William Wilberforce

20th May 2008, 20:43
I'm doing a bit of family research and looking for data on the "William Wilberforce", built by Hendersons in 1930, possibly lost to enemy action in the war. I've taken the liberty of posting a photo in the gallery, from the family album, of the vessel believed to be under tow at the time, date unsure. Anybody have any data on the the vessel's history and eventual end ?

K urgess
20th May 2008, 21:04
If you go to the Miramar site here (http://www.miramarshipindex.org.nz/ship/show/81763) you'll find some details.

Bruce Carson
20th May 2008, 21:04
Here's a short account of her sinking in 1943:



20th May 2008, 21:11
See http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/66/a2742266.shtml

20th May 2008, 21:57
Built for African Steamship Co. by D&W Henderson, Glasgow. Completed May 1930.

9th January 1943 (Capt. J. W. Andrew) torpedoed and sunk by U511 (Kapitanleutnant Fritz Schneewind) in position 29 20 N, 26 53 W while on voyage Lagos - Liverpool, general cargo.
Schneewind saw William Wilberforce's mastheads at 1725. She was steering a mean course of 325 at 11 knots while zig-zagging by 30 to 40 degrees. U511 hauled ahead until 2045, at which time the ship executed a large zig for nightfall before returning to her original course 15 minutes later. U511 then ran in on the surface from down moon, firing at 2142 a salvo of two bow torpedoes which ran for 55 seconds before striking the target, one amidships, the other forward. The ship took a list to port and within five minutes had capsized, sinking by the head at 2154.
U511 closed the lifeboats, of which there were four, and found out the name of the vessel and her port of departure and destination.
Three crew members lost their lives.

Extract from Elder Dempster Fleet History

Further pic. uploaded to Cargo Vessel gallery

21st May 2008, 07:29
Thanks to all, I had some outline details, mostly verbal family stories and so on. Fantastic immediate response, and a lot of first class data to add to what I have and to follow up. Many thanks again to all !

21st May 2008, 08:46
While on the wartime subject, here's another quickie from the family album.
Looks like the installation has just been completed, judging by the scrap metal bits lying around on the deck! The chap looking rather pleased with his efforts, is my father. Ship and location are unknown but it is E.D.'s. Anybody like to throw up any info ?

K urgess
21st May 2008, 13:05
Those bits scattered around look like some sort of non-slip stuff.
A couple look as if they're welded down so could be there to let the gun crew's boots grip the deck better in heavy weather.
Looks like a stern light hanging on the rail. It may be possible to identify where it is by looking at the pictures of the whole ship.
Although why she's headed off at ninety degrees to the other vessel is a bit of a mystery.

21st May 2008, 20:14
Hi Kris, Think the bits hanging on the rail are the tackle for the trailing log ("Walkers" log is it?). Mebbe the top of the stern light at deck level. No disturbance of the water visible so I guess at anchor someplace. T'other boat looks like just getting the h*ll out of the way PDQ ! Non-slip idea is good, one I hadn't thought of, but poss a bit early for 'elf 'n safety types! Only wish the old fella was still around to give us the full story.
73's ... Chas.

K urgess
21st May 2008, 20:28
Wouldn't think the box was for the Walker's log stuff, Chas.
A bit dodgy dropping the log into the turbulent water aft. Normally streamed from the break of the poop or a spar from midships.
Probably a sand box so your Dad can put his cig out.[=P]
Either that or spare bulb for the stern light and gear for starting the oil fired stern light if necessary.
Not necessarily elfin safety. Those decks get very slippery in the wet especially if you've got a four inch shell in your arms. (EEK)