Which ship was sunk..... the sequel!!

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by martinedwards, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    following the success of the first "which ship was sunk?" thread, I have a poser which is a lot more complicated.

    My mum remembers, as a small child, gathering up RN sailors hats off the beach at Moville, just North of Londonderry, but INSIDE the foyle estuary

    ok, here's a map..... Derry is off the bottom....


    now, according to Mum, My grandfather played it down for his 7 year old daughter by saying that it must have been very windy to blow all those sailors hats off.......

    but, apparently, what really happened was that a small vessel was run over and sunk by something much larger. I was along the shore path at Moville yesterday and it's clear that the navigable channel is much narrower than the full width of the lough... infact, thanks google......


    so, the chances of something really big flattening something really small, in blackout, in that narrow channel, in Europes most westerly convoy port looks very possible if not virtually unavoidable.

    Mum reckons it was hushd up to avoid bad press and negative propoganda.

    dates would have been sometime after feb 43.

    anyone got any idea where I would start looking?

  2. ramacal

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

  3. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Martin, could be totally unrelated given the dates and location but have a look at the loss of HMS Curacoa (2/10/42, approx 60km North of Ireland). AA Cruiser sunk in collision with RMS Queen Mary. Long shot but a possibility.
  4. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    I've done some poking around but everything I've found doesn't fit the date you've given.
    I concentrated on incidents inside Lough Foyle but given the location of Moville, activity outside is more than likely.
    For what it's worth, here's what I found.
    19 Dec in WW2 History | World War II Database
    19 Dec 1940
    British destroyers HMS Veteran and HMS Verity collided in Lough Foyle near the Royal Navy base at Londonderry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. HMS Verity's engine room was flooded, requiring her to remain out of commission for repairs until 5 Mar 1941.
    County Londonderry Pt. 2 - Second World War in Northern Ireland
    The “Uberus” was requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1939 and subsequently armed. It is recorded as having been wrecked in Lough Foyle on 11th January 1941.
    Fleet Tug H.M.S. Assurance was fitted out for ocean service and was used by the Royal Navy to tow vessels which had been damaged in German Torpedo attacks. H.M.S. Assurance was wrecked on 18th October 1941 and still lies on Bluick Rock north of Greencastle, Co. Donegal.

    Irish Wrecks On-Line - North Co. Donegal Wreck List A

    This website is quite comprehensive and doesn't seem to have anything in the area that might fit. It might be a case of the currents bringing debris in from far away and if that's the case, I'm out of my depth there.
  5. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    Thanks folks, all good leads.

    sadly Mum isn't great on the exact date as she was only 5 or 6 after all.....

    I have a set of her Grandfather's diaries that I got yesterday, so maybe after a load of reading I might get a hint......

    the currents are HUGE through the narrows at Magilligan. I've kayaked across it on a flat calm day at full run of the tide and we were able to surf on standing waves thrown up by the volume of water. more violent than Strangford as the gap is narrower.......

    it is quite possible that the debris was from outside and pulled in, especially if it had a south westerly wind to help it along.

    I'll keep probing!

  6. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Martin, maybe the Curacoa is still a possibilty then. The loss was not reported in the press until after the end of WW2.
    From Wiki:

    On 2 October 1942, she was escorting the ocean liner RMS Queen Mary carrying nearly 20,000 American troops of the 29th Infantry Division[3] to join the Allied forces in Europe.[4] Both ships were following evasive zigzagging courses about 60 km north of the coast of Ireland when the Queen Mary cut across the path of the Curacoa with insufficient clearance, striking her amidships at a speed of 28 knots and cutting her in two. The Curacoa sank immediately, about 100 yards from the Queen Mary. Due to the risk of U-boat attacks, the Queen Mary did not assist in rescue operations and instead steamed onward with a damaged bow. [5] Hours later, the convoy's lead escort returned to rescue 99 survivors from the Curacoa's crew of 338, including her captain John W. Boutwood.
  7. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    its a strong possibility.

    My grandfather arrived back in Donegal on 22nd of October '42 for a leave that ended up with his being retired on medical grounds on feb 19th '42.

    the diaries I am wading through at present are Mac's Father in Law's and they do detail day trips away from Ramelton to places like Letterkenny and Derry, and overnights to Belfast etc, and there is no mention of the family going anywhere near the Folye at this time.

    Mac goes to Greencastle a few times to visit friends, near where he grew up, but not with the kids in tow......

    they rent a house in Greencastle from 29th March '43 to the start of July, before moving five miles or so south to Moville.

    it's possible that the caps were washed up on the beach and had been there for a while before she found them some months later?

    sea currents being what they are, they could have been circulating for years!
  8. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    Allrighty, a very pleasant afternoon spent priming the pump of memories from my Mum & aunt.

    we're pretty much sure that it WAS the Curacoa.

    Mum reckons it was during the time at Greencastle, so April to July 43.

    still six months after the collision, but those currents....... and winter storms etc, there was nothing else involved in a serious collision at the time and there was memories that it was all hushed up at the time, which matches the wikipedia lead too.

    well done folks, result!
  9. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Well Martin, that is a result, I thought it was a really long shot!
    Wiki article here:

    My Grandfather served on Curacoa (luckily well before the sinking), part of his service record below together with a photo Cally kindly provided.

    Attached Files:

  10. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

  11. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

  12. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Ridiculous price even if it is in perfect condition. I will keep looking for one elsewhere.
  13. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Just ordered a copy from Abebooks. £23.99 incl P&P. I am not too worried if it isn't in absolutely perfect condition as I had been thinking about getting a copy for a while, seeing how my Grandfather served on Curacoa.
  14. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Received the book from Abebooks Thursday, very happy with it (even though cover price was £18.95 in 1997). It is in very good condition and a nice addition to my small hardback collection.
    Signed on foreleaf 'Telegraphist F. J. Douch D/Jx271170. June 1942 - February 1943'. Not quite sure why, unlikely to have been a Curcoan (as the crew called themselves) but the book was from the Oxfam shop in Blandford Forum, perhaps the last home of F. J. Douch.

    Page 115 of the book lists burial sites of some crew members, all in Scotland or the Isle of Skye, see attached scan.

    I don't really know if this supports or contradicts the possibility of the sailor's caps found in Ireland as those from Curacoa.

    If any member lives in the vacinity of the graveyards it would be nice to see a photo of the headstones.

    Attached Files:

  15. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    It's quite possible that the debris could have gone in entirely different directions.... or even swirled round in a big circular track over weeks......

    I'm guessing here..... bodies, low in the water likely to be driven by water currents rather than wind.

    caps floating more likely to be driven by wind.

    this theory from my experience in boats where a deep draught will be affected by water, where a kayak will easily be blown against water currents by a strong wind......
  16. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    timuk likes this.
  17. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    After the war Cunard White Star Line was sued by the Commission of the Admiralty, which claimed the Queen Mary's crew were responsible for the collision. However, the sitting judge, Mr Justice Pilcher, ruled the cruiser was to fault for the accident. After several appeals, one in the House of Lords, the decision that the Curacao was two-thirds to blame, with one-third blame apportioned to the Queen Mary, pleased neither Cunard nor the Admiralty.

    Read more at: Queen Mary's deadly drama at sea
    Hugh MacLean likes this.

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