Tracing Merchant Navy Ships Voyages

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Nick4219, Mar 16, 2020.

  1. Nick4219

    Nick4219 New Member


    I’m currently trying to find out where I can find any details about Merchant Ship voyages as I’m researching my Great Grandfathers WW2 service.

    I have his continuous certificate of discharge book which lists his ships and the dates but can’t find out at the moment where he may have sailed to.

    Family members seem to think he took part in the Arctic Convoys but I’m not sure how I go about confirming this information.

    His first voyage was 1/4/1926 and he was finally discharged as unfit for sea service on 4/7/1945 according to his book.

    Any help would be great as to point me to the right reference places. I know I will probably need a trip to Kew but I am curious as to if there are any online records.

    Some details for him are:

    Frederick Newby born 1899
    Continuous certificate of discharge book is R7518
    I have another number of TB 24188 above his signature.

    His wartime voyages were:

    1/5/1939 SS Chelwood from Hull on R.A
    31/10/1942 SS Mirupanu on R.A
    22/1/1943 SS Mirupanu from South Shields on fqw???
    27/7/43 SS Mirupanu from w/o?? On HT
    4/2/44 SS Mirupanu from Victoria Docks on HT
    4/8/44 SS Mirupanu from Hartlepool on HT
    28/10/44 Bilton from North Shields
    10/1/45 Empire Harcourt?? Until discharge.


  2. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    For starters. Use ConvoyWeb
    Go to the Ports database section. On LHS click on 'Ship Search' and type in name of ship.

    Edit: I can't see anything on the ships you have listed that indicates any involvement in Arctic convoys. Most of the ship movements seem to be around the UK. I'm sure one of the Merchant Navy experts will be along to help you further.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2020
  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    For example:

    Arnold Hague Ports database
    Gibraltar, Mar 28, 1940 HG.24 (Gibraltar - Liverpool) Liverpool, Apr 7, 1940
    Milford Haven, Sep 2, 1940 OB.208 (Liverpool - Dispersed)
    Sydney CB, Oct 15, 1940 SC.8 (Sydney CB - Liverpool) Liverpool, Oct 31, 1940
    Clyde, Jan 29, 1941 WN.77 (Clyde - Methil) Methil, Feb 2, 1941
    Southend, Jul 5, 1941 EC.42 (Southend - Clyde) Tyne, Jul 7, 1941
    Southend, Jan 30, 1943 FN.931 (Southend - Methil) Tyne, Jan 31, 1943
    Methil, Mar 8, 1945 EN.479 (Methil - Loch Ewe) Belfast, Mar 10, 1945

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  4. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Note: Sydney CB is Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. The CB stands for Cape Breton.

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  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    16 days from Sydney Australia to Liverpool would have meant it was a turbo charged convoy :omg::D

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  6. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Big outboards ;)
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  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  8. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hello Nick and welcome
    I can confirm that none of the ships mentioned served in Arctic Convoys.
    RA = Running Agreement.
    HT = Home Trade
    FG = Foreign
    TB 24188 = is his ID card number.
    R7518 = is his Discharge book number which is a seaman's pivitol reference like a service number.
    All of the ship's should have a movement card which will show you where they went. Each movment card can be downloaded for £3.50 but can be quite messy and hard to read for those not used to them.
    Each of the ship's will have an official logbook which includes the crew agreement which will show all those aboard the ship and where they signed on and off. Available at Kew.
    If you need any of that detail let me know and I can give you the references.

    I don't see a medal file for him which means he or his next of kin did not claim his wartime medals or that the medals were issued but the paperwork has not survived.

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  9. Nick4219

    Nick4219 New Member

    Thanks Hugh,

    I have the movement cards which I downloaded from the TNA site. Do you have the reference numbers for the crew lists so I can search them and maybe get them ready for a visit to Kew.

    Also, it would appear that all of his voyages were between the Tyne and Gravesend/Southend so what sort if any medals would he be entitled to?

    He was a Fireman and Trimmer on board. I can only imagine that it was quite a physically demanding job and after suffering GSW in the Great War it wold have been very tough.
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  10. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Could fqw be fgn foreign going? Not sure about w/o, perhaps he 'signed on' on board, rather than in the shipping office. Yes it was a tough life, even in peacetime and the one trip across the North Atlantic would have been particularly so. The Empire Harcourt was a Scandanivian class small tramp steamer
  11. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Chelwood was a collier belonging the France Fenwick, but I have not yet found the Mirupanu not in my Talbot Booth 1943, at least not under that name
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  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    If he was a fireman/trimmer on a coal fired ship it would be certainly a hard (and a very dirty) life shifting the coal around. The danger would however be less the sheer labour as the coal dust present in the ships bunkers. If on an oil fired one less so as he would have trimmed ship by opening and closing valves.
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  13. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    ame: LEAFIELD
    Type: Cargo Ship
    Launched: 06/05/1905
    Completed: 06/1905
    Builder: Wood, Skinner & Co Ltd
    Yard: Bill Quay
    Yard Number: 125
    Dimensions: 2539grt, 1616nrt, 313.3 x 45.0 x 20.5ft
    Engines: T3cyl (23, 37.5 & 61.5 x 39ins), 266nhp
    Engines by: North-Eastern Marine Engineering Co Ltd, Wallsend
    Propulsion: 1 x Screw, 9.0knots
    Construction: Steel
    Reg Number: 118659

    06/1905 Steamship Leafield Co Ltd (Alfred Brewis), Newcastle
    1915 Donald & Taylor, Glasgow
    1923 Clyde Commercial Steamships Ltd (RW Bryce & WG Taylor, managers), Glasgow
    1932 Mirupanu Steamship Co Ltd (WG Walton), Glasgow; renamed MIRUPANU
    1946 D/S Draco A/S (R Fischer-Nielsen), Copenhagen; renamed SALLING
    1954 Behwa Shipping Co Inc (John Svensson, Stockholm), Monrovia; renamed JOLLY
    23/06/1955 Broken up

    Comments: 23/06/1955: Broken up at Boom, Belgium
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  14. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Bunker coal trimmers duties were to trim the sides of the bunker to ensure that coal flowed freely to the boilers.Failing that, coal held up in a bunker would give rise to the generation of carbon monoxide and the potential of bunker fires. Stagnant coal in a bunker or on a stockpile, not correctly put out to stock and consolidated,absorbs oxygen and generates carbon monoxide together with the generation of heat....bunker fires.That is why coal stocks were potentially at risk of firing until the practice of consolidating to exclude the absorption of oxygen was put into practice.

    Coal trimmers primary duties were to maintain the coal flow from the bunkers and ensure that there was no "rat holing" where the surrounding coal left in the bunker would overheat from the chemical reaction with oxygen.

    I remember a colliery stock pile which the holding company could not sell before the outbreak of war and continued to burn throughout the war night and day.Water sprays on continually and there was not mobile plant available at the time to manage the situation.

    Another job on a coal fired ship would be "Coaling Up", the practice and extremely hard,tiring and dirty task of replenishing the bunkers with coal at berth....usually a large group involved of the ship's company consisting of the lower ratings.The only crew not involved in the operation would be the master and his senior officers.
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  15. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    I see in the London Gazette of 8 June 1943 the Master of the MIRUPANU was made an OBE and the Chief Officer an MBE, no citation.
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  16. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Crew Agreements for the following ships all held at TNA Kew in the following files under the ship's official number.
    CHELWOOD – 160538 – for 1939 – BT 381/376
    MIRUPANU - 118659 – for 1942 – BT 381/1762
    MIRUPANU – 118659 – for 1943 - BT 381/2236
    MIRUPANU – 118659 – for 1944 - BT 381/2722
    BILTON – 144936 – for 1944 - BT 381/2833
    EMPIRE HARCOURT – 180068 – for 1945 - BT 381/3733

    Regarding medals, without seeing all the movements, I would suggest he was entitled to the following:

    1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star and the War Medal.

    I don't see an MBE for the Choff.

    British. Cargo Tramp. Mirupano SS Co. 2,539 tons. Built in 1905. Survived the war.
    London Gazette 8 June 1943 - For driving off enemy aircraft.
    Evans, Charles Mark - Captain - OBE(Civ)
    Jensen, William Hudson - Deck Hand - Commendation
    Watson, Thomas Best - Boatswain - Commendation

    "Captain Charles Mark Evans, Master. When an enemy aircraft was seen coming in to attack, fire was immediately opened with the ship's armament. Hits were registered on the aircraft which banked violently and was last seen losing height rapidly.The Master acted with courage and out-standing skill during this attack. His promptand spirited defence undoubtedly saved his ship from damage and caused the probable destruction of the enemy aircraft".

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  17. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Thanks Hugh, I missed a punctuation mark, the Chief Officer was from another ship!
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  18. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


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