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#1 ivor neville

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 06:04 PM

hi everyone .this is all new to me so please bear with me.
i am trying to find out anything about my father boat in the war he so i understand was a gunner on the city of manchester ss which i believe was a cargo ship that was torpedoed and sunk on the 28 febuary 1942 off the coast of java the lifeboats where machine gunned where my father lost an eye so like a lot of people he would not talk about the war years i can not find much on the manchester can any body help!
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#2 Drew5233

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 06:29 PM

Hi Ivor and welcome to the forum.


Edited thanks to Hugh providing the correct info and stop any confusion etc.

Regards
Andy

Edited by Drew5233, 24 June 2010 - 06:34 PM.
Error

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#3 Hugh MacLean

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 06:32 PM

Hello Ivor and welcome,

Drew you got the wrong ship.

CITY OF MANCHESTER official number 164262 built in 1935 (Ellerman Hall Line).
28.2.1942 Torpedoed and sunk by gunfire by Japanese submarine I-153 (Nakamura), in the Indian Ocean SE of Tjilatjap, Sumatra, in position 08.16S 108.52E while sailing independently on a voyage from Pekan, Malaya, to Tjilatjap, with 6400 tons of general cargo including military stores. The Master, Capt Harry Johnson, 126 crew, 17 gunners and 13 naval signalmen were rescued by US minesweeper WHIPPOORWILL, landed at Batavia and brought to Fremantle by Dutch liner ZAANDAM. 9 crew were lost.

As a DEMS gunner your father would be recorded on the ship's last crew agreement. If you need advice on how to obtain this document just make another post.

Regards
Hugh
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#4 Fireman

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 06:37 PM

The date is correct and the submarine that sunk it and then machined gunned the survivors was the Japanese submarine I-153; Ten injured survivors were transfered to the 'Tulsa' an American navel vessel.
Sorry I can't help with more information.
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#5 Drew5233

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 06:43 PM

I can only find two casualties between 26.2.42 - 30.3.42 on that ship:

001 ROBERTS G S - SS CITY OF MANCHESTER LIVERPOOL 28/02/1942 MERCHANT NAVY

002 TAWS S C S - SS CITY OF MANCHESTER LIVERPOOL 03/03/1942 MERCHANT NAVY
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#6 Hugh MacLean

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 06:56 PM

Hi Drew,
Here is the other casualty.
CWGC :: Casualty Details

Some confusion on this one, as I have three casualties listed on my website: Ellerman Line War Losses

However, some references have 6 others taken as prisoners of war.

Regards
Hugh
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#7 Drew5233

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 07:11 PM

Looking at his date of death Hugh, I'm guessing he was a PW?
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#8 ivor neville

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 07:55 PM

HUGH.thanks very much that was just what i was looking for .
can you advise me on how to obtain the last ship crews agreament as i am trying to find his army number so i can get his war record .thanks again ivor neville
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#9 Drew5233

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 08:34 PM

Hi Ivor,

You don't need his service number to apply for his service records if you know his date of birth.

Regards
Andy
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#10 Hugh MacLean

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 08:43 PM

Hello Ivor,
There is no crew agreement for the year 1942 held at Kew but I presume this is because the ship sailed in 1941 and never returned to the UK in 1942. The last crew agreement will be for 1941. This will be held at Kew in piece BT 381/1608

If he served aboard another Merchant Navy ship prior to "CITY OF MANCHESTER" it may show the ship's name on the agreement.
It would be best if you are in a position to visit Kew yourself to obtain this file or get someone to photocopy it on your behalf as due to recent changes this file will cost you £45 to order online [yes, I know, a ridiculous price]. Recent changes at Kew are responsible for this madness.

Note: Drew is quite correct regarding his service record but bear in mind if he served through the war as a DEMS gunner on Merchant Navy ships it is very unlikely that these ships will be mentioned in his service records and crew agreements are the way to go. This method also has its disadvantages. However, that said, you should always start research on a serviceman with his military records.

Regards
Hugh
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#11 Hugh MacLean

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 08:55 PM

Looking at his date of death Hugh, I'm guessing he was a PW?


I concur, Drew, and should have spotted this file held at Kew in piece BT 373/62

I wonder how many of the 6 PoW, if indeed there were 6, died. If there was more than the one already identified could there be non-comms here? Will attempt to find out more.

Regards
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#12 Drew5233

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 09:00 PM

I did wonder ref the Non Comms. Do keep us posted matey.
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#13 Mike L

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 10:18 PM

Andy and Hugh, superb research in very quick order, well done!

Mike
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#14 sol

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 10:38 PM

Hi Ivor and welcome to the forum.

Here you can find a location where ship was sunk and here you have a photo of the SS City of Manchester.

Cheers
Enes
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'The position as I see it at present could not possibly be worse and therefore inevitably must get better.'

Colonel Norman Eustace DSO,
OC 2/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force), Ningthoukhong, 12th June 1944


#15 ivor neville

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 10:07 AM

thanks enes.
much appreciated i took months for a picture and you take minuets any more goodies much appreciated .thanks everyone.
regards ivor neville

Edited by ivor neville, 25 June 2010 - 10:28 AM.

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#16 ivor neville

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 10:27 AM

HUGH.
thanks very much for info as a gunner he was army! would he be on crews agreement?.
so i understand he was rescued by the whippoorwill and transfered to the tulsa i presume it was going to batavia .then moved on to fremantle .he was posted missing in action for about a year then sent back to england to recover he never served again after that because of injuries.
i understand there was a army unit set up to man the guns on merchant ships called the maritime royal artillery i wonder if he could have served in that.
thanks again ivor neville
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#17 Drew5233

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 11:06 AM

Your welcome.

Cheers
Andy :lol:
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#18 sol

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 01:39 PM

Ivor, another nice photo of SS City of Manchester you can find on shipsnostalgia but to be able to see it you have to first join to forum. Be aware that there was other ships with the same name. If you will have any troubles to find it just noted me and I will help you.

Cheers
Enes
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'The position as I see it at present could not possibly be worse and therefore inevitably must get better.'

Colonel Norman Eustace DSO,
OC 2/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force), Ningthoukhong, 12th June 1944


#19 ivor neville

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 07:51 PM

thanks Enes.
joined forum and got picture many thanks.
regards ivor neville
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#20 KevinBattle

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 08:26 PM

Before experts put us both right, DEMS ships *Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships) were a way of providing some protection to Merchant Navy vessels. Those whose size and structure allowed the installation of (sometimes antiquated) artillery pieces could protect a convoy from surface or air attacks by a lone U boat or aircraft. Obviously if a serious threat arose, it wouldn't stand much chance but it was better than nothing.
It's stated there were 9 casualties. I suspect that either they were Chinese, Lascars etc or the Royal Marine Artillery men but as they don't appear as identified with the "City of Manchester" it's unlikely we will know who they were and whether they have their due CWGC recognition or not.

Edited by KevinBattle, 26 June 2010 - 10:52 PM.

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#21 Hugh MacLean

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 09:17 PM

HUGH.
thanks very much for info as a gunner he was army! would he be on crews agreement?.


Yes, all crew and military gunners signed the ship's Articles coming under the Master of the vessel.

i understand there was a army unit set up to man the guns on merchant ships called the maritime royal artillery i wonder if he could have served in that.


Yes, I imagine he was Maritime Royal Artillery. DEMS were made up of RN/RM gunners, Maritime Royal Artillery gunners and there were also a few gunners from other Army regiments.

DEMS stands for Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships.
DAMS stands for Defensively Armed Merchant Ships which was the terminology used during the Great War.

Regards
Hugh

Edited by Hugh MacLean, 12 April 2012 - 05:27 PM.

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#22 Hugh MacLean

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 09:39 PM

Courtesy of Billy McGee at Mercantile Marine Forum.

Tower Hill

ROBERTS, Apprentice, GUY SMITH, S.S. City of Manchester (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 28th February 1942. Age 21. Son of Richard Hawkins Roberts and Alice Maud Roberts, of Ainsdale, Southport, Lancashire.

TAWS, Chief Officer, STEPHEN CORNER STEPHENSON, S.S. City of Manchester (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 3rd March 1942. Age 44. Husband of A. H. Taws, of Houston, Renfrewshire. Master Mariner, Merchant Navy

Bombay/Chittagong

ALI AZAM, Seaman, S.S. City of Manchester (Liverpool), Indian Merchant Navy. 28 February 1942. Age 39.

Buried Jakarta War Cemetery

BURNHAM, Quartermaster, ERNEST, S.S. City of Manchester (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 24th May 1945. Age 62.

Both Roberts & Taws are recorded as dying on the USS Tulsa from injuries sustained in the attack. Roberts is recorded as being buried ashore, but I can't decipher the handwriting to show where. Burnham is recorded in the August 1946 DASR having died as a prisoner of war at Batavia, by an unknown cause.

This would suggest to me any other PoW's possibly taken survived the war.


Regards
Hugh
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#23 ivor neville

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 10:15 AM

thanks Enes but the photo on shipnastalga is a different boat it is the ss city of Manchester but built in 1950 the one i am looking for was built in1935.
regards Ivor neville
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#24 ivor neville

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 10:22 AM

thanks Kevin & Hugh.i understand what i am looking for a bit better now!
regards ivor neville
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#25 mick_power2@hotmail.com

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 05:20 PM

Hi Everyone,
I read with interest about the survivors of this ship.I have a document stating that HMS Stronghold had the survivors of the City of Manchester on board and transferred them to the Zaandam. I remember my father saying someing about the Stonghold have 100 extra people on board but never elaborated on it. After that transfer the Stronghold escorted the Zaandam towards Australia however they were spotted by the Japs and were chased down. The Stronghold was sunk and only about 50 or so got off and were in Makassar for the remainder of the war.
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#26 Moss Trooper

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 11:36 PM

Hello everyone,
I'm a late-comer to this thread and new to the site. I'm very interested in the story of the SS City of Manchester as I had a relative on board who was captured by the Japanese and spent over 3 1/2 years as a PoW in the Dutch East Indies. His name was Bernard Egbert Berntsen. He was an Engineer on the ship. I have his Index Card from Kew, which only records the last 15 months of his captivity. It shows Java as the place of capture and two camps where he was held - the main camp at Batavia and Malay PoW camp at Singapore. A source in Japan tells me that the lack of records for the first part of his captivity may mean he was held by the Japanese Navy at Makassar on Celebes Island. The previous post interests me very much and I would love to know more. Any information would be very much appreciated. Very best regards........Allan White.
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#27 Mike L

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 02:53 AM

Just seen this thread and realised I have a postcard of SS City of Manchester.

 

I don't know if it is the right vessel as it is undated, but it was amongst several Ellerman Line ship postcards my Grandfather had collected. He was RN before and during WW1 and worked for the Post Office in London throughout WW2 so the dates could be right.Attached File  City of Manchester.jpg   148.75K   13 downloads


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#28 Reid

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 06:32 AM

You might get lucky with his service record - my grandfather was also a DEMS gunner, and his record shows every ship served on.

 

Makes for interesting reading, and research as well (started in 1982 and still finding information!!!); it gets rather addictive - maybe I need to find a WW2RA group to keep me on the straight and narrow. ;)

 

This site is a mine of information on convoys: http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/index.html - great for tracking ship movements.

 

 

Attached Files


Edited by Reid, 06 September 2013 - 06:41 AM.

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Nanette Reid

 

Remembering my grandfather:

3855604 Bombardier George William Cowell 2nd Maritime AA Regiment R.A.  :poppy:


#29 Hugh MacLean

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 09:44 AM

Welcome Allan,

 

Will have a detailed look at my files later tonight in the meantime see attached. Bernard Egbert Berntsen was a member of the MN crew. Do you have any records of service for him?

 

For Reid, you are quite lucky to have your grandfather's MN ships documented, his Maritime Card has obviously survived - many havent. I also note he served on PELEUS in 1942. Two years later this ship was the subject of the only war crime against a U-boat commander (Eck) when he machine gunned the crew in the lifeboats. He was executed.

 

For Mike L, not sure if that is the ship or not but I am sure about this one:  http://www.photoship...nchester-03.jpg CITY OF MANCHESTER was quite a modern looking ship for her time.

Regards

Hugh

Attached Files

  • Attached File  be1.jpg   38.42K   7 downloads

Edited by Hugh MacLean, 06 September 2013 - 10:00 AM.

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"If Blood was the price 

We had to pay for our freedom
Then the Merchant Ship Sailors
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#30 Hugh MacLean

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 10:41 AM

R233379 BERNSTEN B E 31/07/1918 PORT STANLEY

Here is his medal file held at Kew in piece BT 395/1/6772 it can be downloaded for £3.36.

His Seaman's Pouch is held in piece BT 372/355/85 best obtained by visit to Kew.

I don't expect there to be much if anything in his CRS 10 (service record from Jan 1941) but it should be here BT 382/119 if you wish to try and obtain it. Again, best obtained by visit to Kew.

 

Regards

Hugh


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"If Blood was the price 

We had to pay for our freedom
Then the Merchant Ship Sailors
Paid it in full”

 





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