Records for merchant marine captains?

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Chris C, Aug 12, 2016.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Hi all,

    I was wondering: are there records anywhere that would show what ships a captain in the Merchant Marine sailed on during WW2? What trips or convoys those ships were a part of? I imagine these aren't digitized, but would they even exist?

    I haven't spent much time looking into this, but my maternal grandfather (Thomas Edmund James May) was a merchant marine captain who was on ships through the whole war. I did use one site which turned up an image of a registration card from when he was 19, but that's not helpful in this respect.
  2. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Some of his service from the Fourth Register of Seamen - this is not a complete record and there will be other voyages not shown here.

    His WW1 medal card is available for download for £3.45 here: BT 351/1/90211
    March 1919 - BECKINGHAM

    08/03/1924 - ILFORD
    06/02/1925 – ILFORD
    08/03/1926 – WOOBURN
    24/01/1928 – BLACKHEATH
    08/04/1929 – WOKINGHAM
    22/01/1931 – FULHAM
    13/04/1932 – SELJE
    10/04/1933 - FINCHLEY
    29/01/1934 - TEECO
    08/05/1937? – TEECO (Previous ship to TEECO shipwrecked)
    19/11/1937 – SEVERN LEIGH
    07/03/1940 - WANSTEAD
    23/7/1942 – WANSTEAD (previous ship lost to enemy action possibly 27/6/1942)

    For his WW2 service record from January 1941 you should consult his CRS 10, if it has survived, I will give you details of that tomorrow sometime.

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  3. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    You may have to search a couple of files for any surviving CRS 10. Check at Kew in BT 382/1202, BT 382/1203, BT 382/1204.
    Also you should consult Lloyd's Captains Register for service as Master and Mate. The records are held at the London Metropolitan Archives - their website is down at the time of writing.

    For earlier service as Master or Mate he has a couple of files on Ancestry - Thomas Edmund James May - UK and Ireland, Masters and Mates Certificates, 1850-1927 - I dont have access to this pay site.

    He has a CR10 card from 1919 with his id photo - not sure if you have it or not.

  4. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Hi Hugh,

    Thank you so much! That is fantastic!

    I believe the image I do have is his 1919 CR10 card (when he was 17, not 19, my mistake).

    I'm confused by what you mention for TEECO and WANSTEAD. Well, I guess my first question would be what do the names and dates actually indicate - when he came on board a ship?

    Does this mean there was a TEECO he served on from '34 which was then wrecked, and a new ship was also named TEECO in '37?

    I'm not sure anyone in the family is aware that he was on a ship which was sunk during the war, or the shipwreck. Unfortunately my grandmother passed away some years ago.

    Looking these up would be interesting. It would have to be part of a vacation trip. (After the war, my grandmother insisted that he leave the sea... which my mother thinks was a mistake because he loved it so much. The family lived in Guyana for a while and then Canada. So I'm Canadian.)
  5. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

  6. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Thomas Edmund James May in the UK and Ireland, Masters and Mates Certificates, 1850-1927
    Name: Thomas Edmund James May
    Estimated Age: 21
    Birth Date: 1902
    Birth Place: Dover
    Issue Date: 23 Nov 1923
    Issue Port: Dover
    Certificate Number: 0017387

    Name: Thomas Edmund James May
    Estimated Age: 23
    Birth Date: 1902
    Birth Place: Dover, Kent
    Issue Date: 12 Dec 1925
    Issue Port: Bristol
    Certificate Number: 0017387

    Thomas Edmond James May in the Web: UK, Campaign Medals Awarded to WWI Merchant Seamen, 1914-1925
    Name: Thomas Edmond James May
    Birth Date: 1902
    Birth Place: Dover
    Year Issued: 1914-1925
    URL: http://discovery.nationalarchi...

    Reference: BT 351/1/90211
    Medal Card of May, Thomas Edmond James
    Place of Birth: Dover
    Date of Birth: 1902
    Date: [1914-1925]
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Language: English
    Creator: Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, 1872-1992
    Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

    Thomas Edmund James May
    Birth: 29 Dec 1902 - Kent
    Death: Jun 1977 - Dover, Kent, England
    F: Walter Edward James May
    M: Sarah Elizabeth Ann Pound

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  8. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Just remember that what I have posted is not a complete record of his voyages as there will be omissions.
    The dates beside the ship names mean his date of engagement on that ship but the date of termination of the voyage is not shown so he could have signed on and off vessels in between those posted.
    On the TEECO and WANSTEAD he was the Mate not the Master.

    No it's a bit more complicated. As I said this is not a full account of his service. One of his cards states his book (discharge) was lost through shipwreck. The date stamp looks like 1937 but if the ship was sold on in 1934 then it cant be that. You would need to look at the crew agreement for TEECO for that year to find out what his previous ship was. Previous ship is usually shown on the agreements.

    One of his cards from the WANSTEAD states his book (discharge) lost to enemy action. possibly on the date I gave in previous post so you would need to look up the crew agreement for WANSTEAD for 1942 to check what his previous ship was unless you can get his CRS 10 from Kew which will list all his ships from Jan 1941.

    WANSTEAD was lost in 1943.

    For TD if you look at the Master and Mate certificates on Ancestry and continue to scroll right or left you will see other documents pertaining to the certificates of competency that you have shown in your previous post. These other documents should show list of ships for that period.

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  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Thanks Hugh, will look later and post anything/everything I find

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  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Below are the files I have been able to copy from Ancestry for this person from that particular database:

    UK and Ireland, Masters and Mates Certificates, 1850-1927
    31936_1831101883_0133-00067.jpg 31936_1831101883_0133-00068.jpg 31936_1831101883_0133-00069.jpg 31936_1831101883_0133-00070.jpg 31936_1831101883_0133-00071.jpg 31936_1831101883_0133-00072.jpg 31936_1831101883_0133-00073.jpg 31936_1831101883_0133-00074.jpg

    Hugh MacLean likes this.
  11. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Well done TD, I am sure the o/p will be happy with those. For the period after 1927 including the war years the London Metropolitan Archive will hold Lloyd's Captains Registers.

  12. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Thanks so much to both of you!! I write this before looking at the certificates.

    I chatted with my mother last and she mentioned that he was never on a ship that was torpedoed.
  13. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    You may want to research anyway the card states original lost through enemy action.


    Attached Files:

    • may.jpg
      File size:
      121.8 KB
  14. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    That's true, Hugh! I've wondered if he might have kept anything concealed from his family.
  15. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Hi guys,

    Was thinking about looking into this some more. What about tracing *ships* as opposed to my grandfather? Were there records of which ships were in convoys or where a ship went?

    When I was at my parents', I was looking in an old book my brother put together years and years ago when he was interested in family history, and he noted that my grandfather had sailed not just the North Atlantic but (if it's credible) a lot of other places like the Med and to Russia.

  16. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Hi all,

    I just spent a very interesting couple of hours making notes from the convoyweb website, and learned more about my grandfather's ships' movements - and that was just in the period from 1939-41! Someone in the other thread which mentioned convoy web talked about "ship movement cards". How are those obtainable?

    Anyway, I learned a lot. The Severn Leigh apparently started the war in "Igarka". Unless anyone has any brighter ideas, this seems to have been a Siberian river port for timber. (!??!) The Severn Leigh was in Convoy ON.10, February 5 1940, to "Norwegian waters" and there is a note "put back after collision". Would you interpret that as "had to be sent back"? It was after that, that my grandfather transferred to the Wanstead.

    All told, in that period, multiple transatlantic journeys, one with a trip down to Cuba (apparently) for sugar, two convoys to Gibraltar, and PQ3/QP4 to and from Archangel.
  17. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hi Chris, it was me.

    The movement cards for SEVERN LEIGH are held at Kew in piece BT 389/26/209
    They can be downloaded for £3.50 - some can be a bit messy and difficult to interpret.

    Looking at the convoy I think SEVERN LEIGH went back to Methil and did not continue with ON10 instead sailing Hartlepool, Aprl 17, 1940. Movement Card should clarify.

    Further information re Thomas Edmund James May.

    1943 – RIDEAN PARK as 1st Mate.
    1943 – INGLETON as 1st Mate.
    1944 – WENTWORTH PARK as Master.
    1945 – WENTWORTH PARK as Master.

    Last edited: Jul 15, 2018
  18. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Thanks, Hugh! I might chip in on that - then again, the broad strokes are there. I wrote an email to my family with what I found so far, but I cut down the detail.
  19. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Hi Chris, you can find some information about the ships in the Lloyd's Registers at
    Yes Igarka's export was sawn timber/lumber. After the war it was one of Stalin's gulags.
  20. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Thanks, Roy!

    It seems incredible that an ocean-going freighter could actually reach Igarka.

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