The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Sinking of the SS Britannia 1941

Dad's 1941 Diary

Extraordinarily Dad took a tiny 1941 Diary with him when he clambered into the lifeboat.

The diary had amongst the contents:

1. Lists of Names & Addresses (an asterisk * denotes people believed to be survivors):

List 1

*Charles Clark
*Dr Das Gupta
Mr D.W. Clark & A. Martin(contacts of Charles Clark?)
Baroness Des Pres (who asked the Captain of the Cabo de Hornos to keep searching for survivors)
*Naim Barzel

List 2

Mrs Chappell (possibly Landlady near Porthcurno, where Dad worked before setting out on the SS Britannia)
Mrs Bower (my grandmother)
W.L. Province
Mr L. Brock (a work colleague & friend with whom later Dad went to Ascension Island)
Mr S. Higgs
*Natuarlalk Chhotalal Patel

List 3

*Mrs Cane
*Miss N. Morgan
*R.E.G. Cox
Mr E. Morton
Mr W. Gillingham

2. Entries in the Diary itself

Listed below

3. List of Travellers' Cheques Drawn

206108 £10 March 10th
Liverpool (Britannia sailed 12 March)
178251 £2 April 7th
178252 £2 April 7th
Barclays Bank, Gibraltar
178253 £2 April 26th
Barclays Bank, Gibraltar (sailed home 8 May)

Colin Bower
16 April 2019

Entries in the Diary itself

Pre-decimal money exprssed as £ (pounds) s(shillings) and d (pence)

Friday 7 March 1941

Paid myself when at home

Trunk £2 2s 0d
Case 10s 6d
Suit £3 3s 0d
Flannels £2 2s 0d
Total £7 17s 6d

Saturday 8 March

Sunday 9 March

Monday 10 March


Tuesday 11 March

3/8 1/2:

Taxi 2s 0d
Porter 6d
Books 1s 0d
Stamp 2 1/2d
Soap 6d

Wednesday 12 March

7 p.m.
ss Britannia
Gross 8799.27
Net. 5276.24

Thursday 13 March

Ill 9.0 p.m.

Friday 14 March

A bit better.
Ship rolling a good bit.

Doris (his wife) first pay day from firm

Saturday 15 March

A bit better.
Ship rolling a lot.
Lost our escort this afternoon.

Sunday 16 March

Ship rolling worse.
A little better.
Pastiles 6d.

Memo: Total for week £1 19s 8 1/2d

Monday 17 March

Grapefruit 6d
Had lunch in dining room the dinner
Felt everso much better

Tuesday 18 March

Clocks back hour
Very rough aagain
Belt 2s 0d

Wednesday 19 March

Clocks back hour
Whist Drive 2s 6d

Thursday 20 March

Pastiles 6d

Friday 21 March

Second pay day

Saturday 22 March

9st 12 lb (weight in stones and pounds)
Barber 4s 0d

Sunday 23 March

Service at 10.45 a.m.

Memo: Total to date £2 9s 2 1/2d

Monday 24 March

Played deck games

Tuesday 25 March

Attacked by raider at 7.40 a.m.
Went to boats
then moved away from ss Britannia

Wednesday 26 March

Set sail for the first time.
Stood by at night with sea anchor.

Thursday 27 March

Set sail at 5.30 a.m.
Kept going all night.

Friday 28 March

Everybody OK.
Still going strong

Third Pay Day

Saturday 29 March

Everybody OK
Water ration cut down
Light sighted at 7.45 p.m.</.BR> we sent distress signals and were picked up at 9.40 a.m.
Spanish boat. Very kind people.

Sunday 30 March

Had small thanksgiving service

Memo: Cabo de Hornos
Total £2 9s 2 1/2d

Monday 31 March

Very enjoyable
Went to cinema show
Good music

Tuesday 1 April

Quiet day

Wednesday 2 April

Quiet day

Thursday 3 April

Arrived at Tenerife early morning
Away at 12.30
Back again
Naval, Army, RAF interned
Left at 4.15 p.m.

Friday 4 April

Fourth Pay Day

Quiet Day

Saturday 5 April

Arrived Cadiz 9.00 p.m.
Stayed in harbour until morning

Sunday 6 April

Left C delt (?) at 11 a.m. on tender for Cadiz
Then by bus to Gibraltar
Put up at Grand Hotel
Spanish border La Linea

Memo: Total to date £2 9s 2 1/2d

Monday 7 April

up at 8 p.m.(?)
Very fine hotel
Cabled firm & Doris
Chocolate 10 1/2d
Tea 1s 4d

Tuesday 8 April

Biscuits 1s
Chocolate 7d
Quiet Day

Wednesday 9 April

Quiet Day
Sent letters to Doris & Mum by air mail

Thursday 10 April

Barber 2s 1d
Coffee 1s 4d
Boot Polish 2d
Chocolate 7d

Friday 11 April

Good Friday
Went to St Andrews Presbyterian Church
Coffee 1s 4d
Chocolate 6d

Fifth Pay Day

Saturday 12 April

Chocolate 6d
Biscuits 6d
Chocolate 6d
Sweets 6d

Sunday 13 April

Easter Sunday
10st 2lb

Memo: 11s 9 1/2d
£2 9s 2 1/2d
Total £3 1s 0d

Monday 14 April

Sent Doris letter
Sweets 6d
Cakes 6d
Letter 6d
Coffee 9d
Peppermints 2d

Tuesday 15 April

Went to pictures 9d
Washing of shirt 6d

Wednesday 16 April

Liverpool 1s
Ginger 1s 4d

Thursday 17 April

Cabled Doris after dinner 2s 7 1/2d
Sweets 11d

Friday 18 April

2 Handkerchiefs 1s 6d
2 Collars 2s 6d
Studs 3d
Chocolate 7d

Sixth Pay Day

Saturday 19 April

Chocolate 7d
Chocolate etc 8 1/2d
ditto 3 1/2d

Sunday 20 April

Went to church in morning
Wrote to Mum & Doris

Memo: 15s 11 1/2d
£3 1s 0d
Total £3 16s 11 1/2d

Monday 21 April

Coffee 10d
Letters 1s 0d
Chocolate 1s 1d
Pictures 6d

Tuesday 22 April

Chocolate etc 8 1/2d

Wednesday 23 April

St George's Day
Barber 2s 1d
Pictures 6d
Oranges 3d
Gingers etc 1s 3d

Thursday 24 April

Coffee 1s 0d
Biscuits 1s 2d
Gingers etc 1s 0d

Friday 25 April

Oranges 3d
Saw Mr Clark & Dr. on boat

Seventh Pay Day

Saturday 26 April

Chocolate etc 1s 1 1/2d
Biscuits 1s 0d
10st 8lb

Sunday 27 April

Went to church morning & evening
St Andrews Presbyterian

Memo: 13s 9d
£3 16s 11 1/2d
Total £4 10s 8 1/2d

Monday 28 April

Sent letter to Mr Clark at Cargills Ltd 1s 0d
Pictures 9d

Tuesday 29 April

Chocolates 7d

Wednesday 30 April

Cigarettes 1s 4d

Thursday 1 May

Biscuits 1s 3d
Chocolates 3 1/2d

Friday 2 May

Chocolate 3 1/2d
Chocolate 3 1/2d

Eigth Pay Day

Received two letters from Doris

Friday 3 May

Sweets 8d
Biscuits 1s 3d
Sent letter to Doris 6d
Chocolate 7d

Sunday 4 May

Went to church morning & evening

Memo: 8s 9 1/2d
£4 10s 8 1/2d
Total £4 19s 6d

Monday 5 May

Sent letter to Mum 6d
Cigarettes 2s 3d
Torch 1s 9d
Chocolate 1s 2d

Tuesday 6 May

Biscuits 1s 0d
Barber 2s 1d
Choclate 3 1/2d
10st 8lb

Wednesday 7 May

Pictures 1s 0d
Received letter from Doris
Sent letter to Doris 6d
Biscuits 10d
Sweets 8d

Thursday 8 May

Tea 2s 8d
Oranges 3s 0d
Tips 4s 0d
Sauce 1s 1d

9.45 p.m.

Friday 9 May

Everything OK
Orange 5d
12 mid-day 212

Saturday 10 May


Sunday 11 May


Memo: £1 3s 2 1/2d
£4 19s 6d
Total £6 2s 8 1/2d

Monday 12 May

3 pairs stockings 13s 6d


Heso (?) presumed lost

Tuesday 13 May

Cigarettes 8d
Cigarettes 8d
Oranges 5d
Soap 3d

Wednesday 14 May


Thursday 15 May

Pianist 1s 0d

Friday 16 May

Table Steward 2s 6d
Fare from Gourick 2s 4d
ditto 2s 4d
Cloak Room 1s 0d
Fare to London £5 2s 6d

Saturday 17 May

Fare to Charing X 2d
Dinner 1s 6d
Bus Fare 1 1/2d
Fares to Elmers End 1s 8d
Home 1 1/2d

Sunday 18 May

Monday 19 May

Food (?) Office 1 1/2d
Fare to London 1s 6d
Fare to Office& Cooks 4 1/2d
Fare to Mum 10d
Meat 1s 0d

Tuesday 20 May

Fare to Toms (Elder Brother) 11d

Last Entry in Diary

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