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Thread: Hello everyone - looking for guidance on SS Rathlin

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    Default Hello everyone - looking for guidance on SS Rathlin

    Hi to you all. I'm happy to have found this site but feel slightly guilty as I've never been in the Merchant Navy.

    My reason for being here is looking for help and advice on my paternal grandfather's service aboard SS Rathlin, a merchant ship owned and operated by the Clyde Shipping Company which was converted to a rescue ship, during WWII.

    He was the Chief Engineer and was on board for convoys across the Atlantic, to the Med and up to Archangel. He served on convoy PQ17 and his actions during that ill-fated convoy led him to receive the Distinguished Service Cross.

    Through the Maritime & Coastguard Agency I have been trying for some time to pursue a claim for my grandfather to be issued with the Arctic Star. Whilst they've been helpful they are insistent that I provide them with evidence of his service in the Arctic by way of the name of the vessel together with signing on and signing off dates.

    I've not been able to trace any such records at National Archives but I have been able to provide copies of his commendation for the D.S.C. which details both the name of the vessel and that it was on "important convoy to Archangel". Similar details are provided in the publication of the award in the London Gazette. Not good enough apparently. I also have my grandfather's diaries which he wrote throughout the war and for convoy PQ17 provide an interesting personal insight to what happened, including the day his actions resulted in being awarded a D.S.C.

    Can anyone point me in the right direction as to where I might find alternative sources of crew lists for 1942? I appreciate this is a huge ask, especially from a newbie who's not offering anything in return, but any and all help and advice will be gratefully received.

    Thank you.

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    Default Re: Hello everyone - looking for guidance on SS Rathlin

    Hello and welcome,
    As you have found out, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency only accept official evidence of sea service.

    The 1942 Crew Agreement for RATHLIN official number 164098 is held at Kew in piece BT 381/2076
    That should along with the movement card for RATHLIN should be sufficient to award the medal. The movement card can be downloaded for free here - BT 389/14/25

    Further awards for North Russian Convoy PQ17

    WHITEWRIGHT, Edmund Ireland - Chief Engineer - DSC.

    Source: Seedies List of Awards to The Merchant Navy
    Regards
    Hugh
    Last edited by Hugh; 2nd November 2022 at 02:03 PM.
    "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: Hello everyone - looking for guidance on SS Rathlin

    Hell Zin
    Apply to Cardiff with details. They will require copy of his Death Certificate.
    My father was 1st (Chief) Officer on the Rathlin, with Capt, Banning. He missed PQ17 because he was studying for his Master's Certificate. Was in command of COPELAND for PQ 18 and was awarded the D.D.C. and Lloyds Bravery Medal.
    Have you got CONVOY RESCUE SHIPS 1940-1945 by Arnold Hague? Also, THE RESCUE SHIPS by Scoflield and Martyn - now out of print but appears regularly on Amazon.
    RATHLIN escorted 60 Convoys and held the record for the greatest number of Survivors rescued; 634.
    Picture of RATHLIN in her War Guise and Capt Augustus Banning ; known as ' Wee Banning' He was 5ft.4in
    Brenda Shackleton (neé Hartley)
    Sorry Zin. Used to be able to download pictures. Don't know why this is not working......

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    Default Re: Hello everyone - looking for guidance on SS Rathlin

    Hello Hugh
    Do you know the numbers for the Crew Agreements for COPELAND.147874 September 1942 to February 1944? Also, GOODWIN 169528 1944 - 1945
    thanks
    Brenda

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    Default Re: Hello everyone - looking for guidance on SS Rathlin

    Quote Originally Posted by Brenda Shackleton View Post
    Do you know the numbers for the Crew Agreements for COPELAND.147874 September 1942 to February 1944? Also, GOODWIN 169528 1944 - 1945
    Hi Brenda,
    Crew Agreements are filed for a whole year so COPELAND o/n 147874 for 1942 is held at Kew in piece BT 381/1955
    For 1943 look in BT 381/2397
    For 1944 look in BT 381/2874

    That official number for GOODWIN is not for the Rescue ship Brenda but for the EMPIRE GOODWIN, I presume you need GOODWIN o/n 137845.
    For 1944 - BT 381/2787
    For 1945 - BT 381/3292

    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: Hello everyone - looking for guidance on SS Rathlin

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh View Post
    Hello and welcome,
    As you have found out, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency only accept official evidence of sea service.

    The 1942 Crew Agreement for RATHLIN official number 164098 is held at Kew in piece BT 381/2076
    That should along with the movement card for RATHLIN should be sufficient to award the medal. The movement card can be downloaded for free here - BT 389/14/25

    Further awards for North Russian Convoy PQ17

    WHITEWRIGHT, Edmund Ireland - Chief Engineer - DSC.

    Source: Seedies List of Awards to The Merchant Navy
    Regards
    Hugh
    Good morning Hugh.

    Thank you so much for your help, the links you provided took me straight to what I hope will help substantiate the claim. I've downloaded the movement card and have booked a visit to the National Archives to view and photograph the Crew Agreements. I have a reader's ticket so all should be well. Thanks again. Douglas

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    Default Re: Hello everyone - looking for guidance on SS Rathlin

    Good morning Brenda.

    Thanks for your message. I'm in touch with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency in Cardiff and have submitted a lot of paperwork to date. What's missing are the ship's movement card and the crew agreements. I'd hoped that evidence of my grandfather's D.S.C awarded for his actions on board the Rathlin during PQ17 would be sufficient but rules are rules. The message from Hugh (see above) was extremely helpful and I'm hoping my next visit to National Archives and the information he provided will give me what I need.

    It's wonderful to know that your father was 1st Officer on the Rathlin, my grandfather was Chief Engineer, Edmund Ireland Whitewright. I have a few photos of him over the years with other unidentified members of the crew, I wonder if your father was amongst them? If we can find a way to upload or exchange photos that would be great. I remember the skipper's name, Banning. My father talked about him from time to time. I never knew he was only 5ft 4in. My grandfather was also vertically challenged - 5ft 5in according to his official record. Being short may well have been an advantage in a ship's engine room crammed with machinery and equipment.

    I have both of the books you mention as well as a personal account by A G T Yonge who stated he was the Wireless Operator onboard Rathlin for PQ17. It's not a book but 18 typewritten pages transcribed from what appears to be his diary. It must have been acquired by my father but I've no idea how he got hold of it.

    What I also have is the handwritten diary and letters of my grandfather which cover the period from September 1939 to September 1941 so it covers a number of convoys including PQ17. My father told me he recalled the diary covered the entire period of WWII but the rest of it has been lost, a great shame as he was an excellent writer. It was written on notepaper of different shapes and sizes and is somewhat fragile. I've had it professionally restored and bound so it should last for a very long time. Ultimately the question will be where does it go next? Imperial War Museum, National Maritime Museum or somewhere else but that's for another day.

    Thanks for your message Brenda, appreciated.

    Douglas Whitewright

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    Default Re: Hello everyone - looking for guidance on SS Rathlin

    Hi Douglas,

    If you are going to TNA Kew, you can also obtain his service record called a form CRS 10 and in the absence of his discharge book and indeed the crew list will be acceptable as evidence along with the movement card.
    The form CRS 10 is held at Kew in piece BT 382/1933

    You are most likely also aware that he also served during WW1 and in 1914 was aboard ARANMORE as 2nd Engineer. He also served in TUSKAR, ARANMORE, SANDA and PLADDA during 1915 in the home trade as Chief and 2nd Engineer. He has a WW1 and a WW2 medal file.
    He has a CR 10 card with photo id taken circa 1918/19 and serving on PLADDA during this period. If you need the card let me know?

    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: Hello everyone - looking for guidance on SS Rathlin

    Without wishing to butt in and speaking as an outsider it is good to see such regard and honour being shown to previous family and friends especially as this is being emphasised close to Rememberance day the 11 November .I sincerely hope all will be clarified by this special day, which most of us honour to all those who never made it home. JS
    R575129

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    Default Re: Hello everyone - looking for guidance on SS Rathlin

    Hello Douglas

    My Dad was 1st Officer with Capt. Banning on SS BEACHY from 16th December 1940 until 11th January 1941 when she was bombed and sunk (Convoy HG-49) He then went to SS SKERRIES (another Clyde boat) from January 1941- July 1941. Then he re-joined Capt Banning on SS RATHLIN in Home Trade until September 1941. Then Foreign September 1941- April 1942 when he left her to study for his Master's Cert. Convoys with SS RATHLIN. ON 22 ; SK47. ON 32; HX 157. ON 41 . ON 51 HX 167. Few days leave to get married...ON 58
    ON 60 SC66; ON 68 SC75.
    I would love to see your photos, Douglas. I have a picture of Dr. Wilkins from SS RATHLIN at my parents' Wedding. Dr. Wilkins was on PQ17. Wonder if he is on your photos?
    Sounds like you live in/near London so that's a bit far for me.
    I have a tale to tell about Capt. Banning and his limp (from a broken leg on SS BEACHY)

    Brenda

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