City of Benares (survivors report)

Baltic Wal
23rd February 2007, 12:07
Discussion thread for City of benares ( of benares). If you would like to add a comment, click the New Reply button

fred henderson
23rd February 2007, 17:56
Splendid contribution Wal. I have added a litlle extra detail about the ship.


Hugh Ferguson
23rd February 2007, 20:46
I was school-mate of a Roger Poole (son of the P.E. master). Roger was one of those who did not survive and I have never succeeded in contacting any of the survivors who may have been able to provide some details of his fate. I still wonder if there is still anyone who may have known him whilst on board the City of Benares.

23rd October 2007, 06:56
I sailed with Ron Cooper on a London Greek tramp called the Polegate in 1964. Ron never mentioned the City of Benares episode until we paid off in Cardiff after a 13 month trip. He was awarded the OBE(I think), and was feted in his home town of Dundee.He told me that he was actually uncertificated 4th mate at the time of the incident. When he sat for 2nd mates he failed orals on lifeboat sailing!!His mother raised merry hell on that, and he showed me the newpaper cuttings where his local member lobbied the Board of Trade regarding the ridiculus situation where there was ample proof Ron was more than capable of sailing a lifeboat.
he was a proffesional 2nd mate and was 45 when we sailed together. I lost touch with him in 67 when I moved to NZ. He was certainly a good shipmate, and had a great sense of humour, and in retrospect a real hero, a word that is much bandied today in the sports worls

Jim Quinn

23rd October 2007, 09:20
I've just read the survivor's report and it is a very moving tale. It is all the more so because of the matter of fact way in which it was reported. A reminder that many episodes like this occurred throughout the war, with numerous unsung heroes among the MN personnel who risked, and often lost, their lives for their country.

25th October 2007, 23:08
The BBC's programme on the City of Benares, screened last year, was dreadful.

Hugh MacLean
26th October 2007, 17:11
The BBC's programme on the City of Benares, screened last year, was dreadful.

Yes you are right they couldn't even get the name right. Called her BENARES if I recall.


27th October 2007, 00:10
Did one of those awful dramatisations, with white crew in sort of RN uniforms. Useless.

8th September 2010, 08:18
Hi guys

I run a Volunteer Coastal Search and Rescue team in Sunderland one of only 3 volunteer teams in the country, all the others are Coastguard.

Some years ago we salvaged the commemoration Plaque of this dasaster literally from a skip after the building it was in was demolished.

Tomorrow we will be holding a church service followed by a exhibition on this diasater at our Watch House in Sunderland. This year it is the 70th anniversary. As far as we know we are the only people to hold such an event as one that used to be held in Wembley London has now ceased. 11 children from sunderland were on the ship and 2 survived and we will be having one at the service.

It is not something that should be forgot and our museum shows the plaque at all times . You may be able to pick up news reports online if you access the sunderland echo.


24th March 2013, 15:27
I have in my possession some hand written notes that belonged to my late uncle James (Jimmy ) Hitchen. He died aged 92 recently.

He served throughout the war as an A B and he lived in Liverpool.
Later on he was shipmates on board the Viking Star with our stalwart senior member of this site Stan Mayes.
Our Jimmy survived on a raft and Stan in a lifeboat.

This country owes so much to the likes of Stan and Jim, unsung heroes who suffered so much on our behalf.

Speaking with Jim's son after his Fathers death,He recounted that the City of Benares sinking was one that haunted him through the years.
His Dad was unable to forget.

The notes themselves are not terribly clear but in one part of them he describes being in a convoy behind the City of Benares.
I think the ship he is on is the "Peter Bogan oil tanker"underneath this is written again I Think "Salvestons Liet.

These are his words his notes ......

His words ...I took a "Pier head jump" in September 1940.I had just returned from Argentina.
I was picked up by a launch boat at the pier head and put aboard a tanker.It turned out to be a Factory Whaling ship lying off Cammell Lairds, called it a Tanker.
I was put aboard and met the crew who where having a mug of tea on the deck aft.
I heard a crying astern.I asked the lads ( He could hear a cat mewing it was on the top of the ships rudder )"How long has that been there"? "A couple of days" ( was their answer )I drank my tea and rescued this lovely black cat.
(How he managed this is beyond me!)
"We were delayed sailing due to German planes dropping mines.
On the thirteenth of September passing the Liver Buildings at 2 pm spot on. I said to my crew mates this is not on, sailing on the thirteenth.
"We settled down in the convoy sailing behind The City of Benares Commodore Ship struggling at six and a half knot, the weather the worst I have ever been in.
Four days out and two ships in the convey went ( sank ) the SS Marina and the City of Benares.
I was in the gun crew and we opened fire on the submarine, all the lights and toilets (*not sure about the word bracketed below "toilets"*) all went out in our accommodation.
The lights went out on the City of Benares.We were about fifty yards alongside of her to shield us from being attacked, next thing the City of Benares lit up like a Xmas tree.One of the life boats starboard side aft was tipped up hanging by one fall, and screaming and shouting.I think about it, I go all cold
I have been talking about this convoy, the way we were left to be picked off, when we should have been all on our own, as we were not convoyed.*It looks like his initials after this J H.and then in tiny words*>>>again I think.
"Picked up oil at Basam Adag, back to Scotland, finished up at the Dingle oil jetty.Cat went ashore!".
*That was one lucky cat!*..(@)

This account of the City of Benares sinking is here on a piece of paper put down by my Uncle Jim, who goes on later in the war to serve with and to be torpedoed with Stan Mayes on the Viking Star.

I just wish Jim was still alive today.(Sadly he crossed the bar a few weeks ago). I would liked to have asked him in detail about those days long ago.
Like so many of these heroes he said very little about his war time experiences.
As we grow older we realise so much more.