SS Automedon

davenjutaylor
21st December 2008, 20:31
I wonder if anyone can help me with this. The ship upon which my father served as an AB was sunk by a surface raider in the Indian Ocean on 11th November 1940. I know the date he was captured and the area and the only ship I can find on that day is the SS Automedon. Prior to the outbreak of world war 2 my father had sailed on the "Blue funnel " Line so I have no reason the doubt that he continued to do so following the outbreak of war in 1939. My Question is this: How can I find the crewlist for SS Automedon and additionally is it possible to obtain crewlists for other "Blue funnel" ships as he had previously been torpedoed in the Bay of Biscay in either late 1939 or early 1940.
My rather was Reginald (Clare) Taylor (R.6277) DoB 6th August 1910.

I would be very grateful for information no matter how trivial. Thanks, Dave Taylor.

PS A very merry Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year to all.

K urgess
21st December 2008, 20:35
Welcome to the crew, Dave.
You've boarded the right ship to ask those questions and I'm sure it won't be long before you get some answers.
Seasons greetings to you too and enjoy the voyage.

billyboy
21st December 2008, 20:42
Welcome aboard from the Philippines. Enjoy all this great site has to offer

eriskay
21st December 2008, 20:50
The S.S. 'Automedon', 7,528 tons, was sunk by the German Armed Surface Raider 'Atlantis', on 11th November 1940, off Sumatra, whilst on an outward-bound passage to the Far East. The ship's Master, Captain Ewan, along with the 3rd Mate, were killed during this short action. The Chief Officer also sustained serious injuries. The enemy Raider accounted for 22 ships amounting to over 145,000 tons of Allied shipping, and took six prize ships, before herself being destroyed by HMS Devonshire in November 1941 after a 601-days raiding patrol at sea.

Footnote :
I wonder if the earlier incident your dad was involved in, with Blue Funnel, could have been the loss of the outward-bound S.S. 'Pyrrhus' on 17th February 1940 at the hands of the submarine U-37? This incident took place in a position some 100 miles North-West of Cape Finisterre. Eight of the ship's complement perished in this action.

Bruce Carson
21st December 2008, 20:54
Dave, from Michigan, a warm welcome to Ships Nostalgia, it's good to have you as a member.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_auxiliary_cruiser_Atlantis#Automedon_and_he r_Secret_Cargo

Bruce

bert thompson
21st December 2008, 21:26
Welcome Dave See you have received replies already. Great site this
Best wishes
Bert.

Gulpers
21st December 2008, 22:00
Dave,

A warm welcome to the site from the Isle of Anglesey, I guarantee you will thoroughly enjoy the SN experience!
I am sure that someone will be able to help with your query in the meantime, have a good look around the site.
Now that you have broken the ice, keep posting! (Thumb)

Hugh MacLean
21st December 2008, 22:15
Welcome aboard, Dave.

You can go about this in a few ways - depends how sure you are of facts.

If you are sure he was on AUTOMEDON official number 147203, then the Crew Agreement for 1940 should be held at the National Archives in piece BT 381/829 (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATID=8175278&CATLN=6&Highlight=%2C147203&accessmethod=0)

There is a PoW file for AUTOMEDON held in piece BT 373/21 (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATID=7910391&CATLN=6&Highlight=%2CAUTOMEDON&accessmethod=0&Summary=True)

Your father also has a medal file in piece BT 395/1 (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/details-result.asp?Edoc_Id=4508347&queryType=1&resultcount=6)

He may have records held in the Fourth Register of Seamen's Service. These records are not online. The original cards are held in Southampton.

Details here: http://www.mercantilemarine.org/showthread.php?t=1622&highlight=central+index

If you need further advice about how to get these files just post back.
Regards

Frank P
22nd December 2008, 09:33
Welcome onboard Dave, enjoy the site.
Cheers Frank

R58484956
22nd December 2008, 10:14
Welcome Dave to SN. Bon voyage.

Hugh Ferguson
22nd December 2008, 11:57
www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=17877A recently published book written by a Mr Eiji Seki gives a fascinating insight into the sinking of the Automedon. If you click above link, Dave, you can access an SN file which I'm sure will be of much interest to you.
It's most unfortunate that you did not get into your research just a year or two ago when there were still living two of the survivors from this ship, namely, Sam Harper & Frank Walker (Frank died just about a year ago).
Mr Seki was also unfortunate in this respect as if, on the occasion of his first visit to this country, researching material for his book, he had known the whereabouts of the main character in the book (Violet Ferguson, Automedon passenger) he could have met her but sadly, she died in the interim. However, he met her sister with whom she lived in St.Albans and was able to photograph the tea-set inherited from her elder sister.
The book is readily obtainable, but first you must read the extracts, for which I received permission from the author and the publishers to publish, on this web-site. Regards, Hugh.

benjidog
22nd December 2008, 14:22
Welcome from Lancashire.
I hope you will enjoy the site.

CAPILANO
22nd December 2008, 16:05
German raider "Atlantis"
August 24th 1940:- m.v. "King City" whilst serving as an Admiralty collier, was sunk by "Atlantis" about 100 miles North of Rodreguez Island. 6 crew lost, 38 survived and were taken on board "Atlantis" Subsequently they were transferred with 200 other survivors to the ex Yugoslav "Durmitor"which had been taken as a prize. They were eventually landed at Marsiech, 60 miles North of Mogadishu on the French East African coast. Here they were interned in an Italian P.O.W. camp for about 7 months. They were finally released by the British Gold Coast Regiment.
Extracted from "Reardon Smith Line" The history of a South Wales Shipping Venture

chadburn
22nd December 2008, 16:45
Capilano, thanks for the more detailed history of the old King City and what happened afterwards, I met one of her Deck Officer's at an R.S.L. "do" he had his leg cut off as a result of his injuries during the action and he became a Geography Teacher at a school in Middlesbrough after the War. At that time (during the War) the area was called Italian Somaliland, in a book I have about the "Atlantis" it shows a picture of the K.C. being shelled.

Hugh Ferguson
22nd December 2008, 18:58
There were no Blue Funnel ships sunk in 1939. Early in 1940 (17th Feb.) the Pyrrhus was torpedoed and sunk by U.37 off Finisterre. I would suggest, Dave, that she was possibly the ship in which your father sailed, and which was torpedoed and sunk at about the date and place you make mention of in your first post.

Hugh MacLean
22nd December 2008, 21:53
If he was indeed aboard PYRRHUS official number 137410 then you should find the last Crew Agreement held in piece BT 381/657 (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATID=8175106&CATLN=6&Highlight=%2C137410&accessmethod=0)at the National Archives in Kew.

If you hit the link then click "Request this" and take the Digital Express option and follow instructions. It is important that you ask for the "last Crew Agreement for PYRRHUS official number 137410"

The cost for this file would be 8.50 for up to 10 document pages sent to your email address on a no find no fee basis. May be better to try and get records from Southampton first before spending money on Crew Agreements that you are not really sure about.

Regards

Hugh Ferguson
23rd December 2008, 19:07
If he was indeed aboard PYRRHUS official number 137410 then you should find the last Crew Agreement held in piece BT 381/657 (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATID=8175106&CATLN=6&Highlight=%2C137410&accessmethod=0)at the National Archives in Kew.

If you hit the link then click "Request this" and take the Digital Express option and follow instructions. It is important that you ask for the "last Crew Agreement for PYRRHUS official number 137410"

The cost for this file would be 8.50 for up to 10 document pages sent to your email address on a no find no fee basis. May be better to try and get records from Southampton first before spending money on Crew Agreements that you are not really sure about.

Regards

Many thanks for that contribution, Hugh. Most of my research was done before I got into computers. One early effort (Surgeon's Log story) involved contacting a voluntary organisation in which one was enabled to contact various people who lived in Kew, or nearby, and they would potter along to the Records place and, hopefully, come up with something useful. One old boy spent the day there on my behalf and came up with the astonishing information that what I was looking for could possibly reside in the archives of the Memorial University, Newfoundland. I contacted them and was informed that they indeed had some "articles" for the Polyphemus (the ship in question) for the year 1906. If I wished to know if they were for the first voyage of that ship in that year it would cost $40 for the search. My luck was in and photocopies duly arrived. I was triumphant, and from then on I was able to contact, not only the author of the book's 80 year old daughter, but also the 80 year old son of the 2nd mate of that ship during that voyage in 1906-amazingly they each came for a visit to my home here in Cornwall: both have since died.

Regarding the current enquiry by Dave into the ships his father served in
I am of the opinion that the Automedom and the Pyrrhus are spot on, and I feel sure that your links will help to reveal all.
The Pyrrhus was the first Blue Funnel ship to have been sunk by U.Boat. Eight lives were lost and they were all Chinese engine room personnel. All others (77) were rescued by two other ships in the same convoy, namely the Uskside and the Sinnington Court. The eight men lost were the first fatal casualties suffered by the Holt fleet.
Dave's father was evidently one of those who did not have a "good war", unless you consider coming out of it alive and uninjured could be considered good!

Hugh MacLean
23rd December 2008, 20:36
An amazing story, Hugh and shows how important that research breakthrough was for you. Before the Internet age, most of that valuable information was only available to a select few who were confident about maritime research and who also lived within easy reach of the Archives or maritime museums. Thankfully now, at last, it is easier to get more information from the Archives albeit, for the MN, you have to find it in more than one country. I am not a great believer in our history being locked away in files were it cannot be accessed easily. The story of the Merchant Navy at war needs to be told so lets tell it.

I hope some of these files will be of use to Dave and I hope he will let us know how he gets on.

Regards

gdynia
26th December 2008, 06:36
Welcome onboard to SN and enjoy the voyage

davenjutaylor
5th January 2009, 11:37
Thanks to all who have answered my query about Blue Funnel ships. I actually live in Totton on the outskirts of Southampton so I will be off to peruse the record cards hopefully over the next few days. Thanks again for all your posts with information and for the friendly greetings sent as well.

davenjutaylor
9th March 2009, 12:02
At long last I have been able to get into the archives at Southampton only to find my father's records are not there. From this I assume he wasn't discharged from service until being released from PoW camp in 1945. So it will be off to Kew sometime in the future to try and find the records there. Thanks to you all who have given me your support and information.
I will, of course, let you know how I get on at Kew. Regards, Dave Taylor

Mercury1
22nd February 2012, 11:02
www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=17877A recently published book written by a Mr Eiji Seki gives a fascinating insight into the sinking of the Automedon. If you click above link, Dave, you can access an SN file which I'm sure will be of much interest to you.
It's most unfortunate that you did not get into your research just a year or two ago when there were still living two of the survivors from this ship, namely, Sam Harper & Frank Walker (Frank died just about a year ago).
Mr Seki was also unfortunate in this respect as if, on the occasion of his first visit to this country, researching material for his book, he had known the whereabouts of the main character in the book (Violet Ferguson, Automedon passenger) he could have met her but sadly, she died in the interim. However, he met her sister with whom she lived in St.Albans and was able to photograph the tea-set inherited from her elder sister.
The book is readily obtainable, but first you must read the extracts, for which I received permission from the author and the publishers to publish, on this web-site. Regards, Hugh.

I know it's an old topic but I had to register just to say that this is incorrect. My Uncle Alex Parsons was a survivor of the Automedon and is still alive. He celebrates his 90th birthday on the 3rd of March. I was looking for photographs of the ship sinking when I came across this site.

You can see a photograph of my uncle in the book "Mrs Fergusons Teaset". To this day he maintains that they were set up.

Hugh Ferguson
22nd February 2012, 11:21
My profound apologies, Mercury1, for this mistake and that you had to go to the trouble of registering to bring it to my notice. Please give your uncle my very best wishes, Kind regards, Hugh Ferguson.

Mercury1
22nd February 2012, 12:21
My profound apologies, Mercury1, for this mistake and that you had to go to the trouble of registering to bring it to my notice. Please give your uncle my very best wishes, Kind regards, Hugh Ferguson.

No apology necessary. Mists of time and all that. I might add that after trying to kill him, he was taken on board Atlantis and the German surgeon operated on him and saved his life. He then spent more than four years in Milag Nord POW camp. At one stage he contracted pneumonia and was saved by a POW doctor by being wrapped in wet blankets. No antibiotics obviously. To reach the age of 90 really is amazing in my humble.

He still has pieces of shrapnel in his body to this day and like so many merchant seamen has not been treated very well by the powers that be in regard to applying for pensions etc. Lest we forget!

mikebed
10th October 2017, 14:07
Hi Mercury1, My Grandfather Ernest Price from Wallasey was a steward on board the Automedon when it went down. He died in 1974. Possibly a little late to ask whether your Uncle remembers him but . . . , cheers, Mike

Mercury1
10th October 2017, 14:38
Hi Mercury1, My Grandfather Ernest Price from Wallasey was a steward on board the Automedon when it went down. He died in 1974. Possibly a little late to ask whether your Uncle remembers him but . . . , cheers, Mike


Sadly Alex died a couple of years back. He was very involved with local organisations up to a few years ago so probably did know your grandfather. His wife my aunt died this year and the house is being cleared over time. I have asked that any documents the family do not want to be given to me for safe keeping. I know he had photo's and other documents relating to the Automedon and I don't want them lost forever on some skip. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

mikebed
10th October 2017, 17:27
Yes, we've got a photo album my Grandfather brought back from Milag Nord prisoner-of-war camp where they both must have ended up at in Germany. Shame we couldn't have asked your Uncle about it, Mike

makko
12th October 2017, 22:14
Mikebed: Could you scan and post some of the photos from Milag Nord? Are there any annotations as to the people in the photos: I ask because my grandfather was also in Milag Nord for the duration after being bombed and captured in Crete on the Dalesman (POW No. 5947).

Rgds.
Dave

Barrie Youde
12th October 2017, 22:56
#28 (https://www.shipsnostalgia.com/usertag.php?do=list&action=hash&hash=28)

Hi, Dave,

A man I knew well was William Herbert Highdale, who was also taken prisoner at Crete and held at Milag Nord. He was a cook, ex-Harrison Line; and so I'd guess he was in the Dalesman with your grandfather.

After the war he joined the Liverpool Pilot Cutters, serving first of all as a cook and later as steward. He was very good indeed in both capacities. For sheer cheerfulness and helpfulness he was exemplary - and even when taliking about Milag Nord he did so with a smile. After a long career in about 1990 he was awarded the BEM.

I knew Bert from 1960 onwards and would love to see a photograph of him as a young man at Milag Nord, if that might be possible. Sadly he crossed the bar some time ago.

makko
13th October 2017, 14:18
Interesting Barry that you knew someone elese who was undoubtedly a guest at Milag Nord with old Tommy! He was first sunk on Patroclus off Ireland. As she was an Armed Merchant Cruiser at the time, I assume that the ABs were issued RN style hats with ribbon - There is a picture of my father with his sister, mother and father and my dad is wearing such a cap. He was about four years old at the time. Tommy ran away to sea at 14 years old on a schooner from Wallasey Pool. His Dis A was No.5947!

Both of my gradfathers were well known characters around Poulton. I too would like to find out a little more.

Rgds.
Dave