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Submarine U30 operating off the Welsh coast 1915.

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'''''The Steam Ship Cambank was a registered Cardiff ship and became the first casualty of a German U-boat in Welsh waters during the Great War when she was sunk off the coast of Anglesey on the 20th of February in 1915.'''''

Steam Ship Cambank was a Cardiff registered ship and belonged to Merevale Shipping Company and was originally built in 1899 by John Readhead & Sons of South Shields.

In February of 1915 she had sailed from Huelva in Spain with a valuable cargo of copper bars which was valued at between £60,000 to £70,000 and was heading to Garston. [Liverpool] Obviously German agents were always trying to identify the most valuable cargo's carried by merchant ships so that this information could be relayed to German Naval forces. 

The first part of SS Cambank's journey had been difficult due to gales etc.

Then while the sea was calm, at 11am on the 20th of February in 1915, the crew spotted the periscope of '''German Submarine U30,''' approximately 250 to 300 yards away.

The Ship's Master [Captain] Thomas Robert Prescott  [53] was a Cardiff man and a very experienced sailor. There had already been a report of a German submarine operating in the area and so the Captain, as a precautionary measure, had ordered the starboard lifeboats to be slung out. Captain Thomas Robert Prescott immediately attempted to change course but the torpedo struck home. The SS Cambank was approximately 10 miles off Point Lynas, Anglesey when the torpedo struck the vessel amidships. One crew member stated, ''the explosion was terrible and there was a huge volume of water and fire that reached about half-way up the mast.'' The massive explosion was both heard and seen from the shore and this resulted in the local ''Bull Bay Lifeboat'' being launched to bring back the survivors to Amlwch Port. 

Captain Thomas Prescott's precautionary measure of slinging out the lifeboats almost certainly resulted in that fact that 21 out of the 25 man crew were saved and they managed to pull away from their sinking ship to a place of safety. Steam Ship Cambank broke in her middle section and the stern and stem raised up out of the water before sinking into the sea. The ship sank in approximately only 15 minutes.

Three crew members died in the engine/boiler room and on member of the crew drowned trying to reach the already launched lifeboat. The dead were Joseph W Boyle [30] 3rd engineer, Michael Lynch [30] fireman, Robert Quigley [34] donkeyman and Charles Sinclair [36] fireman. 

Several other members of the crew had narrow escapes because they were asleep in their cabins and due to rapid flooding of the ship. Other crew members had to deal with door and door frames that had been bent or twisted and were therefore difficult to open etc. These must have been terrifying moments for the crew and at least one member of the ship's company, swore never to go back to the sea and instead joined the army.

On shore they were treated as hero's and the local people provided them with care and comfort whilst they were being repatriated to their families. Eleven members of SS Cambank's crew were from Cardiff.

These sailors had lost everything they owned which was on the ship and some came ashore in only their pyjamas. Spare clothes were found and given to them and even although they appeared a bit destitute when they eventually arrived home to their families, at least they had survived.

The precautionary actions taken by Captain Thomas Richard Prescott without doubt saved many lives that day. A man of good judgement and with ample common sense.


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  • 6 months later...

''The story within a story'' of the sinking of the Steam Ship Fort Longueuil and the death of its Chief Engineer Thomas Douglas Clough.


The ship..........the S.S. Fort Longueuil ws built in America and launched in 1942 and then leased to Britain. She was a ''Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship'' [DEMS] of 7,128 tons and manned with officers and men of the merchant service but also had a small number of Royal Navy and Royal Artillery gunners. On the 16th of July in 1942 she left Barry Docks and joined a convey and sailed to Alexandria to unload her cargo and then sailed to Aden. After refuelling and taking on a new cargo of ''phosphate'' she set sail for Freemantle in Australia on the 9th of September. On the 19th of September in 1942 south of the Chagos Island in the Indian Ocean, she was torpedoed without warning by the German U-Boat U-532. Fort Longueuil blew up, broke in half and sank within a few minutes and out of the 59 crew, only 2 individuals ultimately survived but Chief Engineer Thomas Douglas Clough was not one of them.  


The submarine..........U-532 was launched in August of 1942 and was commanded by Ottoheinrich Junker. He was born in Freiburg in 1895 and died on the 28th of July in 2000. After sinking Fort Longueuil, he went on to sink a further 8 allied merchant ships and he surrendered U-532 at sea on the 10th of May in 1945.


The Chief Engineer..........Thomas Douglas Clough was born in 1890, in Keighley, in Yorkshire. He was the son of Frederick and Lucy Clough. Husband of Alice Clough of Silsden, in Yorkshire. Thomas D Clough served in WW1 but these medals are missing but his mercntile marine medal could be put on a medal bar with the 

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this is a continuations of the last post which got posted before I had finished.


The Chief Engineer Mercantile Marine medal plus WW2 medals.


Now the story within a story..........originally 7 men were blown clear of the sinking ship and reached a raft. They hailed the U-boat and asked to be taken aboard but were refused. They were given no bearings, no food or water by the crew of the submarine. One of the survivors who was injured died soon afterwards. By day 3 on the high seas all the provisions were gone. By the evening of day 20 four of the men lay dead on the raft but rain revived two to stay alive. 

They were Mohamed Aftab and Thakar Miah who were Indian crewmen, one employed as a fireman and the other as a greaser. They continued to survive by catching the occasional fish and sea birds and they did this for an incredible 131 days. They reached the coast of Malaya only to be taken prisoners by the Japanese and then placed in a P.O.W. camp in Sumatra. They were tasked many times with the odious task of carrying Allied war prisoner's bodies who had been decapitated by the Japanese, to communal pits or a burial area. They were released only after ''Victory Day'' and returned to Liverpool on the S.S. Derbyshire.


The world record for the longest survival in a life raft was by ''Poon Lim [2nd steward]'' from the S.S. Benlomond which was sunk on the 23rd of November in 1942 and he survived a confirmed 133 days adrift. I have seen various reports about Mohamed Aftab and Thakar Miah which stated they survived 131 days but also other reports which stated they survived 134 days. I suppose their survival was never fully confirmed regarding the duration of this event because they may have held the world record......




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Here is again ''Mohamed Aftab and Thakar Miah'' and also ''Poon Lim.''

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This is not in my collecting area but it is a really nice little item and relates to German submarines and the whole mercantile marine subject..........


This is a beautiful '''sweetheart broach''' dedicated to German submarine U-5 and dates from WW2.


This is an unusual sweetheart broach and appears to be dedicated to or from somebody who served on the German submarine U-5. 


It is very attractive and well-made broach and has been very artistically designed. The main body of the broach is some kind of tough plastic with some small pieces of worked copper and jewellery stones etc added to the main bodywork.


During the 1930's and 40's there was much development regarding plastics and the use of such materials. 


German submarine U-5 was laid down on the 11th of February in 1935 and was then launched on the 14th of August and commissioned on the 31st of August in 1935. Imagine it only took approximately 6 months to build a submarine, quite a feat.

German submarine U-5 was mainly used as a training boat from 1935 to 1949 but did do two wartime patrols in 1940 and was then transferred to operational duties from the 1st of July in 1940 onwards.

German submarine U-5 was sunk on the 19th of March in 1943, in a diving accident, off the coast of Russia, 16 members of her 37 man crew survived the incident.






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My Great Grandfather John Propert was in the Merchant navy. 


He was an electrician,  onboard the SS Justicia, when it was torpedoed and sunk in 1918. He survived the sinking. 

Handwritten on the back of his portrait photograph he has recorded.



First torpedo 2.35 pm July 19th, 1918

Second TWIN Ts  8.35 am July 20th, 1918.

Sank 1.50 pm July 20th, 1918.






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That is a great piece of family history.

It would make a great project to investigate and record, in detail, this encounter between the merchant navy and the German U-boats in 1918. 


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I would sell my soul to the infernal one for either Aftab's or Miah's mercantile marine. Would be the jewel in the crown of the Indian Marine section of my collection.



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I have photographed a very basic statement that was given by Thakar Miah on his survival, on the raft, after the sinking of Fort Longueuil.


Thakar Miah was the younger of the two men and was employed as a fireman.


The sinking is officially listed as the 20th of September in 1943 and Thakar Miah was told by the Japanese that it was the 1st of February in 1944 when they arrested him.............[it is a bright beautiful morning and I am up early but my brain is not working so well] ........ I think that makes it 134 days or it might be 135? 

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I have done a quick check to see if I can find these two individuals and this is what has come to light.......


Mohamed Aftab [employed as a greaser/older of the two men] .......I cannot find any other details on what happened to Mohamed Aftab after he returned to Liverpool at the end of the Second World War.


Thakar Miah [fireman] and here are some details of his life :-

Thakar Miah was born in Assam in India in 1911.

Thakar Miah died at the age of 35 of natural causes on the 27th of October in 1946 whilst serving on the merchant vessel ''Sutherland.''

Thakar Miah is recorded as being a ''fireman and trimmer,'' and died in a place called ''Santaner.''

Thakar Miah's death is recorded on the ''UK Merchant Seamen Deaths, 1939-1953 data.''


There is also an ''Ancestry'' entry from the ''other source family records'' and is quite interesting and states :-

Thakar Miah is residing at 27 Princelet Street, in Stepney, in London, in 1946 and another entry states he is employed as a merchant seaman.

Thakar Miah was married to a ''Joan Elizabeth Clarke Miah''

They seem to have married when she was only 14 years old, in October of 1941, in Stepney, in London and his date of birth appears as 1925. Therefore he was approximately 16 years old when married but his actual age would have been 30 years old.

Thakar Miah dieds in 1946.

Joan Elizabeth Clarke Miah is residing at 9 Ensign Street, in Stepney, in London, in 1947 and remains at this address until her death in 1949, aged 22.


Conclusion..... in my opinion and on first glance, I believe the official Merchant Navy document which stated he was born in 1911 is correct and that he may have misled others about his age at the time of marrying such a young girl. Such is love and there is a World War going on so this is not such a big deal. Since he was away with the merchant navy much of the time and lost at sea and a P.O.W. as well and then died in 1946, then they could not have spent a great deal of time together. 


Therefore, if the above is correct, his mercantile marine medal etc could possibly be somewhere in the U.K. 




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My late father-in-law was a Canadian, working for Marconi as a radio oeprator, on 'tramp' steamers.  He had decided to rerunt to Canada after three years overseas and was in Red Sea when war was declared in 1939.  Went round the Cape - with a deck cargo of live sheep for rations - and was torpedoed half a day out of Liverpool.  He and the Captain were the last of the ship and he lost everthying but the c,lothes he stood up in.



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An interesting piece of family history....here is another submarine story.....


''The sinking of HMS Hogue and the death of C3672 William Joseph Atkinson, Mne, R.N.R.''


On the 22nd of September in 1914, a naval engagement between three obsolete Royal Navy cruisers and often referred to as the, ''Livebait Squardron,'' and manned mainly by reservists, were sunk by the German submarine U-9 which resulted in the loss of 1,450 sailors. The cruisers HMS Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue were part of the Royal Navy's 7th Cruiser Squadron and there was a huge public outcry at these losses.


The sea was calm and so Captain Otto Weddigen started his attack at 06.20am firing one torpedo from approximately 550 yards which struck HMS Aboukir. The ship's engine room was flooded which stopped the ship immediately.


Since the senior Captain commanding the two remaining cruisers, believed HMS Aboukir had hit a sea mine, they began to close to render assistance. HMS Aboukir capsized and sank after only 25 minutes. 


Captain Otto Weddigen observed the other cruisers were engaged in rescuing the men from the sinking ship. He then fired two further torpedoes at HMS Hogue from a range of only 300 yards. As the torpedoes left the submarine tubes, her bow rose out of the water and she was spotted by HMS Hogue who opened fire before the submarine dived. Unfortunately it was too late and both torpedoes struck their target and HMS Hogue capsized and sank and it was now only 07.15am.


At 07.20am submarine U-9 began her attack on HMS Cressy and she too was sunk. Distress calls had been sent out and various vessel came to the assistance of the survivors.


Unfortunately C3672 William Joseph Atkinson, Mne, R.N.R. was not one of those survivors.


Captain Otto Weddigen and the U-9 returned to Germany and to a hero's welcome and Otto Weddigen was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class and his crew all received the Iron Cross 2nd Class.


The reputation of the U-boats as a deadly weapon was now established and the Royal Navy now had to take it very seriously.


With these medals I also have a rare original 16mm propaganda film of Captain Otto Weddigen and U-9'





Continued from the last entry as it posted prematurely .....


With these medals I also have a rare original 16mm propaganda film of Captain Otto Weddigen and U-9's victory and his final demise when he commanded U-29 approximately a year later.


This is a dramatization using First War One German library film recreating Otto Weddigens's command of U-9 and the successful attack on HMS Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy. It also portrays the death of Otto Weddigen and U-29 when the submarine was rammed by HMS Dreadnough killing all the crew.

The black and white silent movie is believed to be the 1930's version and not the 1925/26 version of the film. I also believe this is the rarer of the two films. 

The film has been professionally copied onto a DVD, by a previous collector.

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Captain Otto Weddigen joined the German Navy in 1901, serving in the East-Asia squadron before he transferred to the submarine division in 1908 and became the commander of U-9 in 1911.

Captain Otto Weddigen became one of the best known German Submarine commanders in the First World War for his part in the above naval engagement that took place on the 22nd of September in 1914. 


The death of 1,467 officer and men and with the rescue of only 837 survivors, sent shock-waves through the people of Great Britain and there was a huge outcry to understand how this could have happened.

The Royal Navy suddenly realised that this new weapon ''the submarine'' was an extremely dangerous new form of warfare. 


On the 14th of October in 1914, Captain Otto Weddigen and U-9 struck again and this time sent HMS Hawke to the bottom of the sea with the loss of approximately 500 sailors.


In 1915, Captain Otto Weddigen was now in command of submarine U-29 and sailed towards the British military harbour at Scapa Flow and attempted to torpedo a British Naval vessel but was unsuccessful. U-29's bow came out of the water and was spotted by HMS Dreadnought which in turn rammed the German submarine. U-29 sank and there were no survivors.


The film and the medals just happened to be on the market from different sellers but at the same time. This is not really my collecting area but I do like a good stories so if I have any of the information wrong or I have missed out other information ....... my apologies. 

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  • 2 weeks later...



Here is another form of documentation of the '''3 before breakfast,''' sinking of HMS Hogue, Aboukir and Cressy by Captain Otto Weddigen commander of the German U-boat U-9 which resulted in the loss of 1,459 British sailors, on the 22nd of September in 1914.


Here we have some examples of German patriotic postcards celebrating the victory.






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Here we have a few other examples of postcards which relate to the above incident. One German patriotic, two relating to Captain Otto Weddigen and one relating to HMS Hogue.

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