Hello from the son of a DEMS Gunner....

tarfu2
5th June 2009, 20:54
Hoping that somebody might be able to provide some information about the Merchant ships he helped defend during WW2.

He was assigned to the following ships:

SS Lucellum - Escort Oiler (tanker), SS Scottish Prince II - Cargo, SS Empire Elaine - Heavy cargo, and two ships that I can find very little about at all ... SS Kutsang and SS Tonkawa. He was finally repatriated from India on the SS Ille de France (as a passenger from some reason).

Any help would be most appreciated.

Cheers
Alan

K urgess
5th June 2009, 21:03
Welcome aboard from East Yorkshire, Alan.
I'm sure you will have some answers quite quickly when the crew see your post.
Have an enjoyable voyage.

R58484956
5th June 2009, 21:12
Greetings Alan and welcome to SN on your first posting. Enjoy the site and bon voyage.

bert thompson
5th June 2009, 21:26
Alan welcome and hope you soon get the information you seek
Best wishes
Bert.

stan mayes
5th June 2009, 21:43
Hello Alan,
Dates would help in your queries.
I made a voyage in Lucellum end 1944.
Kutsang was owned by Indo China Nav.Co.
Tonkawa was a small ship operating in Indian Ocean area and your father was probably in her at latter part of war with Japan.
No doubt he was in the ship when Japan surrendered - that would explain his returning home from that area in Ile de France.
Regards
Stan

Steve Woodward
5th June 2009, 21:56
Alan,
Welcome to SN from East Yorks, there are some knowledgable types on the crew who will provide the info you seek, best of luck and enjoy your time with us
Steve

billyboy
5th June 2009, 23:10
Welcome aboard from the Philippines. Enjoy all this great site has to offer

benjidog
6th June 2009, 00:17
Welcome from Lancashire.
I hope you will enjoy the site.

Here is some info on Lucellum:

Official Number : 116625
Launch Date: 29.10.38
Type: Tanker
Date of completion: 12.38
Owner on completion: Astrakhan S.S.Co Ltd (H.E.Moss), Liverpool
Flag: GBR Keel:
Tons: 9425
DWT: N/K
Yard No: 77
Length : 148.0 metres
Beam: 20.0 metres
Country of build: Denmark
Builder: Odense Staalskibs
Location of yard: Odense
Single screw
Oil engine
Speed(kn): 12.5
Subsequent History:
1955 - renamed as Asturia
1956 - converted to ore carrier, 10,000gt
5 Oct 1961 - wrecked Cap a la Roche, St Lawrence River
30 Dec 1961 - broken up at Barcelona

Hugh MacLean
6th June 2009, 00:27
Hello and welcome, Alan.
All military DEMS gunners signed ships' Articles of Agreement. If you need information about crew listings of any of those ships during the WWII period please make another post and we will direct you to the relevent files at Kew.
Regards

gdynia
6th June 2009, 02:00
Welcome onboard to SN and enjoy the Voyage

NOEL MUTCH
5th July 2012, 21:31
Hello and welcome, Alan.
All military DEMS gunners signed ships' Articles of Agreement. If you need information about crew listings of any of those ships during the WWII period please make another post and we will direct you to the relevent files at Kew.
Regards

I TOO WAS A DEMS GUNNER AND AM INTERESTED IN THE CREW LISTINGS TO WHICH YOU REFER. COULD YOU PLEASE LET ME HAVE THE DIRECTIONS TO ENABLE ME TO CONTACT KEW.

REGARDS-NOEL MUTCH

Hugh MacLean
5th July 2012, 23:23
Hello Noel,

Can you give me the name of the ship(s) and the time period you were onboard and I will point you to the files you need.

Regards
Hugh

Stephen J. Card
6th July 2012, 00:14
Alan,

Having a hard time finding what possible voyage your dad may have done on the ILE DE FRANCE. She called a few times at Bombay early in the war .... like summer 1942. From June 1943 until the ship was returned to French Line on 22nd September 1945 she was on the North Atlantic trooping run.

It is posssible that you dad came back from the far east.. somehow to New York then across the Atlantic in the ILE.

Any dates you have would be a great help.

Stephen

NOEL MUTCH
6th July 2012, 12:43
Hello Noel,

Can you give me the name of the ship(s) and the time period you were onboard and I will point you to the files you need.

Regards
Hugh

BEFORE I PROVIDE THE INFO REQUIREDN I HAVE TO CONGRATULATE YOU RE.YOUR WEBSITE AND IN PARTICULAR THE ACCOUNT OF YOUR FATHER'S TERRIBLE ORDEAL IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE SINKING OF THE CITY OF CAIRO.I WAS MOVED THROUGH ALL EMOTIONS OF FEAR,SADNESS,JOY BUT ABOVE ALL ADMIRATION.
NOW-THE INFO:-
1. SS SAMGAUDIE - AUG:1944( MANCHESTER) - JAN:1945(MADRAS)
2. SS SYGNET- APPROX: JAN:1945(MADRAS) - MAY 1945(CALCUTTA) HOSPITALISED THEN NAVAL BARRACKS.THIS WAS AN OLD NORWEGIAN IRON ORE SHIP

3. SS FORT RICHELIEU (CALCUTTA) - APPROX: OCT:1945 - MARCH ?? 1946 (CALCUTTA)

4. MV ROXBURGH CASTLE (BOMBAY) - APPROX: APR:/MAY 1946 - JULY ?? (TILBURY LONDON)

HAVE TO SAY THE DATES ARE SOMEWHAT HAZY HOPE THEY ENABLE YOU TO OBTAIN THE INFORMATION AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR TROUBLE.

REGARDS-NOEL

NOEL MUTCH
6th July 2012, 12:44
Hello Noel,

Can you give me the name of the ship(s) and the time period you were onboard and I will point you to the files you need.

Regards
Hugh

BEFORE I PROVIDE THE INFO REQUIRED I HAVE TO CONGRATULATE YOU RE.YOUR WEBSITE AND IN PARTICULAR THE ACCOUNT OF YOUR FATHER'S TERRIBLE ORDEAL IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE SINKING OF THE CITY OF CAIRO.I WAS MOVED THROUGH ALL EMOTIONS OF FEAR,SADNESS,JOY BUT ABOVE ALL ADMIRATION.
NOW-THE INFO:-
1. SS SAMGAUDIE - AUG:1944( MANCHESTER) - JAN:1945(MADRAS)
2. SS SYGNET- APPROX: JAN:1945(MADRAS) - MAY 1945(CALCUTTA) HOSPITALISED THEN NAVAL BARRACKS.THIS WAS AN OLD NORWEGIAN IRON ORE SHIP

3. SS FORT RICHELIEU (CALCUTTA) - APPROX: OCT:1945 - MARCH ?? 1946 (CALCUTTA)

4. MV ROXBURGH CASTLE (BOMBAY) - APPROX: APR:/MAY 1946 - JULY ?? (TILBURY LONDON)

HAVE TO SAY THE DATES ARE SOMEWHAT HAZY HOPE THEY ENABLE YOU TO OBTAIN THE INFORMATION AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR TROUBLE.

REGARDS-NOEL

Hugh MacLean
6th July 2012, 23:51
Hello Noel,

Thank you for your kind comments about my website - a labour of love for me and I appreciate your comments very much indeed.

SAMGAUDIE official number 169849 her crew agreement for 1944 is held at the National Archives, Kew in piece BT 381/3174. She was foreign going all through 1945 so the agreement for 1945 will be in with 1946 as that was when she was back in a UK port. The crew agreement for 1946 is held at Kew in piece BT 381/4036.
FORT RICHELIEU official number 169726 her crew agreement for 1945 is held at Kew in piece BT 381/3700 and for 1946 is piece BT 381/4029.
ROXBURGH CASTLE II official number 180491 her crew agreement for 1946 is held at Kew in piece BT 381/4059.

I cannot see a Norwegian ship named SYGNET is that spelt correctly? Also, as she was probably with the Norwegian registry and without a British official number then its unlikely there will be a crew agreement at Kew. You would probably need to pursue this with the Norwegian Archives.

These file references that I have highlighted can be obtained online but at a cost. Far easier and much cheaper if someone can copy them [free] by visiting Kew on your behalf.

I hope that helps and if you need further advice then please just ask and I will try and advise.

Regards
Hugh

NOEL MUTCH
7th July 2012, 12:09
HUGH[QUOTE=Hugh MacLean;606061]Hello Noel,

Thank you for your kind comments about my website - a labour of love for me and I appreciate your comments very much indeed.

SAMGAUDIE official number 169849 her crew agreement for 1944 is held at the National Archives, Kew in piece BT 381/3174. She was foreign going all through 1945 so the agreement for 1945 will be in with 1946 as that was when she was back in a UK port. The crew agreement for 1946 is held at Kew in piece BT 381/4036.
FORT RICHELIEU official number 169726 her crew agreement for 1945 is held at Kew in piece BT 381/3700 and for 1946 is piece BT 381/4029.
ROXBURGH CASTLE II official number 180491 her crew agreement for 1946 is held at Kew in piece BT 381/4059.

I cannot see a Norwegian ship named SYGNET is that spelt correctly? Also, as she was probably with the Norwegian registry and without a British official number then its unlikely there will be a crew agreement at Kew. You would probably need to pursue this with the Norwegian Archives.

These file references that I have highlighted can be obtained online but at a cost. Far easier and much cheaper if someone can copy them [free] by visiting Kew on your behalf.

I hope that helps and if you need further advice then please just ask and I will try and advise.

Regards
Hugh[/QUOTE

Hugh - Many thanks for your prompt reply.Regarding the Norwegian ship it may be spelt SIGNET . I suspect your thoughts may be correct because I think she had been out East pre- war which may account for the attitude of some of the Norwegian Officers when they had a few drinks.The remainder of the crew were Lascars and Chinese.

Regards - Noel

Hugh MacLean
8th July 2012, 14:40
Hello Noel,

Nothing for SIGNET that I can see. Have a look here and see if you can spot the ship. There are a couple of contenders.

http://www.warsailors.com/freefleet/shipindex.html

My thinking may be SYGNA. Have a look at her movements and see if they tie in with your recollections: http://www.warsailors.com/riksarkivet3/sygna4.gif
more info here: http://www.warsailors.com/singleships/sygna.html

Regards
Hugh

NOEL MUTCH
9th July 2012, 13:31
Hello Noel,

Nothing for SIGNET that I can see. Have a look here and see if you can spot the ship. There are a couple of contenders.

http://www.warsailors.com/freefleet/shipindex.html

My thinking may be SYGNA. Have a look at her movements and see if they tie in with your recollections: http://www.warsailors.com/riksarkivet3/sygna4.gif
more info here: http://www.warsailors.com/singleships/sygna.html

Regards
Hugh
Hello Hugh,

How on earth have you managed to find this lot - quite amazing to me and quite exciting. There is little doubt in my mind that SYGNA is the one based on the fact that during my time on her we onlly sailed between Calcutta and Madras with a couple of calls into Vizagapatam and only carried coal loaded at Madras, I think we were always light ship on leaving Calcutta . I don't know what I had done wrong to be allocated to this ship (it was only my second) , talk about a voyage from hell (slight exageration) . She was built like a tanker,funnel aft max speed 7 knots and shaking all over at that. Our bug ridden accomodation was in the tween deck directly below the winches The bulkheads were tong/groove timber,ill fitting, and as a result when you arose from your bunk after working cargo you were "Zebralike" .This combined with the fact that the old man was a "nut" so bad that, beleive it or not, he was finally banned by the Port Authorities in Calcutta/Madras from going ashore. Strangely enough the food was not bad we had Chinese stewards including the Chief.
Better leave it at that - becoming a bore.

Once again many thanks for your great help.

Regards - Noel

NOEL MUTCH
9th July 2012, 13:34
Hello Noel,

Nothing for SIGNET that I can see. Have a look here and see if you can spot the ship. There are a couple of contenders.

http://www.warsailors.com/freefleet/shipindex.html

My thinking may be SYGNA. Have a look at her movements and see if they tie in with your recollections: http://www.warsailors.com/riksarkivet3/sygna4.gif
more info here: http://www.warsailors.com/singleships/sygna.html

Regards
Hugh
Hello Hugh,

How on earth have you managed to find this lot - quite amazing to me and quite exciting. There is little doubt in my mind that SYGNA is the one based on the fact that during my time on her we only sailed between Calcutta and Madras with a couple of calls into Vizagapatam and only carried coal loaded at Madras, I think we were always light ship on leaving Calcutta . I don't know what I had done wrong to be allocated to this ship (it was only my second) , talk about a voyage from hell (slight exageration) . She was built like a tanker,funnel aft max speed 7 knots and shaking all over at that. Our bug ridden accomodation was in the tween deck directly below the winches The bulkheads were tong/groove timber,ill fitting, and as a result when you arose from your bunk after working cargo you were "Zebralike" .This combined with the fact that the old man was a "nut" so bad that, beleive it or not, he was finally banned by the Port Authorities in Calcutta/Madras from going ashore. Strangely enough the food was not bad we had Chinese stewards including the Chief.
Better leave it at that - becoming a bore.

Once again many thanks for your great help.

Regards - Noel

Hugh MacLean
10th July 2012, 20:59
Your'e very welcome Noel.

Better leave it at that - becoming a bore.
I for one don't find it boring; on the contrary, I find it very interesting indeed.

SYGNA was on charter to The Ministry of War Transport from Aug, 14, 1941 to Oct 23, 1945 and managed by British India SN Co. There is an outside chance that her crew agreements may be held at Kew in piece BT 387: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATLN=3&CATID=60739&SearchInit=4&SearchType=6&CATREF= If they are not then you would need to contact the Norwegian National Archives.

Regards
Hugh

slooby
22nd June 2013, 22:33
Hi, I'm also the son of a DEMS gunner, unfortunately my father George Laban passed away in the 1995 and didn't talk much about his experiences during WW2 on the merchant ships, so I can't even tell you the names of the ship's he sailed on, but if my some chance somebody can enlighten me, it would be fantastic.

I found this forum by accident and I'm intrigued and moved by some of the topics and accounts I have read so far, it;s fascinating.

Thank you.

Hugh MacLean
22nd June 2013, 22:54
Hello and welcome,
The very first thing you need to do would be to obtain your father's service records from the MoD. If you need further advice on that just make another post.

DEMS gunners are difficult to research as the service records will not tell you what Merchant Navy ships he served in, they usually just show the parent accounting shore establishment. Pay and Victualing Ledgers were also kept by the MoD up until 1951 and if you send an email to the following address you can ask them to check the ledgers for the names of the ship's he served in. Give his full name, date and place of birth and official number if you have it and also tell them he was a DEMS gunner.

[email protected]

Regards
Hugh

slooby
22nd June 2013, 23:04
Hello and welcome,
The very first thing you need to do would be to obtain your father's service records from the MoD. If you need further advice on that just make another post.

DEMS gunners are difficult to research as the service records will not tell you what Merchant Navy ships he served in, they usually just show the parent accounting shore establishment. Pay and Victualing Ledgers were also kept by the MoD up until 1951 and if you send an email to the following address you can ask them to check the ledgers for the names of the ship's he served in. Give his full name, date and place of birth and official number if you have it and also tell them he was a DEMS gunner.

Any advice would be most welcome Hugh.
[email protected]

Regards
Hugh

Any advice would be most welcome Hugh, many thanks

Hugh MacLean
23rd June 2013, 13:50
Click this link: https://www.gov.uk/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records. Download the two forms in the 'How to apply for Service personnel records' section. You need 'Request for Service personnel details: next of kin form (v5) PDF or DOC' and 'Request for Service personnel details: general enquirer's form (v5) PDF or DOC'.
The cost will be 30 unless his spouse is still living, in that case the records would be free. I would advise you ask for a photocopy rather than a transcript so as to avoid transcription errors.

But in the meantime ask for his P & V details via the email address I supplied in my last post as you may be able to get his MN ships that way.

Hope that helps - let us know how you get on.

Regards
Hugh

Hugh MacLean
2nd September 2013, 22:35
If you are still looking for information on your father, George Laban, I have him on 'SAN SIMEON' in 1943 and 'HEKTORIA' in 1942. RN DEMS gunner.

Regards
Hugh

NOEL MUTCH
3rd September 2013, 12:59
Hello Hugh,
Thanks for the message but it is not me who is doing the search.

Regards - Noel Mutch

Hugh MacLean
3rd September 2013, 13:15
Sorry Noel, should have made it more clear. My post was in reply to #22 (slooby) for information aboout his father. This happens from time to time when a poster makes a posting within someone else's thread.

Regards
Hugh

Chris G Anderson
24th October 2013, 17:01
I'm also the son of a DEMS gunner (Maritime Regiment Royal Artillery). I was amazed to learn that by the end of the war there were 14,000 of them ! ...and that's not including the RN or MN ones. However they are largely unknown and unacknowledged. At one time there seems to have been an MRRA Association. The secretary's address was in Wales somewhere. I wrote to him but it seems to be defunct now. I couldn't find a website for it. I am now researching my Dad's wartime experiences. Most people regret not speaking to their father about their experiences when they are alive and I'm no different. I didn't speak to him about it much and now it's too late. However I do have all the letters he wrote home (of which there are 100s !) so I've got a lot to work on. I've sent a PM to Hugh MacLean with a list of ships to see if he can help. (I hope you don't mind, Hugh).

Cheers

Chris

Hugh MacLean
24th October 2013, 18:33
Don't mind at all Chris. Will respond soon.