|Armed Merchant Cruiser|
|Builder (hull)||Fairfield (Govan)|
|Builder (engine)||Fairfield (Govan)|
|served as Anchor Line passenger liner|
|served in the Northern Patrol, 10.1939-08.1940|
|Sunk||10.08.1940 by torpedo from German submarine U-56 off the Clyde [report below]|
|Capt. F.N. Miles, RN|
|Cdr. Lt.Cdr. D.B. Shaw, RN (retd)|
|Lt.Cdr. J.G. Bradley, RNR|
|T/Lt.Cdr. R.C. Johnstone, RNR|
|T/Lt.Cdr. J. Lefevre, RNR|
|Lt.Cdr. D.M. McClean, RNVR|
|T/Lt. G. Ramage, RNR|
|Lt. J.W. Tone, RNVR|
|T/Cdr. (E) C. Munro, RNR|
|T/Lt.Cdr. (E) D. Nicholson, RNR|
|T/Lt.Cdr. (E) H. Young, RNR|
|T/Lt.Cdr. (E) J. Meikle, RNR|
|T/Lt. (E) T. Phillips, RNR|
|T/Lt. (E) J. Lieper, RNR|
|T/Sg.Lt.Cdr. R.S. Thomas, MRCS, LRCP, RNVR|
|T/Paym.Lt.Cdr. H.B. Ward, RNR|
|T/Paym.Lt. A.L. Guthrie, RNR|
|Skpr.Lt. G.R. Williams, RNR (retd)|
|T/S.Lt. R.L. Robertson, RNR|
|T/S.Lt. (E) J. Haldane, RNR|
|T/S.Lt. (E) H. Turner, RNR|
|T/S.Lt. (E) J. Armstrong, RNR|
|T/S.Lt. (E) D. Steven, RNR|
|Gnr. H.H. Buckley, RN (retd)|
|T/Midsh. P.B. Young, RNR|
of Mr Grant Paton)
On August 10th, 1940, the ship was attacked by the enemy submarine U-56 (commanded by Oberleutnant Otto Harms) off Malin Head. She was damaged by a torpedo and was taken in tow but foundered before she reached harbour [position 55º50'N, 8º3'W = 35 miles W of Inistrahull, Northern Ireland]. Some 300 of her complement were taken off by trawlers, the task of launching the boats being extremely hazardous owing to the rough seas. Two officers and 20 ratings were killed (other figures give 48 fatal casualties).
Report on the loss of the vessel submitted by Capt. F.N. Miles
of Mr Grant Paton)
OF H.M.S. “TRANSYLVANIA”
In connection with the loss of H.M. Ship under my command, I have
the honour to report as follows:
At 1230 on Friday 9th August we sailed from Base for
patrol taking the route instructed. When clear of the minefield S.W. of Ailsa Craig, Z.Z. number 6 (in D.M.S. Book) was steered and engines were put to
full speed - (16½
- At 2300 number 8
Z.Z. (from D.M.S. book) was steered as it was then dark and it
was considered this was a more suitable Z.Z. in view of the low
visibility, and of the fact that H.M.S. “CIRCASSIA” and “WOLFE”
might be met during the middle watch.
- At 2400 during the normal Z.Z. course was altered from 262º to 287º.
At 0001 on 10th August, while ship was still swinging under
starboard wheel but nearly on the new course, there was an explosion on
the port side. The impression was of a double shock.
- The officer of the watch
looking aft from the starboard side of the bridge saw a black column of
apparently smoke and water, just before the funnel on the port
side. The second
the watch, also on
the starboard side of the bridge saw a bright flash silhouetting the
mainmast. The O.O.W. [= Officer of the Watch]
had just moved across from port to starboard side of the bridge to investigate some lights reported
- The port bridge lookout was
looking aft at the time and he saw a flash and a column of black smoke
in what he judged to be the vicinity of P.4 gun. He did not see any
torpedo track nor submarine.
- The L.T.O. [=
Leading Torpedo Operator] stationed at
the depth charges saw a blinding flash which he judged to be about at P.4 gun. He did not see any torpedo track or submarine. His telephone
watcher was knocked over by the explosion and he himself was momentarily dazed. He noticed flying fragments of metal were hitting
the superstructure and he judged the explosion must have been very near
the surface of the water.
- The stoker on watch at the
evaporators in the engine room was standing near the port evaporator
when the explosion occurred and his impression was that the blow was
about abreast of him and slightly above a tank overhead fell down beside him.
- I had just turned in but
was not asleep and I was on the bridge in a very few seconds. I looked
round and could not see any submarine, but as I expected another attack
at any moment I stationed the hands at action stations and gave
instructions for a very sharp lookout to be kept. The ammunition supply
parties were instructed to go to boat stations and magazine sentry was
instructed not to issue keys. I noticed that engines were stopped almost
at once, and all lights went out a few minutes after we were hit.
9. - After about four or five minutes I received reports from the Commander and the Engineer Commander that the engine room was flooded and that the after end of the ship was flooded. “C” deck was awash the depth charges and No. 4 gun were under water. The ship had taken a list of 6 degrees to port by this time.
- The wind was westerly force 4 at
midnight with rain, squalls and drizzle. Weather conditions were
steadily deteriorating, by 0400 the wind was blowing force 6, and by
0800 it was blowing a light gale.
- At 0002 I sent out a distress
signal to say we had been hit by a torpedo, and giving the ship’s
- The ship’s condition was
frequently inspected and appeared to remain as reported above until
about 0230 when it was reported to me that flooding was extending to B
deck, and the ship appeared to be slowly sinking. The list had increased
to 10 degrees.
- I then ordered boats to be got
away. The trunk in the vicinity of the central stores was shored up and
all possible steps were taken to secure and strengthen the watertight
doors and hatches.
Between 0300 and 0400 was slowly and steadily settling by the
stern and the list increased to 12 degrees.
- By about 0415 I decided that the
ship was sinking. At that time the starboard seaboat (a service cutter) had returned from a trip to the nearest destroyer,
so I called her alongside and gave instructions for those
remaining onboard to leave. I had with me the Commander and all other
officers and ten ratings. By about 0425 we got away and we had hardly
pulled clear when the ship sank at about 0430.
- I am satisfied that no one was
injured by the explosions and that no one was trapped below decks. All
the casualties that occurred were during the course of abandoning ship
and were due to bad weather conditions.
- In my opinion we were struck by
two torpedoes simultaneously, one in the vicinity of the engine room and
the other under P.4 gun.
- All confidential books, signal
books, and secret documents were locked in steel chests before the ship
have to honour to be,
Findings of the court of inquiry into the loss of the vessel (courtesy of Mr Grant Paton)
The full report of the Board of Inquiry into the loss of HMS Transylvania has been uploaded here.