Part of the Acorn Archive
Hearts of Oak
Athel Line Ships
2 ships of this name
8939 grt; 5240 net; 13,998 dwt
491ft 10ins overall x 63ft 4ins x 28ft 4ins draught
2 JG Kincaid/B&W 6-cylinder diesels; 3100 total bhp; 709 nhp
Twin screw; 11 knots
Built 1930 by Lithgows Ltd, Port Glasgow. Ship number 843
For United Molasses Co Ltd, London.
1939 Laid up at Falmouth† 5th March.
1939† 14th December : Struck a mine and was lying helpless eleven miles off the Tyne. The tugs JOFFRE, LANGTON and GREAT EMPEROR, escorted by destroyers HMS KELLY and HMS MOWHAWK, set out to assist. Darkness was setting in when ATHELTEMPLAR was reached; her stern was high out of the water, her forecastle was awash and she was rolling badly. Despite the fact that the KELLY also hit a mine in the procedure, the tanker was towed to a repair yard in the Tyne the next day. The greater part of her cargo had been salved and, following extensive repairs, was back in service by April, 1940.† Two of the crew of ATHELTEMPLAR, who were in their quarters forward at the time of the explosion, were killed.†
The two men who died 14th December 1939
CONNELLY, Able Seaman, PATRICK, Age 58.
GETTY, Sailor, GEORGE ALFRED, Age 20.
Son of Edward and Sarah E. Getty, of King's Cross, London.
1 January 1940 registered ownership was transferred to Athel Line Ltd.
1940 June : She was engaged in bunkering the group of destroyers covering the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from the Dunkirk beaches.† During this hazardous operation in and around Dover harbour she was repeatedly attacked by enemy aircraft with bomb and machine gun, but no damage was inflicted.†
5th November 1940 ATHELTEMPLAR escaped from the ADMIRAL SCHEER, due to the sacrifice of JERVIS BAY.
December 1940 : Atheltemplar was moored at the repair yard of Smithís Dock Co. Ltd, North Shields.† The Athelsultan and Athelprincess were also at Smithís at this time with Mr Nicoll, Engineer Superintendent, the resident engineer in charge of repairs.
1941 1st March† ATHELTEMPLAR was bombed in an air attack.
ATHELTEMPLAR (Captain A. Waterson) sailed from the Tyne in convoy at the end of February 1941. The ship proceeded Northwards, when on 1st March at sunset off Aberdeen, she was attacked by two German bombers. A direct hit on the bridge by a 500lb bomb completely devastated the whole structure.† The sole survivor from the amidship house was the Chief Officer (Mr J.M. Scott) who was blown from the bridge to the focísle head and seriously injured. Captain Waterson and eleven crew members were killed. The ship was ablaze and the survivors from the poop abandoned in one of the lifeboats.† The remainder of the crew were taken off by an escort and were landed in Aberdeen.†
The men who died 1st March 1941
CALDWELL, Third Officer, SAMUEL JOHN, Age 22.
Son of Samuel John and Mary Elizabeth Caldwell.
DANTON, Fireman, JOHN HENRY, Age 26.
Son of Charles Henry and Elizibeth Alice Danton.
FURNESS, Apprentice, GEORGE, Age 17.
Son of Frederick and Edith Furness, of Appleby, Westmorland.
HARDING, Cabin Boy, JOSEPH ARTHUR, Age 16.
Son of Colin and Ella Harding, of Hull.
JACK, Third Radio Officer, DAVID GUTHRIE, Age 22.
JARVIS, Second Officer, PETER DAVID, Age 24.
Son of William and Mary Jarvis, of Purley, Surrey.
MAHON, Able Seaman, LAWRENCE, 1st March 1941. Age 58.
MARTINDALE, Steward, GEORGE WILLIAM, Age 18.
Son of John and Jessie Martindale, of North Shields, Northumberland.
MORTON, Fireman, JOSEPH, Age 26.
Son of Wood John and Eva Morton, of Moreton, Cheshire.
McMAHON, Second Radio Officer, DERMOT PHILIP, Age 20.
Son of Thomas and Mary Elizabeth McMahon.
WATERSON, Master, ARTHUR HILL COATES, Age 37.
Son of Robert and Annie Waterson;
Husband of Eileen Waterson, of Bangor, Co. Down, Northern Ireland.
After repairs at North Shields she resumed trading at the end of June, 1941, and was again attacked by enemy bombers in April, 1942, although no damage was inflicted.† A few months later she proceeded in a North Russian convoy bound for Murmansk, with fuel oil for the fleet, and this proved to be her last voyage.
1942† 14th September In Convoy PQ18; torpedoed by U-457 and sunk by U-408; position 76.10N 18.00E, on voyage Tyne and Reykjavik to Archangel, North Russia with 9,400 tons of naval fuel oil. NW of Jan Mayen Island, and sank some time later, still burning. Three lives were lost in the attack.
The master, 42 crew members and 18 gunners were picked up by the British rescue ship COPELAND and the British destroyer HMS OFFA and transferred to the British mine-sweepers HMS HARRIER and HMS SHARPSHOOTER. Later they were transferred to the British cruiser HMS SCYLLA and landed at Scapa Flow.
Although there was immediate danger of the vessel sinking and of renewed attack, the chief officer, Mr J.A. Reeves, without regard for his own safety, had himself lowered into the damaged engine room and succeeded in saving a man who was trapped.
Later Capt. C. Ray and the remaining members of the crew were rescued by HMS Scylla.
For his gallantry Mr Reeves
received the Albert Medal.
16 crew members later died from their injuries.
The three men who died 14th September 1942.
RIDGEWELL, Fireman, HAROLD, Age 33.
Son of James and Alice Ridgewell;
Husband of Winifred Teresa Ridgewell, of Grays, Essex.
ROBERTS, Second Engineer Officer, ERNEST, Age 28.
Son of Owen John and Lilian Eva Roberts, of Liscard, Wallasey, Cheshire.
WILSON, Senior Fourth Engineer Officer, JOHN TODD, Age 22.
Son of Victor C. and Annabella M. Wilson, of Dundee.
Built 1951† J.L. Thompson & Sons, Ltd, Sunderland.
Engines, 4 cyl Doxford by North Eastern Marine. Service speed 12 knots.
9,108 grt; 13,185 dwt
495ft 9ins x 63ft 8ins