The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Sinking of  the SS Britannia 1941

Photo Album

In 1941, my father was a passenger on the SS Britannia:

SS Britannia

which was sunk by the German surface raider Thor.

Initially the Britannia travelled in a Convoy:

Convoys 1941

He was rescued from a lifeboat by the vessel Cabo de Hornos (painting of ship by my father):

Cabo de Hornos

On board my father collected signatures of the survivors, on a menu:

Menu from Cabo de Hornos

After being taken to Gibraltar via Cadiz, my father eventually boarded the Empress of Japan (later renamed Empress of Scotland)

Empress of Japan (later renamed Empress of Scotland)

and escorted home by a naval escort includin HMS Argus and HMS Repulse.

Visit to Gibraltar May 2007

In May 2007, Chris and I had a half-day stop at Gibraltar, as part of a tour of Andalusia.

Even though Gibraltar must have become considerably more built up, I found it very moving to retrace my father's steps that he took in 1941.

Chris and I went up on the Rock to see the famous caves and apes. We did not see the ceremony of the Keys that Dad talked about but we did see some soldiers marching to the main square.

Crossing from La Linea into Gibraltar as Dad did in 1941:

Typical of an ape that my Dad saw:

Soldiers marching through Gibraltar:

Looking back into Spain:

Update of Photo Album

I did a review of the photos in the website and found that there should be a number of additions:

The Thor

a photo of the German Raider Thor which sank the Britannia

The Thor

Comander Spurgeon

a photo of Commander Spurgeon who commanded the lifeboat which saved Dad's life

Commander Spurgeon

Dad's Memorabilia

photos from the 1941 Diary and Pocket Book which Dad took with him into the lifeboat

Dad's Memorabilia

Second Menu with Survivors' Signatures

another Menu (one page only) obtained by Dr Das Gupta

Second Menu with Survivors' Signatures


Visits to Tenerife

photos taken on 2 visits to Tenerife including my 75th Birthday!


On a second visit to Tenerife in 2010, Chris and I made our way (from the South to the North of the Island) to Santa Cruz where the ship may have been berthed.

On the seafront at Santa Cruz with the commercial port in the background


On 12 January we sailed into the port on the cruise liner Balmoral on my 75th birthday!

It was so memorable and poignant to dock there and walk along the front at Santa Cruz, which had seen major development since our previous visit and more was underway.

Celebrating my 75th Birthday on the Balmoral

The new concert hall alongside an old fort on the sea front at Santa Cruz, Tenerife

Colin Bower
24 September 2020

Fuller details are given in Dad's account of the Sinking of the SS Britannia:

Sinking of the Britannia

Link to:

Photo Album - Bower Family

Made with CityDesk