Requisitioned Auxiliary – Athelmonarch






Official Number:                      149673

Builder:                                      Wm Hamilton  & Co (1928) Ltd, Glen Yard, Port Glasgow

Launched:                                10 February 1928

Signal Letters:                         GNRQ

Into Service:                             1939

Out of service:                          15 June 1943

Fate:                                           15 June 1943  torpedoed and sunk 


Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


Background Data:  One of an additional group of ships requisitioned by the Admiralty during WW2 to augment the ships of the RFA


Career Data:


10 February 1928 launched by Wm Hamilton & Co (1928) Ltd, Glen Yard, Port Glasgow as Yard Nr 400 named ATHELMONARCH for United Molasses Co Ltd, London

April 1928  completed

18 December 1932 berthed at Birkenhead from Alexandria with 1 DBS 

1 April 1937 berthed at at Birkenhead from Yokohama with 1 DBS. Captain J Burkhill as Master

1939 requisitioned by the Admiralty for service as an oiler

17 September 1939 sailed Durban independently for Cape Town arriving 21 September 1939

28 September 1939 sailed Cape Town independently for Freetown arriving 13 October 1939

15 October 1939 sailed Freetown in convoy SL5 for London arriving 4 November 1939

6 December 1939 sailed Southend in convoy OA48 until dispersal on 9 December 1939 and then independently to Antilla arriving 30 December 1939

5 January 1940 sailed Antilla independently to Halifax arriving 13 January 1939

14 January 1940 sailed Halifax in convoy HX16 to the Downs arriving 28 January 1940

29 January 1940 sailed Southend independently to Hull arriving the next day. “The Times” newspaper reported the ship was attacked by German aircraft – there are no reports however of damage or loss of life

1940 nominal ownership passed to Athel Line Ltd, London name unchanged

29 January 1940 while at sea off the Kentish Coast was attacked by enemy aircraft

20 October 1940 while as part of Convoy HX79 and on route from Santiago de Cuba to Liverpool via Bernuda was damaged by one torpedo fired by U-Boat U47 (Kapitanleutnant Gunther Prien) . The ship arrived at the Clyde on 23 October 1940, was repaired in Liverpool and returned to service in July 1941

7 January 1941 Captain Thomas J Donovan awarded a Commendation for services when the ship was torpedoed and damaged – Published in the London Gazette of this day

17 July 1941 sailed Liverpool in convoy OB348 until detached approximately on 30 July 1941 and then sailed independently to Nuevitas arriving on 8 August 1941

10 August 1941 sailed Nuevitas independently to Matanzas arriving 11 August 1941

12 August 1941 sailed Matanzas independently to Philadelphia arriving 17 August 1941

21 August 1941 sailed Philadelphia independently to Havana arriving 30 August 1941

31 August 1941 sailed Havana independently to Halifax arriving 6 September 1941

10 September 1941 sailed Halifax in convoy HX149 to Liverpool arriving 25 September 1941

2 October 1941 sailed Liverpool in convoy ON22 to the convoy being dispersed on 15 October 1941 and then sailed independently to Houston arriving 28 October 1941. RFA Olynthus and RFA Scottish American also sailed in convoy ON22. RFA Scottish American had to return to Liverpool.

30 October 1941 sailed Houston independently to Halifax arriving 9 November 1941

15 November 1941 sailed Halifax in convoy HX160 to Belfast Lough arriving 29 November 1941

2 December 1941 sailed Belfast Lough in convoy BB107 to Swansea arriving the next day

8 December 1941 sailed Swansea independently to Cardiff arriving the next day

16 December 1941 sailed Cardiff independently to Milford Haven arriving the next day

18 December 1941 sailed Milford Haven independently to Belfast Lough arriving the next day

19 December 1941 sailed Belfast Logh and joined convoy ON48 from Liverpool until dispersal on 31 December 1941 and then independently to Curacao arriving 8 January 1942

11 January 1942 sailed Curacao independently to Cape Town arriving 8 February 1942

12 February 1942 sailed Cape Town independently to Abadan arriving 10 March 1942

13 March 1942 sailed Abadan independently to Bahrein arriving 14 March 1942

15 March 1942 sailed Bahrein independently to Bandar Abbas arriving 21 March 1942

21 March 1942 sailed Bandar Abbas independently to Aden arriving 23 March 1942

27 March 1942 sailed Aden for Abadan. Received orders that once loaded with a full cargo of Admiralty FFO to sail to Addu Atoll – souce Admiralty War Diary

16 November 1942 sailed from Bombay in convoy BP60 to Bandar Abbas arriving 21 November 1942

4 December 1942 sailed from Bandar Abbas in convoy PB15 to Bombay arriving 9 December 1942

7 February 1943 arrived at Addu Atoll along with RFA BROOMDALE

14 February 1943 sailed Addu Atoll in escorted convoy A3 to Trincomalee, Ceylon arriving 19 February 1943. RFA’s CEDARDALE and GREEN RANGER also sailed in this convoy

22 March 1943 sailed Bandar Abbas in convoy PB32 to Bombay arriving 28 March 1943

19 April 1943 sailed Colombo Ceylon in escorted convoy MB33 to Bombay arriving 23 April 1943

12 May 1943 Captain Thomas J Donavan, Master, discharged dead from gunshot wounds in the head. He is buried in Basra War Cemetery in Grave 8 K 4

4 June 1943 Chief Engineer Alexander Fairley appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Civil Division) – Published in the London Gazette of this day

Alex Fairley

Chief Engineer Alexander Fairley OBE

8 June 1943 sailed Port Said – the Admiralty War Diary for this date describes her, in error, as RFA Athel Monarch

15 June 1943 torpedoed and sunk by U-97 in the Mediterranean NW of Jaffa, Palestine in position  32.20 N 34.39 E on passage from Beirut to Alexandria escorted by the Greek destroyer RHN AETOS with a cargo of 13,600t of fuel oil with the loss of three lives. Forty seven survivors were rescued by RHN AETOS and landed at Beirut. Those who were killed are remembered with pride on the Tower Hill memorial. The Tower Hill memorial records the deaths of those Merchant Seaman with no known grave – the memorial listing those who were killed on the Athel Monarch contains an error – see details of the death of ships Master above.


Athelmonarch CWGC

Image courtesy of Brian Watson

4 January 1944 Chief Steward Thomas J Clayton awarded the British Empire Medal (Civil Division) – Published in the London Gazette of this day

Thomas J Clayton

 Chief Steward Thomas J Clayton BEM