Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Second World War merchant shipping records

Did one of your ancestors serve in the merchant navy during the Second World War? If so, and you know the name of the ship or ships concerned, then images of ship movement cards now available at TNA's DocumentsOnline site may be of interest.

According to TNA's information "the movement cards record the journeys of both British registered and Allied vessels engaged in the war effort from 1939. .... The series of cards within BT 389 record the name of the ship, any former name it had, its size (tonnage), to whom it was registered, the ship's destination, date of arrival and occasionally ports of call. They also record any cargo carried on board. Importantly for historians, the cards show if the ship was torpedoed, mined, damaged or sunk during the war. " The cost is £3.50.

If the information you require is not so detailed you might like to try searching the free Arnold Hague Ports Database site. I was interested to try the service on a ship my father served on. Here's the result:

RANGITANE (Br) 16,712 tons, built 1929

Departure Convoy Arrival
Napier, Sep 10, 1939 Independent Auckland, Sep 17, 1939
Auckland, Sep 23, 1939 Independent Balboa, Oct 14, 1939
Cristobal, Oct 16, 1939 Independent Halifax, Oct 24, 1939
Halifax, Oct 31, 1939 HXF.7 (Halifax - Liverpool) Downs, Nov 14, 1939
Southend, Dec 14, 1939 OA.53 (Southend - Dispersed)
Independent Capetown, Jan 5, 1940
Capetown, Jan 8, 1940 Independent Auckland, Jan 29, 1940
Auckland, Feb 25, 1940 Independent Balboa, Mar 15, 1940
Cristobal, Mar 16, 1940 Independent Halifax, Mar 25, 1940
Halifax, Mar 29, 1940 HX.31 (Halifax - Liverpool) Southend, Apr 13, 1940
Downs, May 5, 1940 OA.142 (Southend - Dispersed)
Independent Cristobal, May 19, 1940
Balboa, May 20, 1940 Independent Wellington, Jun 10, 1940
Wellington, Jun 25, 1940 Independent Auckland, Jun 30, 1940
Auckland, Jul 12, 1940 Independent Balboa, Aug 1, 1940
Cristobal, Aug 3, 1940 Independent Bermuda, Aug 8, 1940
Bermuda, Aug 11, 1940 BHX.65 (Bermuda - Jd HX 65)
HX.65 (Halifax - Liverpool) Liverpool, Aug 26, 1940
Liverpool, Sep 25, 1940 OB.219 (Liverpool - Dispersed)
Independent Cristobal, Oct 12, 1940
Balboa, Oct 14, 1940 Independent Wellington, Nov 2, 1940
Wellington, Nov 7, 1940 Independent Auckland, Nov 12, 1940
Auckland, Nov 24, 1940 Independent

Rangitane was lost in the Pacific on Nov 27, 1940 whilst sailing independently.
Cause of loss: ORION & KOMET.

For tombstone type data try the Miramar Ship Index, "an historical database listing both merchant powered ships of about 100 gross register tons and above and naval ships of even smaller tonnage displacement; and also composite, iron & steel sailing ships." The entry for thr Rangitane is:

Single Ship Report for "1149565"

IDNo: 1149565 Year: 1929
Name: RANGITANE Launch Date: 27.5.29
Type: Passenger/cargo (rf) Date of completion: 12.11.29
Flag: GBR Keel:

1919, standard 1920> - for SS surface dp">Tons: 1919, standard 1920> - for SS surface dp">16733 Link: 1569
DWT:
Yard No: 522
Length overall:
Ship Design:
LPP: 161.8 Country of build: GBR
Beam: 21.4 Builder: John Brown
Material of build:
Location of yard: Clydebank
Number of
screws/Mchy/
Speed(kn):
2D-16

Owner as Completed:
Naval or paramilitary marking :
A: *
End:

Subsequent History:

Disposal Data:

gunfire & torpedo 36.43S/175.27W 27.11.40 (13*)

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