British Merchant Navy Facts

British Merchant Navy facts 1939 - 1945

 

During the Second World War, nearly one-third of the world's merchant fleet were British and these civilians were under constant threat from German Battleships such as the Admiral Scheer, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and surface raiders like the Bismarck, Pinguin (Raider F) and Atlantis (Raider C) among others and U-boats.

The Battle of the Atlantic began on 3rd September 1939, a few hours after war had been declared against Germany, with the sinking of the unarmed Donaldson Line passenger ship, Athenia.  One hundred and twelve passengers and crew were lost.  She was torpedoed, off the coast of Ireland, by U-boat, U-30.

 

From September 1939, barely a day went by without the loss of merchant ships and their civilian crews.  In total 2,524 British Merchant ships were sunk by enemy action.

On 7th May 1945, just ninety minutes before the end of hostilities, a small convoy left the Firth of Forth, Scotland.  It was nearly midnight and they were off the Isle of May, when the Norwegian vessel Sneland 1 was torpedoed and a minute later another ship in the convoy, the SS Avondale Park was also torpedoed by the same U-boat, U-2336.  Seven men including the captain died on the Sneland 1, two men, the chief engineer and the donkeyman died on the SS Avondale Park.

 

[http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/avondale-park-1-465126]

 

 

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Harry Callan R.204641 was one of 5,720 British Merchant prisoners of war.  Thanks to retired British Merchant Seaman, Dennis Malvern Crosby R.318269, for the following information

 

BRITISH SHIP LOSSES 1939- 1945

 

2,524 British Merchant vessels were sunk by enemy action during World War Two.

     29 British Merchant vessels foundered by other causes.

   912 British Merchant vessels were damaged by enemy action.

1,359 British Merchant vessels were sunk by U-boats.

   118 British Merchant vessels were sunk by enemy raiders.

   291 British Merchant vessels were sunk by mines.

   477 British Merchant vessels were sunk by enemy aircraft.

     76 British Merchant vessels were sunk by E-boats.

     89 British Merchant vessels were sunk by other enemy action.

 

British Merchant Crew Losses 1939 – 1945

 

30,248 British Merchant Seamen & Women were killed.

  4,654 British Merchant Seamen & Women were considered missing.

  4,707 British Merchant Seamen & Women were wounded.

  5,720 British Merchant Seamen & Women became Prisoners of War.

 

A total of 45,320 Merchant Personnel.