George Beswick, Ordinary Seaman, ss MARCELLA January 1942

Tony Selman
16th July 2006, 17:57
I have recently had the pleasure of meeting George, who is the father of one of my colleagues. He is in good health and now lives in Fleetwood.

He has given me a mini treasure trove of archive material relating to his seagoing career. I attach the first with this message which is his wartime discharge book, this is the first time I have ever seen such a document. It is a paper/parchment type document A5 in size and single sided - nothing like the books that we all became used to.

I hope it is clear enough to read on the site now that I have re-sized it to meet the uploading criteria. I will over the forthcoming days scan in other things he has given me including several of his actual account of wages from his wartime career, they are very interesting documents. If the details are not clear then I will list them out on a future message.

Can anyone please tell me whether I can scan in and reproduce copyrighted photos from the National Maritime Museum if I give them the accreditation? Several of his wartime ship photos are from this source.

It would be great if George could find one of his former shipmates and I hope you all get as much pleasure from these documents as I publish them as I have.

By coincidence I am currently reading "The Real Cruel Sea" and now I have met someone whose first ship was actually torpedoed and blown up in 1943, although he was not on it at the time. I will expand on this soon.

16th July 2006, 18:13

The attachment you put in here is quite readable but you are likely to get problems with larger or more complex documents. If so one way to handle this is to upload the image to the Gallery then put a posting into this thread with a cross-reference.

In case you are not sure how to do this, when you have posted the picture in the Gallery - get it on screen, then select the URL in the address bar (the, press CTRL and C to copy it. Then make a posting in the thread explaining what it is about and add the cross reference by pressing the little icon that looks like the world with glasses on and paste the URL in there with CTRL and V.



Hugh MacLean
16th July 2006, 18:15
Hello Tony,

The material would be of great interest to members of the site.

Regarding copyright I am not sure what the owners/mods would say about posting on here but I can only give you my own experience.

I have a NMM photo on my website with copyright acknowledgement to same. I had written and requested permission which they gave after initially quoting their terms regarding fees for hire etc. I wrote back and told them it was a not for profit site etc and they were happy.

I also have the book "The Real Cruel Sea" it's a good read.


Tony Selman
16th July 2006, 18:19
The attached photo was taken on George's first voyage on MARCELLA in Buenos Aires on 21 August 1942. The comments on the back of the photo are fascinating and are as follows:-

"Ammunition ship, Never again
Captain Downie
Blew up West of Oporto 13th March 1943, Convoy OS44, Gelhaus Submarine U107. Lost with all hands 35 crew 9 dems.

42.45N 13.13W".

Goerge was not on Marcella at the time as he left her on 12 November 1942 but had obviously followed her career, what was left of it. This is the only ship that I have had chance to speak to George about so far and he said he was not happy on her. She was very old (I need to check the details) very slow and regularly carried ammunition which made her very unpopular. She appears to be loading general cargo in B.A. according to the note on the back and I would presume this was more likely to be meat or wheat than ammunition - I am sure she did not have freezer capabilities though.

Hugh MacLean
16th July 2006, 19:07

I think Gulpers would be very interested in the photo you just published.

See thread:


Tony Selman
16th July 2006, 19:36
Hugh, I have attached a reply to his original thread and suggested he send me a PM and I will send him what I have on Marcella.

Tony Selman
17th July 2006, 10:36
I attach George's wage slips from his first two ships, ss MARCELLA and ss CATRINE. You certainly didn't go away to sea for the money in those days! On his first ship he started at 5/16/3 per month but managed to pay off with a quite considerable sum of 86/18/7 and the majority of this appears to be due to some unreadable word/s under the heading of Extras. It seems to say Wxx (P?) Diff @ 7 and I believe this to be a payment of 7 per month as the total amount of 67/13/4 seems to match his 9 month 20 day voyage.

His basic had risen to the dizzy heights of 8/10/0 per month on CATRINE but interestingly the extras were much less on this ship.

You can to some extent trace the voyages undertaken by the dates and ports where subs were allocated. I can read most of this on the originals but if it is not clear on the scans, and I have done my best!, then I will fill any specific details if anyone needs them.

NOTE: after uploading the images the bottom section has been cut off, probably due to the sizing restrictions - this basically summarizes the deductions and gives you your nett pay off amount.

Tony Selman
17th July 2006, 10:55
Another photo of MARCELLA loading in B.A. Although it does not have any notes on the back of this photo I am as sure as I can be this is of the same ship at the same time as the previous one. There are marked similarities in the layout of the ship and what seems to be the same grain conveyor, or perhaps bridge, in the background.

On reflection this would make it seem likely the ship was loading grain in B.A.

Tony Selman
17th July 2006, 11:22
Another two photos of MARCELLA, which complete George's collection for this ship. I do, however, have something of a problem with thse two images. they are admittedly of very poor quality but to my eye they seem to be of different ships.

The first image has "Homeward Bound" and "Passing N African Invasion" written on the front and "Marcella, Oct 42, Bay of Biscay convoy, never again, blew up same place February 43" - (it was actually March 1943) - on the back.

The second image to my eye has a substantially different layout on the foredeck. The comment on the front of this picture is "Marcella passing Gib Oct 42". I am no expert but I am inclined to believe the first one is actually Marcella and the second one is another ship. I have studied this photo for some time and cannot make out what the equipment is that appears to be mounted on the fo'csle head, perhaps either a deck officer or someone familiar with wartime equipment can advise us.

27th February 2009, 07:21
.............The "dischage book" you demonstrated earlier is copy of the ships he served on .. It is possible that he lost his original Discharge book and a copy of his ships were obtained from the Register of Shipping which was located in Cardiff were
all records of shpping were recorded... I myself had a copy exactly similar to the one of Georges.sent to me in New Zealand ..........years after giving up the sea. All records are now in the Public records in Kew Gardens

27th February 2009, 08:58
Additional info Marcella Built 1928 at Lithgows Port Glasgow yard No 804 for Kaye Son & Co, London : o.v Manchester – Clyde – Freetown – Capetown with 7,200 tons of commercial cargo, at 05.30 hours on 13th March 1943, U-107 attacked the convoy OS-44 190 miles west of Cape Finisterre, position sm/t 42.45N/13.31W 13.3.43 (44*) and reported hits on three ships. In fact four ships were hit the Clan Alpine, Marcella, Oporto, and Sembilangan. The master, ( Richard Downie ) and 34 crew and nine gunners from the Marcella were lost

28th February 2010, 10:31

Good morning to you.

I am doing some research for a work colleague whose uncle served on the SS.Marcella.
His name was Terence McGaffin.
If possible can you contact George and ask him if he possbily might remember Terence.
I know his family would be very appreciative if you could ask.