SS Banalbanach sunk 7 Jan 1943

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by juliahambly1, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. juliahambly1

    juliahambly1 Junior Member

    I am new to this site and am trying to find out any information about this ship and my Grandad that died on this ship on 7th Jan 1943. He was heading for the North Afica Theatre of War but the ship was sunk near Algiers. Any information would be appreciated. Julia
     
  2. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Hi,
    Welcome to the forum have you read this account;-

    BBC - WW2 People's War - sinking of the Benalbanach January 1943

    Details of the 1940 built Ben Line Steamer BENALBANACH below.

    BENALBANACH Built 1940 Official No 167030
    Ben Line; 1940; Chas. Cornell & Co.; 7,153 tons; 436-3X 56-
    7x35-3; 700 n.h.p.; 13-5 knots; triple-expansion engines.
    The Ben liner Benalbanach, Capt. D. K. C. Macgregor, was taken
    over for service as an auxiliary transport late in 1941 and in November,
    1942, she took part in the landing at Oran in the North African
    campaign.
    The SS Benalbanach as part of convoy KMS6 ( serial number was 7153 1940)was bound for North Africa but this as you know ended in tragedy. She left the Clyde on
    Christmas Eve, 1942,with a crew of 74 and 389
    officers and men , as well as a cargo of tanks,
    motor vehicles, ammunition, petrol and general military stores. At
    just after six o'clock on the evening of January 6th, 1943, the
    Benalbanach, which was in convoy, was attacked E. of Algiers by a
    German aircraft with two torpedoes, which hit the ship in No. 3
    and No. 5 holds. She sank almost immediately with 57 crew and 340
    troops, Capt. Macgregor dying from exhaustion after three hours in
    the water and just as he was about to be rescued by a destroyer.
    The casualty totals differ from above in Roger Jordan`s "The Worlds Merchant Fleets 1939" (Chatham Publishing; New Ed edition (2006)ISBN-10: 1861762933 Currently out of print) which states 410 killed with 62 survivors Main information from "Dictionary for Disasters at Sea" by Charles Hocking published in 1969 and listing over 12,000 vessels lost from 1824-1962


    Verrieres
     
  3. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Just to let you know theres an account of the vessels part in the landings etc at

    http://www.merchantnavyofficers.com/benline.html


    Quote ....Benalbanach had been designated a Combined Operations Ship and was selected to take part in the Allied Landings in North Africa codenamed ‘Torch’. Within the assault group Benalbanach was allocated to the centre task force for landings at Tunisia in French Morocco in November of 1942. Captain D. MacGregor was in command and the final passage in his last message to his crew before the landings was as follows:-

    ‘Each and every one of you has a job to do. That job may have to be done under difficult circumstances. But that job has got to be done better than you have ever done it before. Without the co-operation of the merchant Navy, this undertaking would not be possible. Your fullest co-operation is necessary now. I know you will not hesitate to play your full part in this great venture. Good luck to you all.’

    The ship was readied for its approach to X-Ray Beach and for the following two days all went well at the landings. Troops from Benalbanach landed at Mersa Bu Zejar and their objective was to capture Lourmel Aerodrome and to block all the main roads leading to it. They also had to advance South of Debkra and assist in the capture of airfields at Tafaroui and La Senia before finally taking Oran itself. For their actions Captain MacGregor and his crew received high praise from Service Chiefs and he responded in kind to his own crew by stating:-

    ‘I was proud and happy to see the manner in which you all carried on and worked unceasingly throughout the operation. Had you not done so, I am certain that we should have required to get the landing ship alongside, for the men in the Docks Company did not appear to have much experience.

    So to you all – Deck Officers, Engineer Officers, Radio Officers, Cadets, Deck and Engine Room Personnel, and to all in the Victualing Department – I say thank you for carrying through a grand job of work for your country and the honour of the Red Ensign under which you serve’

    Captain MacGregor for his efforts and that of his crew was mentioned in dispatches.

    Benalbanach returned to the UK to backload more troops and equipment and sailed once more for North Africa on Christmas Eve. The returning convoy was attacked on the evening of the 7th of January 1943 by a single low flying aircraft which released two torpedoes, Benalbanach was struck by both and sank in les than two minutes. Though Captain MacGregor survived the attack he later disappeared in the water when in company with First Officer Mr. A. P. Paterson and Third Officer Mr. Hume. Also lost were 410 service personnel and crew.



    Verrieres
     
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Julia and welcome to the forum. It seems Jim has got the ball rolling.

    Have you serached for his details on :: CWGC :: ?

    Regards
    Andy
     
  5. ramacal

    ramacal 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Hi Julia & Welcome

    43 Merchant Seaman listed against this vessel for 7 January 1943.

    ANDERSON WJ
    ATKINSON WF
    BEVERIDGE A
    BRUCE GFA
    BURNS CM
    CAIRNEY JGS
    CHRISTIE JU
    COLLARD RHG
    CORMACK RM
    DAVIDSON AL
    FAIRBAIRN D
    FORTUNE JA
    FRASER AR
    GODFREY FT
    GORMAN D
    GRIGOR F
    HAINES H
    HUXFORD EA
    KELLY TD
    LEGGE G
    LIDDEL DM
    LOWRIE J
    MACGREGOR DKC
    MAHON JF
    MAHON W
    MARSHALL WM
    MAUCHLINE
    MCILHATTON
    MCMILLAN M
    MCPHERSON RB
    MEEK WA
    MILLAR R
    MORLEY J
    PETERS DG
    PETERSON JT
    ROBERTSON T
    SANDISON MW
    SHEARER CAW
    SIMPSON J
    TAYLOR J
    TIERNEY W
    WILLIAMSON W
    WILLIAMSON WM

    Regards - Robert
     
  6. juliahambly1

    juliahambly1 Junior Member

    Hi Robert

    My Grandad was called Joseph Dignam 1633184, 80 HAA Reg Royal Artillery and he was lost at sea on a ship. The date of his death was 7th JAn 1943 but he is not listed on the list you provide. Are there any other lists of the other army personnel who were aboard the ship when it sank? Julia
     
  7. juliahambly1

    juliahambly1 Junior Member

    Hi All thanks for all the information about the ship I find it very interesting. Where would I get the war diaries from when the ship set off on Christmas Eve till the time that it was distroyed? Also how would I find out about my Grandad who was aboard? I have all his memorial information regarding his death, memorial stone, medals but nothing on his service time.
     
  8. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Hi Robert

    My Grandad was called Joseph Dignam 1633184, 80 HAA Reg Royal Artillery and he was lost at sea on a ship. The date of his death was 7th JAn 1943 but he is not listed on the list you provide. Are there any other lists of the other army personnel who were aboard the ship when it sank? Julia

    Hi Julia
    Robert has listed all of the Merchant Seaman aboard your grandfather will be listed under Army personnel

    Name:
    DIGNAM, JOSEPH
    Initials:
    J
    Nationality:
    United Kingdom
    Rank:
    Gunner
    Regiment/Service:
    Royal Artillery
    Unit Text:
    80 H.A.A. Regt.
    Age:
    31
    Date of Death:
    07/01/1943
    Service No:
    1633184
    Additional information:
    Son of Robert and Emma Dignam; husband of Kathleen E. Dignam, of Southwark, London.
    Casualty Type:
    Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference:
    Face 7.
    Memorial:
    MEDJEZ-EL-BAB MEMORIAL


    Verrieres
     
  9. ramacal

    ramacal 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Interesting where they commemorate the men lost. Majority of the Infantry and RA on the Medjez-el-Bab Memorial (110 names for 7/1/43) and all the support and Corps Troops (223 names for 7/1/43) on the Brookwood Memorial. Why would that be?
     
  10. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Interesting where they commemorate the men lost. Majority of the Infantry and RA on the Medjez-el-Bab Memorial (110 names for 7/1/43) and all the support and Corps Troops (223 names for 7/1/43) on the Brookwood Memorial. Why would that be?

    Robert,
    The reason could well be similar to those reburied in Berlin from around the area, sometimes a great many miles away.

    It was probably a decision taken at high level to use the site at Medjez-el-Bab, but this is purely my own thoughts on the subject.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  11. pikesley

    pikesley New Member

    i know this post is a few years old now my great uncle was on this ship ss banalbanach.879431 gunner john j hood 59 H.A.A.royal artillery. he died as well that day paul
     
  12. stuwilson72

    stuwilson72 New Member

    Hello Paul
    My Uncle Charlie Burns was on the Ship too, he was 18 I believe. Maybe he knew your great uncle?
     
  13. My Dad was one of the Troops on that fatefull voyage (Sgt R Copland R.E.M.E.),All I can remember him saying, when the ship got torpedoed he was blown into the water and went down with the ship,when the boilers blew he was shot back to the surface.He managed to get to a raft and because it was full and he had injuries to his head a person on the raft got hold of his hands and sat on them keeping him afloat till rescue came. He was taken to the American hospital in Algiers.I still have his Pajama top with U.S on it.
     
  14. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Typo in the title

    S.S. Benalbanach (Leith)
    panel from Tower Hill Memorial
     

    Attached Files:

    Hugh MacLean likes this.
  15. SteveDee

    SteveDee Member

    The SS Banalbanach was also carrying all the guns & other materiel for the 59th HAA.

    According to my dad's notes, it was sunk by enemy action between Bougie {now Bejaia} and Bone {now Annaba} and all of their advance party were lost except for S.C.Beamont, who happily went on to survive the rest of WW2.

    In all, there were maybe only 20 survivors, including a guy called George Codling:- BBC - WW2 People's War - sinking of the Benalbanach January 1943

    (this is an updated link from the one in post #2 which is now broken)
     
  16. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    File at TNA. ADM 358/3060 SS Benalbanach: 7 Jan 1943 Sunk by enemy action.

    Tim
     
  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    You mean this one
    SS Benalbanach: 7 January 1943; sunk by enemy action | The National Archives
    Reference: ADM 358/3060
    Description:
    SS Benalbanach: 7 January 1943; sunk by enemy action
    Date: 1943 Jan 01 - 1943 Dec 31
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Former reference in its original department: BENALBANACH

    There a few others but another that directly relates to the incident is:
    Casualties at sea, Mediterranean: SS Benalbanach, sunk off Algiers, 7 January 1943 | The National Archives
    Reference: WO 361/414
    Description:
    Casualties at sea, Mediterranean: SS Benalbanach, sunk off Algiers, 7 January 1943
    Date: 1943 Jan 01 - 1943 Aug 31
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Former reference in its original department: M 622

    TD

    She was obviously 'salvaged' as there are records of her sailing in the 1950's & 1960's, unless this is another ship with the same name ??

    For example:
    Reference: WO 32/19904
    Description:
    Hire agreement for hire of a heavy lift ship SS Benalbanach from Ben Line 1960-1965: purchase of ship (renamed Camelot) and later proposal for disposal
    Date: 1960-1969
     
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  18. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Different ships with the same name TD.
    BENALBANACH sunk 1943 was not salvaged
    Regards
    Hugh
     
  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Thanks for the clarification Hugh

    TD
     
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