Requisitioned Auxiliary – Atheltemplar




Official Number:                      161160

Builder:                                     Lithgows Ltd, Port Glasgow

Launched:                               15 April 1930

Into Service:                            1930

Out of service:                         14 September 1942

Fate:                                         14 September 1942 torpedoed, damaged, then sunk by Allied gun fire


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:

15 April 1930 launched by Lithgows Ltd, Port Glasgow as Yard Nr 843 named ATHELTEMPLAR for United Molasses Co Ltd, London
 June 1930 completed
 31 August 1930 sailed San Pedro, California
 25 September 1930 berthed at Wellington, New Zealand with 12,200 tons of fuel to discharge
 2 October 1930 sailed Wellington, New Zealand for Surabaya
 20 February 1935 on the River Mersey a vessel believed to be the Atheltemplar was in collision with a steamer Pandion. The Pandion berthed at Liverpool undamaged and the other vessel failed to stop and continued on its voyage. (Details from Lloyds Casualties reports)
 5 March 1939 laid up at Falmouth

1939 requisitioned by the Admiralty for service as an oiler

25 September 1939 sailed Liverpool in convoy OB 10 which dispersed on 28 September 1939

4 October 1939 arrived at Gibraltar

8 October 1939 sailed Gibraltar to Port Said in convoy Green 4 arriving on 17 October 1939 and sailing the same day independently to Abadan arriving on 31 October 1939

2 November 1939 sailed Abadan independently to Port Said arriving on 19 November 1939

19 November 1939 sailed Port Said in Convoy HG9 to Gibraltar arriving on 30 November 1939

30 November 1939 sailed Gibraltar to the Downs arriving on 8 December 1939

12 December 1939 sailed Southend in convoy FN53/1 

14 December 1939 struck a mine when 11 miles off the Tyne and the tugs JOFFRE, LANGTON and GREAT EMPEROR were despatched to assist her, escorted by the destroyers HMS KELLY and HMS MOHAWK. Two of the crew were killed and forty were rescued. Those who were killed are remembered with pride on the Tower Hill memorial

23 December 1939 arrived on the Tyne to discharge her cargo and for extensive repairs to be carried out

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

April 1940 repairs finally completed and re-entered Admiralty service

9 April 1940 sailed the Tyne in convoy FS141 to Southend arriving 11 April 1940

12 April 1940 sailed Southend in convoy OA128GF. This convoy reformed as convoy OG26F on 14 April 1940 and later dispersed Atheltemplar sailed independently to Trinidad arriving 30 April 1940

3 May 1940 sailed Trinidad independently to Bermuda arriving 9 May 1940

11 May 1940 sailed Bermuda and joined convoy HX 42 from Halifax to Portsmouth arriving on 28 May 1940

8 June 1940 sailed Portsmouth to join convoy OA163GF from Southend. This convoy reforned as OG33F on the 9 June 1940 until dispersal and Atheltemplar sailed independently to Curacao arriving 26 June 1940

27 June 1940 sailed Curacao independently to Bermuda arriving 2 July 1940

6 July 1940 sailed Bermuda in convoy BHX56 to join convoy HX56 from Halifax on 11 July 1940 thence to the Clyde arriving 21 July 1940

11 August 1940 sailed the Clyde to join convoy OB196 which had sailed Liverpool the previous day and dispersed on 15 August 1940 thence sailed independently to Trinidad arriving 21 August 1940

25 August 1940 sailed Trinidad independently to Bermuda arriving 31 August 1940

31 August 1940 sailed Bermuda in convoy BHX70 to Halifax when the convoy joined convoy HX70 to the Clyde arriving 15 September 1940

29 September 1940 sailed the Clyde and joined convoy OB221 until that dispersed on 3 October 1940 and then independently to Trinidad arriving 17 October 1940

19 October 1940 sailed Trinidad independently to Bermuda arriving 26 October 1940

26 October 1940 sailed Bermuda in convoy BHX84 which joined convoy HX84 to the River Clyde arriving 11 November 1940

24 November 1940 sailed the River Clyde in convoy WN44 and thence independently to Scapa Flow arriving 9 December 1940

17 December 1940 sailed Scapa Flow in convoy WN54 arriving at Methil the same day

19 December 1940 sailed Methil in convoy FS364 to the River Tyne 

1 March 1941 sailed Methil early morning in Convoy EN79. Later that same evening the ship was hit by three bombs on the bridge deck from a German aircraft which caused a major fire and resulted in the deaths of eleven of her crew. She was abandoned and the survivors were picked up by HMT INDIAN STAR who later transferred them to HMS LEDA who landed them at Aberdeen. The burning tanker was boarded by men from the minesweeping sloop HMS SPEEDWELL who extinguished the fire and commenced towing the damaged ship Second Officer Bernard de Neumann and Second Engineer Officer Gerard L Turner were awarded the George Medal and Lloyds War Medal, Captain Theo Pryse was appointed as an Officer of the Most Excellend Order of the British Empire (OBE), and Chief Engineer Officer Valentine Thomas Basil Godfrey was appointed as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) and a Lloyds War Medal for removing an unemploded bomb from the ship’s second engine room grating and lowered it over the side. Details of the awards, with the exception of the Lloyds War Medals, were published in the London Gazette on 10 June 1941

Those who were killed are remembered with pride on the Tower Hill memorial

3 March 1941 arrived at an anchorage off Methil and was later sent to the Tyne for major repairs
June 1941 re-entered Admiralty service
30 June 1941 sailed the Tyne joining convoy FN486 and arrived at Methil the same day

5 September 1941 ran aground on the Shambles Bank, Portland – source Admiralty War Diary of this date

9 September 1941 Bosun John R Bell and Gunner Thomas Newton both awarded a Commendation as further awards for the above bombing. Published in the London Gazette of this day

14 September 1942 torpedoed and damaged by the German submarine U-457 in the Greenland Sea SW of Bear Island in position 76.10 N 18.00 E while on passage from the Tyne to Archangel via Loch Ewe and Hvalfjordur, Iceland as part of Convoy PQ 18 with a cargo of 9,400t of Fuel oil and was abandoned and later sunk by gunfire from the minesweeper HMS HARRIER. sixtyone crew were rescued by the Rescue Ship COPELAND and the destroyer HMS OFFA, transferred to the minesweepers HMS HARRIER and HMS SHARPSHOOTER then to the cruiser HMS SCYLLA and landed at Scapa Flow. Sixteen of her crew later died from their injuries. Three who have no known graves are rememberd with pride on the Tower Hill memorial. Chief Officer James Reeves was later awarded the Albert Medal and a Lloyds War Medal for saving the life of a trapped fireman in the engine room – Gazetted 25 May 1943

Atheltemplar CWGC

16 February 1943 Second Officer Stanley Hill, Second Engineer Officer Noel P Jennings, Junior Third Engineer Officer Frank Roberts, Assisant Engineer Officer John A Bailey, Able Seaman Stanley A Cross, Royal Navy C/JX 334360 and Able Seaman Matthew Dixon, Royal Navy, P/JX 335080 each awarded a Mention in Despatches for services during Convoy PQ18 in September 1942 – Published in the London Gazette of this day

2 April 1946 Captain Carl Ray awarded a Mention in Despatches for services during Convoy PQ18 in September 1942 – Published in the London Gazette of this day