John Dinnie M.V. Svenør lost 27th March 1942

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Guy Hudson, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    John Dinnie
    BIRTH 19 JUL 1916 • Burnside, Birse, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
    DEATH 28 MAR 1942 • M.V. Svenor (Norway), Merchant Navy

    UK, Merchant Seamen Deaths, 1939 -1953
    Name: John Dinneen
    Age: 19
    Birth Date: abt 1923
    Birth Place: Aberdeenshire, Scotland
    Death Date: 28 Mar 1942
    Death Place: At Sea
    Mother: Sarah Dinnie

  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    From my photo collection Tower Hill Memorial panel

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  4. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    TD: You show his DoB as 1916, then also 1923. Are these two different people?
    19 seems very young for a Radio Operator, and why on a Norwegian vessel?
    Not questioning accuracy of your findings, just that they are questions in my mind.

    At 09.28 hours on 27 Mar, 1942, U-105 fired one torpedo at the unescorted SVENOR (Master Hans N. Thormodsen - died) and hit on the port side. The tanker was steaming on a non-evasive course at 10 knots about 300 miles east of Cape Hatteras. At 10.35 hours, the U-boat fired a torpedo without much effect and at 10.57 hours a second that hit amidships and broke the ship in two. A fire broke out in the area of the bridge where the master and seven crew members were lost. The survivors abandoned the SVENOR in two lifeboats and were not questioned by the Germans. Between 12.46 and 13.19 hours, the wreck was shelled with 76 rounds from the deck gun, causing the tanker to sink completely until 13.40 hours. About 30 minutes later, another ship was sighted and identified as neutral Portuguese steam merchant CUNENE, which was directed to the location of the lifeboats by Schuch. The survivors were picked up and landed at Philadelphia on 31 March.
    7 or 8 of the crew were killed in the attack, but one survivor was FAUSE, KARL, Gunner, MV Svenor, Merchant Navy - Gunner? Should that be Gunnar?
    Read more at wrecksite:

    and thanks to bringing this topic to light, I found a website that may be of interest to others
    In Memoriam: World War Two: Radio Officers killed at sea 1939 – 1945 – The Radio Officers' Association
  5. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    and in mine - not sure how to resolve

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  7. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    No, sadly, 19 is not unusually young, for a Second or Third Radio Officer. I seem to remember that there are several in Billy McGee's book 'They Shall Not Grow Old'
  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

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  9. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Hmmm. there were two gunners aboard, indicating that Svenor must have been armed?
    Våga, Torger Martin, Merchant Navy 25 Able Seaman/Gunner
    Usually there'd be some RN personnel to oversee the gunners?
    Anyone know what defensive armament it carried?

    As an aside, there has been much discussion regarding Merchant Navy casualties and the lack of recognition on CWGC (not their fault, but a misguided policy) yet there is clearly a separate Option on the Debt of Honour database for Merchant Navy, and if a soldier (who died from illness or disease which COULD have existed BEFORE enlistment) can be included by CWGC, it does seem a weak argument not to apply that same criteria to the Merchant Navy men who risked all in pretty slow and undefended (in the main) ships to bring vital resources to and from the UK.

    Apologies for off topic (partially) rant...
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  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Well it was a Norwegian ship so perhaps different rules re gunners [or gunnars if you wish :lol:]

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  11. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Oh you wag!
    Some further information on the voyages in convoy and independent for Svenor.
    Arnold Hague Ports database
    With a top speed of 11 knots, not the fastest way to travel through dangerous waters and not zigzagging...

    Just re reading the uboat net description of her sinking
    Presumably, being a tanker, even after having broken in two, both parts would still float due to the oil cargo. If it didn't explode or at least burn more fiercely, it must have been carrying largely unrefined crude, rather than refined petrol, otherwise it would have blown sky high earlier?

    EDIT: Think about it - after 2 and a half years of war, and a ship that had been involved in numerous voyages carrying a vital cargo (oil) why would her Captain be sailing independently in a slow ship, and not zig zagging, as he must have done whilst in convoys?
    The ship was apparently struck first by a torpedo at 09:28 yet for over an hour U150 didn't continue its attack. Even when the ship "broke in two" it continued firing into the wreck, presumably in order to ensure it couldn't be salvaged for its oil.
    U-150 was a German Type IID submarines which were enlarged versions of the original Type IIs. U-150 had a displacement of 314 tonnes when at the surface and 364 tonnes while submerged. The U-boat had a total length of 43.97 m, a pressure hull length of 29.80 m, a beam of 4.92 m, a height of 8.40 m, and a draught of 3.93 m. The submarine was powered by two MWM RS 127 S four-stroke, six-cylinder diesel engines of 700 metric horsepower for cruising, two Siemens-Schuckert PG VV 322/36 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 410 metric horsepower for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 0.85 m propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 80–150 metres.
    The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 12.7 knots and a maximum submerged speed of 7.4 knots. When submerged, the boat could operate for 35–42 nautical miles at 4 knots; when surfaced, she could travel 3,800 nautical miles at 8 knots. U-150 was fitted with three 53.3 cm torpedo tubes at the bow, five torpedoes or up to twelve Type A torpedo mines, and a 2 cm anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of 25.
    (per Wiki)
    At a submerged speed of 7.4 knots, it wouldn't have kept pace with Svenor, so at some point it must have surfaced in order to keep in torpedo range - yet neither gunner appears to have opened fire in over 90 minutes after the initial attack. It's almost as if the Captain was either indifferent to the fate of the ship or a Nazi sympathiser to allow his ship to have been lost in this way. I sincerely hope that latter impression is totally wrong, but the ship appears to have done nothing to avoid being torpedoed while carrying a hugely valuable cargo of oil.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
  12. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Just a typo - John Dinnie was born on 19 July 1922 not 19 July 1916.
    To confirm what Roy has already stated, 19 was not unusual for a MN radio officer during WW2.
    Why on a Norwegian vessel? British Merchant seamen also served on allied ships during WW2 - same for D.E.M.S.

    At the outbreak of the hostilities in Norway more than a thousand Norwegian ships and 27,000 seamen were at sea or in ports around the world. The King addressed these ships by radio and advised them to put into neutral ports. When the war ended, Notraship had lost 500 ships with a total of 1,9 million tons – and 3000 of the original 30,000 men and women on board.

    For Kevin - see below - the gun was unable to be used after the vessel was hit.

    See here for further info on armament and gunners: M/T Svenor sunk by U-105/Schuch NW of Bermuda bridge ablaze killed all deck officers, 2 lifeboats rescued by Portuguese Cunene - Eric Wiberg

    "Some of the men were from the Norwegian military and were there to man the large gun mounted aft and two machine guns in the bridge, however it appears the guns were not manned around the clock."
    One of the Norwegian Navy gunners Torger Larsen Vaaga, stated that after the first torpedo, “….the smoke and flames from the fire on the bridge made it impossible to train or point the gun; that after the second torpedo hit, the stern of the ship struck up at such an angle that it prevented any firing of the gun.”

    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
  13. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    A bit of background:
    In January 1942 the Germans introduced a new version of the 'Short Signal Weather Code' which BP had used for their 'cribs' and on 1 February 1942 they brought the four rotor Enigma machine into use and with it a new 'Shark' key. If BP had had any cribs they had no four rotor Bombes to test them on. In March 1942 the Germans broke the British Naval Cipher No 3, which they called the Convoy Code. It was five months before the Admiralty learned of this set back and not until June 1943 did they replace the code. The Admiralty's tardiness caused unnecessary losses of Allied ships and men, but all of the losses cannot be blamed on this single failure. Instructions for convoys and stragglers[ii] were handed to Masters in sealed envelopes, so the amount of radio traffic was less than that generated by the U-boats. The U-boats' task was made somewhat easier when those at Kernével realised that the Admiralty were routing convoy after convoy close to the Great Circle[iii] route.

    The U-boats' Second Happy Time,[iv] was off the American coast and lasted from January 1942 to late summer. Admiral Ernest King USN was well known as an Anglophobe; he was also preoccupied with the war in the Pacific. Rear Admiral Adolphus Andrews had responsibility for the Atlantic Seaboard, but the equipment he had was out-dated and unsuitable for anti- submarine work. The long range aircraft that could have plugged the gap were controlled by the Army Air Force (USAAF). There was bad blood between the two services and the USAAF was not trained or equipped for anti-submarine work. What could not be excused was the refusal to set up some sort of convoy system. There was no blackout, even coastal neon signs were left on, ships continued to ply their peacetime routes and the Germans were able to sit offshore and torpedo the ships silhouetted against the lights, some within sight of New York. Rodger Winn's Submarine Tracking Room in London had been able to follow the progress of the U-boats across the Atlantic and cable an early warning to the Royal Canadian Navy. Winn correctly deduced the target area and passed a message to Admiral King warning of a "heavy concentration of U-boats off the North American seaboard." The area commanders were informed, but little or nothing was done, and submarines sank 609 ships, totalling 3.1 million tons for the loss of only twenty two U-boats.

    An electro-mechanical device based on the Bomba, which had been developed by the Poles.

    [ii] 'Straggler,' a ship that fell behind the convoy; the opposite being a 'romper.'

    [iii] The shortest distance between two points on a sphere, appears as an arc when plotted on a Mercator Chart.

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  14. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Thanks, Hugh and Roy - and BP is of course Bletchley Park (did wonder if BP were somehow connected to ownership of this tanker!)
    Hadn't known the Germans had cracked our codes, but stands to reason both sides doing that.
  15. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Sorry about the BP confusion, I had put Bletchley Park earlier in that chapter. In those far off days the other BP was known as the British Tanker Company, known throughout the service as Better Times Coming!
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  16. Billy McGee

    Billy McGee Senior Member

    At the outbreak of war in Norway on the 9th April 1940, more than 1000 Norwegian Merchant ships were at sea sailing in foreign waters. These ships were owned and operated by about 500 ship owners or shipping companies with a staff of over 6000 trained people. Practically all the offices were located in Norwegian ports, so the entire administrative apparatus stopped functioning immediately after the invasion on April 9th. By the evening of 12th April an insurance plan for Norwegian ships in neutral ports had been initiated with the British Government, and telegrams sent out from the Foreign Office to British consulates all over the world, asking them to inform Masters of Norwegian ships that Great Britain would fully cover the usual sea and war insurances, on the condition that they proceed to the nearest British or French port, without stopping at any other neutral port en route. The next day the Admiralty sent out the following message to all Norwegian ships at sea: "Your ship is held covered by the British Government against War and Marine risks on the values and conditions under which she is at present insured....As regards cargo the ship owner is similarly covered for his liability to the cargo owners" The telegram stated that the agreement had been reached with a Mr. Hysing Olsen representing Norwegian ship owners. On the 19th April offices were rented at 144 Leadenhall St. in London, a whole floor of about 500 square meters, practically fully furnished and with the option of renting another two floors. The location was ideal, right across from the main entrance to Lloyd's and next to the War Risks Insurance Office. The name "The Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission" was adopted, shortened to “Nortraship” (Extracted from the "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland)

    By the end of the war, according to Lloyd’s 351 ships of the Nortraship fleet had been lost by direct enemy action, resulting in the deaths of over 3,500 Merchant Seamen. These casualties were meticulously recorded by The National Archives of Norway and published in two volumes of Sjøforklaringer fra 2. Verdenskrig Vol. I & II. (Maritime Inquiries from WWII), which consists of direct copies of official reports from ship losses recorded at the Norwegian National Archives. The publications, which I donated to the CWGC last year, included the names of hundreds of serving British survivors and over 900 Merchant Seamen of foreign nationalities recorded as dead/missing, which includes the names of over 270 British Merchant Seamen killed. Just over 200 British Seamen named in the publications as being killed are recorded with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London, while a further 13 are buried ashore in official war graves.

    I unveiled two memorial plaques at Tower Hill yesterday in memory a further 60 British Merchant Seamen lost on these Norwegian ships, who had been overlooked by the RGSS of the day and omitted by the CWGC.
    Tower Hill 2019.jpg
    Nortraship 2019.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
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  17. Billy McGee

    Billy McGee Senior Member

    Extract from my book "They Shall Grow Not Old...." detailing over 500 boys aged 16 and under who died in service of the Merchant Navy in WWII. These are the Radio Officers listed.

    BREWER, Third Radio Officer, ALAN KENNETH WINGATE, S.S. Vancouver (Glasgow). Merchant Navy. 21st September 1941. Age 16. Son Of Alan and Gladys Margaret Brewer, of Dollar, Clackmannanshire.

    COOK, Third Radio Officer, HENRY ALEXANDER, S.S. Empire Prairie (Greenock). Merchant Navy. 10th April 1942. Age 16. Son of Henry and Eliza Cook, of Ellon, Aberdeenshire.

    DUNSTAN, Third Radio Officer, LESLIE SNEYD, S.S. Designer (Liverpool). Merchant Navy. 9th July 1941. Age 16. Son of Bernard Dunstan, and of Nellie Dunstan, of Lowton, Lancashire.

    FERRIE, Third Radio Officer, GEORGE, M.V. Hughli (London). Merchant Navy. 3rd December 1943. Age 16. Son of Peter Aitken Ferrie and Annie Ferrie, of Glasgow. Buried Calcutta (Bhowanipore) Cemetery. Plot L. Grave 124B.

    FISHER, Second Radio Officer, CHARLES BLANE, S.S. Rio Azul (London). Merchant Navy. 29th June 1941. Age 16, of 227 Morriston St, Glasgow.

    GARSIDE, Second Radio Officer, GEORGE ABRAHAM, S.S. Reynolds (London). Merchant Navy. 31st October 1942. Age 16. Son of George Edward Garside, and of Clara Garside, of Pendleton, Salford, Lancashire.

    HEARD, Third Radio Officer, ARTHUR ANDREW, S.S. Empire Wagtail (London). Merchant Navy. 28th December 1942. Age 15. Son of Andrew and Ada Heard, of 262 Farm St. Hockley, Birmingham.

    HUGHSON, Third Radio Officer, BASIL, S.S. Empire Oil (Middlesbrough). Merchant Navy. 13th September 1942. Age 16. Son of Basil and Eve Hughson, of South Shields, Co. Durham.

    KELLY, Third Radio Officer, ALBERT, M.V. Diala (London). Merchant Navy. 15th January 1942. Age 16. Son of John and Jane Watt Kelly, of Dundee.

    MORRIS, Third Radio Officer, GEORGE, S.S. Sembilangan (Netherlands). Merchant Navy. 13th March 1943. Age 16. Son of William and Margaret Morris, of 9 Barnston Lane, Moreton, Wirral.

    ROBINSON, Third Radio Officer, HARRY, M.V. Sutlej (London). Merchant Navy. 26th February 1944. Age 16, of 20 Bangor St. Hulme, Manchester.

    SMART, Second Radio Officer, PETER JAMES, S.S. British General (London). Merchant Navy. 6th October 1940. Age 16. Son of Andrew S. and Margaret B. Smart, of Edinburgh.
    G. Ferrie.jpg

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