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Thread: Athel tankers on Arctic Convoys

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    Default Re: Athel tankers on Arctic Convoys

    When the fleet sailed for the Falklands mainly from Portsmouth there were a number of supply vessels from the North Sea plus at least one River Humber tug which lay alongside us storing and being equipped with various communication gear. Most of the fleet that I saw was in the main merchant ships adapted to RN requirements. We were down to go which was cancelled ( which was quite happy about) as was the only ship the Navy had at the time for a bottomed submarine. There were at least two foreign flagged ships lying in Portsmouth hired out to the RN so I should imagine even then Britain was incapable of using its own flagged vessels as didn't have them. Other ships were picked up to join the fleet from various parts of the world. I knew 3 MN masters who went down with the first fleet. On I would imagine every MN ship there was a team of RN officers and men depending I suppose on the duties of individual ships. The naval team I saw on the Humber tug were fitting specialist radio equipment on board as everything I would imagine be in Cypher form and encrypted. Hugh who went down with the fleet as such as a specialist would know a lot more if willing to talk about it. However that was more recent and as far as Brenda is talking I doubt apart from such ships that were armed would be totally MN manned. The MN defence course that a lot of us did in the early 60"s when the crap was going to hit the fan over Cuba, was mostly all the good stuff that had worked in the last war and no mention of RN manning, it was all ABC warfare, with a 300 knot gunsight thrown in for good measure. Aircraft then were doing 600 knots. The ships that Brendas father served on the tailend charlies would be one of the jobs most would not have liked as would be a sitting duck for any surfaced U-Boat in the area and could practice his gunnery on to sink. Cheers JWS

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  3. #12
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    Default Re: Athel tankers on Arctic Convoys

    Good Afternoon Hugh, Thank you for your help. My Father's full name was Kenneth Moxon, born in Finchley. 26 Feb 1920 and died 20 Feb 1981.
    His discharge number was R213921.
    Unfortunately we have no other service records.
    He started his apprenticeship in 1936 with Athel Line, and left his last ship Caltex Tanganyika (in command) in 1958, when he joined the Port of Bristol. His final appointment was as Deputy Dockmaster Avonmouth and Portishead, to which he was appointed in 1970.
    (He died within about 6 months of retiring.)
    Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated by my sister and me, with thanks, Pamela V white, nee Moxon.

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  5. #13
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    Default Re: Athel tankers on Arctic Convoys

    Hello Pamela,

    He has a medal file at Kew as you may already be aware. Held in piece BT 395/1/69995. You can download this file for £3.45. It will have a note of his medals but as the Arctic Star was not a recognised award in its own right at that time it will not be shown so you have to prove that he served on a ship during the Arctic run. For that we need, in the absence of his discharge books, a copy of his CRS 10 which should list all of his ships. We can then find out if any of them served 'on the road to Russia'.

    He has a seaman's pouch held at Kew and you should also obtain this - BT 372/279/94

    His CRS 10 should be held in the following file at Kew: BT 382/1276 .
    Best obtained by visit to Kew as quite expensive to obtain online.

    Once you have those two files we can check the contents to see if you are able to apply for the medal. I hope that is of some help. Let us know how you get on.

    Regards
    Hugh
    "If Blood was the price
    We had to pay for our freedom
    Then the Merchant Ship Sailors
    Paid it in full”


    www.sscityofcairo.co.uk

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    Default Re: Athel tankers on Arctic Convoys

    C.P. had two ships down there. The first one was a brand new chemical tanker on its maiden voyage and was the water tanker for the land forces (as an aside in the Gulf War the USA were chartering water tankers at $80000 p/day). The other was a product tanker laden with jet fuel.
    The water tanker was very close to the Atlantic Conveyor when it was hit.
    Both ships stayed down there for a number of years being re-supplied by other C.P. tankers. C.P. actually bid for the shipping of all the materials for the rebuilding of Port Stanley but were beaten by Maersk of all companys, C.P. at that time still being operated out of London with ships registered in British crown colonies.
    rgds
    JA

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    Default Re: Athel tankers on Arctic Convoys

    For those who sailed on the Baron Boats may have come across a Capt. Donald Young. He had left the Baron Boats by then but went right through the ranks to master, On his epitaph in the local paper he was down as being a fleet navigator at the invasion of the Falklands, I often wondered what a fleet navigator was, my first thought maybe he was one of the few who could read a sextant, this of course was poor wittisism. He died later up the Persian Gulf on the deck of a supply vessel. He would of been 79 today if still alive. As died later in the 80"s with a heart attack. JWS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 8th September 2016 at 09:08 AM.

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    Default Re: Athel tankers on Arctic Convoys

    Hello Ian,

    Below is an extract from my Dad's notes. Capt W.J. Hartley D.S.C. It explains the position of the Rescue Ship Service in regard to the Royal Navy.

    "It may as well be said that the Admiralty considered taking the Rescue Ships into the Royal Navy in 1943. As each ship arrived in Glasgow a Royal Navy Captain came on board to have an interview with the Captain and the Chief Officer on behalf of Admiral Sir Richard Hill. The scheme, submitted by him, seemed quite reasonable. The Ship would become a Royal Navy one and the Captain and Chief Officer would be given the rank of Lieut. Commander and Lieutenant, respectively. I was interviewed first (the Chief Officer was not present) and I had given it some thought beforehand. In reply to the Naval Captain I said, “Sir, I respectively decline the offer and this is the reason. We work independently during an attack and move immediately to the rescue of our shipwrecked and stricken seamen on our own initiative, dealing with the situation in every weather, without prompting, or orders from anyone. As highly experienced and competent seamen we handle every man as gently and carefully as possible- no two situations are alike. On the other hand, if I were a Naval Officer, I could not move my ship to any rescue until I was ordered to by my Naval Superior. Consequently precious time would be lost and lives as well. So, if my ship is taken over by the Admiralty, I regret to say that I will not go with it. I would feel that my place should be in the Merchant Navy to which I belong and to which I would return.” He thanked me and asked to see my Chief Officer – Mr. Armour. He was made an offer of Lieutenant, but would not accept it.

    Considering our depleted number of nine Rescue Ships out of fourteen (due to enemy action) it was good to know learn that we were all in harmony with each other. This was remarkable because we did not have any previous communication with each other. I was told later that eight ships had indicated that they were not in favour of being taken over by the Royal Navy. The Admiralty Enquiry that followed was not in favour, either. It concluded with the statement- “The Rescue Ships were doing great work and the Royal Navy could not do any better” Henceforth, it was set out that the Rescue Ships were to be held in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service as before, manned by Merchant Navy Captains, Officers and Men."


    I have just tried to paste an extract from the PQ18 Convoy Conference (Sept 1942) and it would appear that I have deleted it !! Darn. If I find it ,I'll post again. Briefly, Rear Admiral Boddam- Whetham told my Dad that he was not to pick up survivors, but to wait for a signal. He disobeyed the order.

    regards
    Brenda

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    Default Re: Athel tankers on Arctic Convoys

    Thank you for that Brenda, you have a right to be proud. The RN tend to forget that we are just as proud of our service as they are of theirs, they also tend to forget that man for man we have probably spent more time actually at sea, have probably experienced more foul weather than they have and are aware of our vessel's capabilities and limitations. I have spoken to so many RN personnel (including an Admiral) who have no idea how a merchant ship handles and its limitations, most are surprised to discover that we only had one screw and one rudder but still expected miracle station keeping in convoys in foul weather, difficult when loaded but even more difficult in ballast when the ship is shaking like a wet terrier

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    Default Re: Athel tankers on Arctic Convoys

    The RN has a long and grand history. Even in Nelsons time the big square rigged vessels were manned by a larger percentage of forced men picked up by the specialized port patrols put out from their vessels. Mostly a lot of these were MN seamen who failed to dodge the cutting out patrols. Most big ships of the day had what was called a Sailing Master whose crew were mostly MN seamen. He was responsible to the captain or Admiral whoever was in charge of vessel to position the ship as required. No doubt those who read a lot of history will have seen this referred to in various books. The RN of 1979 to 1983 that I saw were mostly very highly specialised persons who concentrated mainly on one job. Wheras a merchant seaman concentrated on most jobs on a ship. Probably the old saying Jack of all trades master of none may have originated. I was brought up in tramps and not liners which in a way was a harder life, but taught one to make your own decisions on the spot and not wait to be told by the office ashore like today with communications too easy. A master of the old school would never put himself under someone elses authority, this was the start of the decline of the British MN when office boys ashore started to butt in on the workings of a ship the people on the job are the best decision makers you are ever going to get. Be it warship or merchant vessel. JWS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 8th September 2016 at 10:35 AM.

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    Default Re: Athel tankers on Arctic Convoys

    #13, Hugh have tried to open record held at Kew, but unable! Can you send me a link please.

    Pamela, here are a few crew lists pertaining to your father from Ancestry World Wide:

    Name: Kenneth Moxon
    Arrival Date: 14 Apr 1937
    Port of Arrival: United States
    Birth Date: abt 1920
    Age: 17, I,1/2 YRS 117LBS
    Gender: Male
    Nationality: British
    Port of Departure: Havana, Cuba
    Ship Name: Athelprincess
    Race: English

    Name: Kenneth Moxon
    Gender: Male length of service 2,1/2yrs
    Birth Date: 1920
    Age: 18, Apprentice, 5'4" scar on rt hand side of nose
    Arrival Date: 14 May 1938
    Port of Arrival: San Luis Obispo, California
    Ship Name: Athellaird
    Shipped or Engaged: Wellington

    Name: Kenneth Moxon 52, Church St, Port Glasgow
    Birth Date: abt 1920
    Age: 21, 3rd Mate
    Port of Departure: Durban, South Africa
    Arrival Date: 17 Aug 1941
    Port of Arrival: Liverpool, England
    Ship Name: Franconia
    Shipping line: Cunard White Star
    Official Number: 147216

    Name: Kenneth Moxon
    Arrival Date: 8 Apr 1943
    Birth Date: abt 1920
    Age: 23, 3RD Mate, 140LBS
    Gender: Male
    Ethnicity/ Nationality: English
    Port of Departure: Avonmouth, England
    Port of Arrival: New York, New York
    Ship Name: San Vulfrano
    In Remarks col: PP-c-229695010

    Name: Kenneth Moxon
    Arrival Date: 8 Jun 1943
    Birth Date: abt 1920
    Age: 23
    Gender: Male
    Ethnicity/ Nationality: English
    Port of Departure: Algiers Via,gib
    Port of Arrival: New York, New York
    Ship Name: San Vulfrano

    Name: Kenneth Moxon
    Arrival Date: 18 May 1944
    Birth Date: abt 1920
    Age: 24,155LBS
    Gender: Male, Rank:2nd Officer
    Ethnicity/ Nationality: English
    Port of Departure: Grangemouth, Scotland
    Port of Arrival: New York, New York
    Ship Name: San Cirilo

    PAN AMERICAN AIRWAYS, INC:
    PASSENGER MANIFEST
    Name: Kenneth Moxon
    Arrival Date: 13 Feb 1952
    Port of Departure: London, England
    Port of Arrival: New York, New York
    Airline: Pan American Airways

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    Default Re: Athel tankers on Arctic Convoys

    "If Blood was the price
    We had to pay for our freedom
    Then the Merchant Ship Sailors
    Paid it in full”


    www.sscityofcairo.co.uk

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