Stewardess on a Blue Funnel Line ship

Tee
4th February 2008, 18:41
Hi, I am new here and I am hoping that someone can help me or point me in the right direction please.

I have two hand written notes from my Great Aunt, who worked as a stewardess for Blue Funnel Line, detailing the bombing of her ship. The things that are missing are the name of the ship and where it was bombed.

The first one reads as follows:
Bombed by aeroplane 27th Feb 1942 dropped 6 bombs on our ship. Picked up by Submarine Chaser (Covat) about 8.30pm Feb 28th. Arrived Greenock taken to Larkfield Hospital transferred to Smithston. About 6 went to hospital collected 40.

Also mentioned on the first note
Port Said 9 days
Passengers 155
Tonnage 10,950
Length 517Ft 6ins

51 trips
Bully Beef (sp)
Thick dry biscuit
Condensed milk
Bottle Brandy

The second note says very much the same thing except it listed her injuries as exposure, shock and injured knee and that she was transferred to Smithston hospital on March 2nd and discharged from hospital on March 10th.

I would love to find out more about her and the ships that she sailed on, as she was an incredible character - pretty scary to be honest! I think that she was first sailing before the 1st World War as we have lots of things that she brought back from India, China, Egypt to name but a few with dates of around 1912.

I have Googled the Covat but found nothing and I have looked at shipwrecks for that date and also come up with nothing, so if anyone could throw any light on this I would be most grateful.

Thank you in anticipation.

Tina

Hugh Ferguson
4th February 2008, 18:49
I have a lot of material on the Blue Funnel Line and will see what I can find on this evident sinking. I'm sure somebody can help. Hugh.

Hugh Ferguson
4th February 2008, 19:05
A quick search of British vessels lost gives no Blue Funnel ship was sunk on 27th Feb.1942. However, on that date in 1941 the Blue Funnel, ANCHISES was bombed in position 55.30N: 13.17W (west of Scotland). She was attacked by aircraft again the next day and sunk.
I feel sure this must be the ship to which you refer. I will look up some more details and post them here.

P.S. Curiously, this is the ship in which Victoria Drummond first went to sea in as an engineer).

wa002f0328
4th February 2008, 19:08
Welcome aboard Tina, enjoy the voyage, feel sure that you will find what you are searching for there are a lot of blue funnel men aboard here, good sailing , cheers Bill Atkins(Thumb)

non descript
4th February 2008, 19:11
Tee, a warm welcome to you - given the strength and depth of the Site, I am fairly confident that the Blue Funnel brigade will be able to lend more than a helping hand. We look forward to hearing a positive result.
(Thumb)
Mark

Derek Roger
4th February 2008, 19:22
Welcome from Canada Tina .... Regards Derek

K urgess
4th February 2008, 19:40
Welcome aboard from East Yorkshire, Tina.
If it was the Anchises then I can only find mention of the corvette Kingcup picking up survivors.
The tug Superman was around but didn't make it to the scene before the Anchises sank.
I'm sure more information will be forthcoming pretty quickly.
Enjoy the voyage on our happy ship.

Tee
4th February 2008, 19:43
Thank you all so much. Hugh, I am pretty sure that it must be the Anchises, as the location would seem to fit but if you have any more information I would be very grateful. By the way her name was Winifred Rothwell.

Many thanks

Tina

Hugh Ferguson
4th February 2008, 20:58
The Anchises, since the outbreak of war, had been working between England and Australia. On her last voyage ever she was returning via the Cape, from Australia, and had arrived in a position 120 miles north-west of Bloody Foreland when she was attacked from the air by a Fokker-Wulf Kondor which dropped two bombs which near-missed but severely shook the ship. The German aircraft next repeated the attack from forward to aft at masthead height, dropping two bombs and machine gunning the ship. The ANCHISES had only two Hotchkiss machine-guns and these had no effect whatsoever on her attacker. This attack caused the engine room and stokehold to flood. A third attack caused more damage and the ship was abandoned.
At 5am on the 28th flares and rockets were seen by H.M.S. KINGCUP (a corvette) some 15 miles away. A high sea was running and as the corvette attempted to get alongside the last boat to leave the sinking ship it damaged the boat and it sank causing the death of the master, Captain James and a quartermaster. The corvette then searched for the other boats and succeeded in rescueing the crews from five of them before darkness fell.
Six boats had been launched containing a total of 134 people (including 5 women and 2 children). The 7th boat was the one in which Captain James and 33 crew had been the last one to leave the sinking ship.

Hugh MacLean
4th February 2008, 21:18
Hello Tina,

I think we are all talking about the correct ship.
ss ANCHISES official number 131320 built 1911 by Workman Clark & Co. Ltd, Belfast.

Published in the London Gazette, 17 February 1942 - For services when the ship was bombed and sunk by German aircraft in the North Atlantic, 27/28 February 1941:

Mitchell-Heggs, Miss Barbara - Colonial Nursing Service, Commendation
Morgan, Clifford Thomas - Chief Officer, Commendation
Smith, Ernest - Smoking Room Steward, Commendation

As above and for his conduct in taking charge of an open boat for six days:
O'Brien, Denis John - Able Seaman, BEM (CIV)
Citation for Denis John O'Brien:
"The ship was hit by bombs and had to be abandoned. Boats were lowered and ordered to lie to their sea anchors.

'One of the boats became separated from the rest, and was at sea for six days in heavy weather. On the second day the officer in charge died and Able Seaman O'Brien found himself senior survivor. He sailed and organised the boat until rescued, showing courage, seamanship and resource throughout.'

Ungazetted award by Lloyd's
O'Brien, Denis John - Able Seaman Lloyd's Bravery Medal.

Admiralty records state that HMS KINGCUP had rescued 156 survivors and HMCS ASSINBOINE 13, and that there were 14 casualties. This total is 15 too many and can only be assumed that there were other survivors from another ship landed at Greenock at the same time.

During the rescue operation, Capt. James' lifeboat capsized while coming alongside HMS KINGCUP, and he and the quartermaster, Able Seaman John Sinnott, were drowned.

Stewardess Minnie Apperson died on the fourth day in an open boat.

More information in "Beyond The Call of Duty" by Brian James Crabb.

Regards

Tee
4th February 2008, 21:31
Thank you for such prompt and interesting replies.

I think that this must be my Great Aunt's ship, there are too many things that line up with her notes for it not to be. I'm amazed that she got the year wrong though, but I suppose time fades the memory.

She was an amazing lady and I only wish that I had asked her more questions when I was little. I will talk to my Uncle as he has a lot of her things from when she died that he has only just found again.

Your help is much appreciated as I was getting nowhere on my own. Thank you!

Tina

non descript
4th February 2008, 21:33
I seems a nice result so far Tina, please do feel free to keep us advised as to what further progress you make and what your Uncle can add.
(Thumb)
Mark

Bill Davies
4th February 2008, 22:15
Tina,
It may be of interest to you that Dennis O'Brian (mentioned by Hugh post #10) ended up as the Bosun instructor of the Blue Funnel Deck School from 59/7??.
There is a post I spotted somewhere made by EGGO titled class of 64 (one of the moderators might be able to locate it) as it is a good photograph of Dennis and the Class of that year. Further, some of the younger members refer to themselves as OBs Commandos ( this is the OB they refer to). A truly remarkable individual as were all members of that ship.

Tee
5th February 2008, 15:17
Thanks Mark, it certainly is a nice result so far and so quick too - I am amazed. I will definitely keep you posted on how I get on.

Bill, I found the thread that you mentioned here http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=9682&highlight=EGGO
As you say, it is very interesting especially as he was on the same ship as my Great Aunt.

I have also found a book called Luke's Log by K D Luke, which gives an incredible account of the attack on Anchises and how some of the passengers and crew survived. I think I am going to have to buy that and the Brian Crabb book mentioned above.

Best regards
Tina

Billy1963
6th February 2008, 11:04
Commemorated Tower Hill Memorial. Panel 8

APPERSON, Stewardess, MINNIE BEATRICE, S.S. Anchises (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 2nd March 1941. Age 58. Daughter of Thomas and Sarah Apperson, of Liverpool.

JAMES, Master, DAVID WARREN, S.S. Anchises (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 28th February 1941. Age 50. King's Commendation for Brave Conduct. Son of Captain John James and Mrs. James, of New Quay, Cardigan-shire; husband of Sarah Morfydd James, of Pontardulais, Glamorgan.

JARDINE, Purser, THOMAS ALEXANDER, S.S. Anchises (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 1st March 1941. Age 40. Son of Alexander Jardine and of Annie Jardine (nee Roddan); husband of Rose Jardine, of Greasby, Cheshire.

QUIRK, Baker, CHARLES MELVILLE, S.S. Anchises (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 28th February 1941. Age 39. Son of Evan Quirk, and of Margaret Anne Quirk, of Port St. Mary, Isle of Man; husband of Florence K. Quirk, of Malew, Isle of Man.

SINNOTT, Able Seaman, JOHN, S.S. Anchises (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 28th February 1941. Age 57. Husband of Sarah Sinnott.

Commemorated Hong Kong War Memorial

CHENG HUNG, Fireman, S.S. Anchises (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 28th February 1941. Age 30.

HUI FOOK, Fireman, S.S. Anchises (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 28th February 1941. Age 36.

IP CHUEN, Greaser, S.S. Anchises (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 28th February 1941. Age 54.

LAI LUN, Fireman, S.S. Anchises (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 28th February 1941. Age 40.

LAM KWANG, Fireman, S.S. Anchises (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 28th February 1941. Age 38.

TO KENN, Greaser, S.S. Anchises (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 28th February 1941. Age 42.

Buried Ashore

ARMISON, Linen Keeper, HARRY, S.S. Anchises (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 20th March 1941. Age 39. Foster-son of Nellie Oates, of Sheffield. His foster-brother, Alec Webster Oates, also died on service. Buried Londonderry City Cemetery. Sec. S. Class B. Grave 745D.

Temmed
13th August 2008, 15:47
Hello Tina

I have been trying to trace information about my uncle who was Denis, John O'Brien! I was amazed when I found this web site. Uncle John's wife (my Auntie Nellie) told me that a film was made about the sinking of the Anchises and that Uncle John and her had to go to the film studios to see if it was authentic. They are both dead now and I feel so sorry that I didn't question them more at the time. I have tried to find information on the Internet but without success. Uncle John's only son lives in Canada and I have recently contacted him but have had no response yet. Denis, John O'Brien has four grandchildren, Lucy, Simon, Teague and Hana; I wonder if they know of their grandad's bravery.

I have a copy of a letter to my Uncle John (found in my father's belongings) from the Admiralty, Whitehall that states that he was awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire. I know little about medals so assume that this is a different medal than the Lloyds War Medal for Bravery at Sea.

If you look under the following you will find an account of the sinking of the ship.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/45/a2702945.shtml

I am interested to know if anyone else knows anything about the film I mentioned.

Bill Davies
13th August 2008, 18:09
Temmed,

I knew your Uncle well. See my post above. I recall with fond memories going on a pub crawl with Dennis early in 1970 haveing just return from my first command. It was that occasion that we were celebrating. The post I referred to from EGGO is well worth looking at. Dennis (OB) as I remember him

Bill

Bill Davies
13th August 2008, 19:49
Temmed,

I have located the photograph of your uncle and it will be found on O'brians Finishing School which has recently been posted.

My pleasure

Bill

Pat Kennedy
13th August 2008, 20:41
I was one of "OB's commandos" as a trainee deck boy in Odyssey works November-December 1958. I remember him with great affection as a kind and generous man, who taught us the basics of seamanship with flair and dedication. He was a legend in Blue Funnel.
Pat

Tee
14th August 2008, 14:44
Hi Temmed,

Thank you so much for posting that link, I must have missed it in my travels around the internet! It was very interesting.

I would also be interested if anyone knew more about the film that was made about the sinking of the Anchises, that sounds like it would be fascinating.

I have to agree with you about wishing that you had asked more questions when they were alive. Although I was scared to death of my great aunt and probably wouldn't have dared to ask her anything!

Thanks again.

Tina

rochie1970
7th November 2008, 21:17
Hiya Billy I found your site very imforming you see my great grandfather was one of the crew killed on board the SS Anchises he was killed alongside Cpn James he name was, "SINNOTT, Able Seaman, JOHN, S.S. Anchises (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. Killed 28th February 1941. Age 57. Husband of Sarah Sinnott." His son John sinnott is still alive and well up in Preston and his grandson my father (Phil) is my dad. I also found out that in the June of 1941 the Alfred jones was sunk off the coast of Africa and one of the casualties was John seniors son Tommy Sinnott who was just 17 when he was killed. His mother Sarah died 2 months later from peritunitus and left the surviving family orphans. The tragedy was Tommy left Liverpool because he couldnt stand the Blitz apparently and his surviving brother John warned him to stay clear of the Alfred Jones because it sounded too much like Davey Jones locker. I just thought it was apt with it being rememberence day soon.

ROBERT HENDERSON
7th November 2008, 21:30
Rochie 1970.
Was John Sinnott that you refer to Master on the Holyhead ferries?

Regards Robert

Wasman
26th November 2008, 01:19
Hi, my Grandfather was also called John Sinnott and served on the Anchises, he died in 1943 of TB, strange that such an uncommon name could end up serving on the same ship, his records show he was on the Anchises in 1933, I wonder if they ever served together?

rochie1970
22nd November 2009, 21:41
Hi, my Grandfather was also called John Sinnott and served on the Anchises, he died in 1943 of TB, strange that such an uncommon name could end up serving on the same ship, his records show he was on the Anchises in 1933, I wonder if they ever served together?

Wow that is very very strange.

The Dog
21st February 2011, 15:07
Bit late in the day but Frank Dale who died at Christmas 2010 said the gun on the poop was removed in Freetown as being a fast ship Anchises could out run a submarine, true sad Frank, but she could not out run a Fokker-Woolf. He confirmed the Fokker-Woolf flew alongside each side of the ship machine gunning the lifeboats. He could see the gunner in his turret travasing his gun.

Frank was also torpedoed off Durban in the Blue Funnel managed Mendoza.
He was the last man to leave the ship having gone back to try and rescue the carpenters mate (21) who was immobalised in his bunk with a broken leg in plaster. The explosion had distorted the bulkhead and the door would not open. Frank struggled to get too him until the water was pouring down the companionway. There was a small gap and by stretching they were just able to touch fingertips. Frank said "I have got to go chips" the reply was thanks Frank goodbye , goodluck. Franks reply to the question,"how did it affect you"
" I think of him everyday and sometimes I dream of him at night.

IAN M
19th November 2013, 17:40
The following is an extract from my Kindle book DANGEROUS VOYAGING.

ANCHISES (Alfred Holt & Co.). Stewardess Minnie Beatrice Apperson.

The Anchises (Captain D.W. James) was independently bound for Liverpool from Australia and about 120 miles north-west of Bloody Foreland, on the north-west coast of Ireland, in the early afternoon of 27 February, 1941, when bombed by a Focke-Wolf Condor and severely damaged by several near misses. One hundred and thirty-four people, including 5 women and 2 children, left the ship in 6 lifeboats while 34 remained on board in the hope that she might be towed. By 5am the next morning, however, the situation had become so serious that Captain James decided to abandon ship. Flares were burned and rockets fired before the crew began taking to the only remaining lifeboat which, due to the high sea running, had its propeller and most of its oars smashed during launching. As a rocket had been seen by the corvette HMS Kingcup, she came to the rescue, but, in manoeuvring alongside, wrecked the lifeboat so that 20 of its occupants were thrown into the water. Captain James and Quartermaster John Sinnott lost their lives in this incident, but the others were saved. The Kingcup then began looking for the other boats and succeeded in finding 5 of them before it became dark. A week later, those in the sixth boat were picked up by the Canadian destroyer HMCS Assiniboine. According to Admiralty records the Anchises sank after being bombed again on the 28th. Fourteen crew were lost, including Minnie Apperson who died in the sixth lifeboat on 2 March and was buried at sea.

PADDY
20th November 2013, 10:52
This was the incident in which Denis O'Brien (of O'Bs Commandos) was awarded the B.E.M.

Paddy

BazP
28th November 2013, 00:13
Hi all
I'm a newcomer so a late arrival to the discussion. I was very interested in Tina's original post about her great-aunt who was a stewardess on the Anchises. My grandmother, Lena Park, was also a stewardess on the Anchises when it was bombed in February 1941. She survived 36 hours in a lifeboat before they were picked up. Others were not so fortunate: I believe up to three people died from exposure in her boat. I was told that one man, a baker or possibly a cook, died while leaning against her - so I was very interested in Billy1963's later post that a baker named Charles Quirk was listed on the Tower Hill memorial. I was also told that the skipper and a mate/officer drowned after the brow of the rescuing corvette rose in the swell and came down on their boat, slicing it in two; the captain and officer were wearing seaboots that quickly filled with water, which weighed them down. Like Tina, I've read Ken Luke's detailed account of the final voyage of the Anchises in his book Luke's Log. My grandmother Lena had also been aboard the Accra when it was torpedoed in July 1940.

Robert E. Jones
19th December 2013, 19:05
I'm hoping that someone in the forum can help me find information about the trip made by the S.S Ulysses from Britain in about June 1941 to Hong Kong. I believe that it was part of a convoy that went around the Cape, but as the Ulysses was so slow, it had to leave the convoy. The Ulysses eventually made it to Hong Kong after about 3 months or so. My late father, who was on his way to join the Hong Kong Police was on the ship. After three short months, Hong Kong was invaded and occupied by the Japanese. My father spent the next 3 years and 8 months in a prison camp. I'm writing a new book about Hong Kong and China during the war years (and up to 1949), but am at a complete loss as I have no sense of what happened on this voyage or even what life may have been like during this long and arduous trip. Hoping the someone can help me out.

Hugh Ferguson
19th December 2013, 20:59
Try this, Robert:-
http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/hague/index.html?search3.php~haguemain

Robert E. Jones
20th December 2013, 18:53
Many thanks for your kind help Hugh. I'll take a look. One other request, if you don't mind. Do you know where, if anywhere I can find an account of the voyage that the Ulysses made in June 1941 or perhaps similar voyages? I'm trying to get a feel for what it was like as I write my book. Thanks again. Best, Robert

Hugh Ferguson
20th December 2013, 19:41
I'm hoping that someone in the forum can help me find information about the trip made by the S.S Ulysses from Britain in about June 1941 to Hong Kong. I believe that it was part of a convoy that went around the Cape, but as the Ulysses was so slow, it had to leave the convoy. The Ulysses eventually made it to Hong Kong after about 3 months or so. My late father, who was on his way to join the Hong Kong Police was on the ship. After three short months, Hong Kong was invaded and occupied by the Japanese. My father spent the next 3 years and 8 months in a prison camp. I'm writing a new book about Hong Kong and China during the war years (and up to 1949), but am at a complete loss as I have no sense of what happened on this voyage or even what life may have been like during this long and arduous trip. Hoping the someone can help me out.

The attachments are all I can find on the s.s.Ulysses at present. This, I would assume, is her in Hong Kong at the time she had arrived there, with your father as a passenger.

I'll be seeing if I can find more on this ship.

Robert E. Jones
20th December 2013, 21:03
Thanks again Hugh- that's the Ulysses. I wonder if anyone has written about the Ulysses' voyage from Liverpool to the Far East in June of 1941 or similar voyages? B/Rgds, Robert

MICHAEL SQUIRES
21st December 2013, 08:50
Thanks again Hugh- that's the Ulysses. I wonder if anyone has written about the Ulysses' voyage from Liverpool to the Far East in June of 1941 or similar voyages? B/Rgds, Robert

Hello Robert

According to Convoy Web the Ulysses left the Clyde on 12/6/41 in convoy OB 334 bound for Halifax were she arrived on 26/6/41.
She then sailed independantly for Hong Kong on 27/6/41 calling at Cape Town, Durban, Columbo, Penang, Singapore before arriving at Hong Kong on 05/9/41.

Hope this helps.

Regards

Mike Squires.

Robert E. Jones
23rd December 2013, 21:22
Many thanks for the info Mike. I'm beginning to get a better picture of what transpired with the Ulysses in 1941. Nobody seems to have written about that particular voyage but I'm wondering if there are any other accounts of similar voyages during the war years. Please let me know if you come across anything. In then meantime, have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. B/Rgds, Robert