The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Sinking of the SS Britannia 1941

Visit to Public Record Office, Kew 5 November 2007

Since my Dad and I worked togeher on his personal account of the Sinking of the SS Britannia:

Sinking of the SS Britannia

I have tried to find out as much as I can about Convoy CF001/1 (CF being Colombo and Fremantle).On a rare visit to the daunting Public Record Office in Kew, I mananged to inspect two key documents:

Passenger List for the Canadian Pacific vessel Empress of Japan

Dad returned to the UK on the Empress of Japan which arrived back in Greenock, Scotland on 19 May 1941. The Passenger List had 2 surprises:

1. the vessel had commenced its journey in Singapore and was carrying personnel from the armed forces and their wives.

2. I duly found Dad in the Passenger List shown as: Frederick Bower, Electrician (30) with full address, joining with other survivors from the Britannia as "Addenda". Dad had talked to me about the survisors splitting up and going their separate ways and after Dad's name in the Passenger List were:

- Nesta Jennel Louise Morgan, Schoolmistress (30)
(address in Penarth given)

- Leslie Cornish Priest, Admiralty Photographer (35)
(address in Walton on Thames given)

- Phyllis Lucy Shipton, RN Nursing Sister (35)
(address in my Gloucester given)

- Charles John Steuart, Merchant (37)
(adress in Winchester given)

Some of the above people Dad had mentoned in his personal account:

List of Survivors

They all travelled First Class!

Further on in the Passenger List were two Danes joining at Gibraltar that Dad had mentioned to me:

Peter Moller (32)
Hildegard Moller (30)

Eleven member of the Free French had also joined the vessel at Gibraltar.

Ship's Log of HMS Repulse for May 1941

I ordered the Ship's Log hoping to find out more about Convoy CF001/1, e.g. the name of some of the other Royal Naval vessels.

The Repulse had made her way from Greenock to Gibraltar arriving on 7 May 1941. There is no mention of the convoy it escorted there nor back to Greenock. There is a note on 8 May 11.15 that the Monarch of Bermuda and Empress of Japan arrived.

Dad had not said that the jouney was in any way eventful apart from the overnight change from a small escort to a large excort including the aircraft carrier Argus and battlecruiser Repulse.

The Ship's Log hints at the precarious situation of being at sea even with a large escort:

Convoy CF001/1

The Guildhall in London gave me this refernce number but I have not traced it any where else. At least I now know that when the convoy left Gibraltar, there were at least the following:

Passenger Vessels

Monarch of Bermuda
Empress of Japan

Armed Escort

HMS Argus (aircraft carrier)
HMS Repulse (battlecruise)
HMS Velox
HMS Wrestler

Colin Bower
30 November 2007

Links to:
Britannia Index

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