SS Taberg

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Mike Goldsworthy, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. Hi
    I am trying to find out some information on my great uncle, Thomas J Mattey.
    I have been told he served in the Merchant Navy, and died at Sea in WW2. His brother said he served on the SS Taberg, which was sunk by an Italian submarine off Gibraltar on 6/6/1941. There were 15 casualties.
    Unfortunately, this is all I know.
    Does anybody know how I can find out if he was one of those casualties, or whether he died on another ship?
  2. CL1

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

    Can you confirm the surname spelling. That name Thomas J Mattey does not appear on CWGC

    A MN expert will be along shortly to assist you

    there is this casualty different surname for the date given but on a different vessel

    Fireman MALLEY, JAMES
    Died 06/06/1941

    Aged 44

    S.S. Glen Head (Belfast)
    Merchant Navy

    For info below re SS Taberg

    The Swedish SS Taberg, in convoy from Glasgow to Huelva, was torpedoed by Italian submarine Guglielmo Marconi and sank W of Gibraltar. Read more at wrecksite:

    You can check casualty names here

    Commonwealth War Graves Commission
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
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  3. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hello Mike and welcome,
    This is quite interesting because I can find no trace in any of my files or the usual places and I believe if it is the correct ship then we may have a case of non-commemorations. It may be the case if the ship is correct that the Swedish authorities did not pass on details of the British crew lost on this ship. I have a Scottish merchant seaman also believed lost on this ship but not recorded anywhere – Patrick Findley.

    There appears to be no record in the Fourth Register of Seamen for these men and usually these records end in December 1940 but there is some crossover into the Fifth Register of Seamen. It is possible that he may have a CRS 10 [service record from Jan, 1941] held at Kew in piece BT 382/1198.

    This record begins January 1941 and as he was lost in June 1941 there may be a chance it is recorded in that file but that may still not be enough for the CWGC who may wish to see an actual crew list or confirmation from Swedish authority.

    Could you confirm his date and place of birth please and any other supporting information?


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  4. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    I am a little surprised the o/p has not been back since the original post but maybe there is a good reason.

    I have been working on this as very little information is out there on the sinking of the ss TABERG and those who were the members of the crew. 15 seamen were killed and 6 survived - what happened to them, are they remembered anywhere? I now know who they were and, as far as I can tell, they are sadly not remembered anywhere - both British and non-British seamen.

    My research is currently still ongoing and I await a search of some records at Kew - it is possible though that there may not be any record or any proof at Kew, we wait and see. But ultimately my search has taken me back to Sweden where I have discovered a listing of the crew. This includes 3 British seamen who are not listed on any CWGC memorials. The three British seamen were:

    Thomas Trigg b. Cardiff, 31.3.1893. Discharge book number not known.
    Patrick Findlay b. Glasgow 12.7.1925. Discharge book number not known.
    Thomas Mattey b. Cardiff 3.6.1920. Discharge book number not known.

    Even with the information I have researched, I know from previous cases, the CWGC will probably reject what I have put in front of them. So If anyone reading this can supply any further information on these men it may help. I will update this thread as and when I receive any contact from the CWGC. Thanks.

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  5. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Just to confirm that the OP has a tree on Ancestry that has this name:
    I have seen the GRO birth record for Q2 1920 he mentions which has MATTEY, Thomas J.
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  6. Good Morning Hugh
    Unfortunately work commitments have stopped me from checking this site for replies for a while.
    Thomas J Mattey (known as Tommy) was my Great Uncle. He was born on 6 June 1920 in Cardiff.
    His brother, Reginald is still alive and gave us the information about the ship, where he died and when etc.
    He boarded the ship in Cardiff docks and this is all we really know at the moment.
    I sincerely appreciate the work and research you have done for us.
    I will be able to check this site more often now so if you have any further information, I would love to hear from you.
    Kindest Regards

    Mike Goldsworthy
  7. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    TABERG.JPG Hello Mike, good to hear from you.
    Through my research in Sweden, I have a copy of the crew list which was compiled by a researcher many years ago but now I have an official copy please see attached [credit Jan-Olof]
    I have sent this to the CWGC. Your great uncle is shown in that list along with two other UK nationals. Possible problems ahead with the CWGC are that the crew list does not give a home address for any of the seamen nor do I have any documents from our own National Archives that would link them to that ship or indeed as merchant seamen - despite having a search done. If you have any further information about previous MN service prior to TABERG that may help me? I will keep you and this thread updated as to a reply from CWGC who have indicated it may take up to 3 weeks.

    Further research has indicated that 6 survivors were rescued by converted trawler HMS RUNSWICK BAY (FY 750).

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2020
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  8. Hello Hugh
    Thank you so much for all this, I don't know how you manage to track this down.
    Unfortunately, we don't really know much more about him.
    I know he was born in Cardiff, and his brother Percival and dad were also merchant seamen.
    The story is that Tommy was down the docks when he bumped into his dad. He told him he was looking for a ship that needed crew. His dad told him that he had just been talking to sailors on the Taberg and that they needed seamen. That was the day he joined and died.
    His nephew doesn't really know any more than that. Tommy's other brother Reg is still alive at 95 years old, but he is very deaf so trying to get anything out of him is very hard. I will try to get some more info out of him if I can get his nephew to ask him for more info when he sees him again.


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  9. Just a quick update on the above post:
    Reg was told that Tommy died on the ship when it was sunk, so I would unfortunately have to say that I don't believe he was one of the survivors.
    I also noticed that the crew list was dated after the ship went down?
  10. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Mattey is shown as "Eladre" but that's a mistype for "Eldare" - Swedish for stoker.
    Findlay was Mess Boy....
    Wiki shows Baron Lovat and Taberg sunk same day
    Baron Lovat United Kingdom World War II: Convoy OG 63: The cargo ship was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean (35°30′N 11°30′W) by Guglielmo Marconi (Regia Marina)
    Taberg Sweden World War II: Convoy OG 63: The cargo ship was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean (35°36′N 11°12′W) by Guglielmo Marconi (Regia Marina) with the loss of 15 crew.
    Convoyweb has Convoy OG63:
    Departed Liverpool on 25 May 1941: Arrived Gibraltar on 7 June 1941
    Hague's records contain 35 merchants and 15 escorts

    So if he joined the Taberg in Cardiff, then it must have been prior to sailing from Liverpool?
    ww2daybyday World War II Day-By-Day: June 2011 has
    Day 645 June 6, 1941
    Axis submarines have a busy day in the mid-Atlantic. 350 miles West of Gibraltar, Italian submarine Marconi sinks British SS Baron Lovat (all rescued) and Swedish SS Taberg (15 killed). At 5.03 AM 250 miles West of Cape Verde Islands, U-106 sinks British SS Sacramento Valley (3 killed, 39 survivors in a lifeboat and a jolly boat rescued on June 9 by British MV Caithness, 7 rescued from a jolly boat on June 24 by Panamanian tanker Stanvac Calcutta). At 8.24 PM 930 miles Northwest of the Azores, U-43 sinks Dutch SS Yselhaven (24 killed, 10 survivors in a lifeboat rescued by Finnish steamer Hammarland on June 15 and taken to Norfolk, Virginia, USA). At 11.25 PM 630 miles Northwest of the Azores, U-48 sinks British SS Tregarthen (all 45 hands lost).

    If there's any consolation to be found, Marconi was lost to unknown causes sometime after 28 October 1941
  11. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    The crew list would have been put together from shore side records due to the fact that the ship's official logbook went down with the ship. The captain who was a survivor signed it on 3 July 1941 at Lisbon.

    If Thomas Mattey joined at Cardiff it would have been in February 1941 as that was the last time the ship was there.

    No, it is clear that he was not a survivor.

    The surviviors were

    Magnus Möller.
    Erik Ulfhagen.
    John Albert Johnsson.
    Gustav Valdemar Sols.
    Johannes Tösse.
    Thor Kristian Lund.

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  12. Once again Hugh and Kevin, many thanks for your information.
    I spoke to Tommy's nephew and he will see if Reg knows the name of any other ships Tommy sailed on. Unfortunately, this may take a while due to the circumstances we all find ourselves in at this strange time. We, as a family, now feel that Tommy is closer to home now than he has been for many years thanks to all the research you guys have done.
    Once again, thank you, and I will update if I can find out anything else.

    Kindest regards

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  13. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Please see attached in Swedish and a rough Google translation.


    Attached Files:

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  14. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    I’m not sure that it adds very much to Hugh’s information but here is the report included in the War Cabinet’s Weekly Resume (No.98).

    Attached Files:

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  15. Many thanks to you all in finding as much information as you have.
    Kindest regards

  16. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Just received from the CWGC. The contents of the reply were not unexpected.
    So, it would appear [given the information I have supplied] that they accept that the three seamen were aboard the ship when it was lost but they want proof of what they have just accepted.
    I have been down those roads in the past with merchant seamen and it doesn't get any easier - we carry on.

    Dear Mr MacLean

    Thank you for your email of 5/3/20 and attachment regarding three casualties from the S.S. Taberg who are not currently commemorated by the CWGC. Please accept my apologies for the delay in reply.
    Further to your enquiry, I can confirm that in order to qualify for commemoration, members of the Merchant Navy who lost their lives in the Second World War must meet the following criteria:

    * The casualty must have been signed onto the books and sailing under employment on a British, Commonwealth, Allied or neutral ship and their death must have been the result of:
    * Direct enemy action (torpedoing, shelling or other direct contact)
    * Detainment by the enemy or
    * Increased war risks as specified in the Pensions (Mercantile Marine) Act of 1942 which qualified the individual for a pension

    The information you have supplied confirms that the casualties in question were part of the crew of a neutral ship that was lost due to enemy action within the qualifying war dates, ** however in order to progress this case we would require official documentary evidence that they were among the 15 crew members who died in the sinking**. If you are able to provide this additional evidence together with any other information that you may have, we will be pleased to review the case again.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    **My highlights
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  17. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    I have passed on further information to the CWGC and this reply received today:

    "Dear Mr MacLean
    Thank you for your email and further document for the S.S. Taberg.

    I have now passed the evidence you have supplied to a colleague for further review and to ascertain whether or not we have sufficient information to progress this case further. As soon as this is completed I will let you know."

    To be honest, having been down those roads before, I fully expect the CWGC to reject my evidence. But we will see.

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  18. Hi Hugh
    Very many thanks for everything you are doing on this.
    They are certainly wanting you to jump through as many hoops as they can think of.
    Let's see what they come back with.
    Fingers crossed.

    Kindest regards

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  19. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Hugh, I know this seems a thankless task you and a few others have embarked on, to try and have the CWGC have the Acceptance Criteria for Merchant Navy dead included, but there may be some light at the end of the tunnel, as with so many of these brave men, often without any defence, that risked their lives to ensure there were sufficient supplies reaching where it was vital to be, will, ONE DAY, be recognised.

    So, please understand that some of us here do marvel and appreciate your dedication.
    You may feel like Sisyphus, but there should be some reward for your sheer doggedness and mule like persistence.

    Are there no Seamans Union officials able to get involved? Often they seem to strike for little provocation, this must rank as a huge injustice.
    Good Luck. Keep Calm and B*gger On! :salut:
  20. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Thank you Kevin. The CWGC apply a very strict ruleset for MN casualties, and I know my old pal Billy McGee has been through the mill many times trying to overcome that brick wall with, it has to be said, some success. But that success has involved a lot of hard work and expense as the documents they require do have to be official and contain the required evidence. Trying to obtain documents of British seamen on foreign ships especially is not easy.

    Each case is dealt with on merit and there are a hell of a lot of seamen who at the moment are deemed as not qualifying for commemoration by the CWGC.
    Seaman's Union would be a waste of time in my opinion. MP's have been involved in the past but it would take an Act of Parliament to change it along with the agreement of the Commonwealth.

    As we approach the 75th Anniversary, VE Day - I feel really sad for the families of those merchant seamen lost during WW2 who cannot look on a national memorial for the name of their loved one.
    The Merchant Navy, so vital during the war, with a very high attrition rate was quickly forgotten very soon afterwards.

    Last edited: May 6, 2020
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