soc di Nav with their funnel markings being a white funnel, black top, red, yellow, blue bands.

South African Muslim pilgrims
Oct 2005
Regarding your interesting research concerning South African Muslim pilgrims traveling to Jeddah in the Middle East, we are able to furnish you with the following information;

1] The Union-Castle "Intermediate" class( e.g.Warwick Castle or Rhodesia Castle’ ) of passenger ship utilized two routes around Africa;

a) London, down the West coast of Africa to Cape Town, Durban, via the East coast, to Suez, Mediterranean, back to London, and

b) the second route in the opposite direction. It is felt that pilgrims would have been more likely to transship to one of the lines mentioned at 2] below at Durban for the voyage to Jeddah than travel Union Castle which did not have Jeddah on its normal north-bound chedule.

2] The shipping companies which covered the East coast from SA to Jeddah over the decades were mainly;

  • a) British India Steam Navigation Company,
  • b) Andrew Weir and Company
  • c) The German East Africa Line
  • d) John S. Latsis Line – a Greek operation.
  • e) N.V. Koninklike Maatschappei – Netherlands
  • Of interest is that an Italian liner, “Europa”, was sold to Ahmed Mohamed Baaboud of Jeddah to be used as a pilgrim ship between the East Indies and Mecca. It would appear that the shortest route to Jeddah was from Suez and Egyptian interests formed a shipping company for this purpose.


    We recall reading an article on such pilgrimage voyages and the hardships/long voyages endured by sea to reach the port of Jeddah.

    Peter du Toit

    jo linton
    Oct 2005
    JMMC wrote to Jo:
    According to our sources of reference, the Dutch liner Klipfontein struck a submerged reef, 5 miles from Cape Barra near Inhambane. This is confirmed by Arnold Kludas in his book "Great Passenger Ships of the World" Volume 4 (1936 - 1950).

    What may be of further interest to you is the following official statement issued by the Owners which appeared in the February 1953 issue of "The South African Shipping News" ;

    " From Press notices, you will have seen that our MV Klipfontein sank on the 8th January off Cape Zavora (Portuguese East Africa) after striking an uncharted obstacle. Contrary to one report, the vessel did not strike a known reef and was not within 1 mile of the Coast. She followed the normal trade route, about 2.5 miles off the coastline, in waters which, according to the latest Admiralty Charts, should at least be 20 fathoms or 120 feet deep. Surveys of the sea-bottom, which will in due course be undertaken, will show the exact nature and position of the obstruction which caused the Klipfontein disaster."

    We do not know if the findings of the Official Inquiry were made known in South Africa.


    13 Apr 2005
    Felipe Valdés Hansen to JMMC
    First, congratulations for your web page. It's fantastic.
    Well, I''m an historian of Spain and I need the photographs of the whale catchers HEKTOR I(other name UNI X) and the HEKTOR 2 (other name UNI XI).
    I prefer the photos in high res scan.

    JMMC to Hansen
    The photo of HEKTOR 1 was taken at Cape Town harbour early 1930`s with her factory ship "Hektoria" nearby.

    Re research notes on Polar Chief we advise;

    POLAR CHIEF (1946 - 1952 ) Tanker/Transport.
    Tonnage; 8091 tons gross.
    Dimensions; 445 long X 52 wide X 35 depth (feet)
    Engines; Triple expension, 3 cyl 3340 hp.
    Builders; Palmers Shipbuilding & Iron Co Ltd, Newcastle.
    Service speed; 12.25 knots.

    Aug 1897.
    Building completed as MONTCALM by Palmers Shipbuilding & Iron Co Ltd, Newcastle for British African SS Co (Elder Dempster Shipping Ltd, Managers) Liverpool.
    April 1903
    Sold to Canadian Pacific Railway Co, Liverpool, name unchanged.
    Oct 1914;
    Taken over by Br Admiralty and fitted out to resemble a Battleship
    Feb 1916;
    Sold to Frederick Leyland & Co Ltd, Liverpool, name unchanged.
    Oct 1916;
    Sold to Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co Ltd, London, for conversion to tanker and renamed CRENELLA.
    Oct 1917;
    Taken over by Shipping Controller. (Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co Ltd, Managers)
    26 Nov 1917;
    Torpedoed of SW coast of Ireland, but reached port.
    Nov 1919;
    Reverted to Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co Ltd
    Oct 1920;
    Sold to Veleta Steamship Co Ltd, London, name unchanged.
    Sept 1923;
    Sold to Chr. Nielsen & Co, Larvik, converted to whale processing vessel and renamed REY ALFONSO.
    Sold to HM Wrangell & Co, Haugesund, name unchanged.
    Sold to Anglo-Norse Co Ltd, Haugesund and renamed ANGLO-NORSE.
    Aug 1929;
    Sold to Falkland Whaling Co Ltd, Jersey, and renamed POLAR CHIEF.
    July 1941;
    Taken over by Ministry of War Transport (Christian Salvesen & Co, Managers) name unchanged.
    Nov 1941;
    Renamed EMPIRE CHIEF
    Aug 1946;
    Purchased and reverted to name POLAR CHIEF.
    29 April 1952;
    Arrived at Dalmuir for breaking upby WH Arnott Young & Co, demolition being completed by West of Scotland Shipbreaking Co, subsequently at Troon.

    An active 55 year ships career indeed.

    I hope you will find this historic account of interest.

    Regards, Peter.

    Commodore/Commodore 2.
    March 03, 2005

    From William

    Yes: You have the right one. Good work. I would like to have all 4 pictures. Thank you very much.

    JMMRC wrote

    Hi William
    Thank you for your enquiry. In order to make sure we are following the correct investigation after considering the following issues, could you please advise;
    - As it is your great grandfather are you referring to the 1800`s or 1900`s.
    - Our records mainly refer to "Commodore 2" built in 1919 of wood by J.H.Price Shipbuilding Company & Transportation Company, Seattle. Tonnage 1524 tons gross.. In 1945 it was purchased from the British Ministry of Transport & later sold in 1947 for breaking up. It is listed as a 4 masted schooner. Formerly "Commodore" ex "Blaatind". Owned by Atlantic Navigation Company (Pty) Limited, Cape Town. Co formed 1945, wound up 1947.
    Our photograph is of "Commodore 2" at Cape Town.
    Please let me know if you think this is the ship you want ( we have 4 different photos)

    Aquitania & HM Oiler Rapidol
    March 02, 2005

    JMMC wrote

    Hello George
    The image to which you refer emanates from this collection (John Marsh Maritime Collection). An examination of the negative and researchers notes reveals that the large 4 funneller is in fact the "Aquitania" being refuelled at anchor in Table Bay by HM Oiler "Rapidol", seen in the foreground. The date was March 26 1940, as the vessel was bound from the UK to New Zealand to help fetch the Anzac Expeditionary Force.Please let us know again if we can assist you with information/ photographs from this Historic collection.

    Kind Regards

    From Chris

    Have just received the photos you sent and am delighted with them....they really are just what the doctor ordered!!!

    They have capped a great week as far as research into the Lylepark is concerned.

    We visited the National Archives in Glasgow and was amazed beyond expectations. We found a dozen more photos of the ship whilst she was being built. Mostly deck scenes but some full length shots of her undergoing trials and being fitted out. We had to take photos of the phtots and had to make the best of a bad job.......They probably could develop negatives but they seemed very underresourced so we took our own. My uncle is an excellent photgrapher and his digital camera was allowed.

    In addition, we met with the son of the last Master of the Lylepark. Hamish Low has actual photographs of his father being picked upn out of the sea and being brought on board HMS Archer!!!!!!!!! I am sending you one where he has just been brought aboard. Hamish was quite a fountain of knowledge.....he had served as a junior engineeer on the Lylepark which was built after the war.

    When I first saw your photograph taken from abaft the port beam, I thought it was the same one as the one we had acquired in New isn't and indeed I would say it is of much better quality. You can view the one I am talking about if you visit the web site of ......... look for where it says a sample and you will see the Lylepark! One thing I can't make out on your photo is the flag on the after mast. It isn't the Denholm Flag as that was a diamond with a D inside it....this looks to be the Cross of St George but it doesn't make sense...any thoughts?

    We are now putting the rest of the information together as we think we have acquired enough to write something useful up.We have also obtained ships drawings of the Lylepark and her sister ships so things are coming together nicely.

    Christopher Robert in Oct 2005 wrote
    I wrote to you earlier this year and promised to send you a completed account of the sinking of the Lylepark on June 11th 1942. You may recall that my uncle, Charles Smith, served on board and died in the attack by the German raider Michel, (Ship 28).

    Our research seems to have mushroomed since I last wrote. I have not only come across Captain Lows confidential sinking report and photos of him being rescued from the Lylepark sinking by HMS Archer, but have analysed the War Trial transcript of the captain of the German Raider for which he subsequently got 10 years. Perhaps the most emotional aspect of the research was an invitation I received to attend the annual reunion of the crew of the Michel. I presented a powerpoint presentation of the story of the Lylepark and the sinking in German which lasted 45 minutes.

    Most of the Germans are in their mid eighties and there were 7 original crew members including an officer of the watch and a Navigator. "Forgive but don't forget" is my view on these matters and as a result, I received a very positive response to the presentation including access to some very revealing private diaries concerning the sinking.

    Whale Factory Ships
    July 2005
    JMMC wrote to Ian
    As mentioned we have compiled a list of all whale factory ships, numbering approximately 40, which called at Cape Town to and from their expeditions to the Antarctic. Of course a number changed ownership and resumed commercial ventures under their new names. We have noted that a number of oil tankers accompanied the whale factory ships on their voyages down south, for example the Norwegian Pontos in the late fifties.

    Incidentally the commercial whaling industry drew a great deal of prominence at the Cape and was a remunerative source of income to local industries in numerous spheres.

    We attach a list of the various factory ships/oil tankers that called at Cape Town, extracted from our historic John Marsh Maritime Collection records, as well as other relevant information that may be of use to you. It would appear that one or two modern Japanese factory ships made scheduled but brief calls to Cape Town during the early sixties.

    Regarding the information relating to the "Pirate" whaling ships, we are aware of the reputed existence of the "Susan 1". In the interim we are looking further into the aspect of the pirate vessels.

    We have several excellent images of factory ships seen at Cape Town by John Marsh for your perusal.

    2] Attachment; Whale Factory Ships seen at the Cape. WHALE FACTORY SHIPS AT THE CAPE


    Gos 4
    From Steve Cassy
    Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2005 6:58 PM

    Simply wonderful ! The photograph arrived last week and my father has shown me the cabin where he was wireless operator from around 1943 until the boat was retuned to Norway at the war end. The photo is superb and arrived in perfect condition - it will be treasured.
    Thank you for a first class service Peter!


    Peter, this is brilliant news - It has been 60 years now since my father returned Gos 4 as HMS Blizzard to her Norwegian owners at the end of hostilities - you can image how delighted he will be to have this keepsake.He still speaks with great affection about the colleagues he served with minesweeping and on escorting convoys.Thank you for your support in this, it is much appreciated.If you have a moment you may wish to visit the website below which is about an Isles Class trawler / minesweeper lost in W.W. 2. Dad served for a time on HMS Damsay and HMS Fiaray, two similar wishes Steve Cassy.

    Golden Racer
    Matt Heredia writes
    I was aboard Golden Racer in Cape Town(1946) at that time!
    Visiting your beautiful country is an experience which will always remain with me!
    I was a 15 year old wiper in the engine room
    Our subsequent ports of call following Capetown included Port Elizabeth (where the police were kind enough to inform me of curfew regulations following which they turned me loose ("Oh, e's a yank) East London, Durban, Lorenco Marques, Mombassa, Kenya Colony (during the Mau-Mau unpleasantness) Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam.

    We carried live animals on open deck crates on our homeward bound leg. I believe that I am the only person I will ever know nor meet who can reliably describe the force and range of giraffe vomitus across a windswept deck.

    (We carefully concealed that intelligance from our land lubber passengers.)

    City of Madras
    JMMRC to Jools Zauscinski

    Hi Jools
    The date 1940 presents a query for the following reason. According to James Taylor in his book "Ellermans - A Wealth of shipping" (1976) there were two vessels with the name "City of Madras "

    1]Built l903 Tonnage 4684 Built by Palmers and Co Newcastle, built on stocks as Rufford Hall, sold 9/9/31 to Italian shipbreakers.

    2] Built 1945 Tonnage 8405 Built by Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd, Newcastle, sold 29/9/61 to Far Eastern Navigation Corporation, Taiwan, renamed Wei Lee, broken up Formosa 1965.

    Are you able to use any other details to ascertain which vessel is involved?

    Regrettably we do not maintain records of crew or passengers - we deal mainly ship histories.

    Dear Peter, many thanks for taking the time to reply and provide me with the valuable information.

    Somewhere on the internet I came across details stating that a City of Madras was torpedoed during the 1940's. I assume Jack Gantley was indeed on this vessel with the British navy which would certainly rule out option 1 and option 2 coming also at the end of the war would be doubtful?

    Best wishes Jools Zauscinski

    Seven Seas Spray-/Baron Elibank

    Maximilien to JMMRC Hi Peter
    After havinq heard so much about her, I'm finally in possession of a picture of the vessel that saved my grand father during the darkest hours of the Basque history.
    I'm very grateful to internet, because it allowed me to find what I was looking for, in few hours of research only. This was still unthinkable five of six years ago, I would have had to spend hours and hours in libraries around the world....

    But above all, I'm very grateful to you and people like you who actually keep our memories alive, without this constant effort and this human touch internet would be worthless.

    Many thanks again.
    Best regards

    Helen Joyce to JMMC(June 2005)
    My grandfather chartered the Seven Seas Spray on more than one occassion during the Spanish Civil War. He may have used his mother's maiden name "MacEwan" or his name "Blazquez". I am particularly interested in the cargo he was carrying and the story behind breaking through the blockade in the Bay of Biscay. My grandfather claimed he was on board along with a Captain William Roberts. I would also like to know which dock the Seven Seas Spray sailed from.

    Helen Joyce

    Shakeltons Boat
    Diana Brogneri to JMMRC
    Dear peter
    I have attached photos of the candle that I had made with the pictures of shakeltons boat - your picture included - and would like to thank you again for all the effort you went to in getting a photo - gave the photo to gestin to keep - he was overwhelmed by the candle and it came out beautifully - pictures are not that big but the candle is approximately 30 cm high and about 15 wide - so quite big.

    The trouble you went to in a country where service seems to be a thing of the past - and for someone you don't even know is so very appreciated.

    Thank you once again

    Robert Wood and JMMRC
    I was searching for the 'Circes' and the 'Comet', two ships of the 1820s, when I saw the entry for the TJITJALENGKA. I was in Tokyo Bay on board the (Marigold (U.S. Army) This was my ship, I was with the 42nd General Hospital. There was a hospital ship named the Tjitjalengka also tied up at our dock. I wondered if this was the same ship.

    JMMC to Robert
    Hi Robert
    A career listing of this ship reflects that after launching and completion in 1938/9 it entered liner service Netherlands Indies - Far East. In 1940 became a troop transport and on 8 July 1942 was chartered to the British Admiralty after having been fitted out as a hospital ship. In 1948 she was returned to her owners. She was eventually broken up by Ming King & Co, Hong Kong in 1968. So it seems possible she was the hospital ship in question.

    That brings back memories of a Dutch officer on the bridge calling out an order in Dutch to an officer on the deck, who repeated the command in English to a Javanese crewman who passed the command in Japanese to the longshoremen on the dock. The Doctors and nurses on board were British. Yep, it brings back memories

    JOHN HARGRAVES wrote in Aug 2005
    Your web site contained an enquiry concerning Her Majesty's Hospital Ship TJITJALENGKA. This interested me because I served aboard her during the period leadng up to the surrender of the Japanese in Tokyo Bay. On discharge from the Royal Navy, in fact some years later, I responded to my grandaughter's interest by researching the history of this ship with particular interest in the servicemen we evacuated from prisoner of war camps Nagoya and Toyama.

    Whilst this has never been published, it does contain details of the atrocities and post release course of ex prisoners of war, both British, Australian and new Zealanders. Many of these were disembarked in Auckland, Wellington and Sydney.

    One particular ex pow's life after release was followed through right up to his death many years later in Auckland.

    Whilst this folder may not be of interest to many I did feel it worth mentioning.

    JOHN HARGRAVES (now aged 80 years!!)

    Jean wrote in March 2006
    I am interested in articles etc on the Tjitjalengka Hospital ship during WW2. My grandfather Hugh Loney served on board her. He passed away in 1961 and I don't have much memory of him as I was only 4 then. I do have a few photos if anyone might be interested.
    Bill Norman wrote in August 2006
    My father served on the hospital ship during 1944-45. His name was Frank Norman and he was a sick bay attendant. Do you have any record of this period of his service? Any information would be most gratefully received. Yours, Bill Norman.
    Elizabeth de Vries wrote in Nov 2006
    I saw your site while doing some research on the ship "Tjitjalengka". My father served as one of her Engineering officers early in the war before being transferred to the "Tjisadane". He was on board the Tjisadane in 1942 and was in the battle of the Java Sea. If you have any other information on either ship, I would appreciate it. Thank you.
    June 2008
    Richard Matthews
    I found your web site while researching the Hospital Ship Tjitjalengka. I was particularly interested in the comments of John Hargeaves who served on the ship.
    My father, who died in 1970 when I was a teenager without talking to me about his wartime experiences, was one of those ex POWs evacuated from a prison camp in Onahama.
    He disembarked at Auckland and spent a further 8 weeks convalescing at Papakura before sailing home on the Hospital Ship Maunganui.
    He boarded the Tjitalengka as a "sitting patient", I believe he was suffering from beri beri.
    My father, Len Matthews, was a driver in the RASC.
    I would love to read the information referred to by John Hargreaves.
    Richard Matthews

    SS Cheldale
    Alan Henderson wrote
    The photo arrived safe and sound and my father is very pleased with it and has since had it framed.

    His father (my grandfather) was the Chief Engineer on board when the ship was in collision with the Greystoke Castle off Durban on the night l6th/17th February 1940. He was lost at sea when the ship sank.

    The ship was built in Sunderland in 1925 and was owned by John Morrison & Sons. .

    My father recollects that there was an article in a Durban newspaper at the time and wondered if you had a copy and/or any other historical information of interest about Cheldale.

    Best wishes

    Miles Thompson Oct 2005
    I was doing and internet search on the above ship as both my Great Grandfather and Great Uncle were on board went it went down. My Great Grandfather was the Captain and went down with the ship; my Great Uncle was the First Officer and survived.

    Can you direct me to any historical information about the collision, the vessel, etc?

    Many thanks, Miles Thompson

    Pam Vernon-Roberts wrote
    Hi Peter,
    Thank you for replying to my e-mail with your interesting information. I see from the information that my father's company did not build the Rockwell; I will explain why I thought he had - on looking at your site I put in E.C.Jones into your search engine and the name Rockwell came up, knowing that my father built Hopper barges for the Thames Conservancy I presumed he built that one. When I put in Thames Conservancy there were 4 finds, the first listing Stonewell Hopper No.5 and Rockwell Hopper No.6. I could not find a mention on item 2 or 4 but Rockwell is mentioned in the third. I presume that Stonewell was built by the same compuny as Stonewell.

    I will investigate the original owners of the Rockwell and see if they may have had some barges built by E.C. Jones. The information you sent will be useful and I thank you for taking the trouble to find it. I have sent a copy of a Bantam, the company built 89 between 1949 and 1966. Every body who uses them thinks they are superb and says there has never been anything better many are still in use. If your friend would like information about the Bantams I would be delighted to send him what I have and a photo or two.

    Many thanks again for your help

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