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RobRobinson
20th January 2009, 11:59 AM
My brother, Ronald Robinson, was on the California Star which was torpedoed and sunk in March 1943. Are there any survivors or relatives of survivors on this Forum? Ronnie was Second Radio Officer. I hope that someone might know something even after all this time. Thanks.

DeepSea
20th January 2009, 07:07 PM
Refrigerated cargo ship California Star, 8,300grt (Blue Star Line) had loaded a cargo of general stores and refrigerated cargo at Wellington for Liverpool and sailed via the Panama Canal. Also onboard were 7 passengers. On the 4th March 1943 at 23.15 hours (CET) the ship was intercepted by U-515 in the Atlantic about 380 miles North West of the small island of Flores in the Azores. Two torpedoes detonated in the ships No. 3 hold and engine room stopping the ship dead in the water. Captain Sydney Foulkes ordered the ship abandoned via the port side as all the starboard boats had been destroyed. Whilst abandoning ship and clearing away one of the boats a third torpedo detonated some 20 minutes later killing the occupants of the second boat being launched. The remaining survivors were now left to launch the ships life rafts as the ship was hit by a fourth torpedo and sank in position 42' 32N 37' 20W about forty minutes after the first attack. The U-boat then surfaced to question the survivors looking for the ship Captain or most senior officer. To avoid capture Capt. Smith and his Chief Officer John Henry Davis still in uniform removed their jackets. The ships 2nd Mate George C. Smart was seen and taken prisoner and would eventually end up at the Merchant Navy PoW Camp Milag Nord where he remained until the wars end and the camp was liberated on the 26th April 1945.

The remaining survivors were now left to their fate. Captain Foulkes decided their only chance of survival was to navigate the only surviving lifeboat to the Azores and send help back for those on the rafts. 24 survivors were crammed into the one boat and set sail, while the Chief Officer remained in charge of the men on the rafts. On the 14th March, the tenth day of Captain Foulkes epic journey a young seamen named Neil Hargan, suffering from exposure and the effects of drinking sea water died and was buried at sea. The following day the lifeboat came ashore at Flores and a vessel was sent to look for the remaining survivors. Unfortunately they were never found. A total of 40 crew, 8 DEMS gunners and 4 passengers were lost.

There should be a survivors report for the California Star at The National Archives at Kew in ADM 199/2144 (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATID=5054529&CATLN=6&Highlight=%2CSURVIVORS%2CREPORT&accessmethod=0). Click on link and once on page click on "request this link" and follow instructions on how to order.

Commemorated Tower Hill Memorial Panel 22

BROOKE, Donkeyman, LOUVAIN, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 28. Son of John J. and Mary Jane Brooke; husband of Alice May Brooke, of Barnoldswick, Yorkshire.

CHRISTODOULOS, Donkeyman, PARASKEYES, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 22.

COLLINS, Carpenter, JOHN ARMSTRONG, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 29. Son of John William and Minnie Mary Collins, of Kaikoura, Marlborough, New Zealand.

COPEMAN, Electrician, THOMAS HAROLD, M.V. California Star(London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 26.

DAVIS, Chief Officer, JOHN HENRY, M. V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 34. Son of Charles Henry and Agnes Davis; husband of Phyllis Davis, of East Sheen, Surrey.

DOLAN, Donkeyman, PETER, D S M, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 35. Son of James and Mary Dolan, of Glasgow.

DRAPER, Able Seaman, ALFRED MORRIS, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 33. Son of Robert Charles and Francess Alice Draper; husband of Isabel Draper, of Liverpool.

EDWARDS, Engineer Officer, JAMES EDWARD, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 27. Son of David E. and Margaret Jane Edwards; husband of Martha Edwards, of West Derby, Liverpool.

ELLIOTT, Assistant Cook, OWEN JAMES, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 18. Son of Arthur Cecil and Emma Louise Elliott, of Dagenham, Essex.

EVANS, First Electrician, THOMAS ARTHUR, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 34. Son of Captain B. Evans and K.M. Evans.

FORSTER, Donkeyman, JOSEPH WILLIAM, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 35. Son of John and Janet Forster; husband of Rebecca Forster, of Glasgow.

GREEN, Fourth Officer, REX JOHN, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 20.

GREENE, Able Seaman, ALPHONSUS, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 28.

HARGAN, Kitchen Boy, NEIL, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 14th March 1943. Age 17.

HART, Able Seaman, CHARLES, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943.

HARVEY, Boatswain, ARTHUR, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 42. Husband of Margaret Harvey, of South Shields, Co. Durham.

JACKSON, Third Radio Officer, ARTHUR, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 21. Son of Harold Leonard and Ella Jackson, of Pudsey, Yorkshire.

JACKSON, Sailor, GEOFFREY LUCAS, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 30. Son of H. E. and Lilian Jackson, of Kerridge, Cheshire.

JOHNSTON, Assistant Steward, LEONARD GEORGE, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 33. Son of John Hill Johnston and Gertrude H. Johnston.

JORGENSEN, Third Engineer Officer, GEORG HANNIBAL, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 28. Son of Valdemar and Sigrid Jorgensen, of Copenhagen, Denmark.

KILPATRICK, Chief Engineer Officer, CHARLES, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 39. Son of James and Sarah Kilpatrick; husband of Emily D. L. Patrick, of Stranraer, Wigtownshire.

LEECH, Second Refrigerator Engineer, GEORGE EDWARD, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 30. Son of George Leech, and of Margaret Elizabeth Leech, of Rosenallis, Co. Leix, Irish Republic.

LEES, Fourth Engineer Officer, GEORGE, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 31. Son of George and Evelyn Lees, of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

LOFTS, Chief Cook, ERNEST HARRY, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 44. Son of William and Florence Lofts; husband of Daisy Lofts, of Ilford, Essex.

LOVERIDGE, Deck Boy, DESMOND, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 19. Son of George Christopher and Sarah Ann Loveridge, of Great Barr, Birmingham.

MACCOY, Chief Steward, JAMES TOOTHILL, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 34. Son of Robert Henry and Susan Maccoy, of South Shields, Co. Durham.

MARNEY, Donkeyman, JOHN, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 32. Son of Mrs. M. Ann Marney, of Aigburth, Liverpool; husband of Christina Marney, of Liverpool.

MIDGLEY, Second Engineer Officer, JOHN GEORGE, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 28. Son of John George Midgley, and of Hilda Ellen Mary Midgley, of Ladysmith, Natal, South Africa.

MORTIMER, Able Seaman, BENJAMIN, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 48. Son of John George and Elizabeth Mortimer.

MURRAY, Engineer Officer, HECTOR ARCHIBALD MACDONALD, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943.

McCARTHY, Donkeyman, JOSEPH, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 26.

PEDERSEN, Surgeon, ERIK ORUM, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 24. King's Commendation for Brave Conduct. Son of John and Valborg Pedersen. M.B., B.S. Lloyd's War Medal.

PETTIGREW, Junior Engineer Officer, WILLIAM, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 20. Son of William and Jeanie Pettigrew, of Glasgow.

RACKHAM, Third Officer, LESLIE MILWARD, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 25. Son of Leslie and Florence Rackham; husband of Eileen Doris Rackham. of Liverpool.

RATNEK, Engineer Officer (Supy.), PETER DAVID, Merchant Navy. Lost in M.V. California Star (London). 4th March 1943. Age 45.

ROBINSON, Second Radio Officer, RONALD, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 19. Son of Charles Joseph and Ethel Robinson, of Hull.

RUSHTON, Chief Refrigerator Engineer, JOHN MEADOWS, M.V. California Star (Glasgow). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 34. Son of John Meadows Rushton and Martha Webb Rushton; husband of Fanny Rushton, of Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire.

SCHOFIELD, Steward, EDWARD, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943.

STEVENSON, Sailor, ISLAY, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 21.

STEWART, First Radio Officer, ROBERT, M.V. California Star (London). Merchant Navy. 4th March 1943. Age 50. King's Commendation for Brave Conduct. Husband of Edith W. Stewart, of Roby, Lancashire. Awarded Lloyd's Medal.

RobRobinson
22nd January 2009, 07:33 PM
Thank you for the information on the Calfornia Star. I have contacted the National Archive for the survivors' report. Thanks. Rob Robinson