PEISANDER Blue Funnel Line

stan mayes
17th September 2009, 23:02
On 17th May 1942 Peisander was homeward bound from Australia when she was torpedoed by U 653. She was about 350 miles SE of Nantucket Island.
There were no casualties and the crew abandoned ship into three lifeboats.
It was decided to steer a Westerly course toward Cape Cod.
During the night the Captains boat lost touch with the other two which stayed together.The Captains boat was seen next day by the US Costguard.
Three days later the other two boats were sighted by Hogarth's Baron Semple which stopped to pick them up.
The two lifeboat crews decided not to accept rescue.Baron Semple was bound for Capetown and if they accepted rescue it would have been a slow voyage in cramped conditions and another 43 mouths to feed.
The survivors were fit and well and the weather was very good and the possibility of being seen very soon.
They told Baron Semple - 'Thankyou but we stay where we are'..
Both boats landed on Nantucket Island on 24th May.
Baron Semple made Capetown safely but later,on 2nd November 1943 she was sunk by U 848...There were no survivors..

sparkie2182
17th September 2009, 23:08
Thanks for the story Stan.

There can't have been many lifeboat survivors who declined rescue........

makko
18th September 2009, 00:50
An intersting story Stan. Thanks!

My grandfather was sunk on Patroclus off Ireland approx 1 year prior. The war's lessons and Pyrrhus fire in the early sixties influenced deeply the BF shipboard regs and credo.

Regards,
Dave

Hugh Ferguson
18th September 2009, 22:38
Thanks for the story Stan.

There can't have been many lifeboat survivors who declined rescue........

There was nearly one other, also relating to a Blue Funnel ship. The Medon torpeded by the Italian submarine, Giuliani, midway betwen Freetown and Trindad. (I heard this, first hand, from Freddie Fuller who had been 2nd mate) After 35 days in No.3 boat they fell in with Ropner's, Reedpool, and they actually considered declining the offer and staying in the boat to make the coast of Brazil still some 800 miles distant.
However, it was decided to accept the offer of rescue, but unfortunately she was torpedoed and sunk a week later by U.515, 240 miles southeast of Trinidad. They were then all rescued next day by the schooner, Millie Masher, and landed at Georgetown.
Apparently, they had made a lot of southing which got them into the S.E. trades which they could rely on to get them to land-and that was the reason for their optimism to be able to make it on their own. Hearing the story from Freddie it sounded like a democratic decision was made, by a majority, wishing to be picked up by the Reedpool.

stan mayes
18th September 2009, 23:46
Hello Hugh,
That seems incredible to me. Depending on how many were in the boat they must have been getting short of rations and water and to think of continuing is unthinkable.
As you know I had five days in a boat and I will never forget the sight of constantly seeing sharks and barracuda.That should have been uppermost in the minds of the survivors of Medon when they had the chance of rescue.
Regards
Stan

BillH
19th September 2009, 09:32
On 17th May 1942 Peisander was homeward bound from Australia when she was torpedoed by U 653. She was about 350 miles SE of Nantucket Island.
There were no casualties and the crew abandoned ship into three lifeboats.
It was decided to steer a Westerly course toward Cape Cod.
During the night the Captains boat lost touch with the other two which stayed together.The Captains boat was seen next day by the US Costguard.
Three days later the other two boats were sighted by Hogarth's Baron Semple which stopped to pick them up.
The two lifeboat crews decided not to accept rescue.Baron Semple was bound for Capetown and if they accepted rescue it would have been a slow voyage in cramped conditions and another 43 mouths to feed.
The survivors were fit and well and the weather was very good and the possibility of being seen very soon.
They told Baron Semple - 'Thankyou but we stay where we are'..
Both boats landed on Nantucket Island on 24th May.
Baron Semple made Capetown safely but later,on 2nd November 1943 she was sunk by U 848...There were no survivors..
The following ship histories have been extracted from my book on CD - Alfred Holt & Company - The Blue Funnel Oddysey

PEISANDER (1) (1925 - 1942) Peisander class steel motorship.
O.N. 147304. 6,225g. 3,884n. 431.8 x 54.7 x 30.1 feet.
Two, 8-cyl. 4 S.C.S. A. (640 x 1100mm) oil engines made by Akt. Burmeister & Wains Maskin-og-Skibsbyggeri, Copenhagen, driving twin propeller shafts. 4,100 BHP. 13 kts.
10.12.1924: Launched by the Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd., Dundee (Yard No. 287), for the Ocean Steamship Company Ltd. 1925: Completed.

17.5.1942: Whilst on an independent voyage from Newcastle NSW, to Liverpool was sunk with a torpedo by the German submarine U 653 in a position 37.24N., 65.38W. off Nantucket. All survivors made off in three boats.

20.5.1942: Boats No’s.4 and 6 were offered rescue by the British steamer BARON SEMPILL (4,573g./39), but because she was South Africa bound the survivors declined the offer in favour of remaining in the boats.

24.5.1942: Both boats reached Nantucket Island whereas boat No.2 was rescued next day by the U.S. Coastguard vessel GENERAL GREEN and taken to Rhode Island.

BillH
19th September 2009, 09:35
An intersting story Stan. Thanks!

My grandfather was sunk on Patroclus off Ireland approx 1 year prior. The war's lessons and Pyrrhus fire in the early sixties influenced deeply the BF shipboard regs and credo.

Regards,
Dave
PATROCLUS (3) (1923 - 1940) Sarpedon class steel steamship.
O.N. 147218. 11,314g. 6,910n. 498.8 x 62.3 x 36.4 feet.
Two Brown Curtis type steam turbines (engine set No. 591), made by the shipbuilder reduction geared to twin propeller shafts. 7,500 SHP. 15 kts.
14.1.1922: Keel laid by Scotts' Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd., Greenock (Yard No. 518), for the China Mutual Steam Navigation Company Ltd.

1.3.1922: Contract announced.

17.3.1923: Launched by Mrs Laurence Durning Holt..

30.5.1923: Trials.

11.6.1923: Completed at a cost of 446,430.

9.1939: Hired by The Admiralty and converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser.

1.1940: Renamed HMS PATROCLUS.

3.11.1940: Whilst picking up survivors from the British CASANARE (5,326g./24), which had been torpedoed by the German submarine U 99 off the Bloody Foreland, N.W. Ireland was damaged with a torpedo by U 99.

4.11.1940: Sank with the loss of 76 lives.

BillH
19th September 2009, 09:38
There was nearly one other, also relating to a Blue Funnel ship. The Medon torpeded by the Italian submarine, Giuliani, midway betwen Freetown and Trindad. (I heard this, first hand, from Freddie Fuller who had been 2nd mate) After 35 days in No.3 boat they fell in with Ropner's, Reedpool, and they actually considered declining the offer and staying in the boat to make the coast of Brazil still some 800 miles distant.
However, it was decided to accept the offer of rescue, but unfortunately she was torpedoed and sunk a week later by U.515, 240 miles southeast of Trinidad. They were then all rescued next day by the schooner, Millie Masher, and landed at Georgetown.
Apparently, they had made a lot of southing which got them into the S.E. trades which they could rely on to get them to land-and that was the reason for their optimism to be able to make it on their own. Hearing the story from Freddie it sounded like a democratic decision was made, by a majority, wishing to be picked up by the Reedpool.
MEDON (1) (1923 - 1942) Machaon class steel motorship.
O.N. 147217. 5,915g. 3,828n. 406.5 x 52.2 x 29.3 feet.
8-cyl. 4 S.C.S. A. (740 x 1500mm) oil engine made by Akt. Burmeister & Wains Maskin-og-Skibsbyggeri, Copenhagen. 2,500 BHP. 14 kts.
2.2.1923: Launched by Palmers’ Shipbuilding & Iron Company Ltd., Newcastle (Yard No. 929), for the Ocean Steamship Company Ltd.

1923: Completed.

10.8.1942: Whilst on an independent ballast voyage from Mauritius via Table Bay and Trinidad to New York, was damaged with gunfire and torpedo by the Italian submarine REGINALDO GIULIANI in a position 09.26N., 38.28W. midway between Freetown and Trinidad. Abandoned by her crew who lay off in 4 lifeboats.

11.8.1942: Some crew re-boarded the vessel to gather supplies before the submarine recommenced to shell and sink her with another torpedo. Of the lifeboats No.4, was rescued after 7 days by the Norwegian TAMERLANE (6,778g./36); No.1, after 8 days by the Panamanian steamer ROSEMOUNT (4,956g./38); No.2, after 35 days by the Portuguese steamer LUSO (6,207g./12). No.3, was rescued, after 36 days, by the British steamer REEDPOOL (4,838g./24).

20.9.1942: REEDPOOL was herself sunk by the German submarine U 515 in a position 08.58N., 57.34W., 150 miles north of Georgetown, British Guyana. Her crew of 34, plus the 16 from MEDON, took to the one remaining lifeboat being rescued next day by the British schooner MILLIE M. MASHER.

Hugh Ferguson
19th September 2009, 13:35
Hello Hugh,
That seems incredible to me. Depending on how many were in the boat they must have been getting short of rations and water and to think of continuing is unthinkable.
As you know I had five days in a boat and I will never forget the sight of constantly seeing sharks and barracuda.That should have been uppermost in the minds of the survivors of Medon when they had the chance of rescue.
Regards
Stan

Yes, Stan, I agree it does seem incredible that such a course would even have been given a second thought, but I can assure you that, whether jokingly or not, Freddie Fuller (2nd mate) frequently made mention of it during the four or five months I spent at Outward Bound, Aberdovey where he was Principal. It is possible that he was the only one who harboured such a thought, and no other, not surprisingly, shared it. He was no doubt very pleased with the way they had come through those 35 days-there were just sixteen in the boat, they had had plenty of rain to refill the barricoes and they had just, for the second time, reduced rations to last a further fifty days! When rescued by the Reedpool he found that they were only seven miles from where his calculations had placed them-his was the only boat to have had one of the Medon's chronometers on board. Freddie also had a rifle and on the 31st day he managed to shoot a fish but the sharks got to it first, and shooting one of them only brought others which persuaded him to give up on shooting something to augment the rations.
The success of Blue Funnel people making long boat voyages has been noted by me in another thread in which mention was made of Blue Funnel loss of life during the war being virtually a half of the 17.5% loss of life rate for the M.N. as a whole.

makko
19th September 2009, 14:44
PATROCLUS (3) (1923 - 1940) Sarpedon class steel steamship.

9.1939: Hired by The Admiralty and converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser.

1.1940: Renamed HMS PATROCLUS.

3.11.1940: Whilst picking up survivors from the British CASANARE (5,326g./24), which had been torpedoed by the German submarine U 99 off the Bloody Foreland, N.W. Ireland was damaged with a torpedo by U 99.

4.11.1940: Sank with the loss of 76 lives.
Thanks BillH.
I am always asking my father to send me a copy of a photo from when he was but a boy. In the picture are my grandfather, grandmother, aunt and father. My father must be 4 yrs old. He is wearing my grandfather's matelot cape on which can be seen the cape band "Patroclus". It was always a bit of a mystery why it was RN style unril I read up on her history! My grandfather was bombed at Crete and captured, being sent to Milag Nord where he spent the rest of the war.
Regards,
Dave

Pat Kennedy
19th September 2009, 18:22
PATROCLUS (3) (1923 - 1940) Sarpedon class steel steamship.
O.N. 147218. 11,314g. 6,910n. 498.8 x 62.3 x 36.4 feet.
Two Brown Curtis type steam turbines (engine set No. 591), made by the shipbuilder reduction geared to twin propeller shafts. 7,500 SHP. 15 kts.
14.1.1922: Keel laid by Scotts' Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd., Greenock (Yard No. 518), for the China Mutual Steam Navigation Company Ltd.

1.3.1922: Contract announced.

17.3.1923: Launched by Mrs Laurence Durning Holt..

30.5.1923: Trials.

11.6.1923: Completed at a cost of 446,430.

9.1939: Hired by The Admiralty and converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser.

1.1940: Renamed HMS PATROCLUS.

3.11.1940: Whilst picking up survivors from the British CASANARE (5,326g./24), which had been torpedoed by the German submarine U 99 off the Bloody Foreland, N.W. Ireland was damaged with a torpedo by U 99.

4.11.1940: Sank with the loss of 76 lives.
Bill,
According to Duncan Haws,in his Merchant Fleets; Blue Funnel Line, Patroclus had stopped to pick up survivors from the White Star liner Laurentic, which was torpedoed while picking up survivors from Casanare. U99 sank all three of them.
Pat

BillH
19th September 2009, 19:14
Bill,
According to Duncan Haws,in his Merchant Fleets; Blue Funnel Line, Patroclus had stopped to pick up survivors from the White Star liner Laurentic, which was torpedoed while picking up survivors from Casanare. U99 sank all three of them.
Pat
Pat,

The information I presented came word of mouth from a survivor from PATROCLUS as well as official sources as accurate as they can be with available info.

In 1980, retired Lt. Cdr Tom Jobling RN gave our branch of WSS a talk on his war experiences on PATROCLUS and he stated they were picking up from CASANARE.

No reason to doubt him although could it have been that both vessels had stopped to pick up. Who knows ?

Bill

Pat Kennedy
19th September 2009, 19:31
Bill,
There is an excellent account of this incident at this link;
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/annemariepurnell/patroclus.html
which seems to indicate that we are both correct. It was a very confused scenario.
Best regards,
Pat

makko
20th September 2009, 00:50
Bill & Pat,
I seem to remember that the U-Boot was following the liner. Patroclus was shadowing the U-Boot. There was a destroyer nearby also. When the sub surfaced to attack the disabled liner, Patroclus raced in to put herself in the line of fire to allow the liner complement to take to the boats. The U-boot sank Patroclus.
Rgds.
Dave

Trident
23rd September 2009, 05:40
Bill,
There is an excellent account of this incident at this link;
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/annemariepurnell/patroclus.html
which seems to indicate that we are both correct. It was a very confused scenario.
Best regards,
Pat

Thanks for that link Pat, I found it most interesting plus the other link that was mentioned at the end "The WW2 Royal Navy Career of Alfred Miles".
I don't think the Merchant Navy would have been so appealing to many of us in those times................Al

Hugh Ferguson
26th April 2013, 20:47
Hello Hugh,
That seems incredible to me. Depending on how many were in the boat they must have been getting short of rations and water and to think of continuing is unthinkable.
As you know I had five days in a boat and I will never forget the sight of constantly seeing sharks and barracuda.That should have been uppermost in the minds of the survivors of Medon when they had the chance of rescue.
Regards
Stan

Regarding prolonged passages of Blue Funnel people in life-boats-I happen to have known two of them; Freddie Fuller, 2nd mate of the Medon and Steve Covell, 3rd mate of the Rhexenor.
Steve had one death in his boat and made it to land in 20 days without any undue suffering which one might imagine as unavoidable in such circumstances.

Roskill writes:- 'Thus ended four more long boat voyages by Holt men, all conducted with admirable skill and resolution............Though they were perhaps lucky to start their voyages right in the zone of the N.E. trade winds, one may again remark how, as with boats from the Memnon, the Calchas and the Medon, it was chiefly the seamanship and strength of character of the officers and senior ratings that brought them through. But the care and foresight shown in victualling and equipping the Rhexenor's boats undoubtedly mitigated the hardships of the voyages.'

And I'm sure that was the reason the losses of life suffered by Blue Funnel personnel was about 9% as compared to 17.5% for the M.N. as a whole.

Hugh Ferguson
28th April 2013, 13:30
Regarding prolonged passages of Blue Funnel people in life-boats-I happen to have known two of them; Freddie Fuller, 2nd mate of the Medon and Steve Covell, 3rd mate of the Rhexenor.
Steve had one death in his boat and made it to land in 20 days without any undue suffering which one might imagine as unavoidable in such circumstances.

Roskill writes:- 'Thus ended four more long boat voyages by Holt men, all conducted with admirable skill and resolution............Though they were perhaps lucky to start their voyages right in the zone of the N.E. trade winds, one may again remark how, as with boats from the Memnon, the Calchas and the Medon, it was chiefly the seamanship and strength of character of the officers and senior ratings that brought them through. But the care and foresight shown in victualling and equipping the Rhexenor's boats undoubtedly mitigated the hardships of the voyages.'

And I'm sure that was the reason the losses of life suffered by Blue Funnel personnel was about 9% as compared to 17.5% for the M.N. as a whole.

Steve Covell's account-as given to Captain Roskill-of a long life-boat voyage.

Hugh Ferguson
20th July 2013, 16:12
Hello Hugh,
That seems incredible to me. Depending on how many were in the boat they must have been getting short of rations and water and to think of continuing is unthinkable.
As you know I had five days in a boat and I will never forget the sight of constantly seeing sharks and barracuda.That should have been uppermost in the minds of the survivors of Medon when they had the chance of rescue.
Regards
Stan

Not incredible in the Blue Funnel Line, Stan! Here's another which seems to make long and successful life-boat voyages in this company all but routine.
This was a company in which much effort was made to lessen the fatalities so often accompanying the hurried abandoning of sinking ships.
Lawrence Holt recognised early on that that was when a lot of unnecessary loss of life occurred and he, unlike most others, did something about it by setting up the Outward Bound School in Aberdovey.
Kurt Hahn, who ran Gordonstoun, gave much asistance in that enterprise and I am absolutely certain that many crew owed their survival to that training, resulting in the Blue Funnel fatalities amounting to 9%-virtually a half of the generally accepted eastimate of 17.5% for the M.N. overall.
When I first went there in 1943 ALL of the instructors had been through the mill and consequently had a lot of experience to pass on to those about to face the hazards of life at sea in those days.

I once saw a tanker go up in flames and thought at the time that nobody could have survived that holocaust. I was wrong but it was to be 40 years-when I succeeded in contacting a survivor (one of nineteen)- and learned the whole story which involved the loss of 40 men who chose to leap overboard into the sea, rather than wait for a boat to be launched as did my contact-an R.O..

Barrie Youde
20th July 2013, 17:39
Hi, Hugh,

In other threads regarding Aberdovey I've admitted that my own time there was hugely enjoyable and was experienced without difficulty - the very antithesis of survival in a lifeboat in wartime. In doing so I might have given the impression that I doubted its value - largely because, thank God, its value in my own case (thanks to mere happenstance in the date of my birth) was never put to the test. That the value of Aberdovey-type training exists, I don't doubt for a moment - and never have done. I no longer have my Aberdovey tie, but I wore it with great pride until it fell to bits.

The value lies, as it does in anything else of value, in showing basic right and wrong and good and bad in terms of survival. This can only be of benefit in any circumstances.

Thank you for the story of George Edge. I did not know him, but I knew many of his generation.

B

Hugh Ferguson
20th July 2013, 20:55
The most important activity in those early days-apart from the daily sail in the standing lug/dipping lug cutters-was the hugely competetive swinging out of a real ship's lifeboat specially installed on the wharf.
It hung on a set of radial davits identical to those which all of the old steam-ships carried. I wish I could remember the record time; I believe it was less than 2 minutes to get swung out but not lowered.
It had all been done away with by the time I went there as an instructor in 1953.

Wallace Slough
20th July 2013, 21:40
Hugh
Thanks belatedly for posting the obituary of Captain Edge; most interesting. It makes me think back of our training at Cal Maritime and the time we spent sailing gaff rigged whaleboats, launching and retrieving surf boats at sea for man overboard drills, and general seamanship. I can't help but feel that much of this seamanship is lost on todays mariners, and I hope I'm wrong in that opinion. Even if it's never put to test, such knowledge is invaluable.

Hugh Ferguson
21st July 2013, 11:43
Yes, Wallace, everything in those days involved intense physical activity.
The drill for swinging out one of those lifeboats took the strength and total co-ordination of 12 boys and at Outward Bound, Aberdovey, we did it every day throughout the month long course. Speed was of the essence.

Barrie Youde
21st July 2013, 12:16
Radial davits disappeared from the pilot-cutters at Liverpool in 1962. I count myself privileged at having worked them during those last two years, at the start of my own career.

The boats were kept swung outboard when on station. They were bowsed to a spar slung between the davits when not in use. From the moment of the issue of the order "lower away" to the moment when the boat was in the water, with falls released and bowsed in, and the boat completely ready for use would be about thirty seconds.

From the stowed position on deck, in the chocks, and being fully swung outboard and secured obviously took a good deal longer; and two minutes sounds about right- even when done by two men and not twelve.

I don't recall any davit-work at Aberdovey in my own time there in 1959. There was plenty of other boatwork, which is what made it all so enjoyable.

Those of us who had experience of working with radial davits/rope falls and gravity davits/wire falls in the newer pilot cutters much preferred the older method. It was far cleaner! And there was far less to go wrong. And much more interesting to talk about!

Alex Salmond
21st July 2013, 12:36
I wonder if anyone can tell me if the following story is a load of old cobblers or not ,I was staying at Anchor House waiting to ship out from KG5 in the early 70s when someone pointed out a wee Chinese guy sitting in the bar playing the one armed bandit ,the story I was told was that he had been on a Ben Boat torpedoed in the Atlantic and was over a hundred days in a lifeboat and when eventually picked up he was the only one left in the boat and looked in pretty good nick for spending so long in an open boat .all the others had died he said and been put over the side ive often wondered if that was just a horror story to make our flesh creep !!

Hugh Ferguson
21st July 2013, 13:00
His name was Poon Lim and it is true but he was not in a lifeboat he was on a raft!
Google the name: loads about him, 'twas 133 days!

Wallace Slough
12th August 2013, 05:06
Barry
I recall using radial davits at sea on the training ship for our surf boats. They were used for man overboard drills wherein a dummy would be cast over the side with no warning, and the call of man overboard port or starboard side was called out. The bridge watch had to react immediately, and put the rudder hard over towards the side the dummy was cast on, and the alarm went out to man the surf boat. A Williamson Turn was conducted while the boat would be lowered with the crew on board using manila falls and two cruciform bitts with a midshipman on each bit working the falls with men backing him up leading the lines to him. The boat would be launched, and if done correctly, stream out on the sea painter, retrieve the dummy, and them come back along side the ship never having disconnected the sea painter. The ship would be underway at about 5 knots and the boat would hook up to the falls to be hoisted aboard with the crew (5) still on board the boat with "Norwegian Steam". There was an ample supply of Norwegian Steam on the training ship! Wonderful training, and wonderful memories.