BP during the war years

BPCadet
5th November 2008, 21:05
Hi all,

[Yet another thread of mine!]

Although I am starting a career of my own with the company, I have never forgotten the fact that there is a history behind the BP fleet.

I recently visited the Tower Hill memorial in London. It's a truly impressive memorial to say the least, and I would strongly recommend a visit to anyone who has not already done so.

What struck me most about the memorial was the vast number of vessels belonging to the British Tanker Company which had been sunk by enemy-action during the Second World War.

Since the visit, I have become so interested about the topic of the BTC during the war years, that I have wanted to begin my own research into the vessels sunk during the period 1939-'45.

However, in order to start this research, I would greatly appreciate some help. If anyone has any information (photos, stories, statistics, casualty lists etc.) I would be delighted to hear from you.

Kind Regards,

BPCadet

John Rogers
5th November 2008, 21:41
I would try Google,by using BP Tanker losses in the war. Bet you should get some hits.

John.

James_C
5th November 2008, 21:55
BP Cadet,
There are a couple of good books out charting the history of the Company. Both are well worth the investment, as many members of this site will attest.
Names and details:

'The British Tankers' by Norman Middlemiss
'BP A Group Fleet History' by W.J. Harvey and R.J. Solly

You should be able to pick up copies from the likes of Amazon or Abebooks online. As I recall the company lost about 40 of their own ships and about 10 ships they were managing for the Govt, bringing a total of 50 ships lost and approximately 660 seamen. You'll notice when you get aboard ship that the Officers Epaulettes are not the standard MN Diamonds but RN Style Curles - they were granted the right to wear that style of braid by King George VI post war in recognition of the sacrifices made by the Company.
If you look through the gallery you'll probably see a number of photos showing this.
My Grandfather sailed with BP during that war, my father post war and of course myself a bit later on - proof that lunacy does run in the family!
(Jester)

stan mayes
5th November 2008, 23:12
Hello Jim,
I like to refer to them as BTC - I sailed in three when they had attractive funnels.
I made a trip in British Merit - joined her a month after the war in Europe ended.Thameshaven - Corpus Christi - Thameshaven and we painted her in BTC colours - a very pleasant job after 5 years of crabfat grey..
We sailed from Corpus Christi on 5.8.1945 and next day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
Voyage 28.6 1945 to 23.8.1945.
I later sailed in El Morro T2 during 1948 - Captain Michie and British Success during 1951 - Captain Mason.
Regards Stan

James_C
6th November 2008, 00:12
Hello Stan,
Indeed, the old BTC as was, then BPTC and now BPS. Three different acronyms for three different generations.
Mind you, 'Better Times Coming' seemed to span the age gap!
Painting the ships in their peacetime colours must have been a grand job to do, and I did like the old funnels. Although they've reintroduced them of a sort, they do lack the black lines dividing the bands which I think makes a lot of difference.
What did you think of the T2 compared to the British ships?

BPCadet
6th November 2008, 21:04
So far I've been able to find the names of a number of BTC vessels damaged/sunk during the period 1939-'45. These include:

British Advocate
British Ardour
" Captain
" Chivalry
" Colony
" Commander
" Consul
" Councillor
" Dominion
" Endeavour
" Fame
" Fortune
" Freedom
" General
" Grenadier
" Gunner
" Petrol
" Officer
British Workman
British Viscount

If anyone can add to this list, or provide information regarding one of the ships listed above, I would be very grateful.

Regards,

BPCadet

BillH
6th November 2008, 21:54
So far I've been able to find the names of a number of BTC vessels damaged/sunk during the period 1939-'45. These include:

British Advocate
British Ardour
" Captain
" Chivalry
" Colony
" Commander
" Consul
" Councillor
" Dominion
" Endeavour
" Fame
" Fortune
" Freedom
" General
" Grenadier
" Gunner
" Petrol
" Officer
British Workman
British Viscount

If anyone can add to this list, or provide information regarding one of the ships listed above, I would be very grateful.

Regards,

BPCadet
In no particular order and not the total

BRITISH -
MOTORIST
MARINER
CORPORAL / EMPIRE CORPORAL
SERGEANT
PREMIER
YEOMAN
INVENTOR
PROGRESS
UNION
LOYALTY
RELIANCE
VENTURE
SCIENCE
SPLENDOUR
RESOURCE
STRENGTH
TRIUMPH
SECURITY
TRUST
LIBERTY
PRUDENCE
INFLUENCE
VIGILENCE
SHELLBRIT 1

MANAGED VESSELS LOST

MELPOMENE
OLTENIA II
EMPIRE GEM
JOSEFENA THORDEN
EMPIRE METAL

Details of all these vessels can be found in the book BP TANKERS - A Group Fleet History by Harvey & Solly which I would recommend to someone like yourself.
It gives good technical coverage of the development of the tanker mainly in relation to the company and details over 1000 vessel controlled by BP and their subsidiary and associate companies. All in all a good backgrounder for someone setting out on a company career.

BPCadet
6th November 2008, 22:13
Bill H,

Many thanks for your reply. This is a great addition to the original list of names.

Thanks for the recommendation too - a couple of people have recommended this particular book already. From what you've said, it certainly seems to be a worthwhile purchase.

Many thanks,

BPCadet

stan mayes
6th November 2008, 22:30
Hello Jim -
'What did I think of the T2 El Morro' ?
She was a fine tanker - one of the best I had sailed in - BUT!!
She arrived at Purfleet from The US with an American crew on 20.1.1948.
We signed on next day and following discharge of cargo we moored to Greenhithe buoys and a gang of ship repairers boarded the ship.
There was a large communal messroom aft and a large refrigerator in it was emptied of milk,fresh fruit and fruit juices and taken to the stewards store.
Bulkheads were erected to form an officers saloon,a seamens mess,firemen/greasers mess and a POs mess.
All carpets and runners from cabins and alleyways were taken off the ship.
Metal bands were welded around the funnel and it was painted BTC colours.
We sailed on 24.1.1948 for Abadan - loaded crude and returned to discharge at Swansea -arriving 7.3.1948 and paid off.
I think the Bosun was the only crew member to sign on again.
Tankers I sailed in were - WW2 --
Adula - San Emiliano - Neritina maiden voyage - Dolabella 10 weeks on Normandy Operations from Day 2 - Lucellum - Empire Unity captured German tanker - British Merit ..
Postwar - Gold Ranger - Atheltarn - El Morro - San Roberto - British Success
Regards
Stan

stan mayes
6th November 2008, 22:41
BP Cadet -
British Merit was damaged by a torpedo from U 113 in convoy on 25.7.1942 but made New York ? and was repaired.
Stan

BillH
7th November 2008, 15:42
Bill H,

Many thanks for your reply. This is a great addition to the original list of names.

Thanks for the recommendation too - a couple of people have recommended this particular book already. From what you've said, it certainly seems to be a worthwhile purchase.

Many thanks,

BPCadet
Whilst referring to the book I had intended to insert a sample ship history to give you an idea of content.


BRITISH CORPORAL (1st of name in fleet) (1922 - 1940)

O.N. 146561. 6,972g. 4,072n. 10,817d. 440.0 x 57.1 x 33.8 feet.
Two, steam turbines manufactured by the shipbuilder, double reduction geared to a single screw. 3,270 shp.


29.11.1921: Launched by Palmer's Shipbuilding & Iron Company Ltd., Jarrow (Yard No. 923), for the British Tanker Company Ltd.

23.5.1922: Completed.

4.7.1940: Whilst at a position 50.13N., 12.35W., 10 miles south from Portland Bill, was severely damaged by a German "E" boat. Declared a total loss, the vessel was taken over by the Ministry of Shipping (subsequently restyled as the Ministry of War Transport), repaired and renamed EMPIRE CORPORAL, (the British Tanker Company Ltd., appointed as managers).

10.8.1942: Departed from Curacao as part of convoy TAW 12 J, bound to Key West.

14.8.1942: Sunk with a torpedo by the German submarine U 598, at a position 21.45N., 76.10W., off the north coast of Cuba.

BPCadet
7th November 2008, 16:50
Thanks Stan and Bill H for both of your replies.

Bill H,

Like you say, this book certainly provides quality information regarding individual vessels involved in the war. I will order a copy asap.

Regards,

BPCadet

scorcher
7th November 2008, 23:32
Hello...you may be interested in this link to E-Bay;

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Merchant-Fleets-The-British-Tankers-N-L-Middlemiss_W0QQitemZ190265040157QQcmdZViewItem?has h=item190265040157&_trksid=p3911.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1301%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C 240%3A1318

Best Wishes Scorcher.

kevjacko
9th November 2008, 12:41
Hi Bpcadet. Good luck with your seagoing career. I am an ex BP cook. 1981 THRO 1989. My grandfather was the only casuality on board the Br Captain when she was sunk during the 2nd world war. I have posted the details below.
I hope information like this is of use. I also had an uncle who sailed with BP for a lot of years, therefore I have a fair bit of family history with the company. I don't know if it's true but the story goes that during times of war or conflict no two members of the familly were ever allowed to sail together, so would be intersting to find out if this is true. Bit late for me i'm afraid now having been shoreside for a number of years, and my uncle sadly crossed the bar a while back. Once again good luck with all your endeavours.

Launched 17 November 1922 by Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and delivered in February 1923. Official number 146691 she was 6968 gross and 10822 deadweight tons, 440.0 x 57.1 x 33.8 feet driven by two steam turbines geared to a single screw, 3270 h.p. On a loaded voyage from Corpus Christi to Shellhaven via Halifax and Methil in convoy FS661 she detonated a mine on 2 December 1942 and sank in position 52.11.48N, 01.53.17E., 15 miles east of Aldeburgh. (Information from BP Tankers by Harvey and Solly.

BPCadet
9th November 2008, 14:26
Scorcher,

Thanks for the link - I will certainly try bidding for it! Definitely worth a shot.

Regards,

BPCadet

BPCadet
9th November 2008, 14:28
Kevjacko,

Thanks very much for your reply. This is great information and it will definitely help towards my research. Do you know which department your grandfather was in - engineering, deck or catering? and if so, what rank he was?

Thanks again.

Regards,

BPCadet