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Article: Empire Star

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    Empire Star

    11 Comments by Christine Roshnzamir Published on 11th April 2019 03:17 PM
    Hallo and thank you for the kind welcome words,

    I have a query regarding the survivors of M.V. Empire Star, sunk in October 1942.

    My Father's brother is listed as embarking on the ship which sailed from Liverpool on 20th October 1942. 3 days later the ship was torpedoed and sunk. After 2 days the survivors were picked up by H.M.S. Black Swan. My uncle was not listed among the survivors but we think he must have been saved as he is listed as embarking on the SS Ceramic which left Liverpool on 3rd November 1942. Unfortunately this ship was also sunk in the Atlantic on 6/7 December 1942. There was only one survivor picked up by the submarine, Sapper Eric Munday.

    My uncle, John James Arthur Charles Nicholls, is in the CWGC lists as having died on the Ceramic but we have always wondered whether he actually was on that ship or had died previously after the sinking of the Empire Star. There seems to have been such a short interval between the arrival of survivors from the Empire Star and the departure of the Ceramic that it would seem impossible to replace belongings and maybe also his passport.

    If anyone has any ideas or information we would be very grateful

    Many thanks
    Christine Roshanzamir

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    Default Re: Empire Star

    EXTRACTED FROM MY BOOK, SHIPPING COMPANY LOSSES OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR.

    EMPIRE STAR (Captain S.N. Capon). Sailed independently from Liverpool on 20 October, 1942, bound for East London. Torpedoed at about 3.45pm on the 23rd by U.615 (Kptlt. Ralph Kapitzky) when in position 4814N 2622W. One lifeboat was destroyed, but the other 3 got away, and were lying off the ship when a second torpedo struck and sank her. Captain Capon decided that the boats should stay together, but, after a night of foul weather, his boat had disappeared and was never seen again. Having survived the night riding to a sea anchor, and during which the tiller broke and oars were used to steer and to keep the boat’s head into the wind, Mr L. Vernon, the 1st Mate, could see no other boats. Later that morning, however, a boat was seen some distance away, but attempts to steer towards it failed. With the weather as wild as ever, the sea anchor was again streamed and the boat was drifting before the wind when, at 6.15pm, they were picked up by the sloop HMS Black Swan. An SSSS message had been transmitted from the ship and the other boat, with Mr Moscrop-Young, the 3rd Mate, in charge, was also picked up by the Black Swan. Forty-two, including 6 passengers, died and 61, including 13 passengers, survived.

    CERAMIC (Captain H.C. Elford). Bound for Sydney, Australia, via St. Helena and Durban, sailed from Liverpool in Convoy ON.149 on 26 November, 1942, and dispersed from it on 2 December. Torpedoed and sunk by 5 torpedoes from U.515 (Kptlt. Werner Henke) on 7 February, in position 4030N 4020W. Out of her complement of 657, only Sapper Eric Munday of the Royal Engineers, taken prisoner by the u-boat, survived. For other ships sunk after dispersing from Convoy ON.149, see under Henry Stanley, ELDER DEMPSTER LINE.

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    Default Re: Empire Star

    In addition these are all the Surnames beginning with N of ones that Died on the Ceramic i see no record of him.

    NEILL, Steward, JOHN SAYERS, S.S. Ceramic (Southampton).
    NEL, Stoker 1st Class, LOUIS, D/KX 96183. H.M.S. Drake IV. Royal Navy.
    NEWNHAM, Steward, HAROLD PERCY, S.S. Ceramic (Southampton).
    NEWTH, Deck Boy, TERENCE ERNEST, S.S. Ceramic (Southampton).
    And only one Surname beginning with N on the Empire Star

    NASH
    , Assistant Steward, REGINALD, S.S. Empire Star (Belfast).

    As you state correctly below so I am stumped on this ?? I think Billy (Deep Sea) may see this at some point and clarify for you . I just have a feeling that all the names are not listed for some reason????

    NICHOLLS Civilian JOHN JAMES ALFRED CHARLES Sunday, December 6, 1942 Age 43 S.S. CERAMIC View record Civilian War Dead United Kingdom

    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 11th April 2019 at 08:21 PM.
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    Default Re: Empire Star

    Just a link may be of interest and helpful
    Cheers

    https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship2290.html


    He is listed here as a Passenger

    https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship2496.html


    655 (654 dead and 1 survivor).
    Last edited by Brian Probetts (Site Admin); 11th April 2019 at 10:27 PM.
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    Default Re: Empire Star

    Hello Doc,
    I have looked at Benjidog Historical Research Resources|Home Page where all the Merchant Seamen are listed from the Tower Hill Memorial. As you say he is listed as a PASSENGER on CERAMIC so he would not be listed as a lost Merchant Seaman.
    So, Christine, I hope that solves your mystery. Lost on S.S.CERAMIC but not as a Seaman.
    regards
    Brenda

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    Extract from my book "The Sea is Their Grave"

    Passenger cargo ship Empire Star, 11,093grt, (Blue Star Line) sailed independently from Liverpool with nineteen passengers and a general cargo, including ammunition and aircraft for East London, South Africa. On the 23rd October 1942 the ship was almost in mid-Atlantic about 570 nautical miles North of the Azores steaming South in a heavy swell and breaking sea. To prevent damage to the valuable deck cargo, zig-zagging had been discontinued when a torpedo struck and exploded on the starboard side amidships flooding the engine-room almost immediately, which stopped the ship and put out the lights. Two Engineers and two others on duty below were killed instantly and the ship listed heavily over to starboard so passengers and crew were ordered to assemble at their designated boat stations. There were originally four lifeboats; but one, on the starboard side, had been destroyed by the explosion. A distress message was sent and the order to abandon ship was eventually given, which, in spite of the heavy seas, was carried out in an orderly manner. As the boats lay off, the ship righted herself, and though low in the water, did not appear to be sinking. About thirty minutes after the first explosion she was torpedoed again, twice at five minute intervals on the starboard side aft. The stern of the Empire Star rapidly became submerged, and as her bow rose skywards she disappeared from sight in position 48' 14N 26' 22W. Just before nightfall one of the boats picked up five survivors who were found floating nearby on rafts. During the night the lifeboats became separated and the Masters boat, holding forty-two survivors, including six passengers, which included a Mother and her two young sons, was never seen again. Two days later the Chief Officers boat holding thirty-four survivors were picked up by the naval sloop HMS Black Swan, while the Third Officers boat holding thirty-seven survivors were found by the Black Swan the following day and landed them all back at Liverpool.

    John James Arthur Charles Nicholls is not listed as one of the six passengers lost from Empire Star, which would indicate the CWGC entry as a civilian casualty from the Ceramic is correct.
    "Across the seas where the great waves grow, there are no fields for the poppies to grow, but its a place where Seamen sleep, died for their country, for you and for peace" (Billy McGee 2011)

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    Default Re: Empire Star

    Hi Christine.
    My brothers mate Ronnie Morgan from our small village in Wales was killed on the Empire Star, they both went to the same sea school and intended to sail together but as Ronnie was a stewards boy and my brother was a JOS they couldn't get on the same ship. Ronnie was 16 years old one of the many from the Vindicatrix sea school who didn't survive the war .
    Des.

    redc.gif

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    There were two 16 year old boy ratings lost from the Empire Star.

    MERCER, Kitchen Boy, LESLIE, M.V. Empire Star (Belfast). Merchant Navy. 23rd October 1942. Age 16. Son of Jemima Mercer, of Liverpool.

    MORGAN, Steward's Boy, RONALD, M.V. Empire Star (Belfast). Merchant Navy. 23rd October 1942. Age 16, of Farningham, Kent.
    "Across the seas where the great waves grow, there are no fields for the poppies to grow, but its a place where Seamen sleep, died for their country, for you and for peace" (Billy McGee 2011)

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    Hi Billy.
    Something wrong in your post, Ronnie Morgan was from Garden Village , Gorsienon, Wales, he lived behind our house, he and my brother Roy went to the sea cadets together before they both went to the Vindi in 1944. he sailed on the Empire Star.
    Des

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    Default Re: Empire Star

    Quote Originally Posted by Des Taff Jenkins View Post
    Hi Billy.
    Something wrong in your post, Ronnie Morgan was from Garden Village , Gorsienon, Wales, he lived behind our house, he and my brother Roy went to the sea cadets together before they both went to the Vindi in 1944. he sailed on the Empire Star.
    Des
    The information on Ronnie Morgan is from official documents held by the CWGC. According to the Deaths at Sea Register. Ronnie was born in Farningham, Kent and was registered as his last place of abode when he died. See attached entry. His is the bottom entry on the page.

    Empire-Star-DASR.jpg
    "Across the seas where the great waves grow, there are no fields for the poppies to grow, but its a place where Seamen sleep, died for their country, for you and for peace" (Billy McGee 2011)

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