154 thoughts on “Merchant Navy Plaque

  1. I can’t be sure, but I think the name of the junior who went over the side was O’Kelly. I forget his first name. I had worked by with him for a few days. He had just joined. I was an apprentice. I got to know him quite well. He was a bit of a toper (weren’t we all). His mother, so he said to me, had begged him not to go as she had a premonition she would never see him again. I left the ship, he sailed. He was a very nice guy. RIP Roy(?) O’Kelly.

  2. Mike Rose, in one of his comments, says Barlby, my first ship, is now at the bottom of the Pavific. How and when did that happen and did anyone die?

    • The BARLBY changed hands in 1968 and was renamed the AGIOS GIORGIS.
      She foundered in heavy weather off Inubo Saki, Japan in January 1980, on a voyage from Newhaven to Mizushima, loaded with 25,000 tons of scrap steel.
      All 26 crew were lost.

  3. Can anybody tell me please if my Great Uncle Robert John Jones is listed amongst those lost on the MV Fishpool in July 1943? He was a Royal Artillery Gunner with the 1st Maritime Regiment and I understand they served as DEMS gunners. We know he was lost in Sicily at this time and my Dad, who is now 87 is finally going to Syracuse to visit his grave and would dearly love to know more about how he died. The Fishpool is the only ship that I have been able to identify as being lost around the right date and I know that 5 DEMS gunners were killed, but I have drawn a blank in finding any listing of casualties. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks

    • Sue, your relative is not listed on the large Merchant Navy memorial at Tower Hill, as he was serving in the Army and not the Navy. The website of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, contains the details of several casualties named Robert John Jones who died in WW II. I wonder if this is your relative –
      R. J. Jones, son of Henry and Bessie Jones of Dymock, Gloucestershire, died 25 July 1943, aged 28, in Royal Artillery, Gunner in the 1st Maritine Regiment.
      If that is him, he is buried in the War Cemetery in Syracuse, Sicily.

      • Just to confirm your relative was one of the gunner killed from the Fishpool. I am the author of Ropner’s Navy and his name is in the casualty section of the book.

  4. My great uncle Mark Martin was a bosun on board SS Drakepool and died March 19, 1927. I was hoping to find some records telling me where and how he died.

    • Do you know how old he was when he died? The death of a Mark J Martin (born in 1878) was registered in Hull in early 1927. Could that have been him?

      • Mark Martin was born in Sligo in 1878 and died Mar 19, 1927 making him 49, so that could be him. I live in Canada and can’t make it to the archives to look at original registration.

  5. Peter Quirk sailed on the Stonepool March 1977 to Sept 1977 exellent trip. I am still at sea, Bosun serving in RFA North Shields

  6. My name is Theodorakis Yiacoumi. I sailed on the Stonepool as 4th engineer 18-08-77–25-04-78 carrying grain from America to Russia. I also sailed in the coastal trade on the Thirlby with the same chief engineer, from Doncaster, a great engineer. I got my promotion from junior under him but I can’t remember his name. The captain on the Thirlby was called Tingle, a 1st rate chap.

  7. My Dad is Thomas Michael Crozier 91 years old.

    He Joined Ropners in 1947 as a third engineer and retired as Chief Engineer in 1985.
    He and my Mam Jessie live in Carlisle he drives his car daily round the city, but refuses to get a computer ! I printed off the messages for him, if anyone rememers him please let me know and ill forward details.

    • I sailed with your Dad on the lackenby (1973-1974) when we sailed from Camel Laird in Liverpool to Brazil then on to Japan he was one of the best. It is good to hear he is well. My name is Ian Morrison I was the electrician, if only all chiefs were like your Dad.

    • I sailed with your Dad in 1969 on board a ship which Ropner were managing at the time – we took her from Liverpool round the top to Sunderland for dry dock – she was a right wreck and was owned by the Headlam Shipping company – the name of the vessel escapes me. However, your Dad will live in my memory for ever, he was really tremendous. It is nice to know that he went on until 1985!
      Lets see now – I am 66 years old – so your Dad would have been 46 or so at the time I sailed with him. What a lovely memory – remind me to him please, it was a privilige to have known him – God Bless
      Mike Rose (ex Third Engineer Ropners 1962 – 1971).

      • The name was the M.V. Runswick said he was very glad to see Sunderland as the engine driven water cooling pump was completely shattered, he thanks you for your help “on that wreck”

    • I served as apprentice junior eng with your dad – think it was on the Thirlby or Lackenby in the 1970’s what a great bloke he was.

    • As I joined Ropner’s in 1971 as cadet, being made redundant in 1989.
      I sailed with your dad on several occasions, stonepool, thirlby and Appleby.
      The later which he recommended me for my promotion to chief engineer. It’s welcome news to hear he’s still running around.

  8. Can anyone give me any information on Fishpool 1940 please, as my grandmothers brother, Jack Mordey, was lost at sea. Also my Great Grandfather Wyatt was lost in the same incident.

    • Steve,
      My Great Uncle Joe Hugill was Mate on the Fishpool was killed in the air raid and is buried in West of Scotland. I still have his papers. I think I have a news cutting somewhere, I will try to find it and scan on if the system lets me!

    • Steve, the website of the Commonweath War Graves Commission holds the following information about your great uncle.
      John George Mordey, son of George and Grace Mordey of Hendon, Sunderland.
      Carpenter on MV Fishpool (out of West Hartlepool), died 14 November 1940, aged 21. He is remembered on the Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill, London, panel 49.

  9. What a great site. My uncle James Bonar, was killed whilst serving on MV FISHPOOL on 14th November 1940 on its maiden voyage. Any pictures would be fantastic to show my Dad, he was only a wee boy (6) when he waved his brother off and never saw him again. Thank you!07/03/2012 03:36:14

    • Hello, my name is Julie Simpson nee Bonar my grandfather Ronald was your fathers brother. My father is Jim Bonar and I have a picture of your Uncle James if you would like a copy , regards Julie.

      • Hi Julie, how are you? I would love a copy of the picture for my Dad Billy, I remember you and of course Jim and Uncle Ronnie, would be great to catch up, please ask Picture Stockton for my email. I am also on Facebook, thank you xo

    • My grandfather served on the S.S BRIDGEPOOL from 11.9.42 until 5.4.43 but not sure if she was the same ship as your MV BRDIGEPOOL. If you know these to be the same I would love a picture. Thank you.

  10. I live in Canada now and its really great to see the photo of the memorial plaque. My Dad went down on one of Ropners ships. The ship was the Walarby out of Hartlepool I think. I presume all of those he knew and possibly the two or three suvivors (not my Dad) will have passed away by now. They probably knew him better than I did. Interesting website – GOOD STUFF.29/01/2012 04:04:47

  11. With regard to information on Charles Pluquet. A Charles Pluquet married Alice Milburn in 1941 in Stockton-on-Tees. They apparently had one known child, Marie Astrid. A copy marriage certificate which will contain such information as ages, addresses, occupation and witnesses can be obtained using these details:- Mar 1941 Distict: Cleveland (Yorkshire) Volume: 9d Page: 1089.11/01/2012 12:24:14

  12. MY GRANDFATHER, WILLIAM JOHNSTON REID – CHIEF STOKER, WAS KILLED ON THE FISHPOOL IN SYRACUSE 26th JULY 1943. IF ANYBODY HAS ANY PHOTOS OF THE SHIP OR THE CREW I WOULD BE GRATEFUL IF I COULD HAVE COPIES.10/01/2012 13:33:33

  13. Ernest Jackson OBE was my step-grandfather – he married his childhood girlfriend after his 1st wife and son died during the war. Our family still have a coronation stool from the time when he and my Grandmother went to Westminster Abbey to represent Ropners.12/11/2011 20:22:19

  14. Oh my lord! I’ve tried for ages to find any details of my Great Grandfather , John Frederick LAPSIEN and his sailing/war years and here it is! Bob Price, I dont think John ever returned to sailing? but it looks like we are related!! Johns daughter, Evelyn was my grandmother. I’m eager to learn more of his wartime life if anyone can help please? 22/09/2011 21:32:23

    • Amanda, I just saw your post, a year on! Sorry about that. If you are looking in, do get in touch, Aunt Evelyn was my Mothers sister. I have a fair bit of stuff which might interest you!

      Amanda, see my reply to your post of Sept 2011…

  15. Can anyone give me any information regarding Alexander Vass. He was my Aunt’s father and all she knows is that he died of TB whilst serving on the Wearpool in 1948. It is understood that he was interred at Anofagasta. Any info concering his service, last days and burial would be appreciated. 16/09/2011 21:15:06

  16. I sailed with Captain Tingle twice, once on The Thirlby (1980) and again on The Appleby (1981), a great man I wish I had heard of his passing sooner as I would have liked to have attended his service to pay my respects.07/09/2011 15:04:00

  17. I am sorry to hear of death of Capt Tingle.I sailed with him as Third Mate on the Rushpool 1969/70. He was a good Master.The only time we met since those days,was in 1981,comming out of Ayresome Park,after a Boro match.29/08/2011 18:48:57

  18. My uncle, Joseph Cummings was killed on MV Fishpool on 25th July 1943. If Billy MCGee can tell me where I can purchase his book and a casualty list, I will be very grateful. I am creating a blog to commemorate his life and am trying to get as much information as I can.29/08/2011 11:43:57

  19. I’m sorry to announce on this site the passing of Captain Colin Tingle who, as stated, was invited by Billy McGee to unveil the plaque for the Ropner seamen in Ropner Park. Colin’s service will be held in Green Lane Methodist Church at 12:30pm on 22nd August.18/08/2011 22:21:39

  20. Ray, thank you for your help. I have not progressed any further, I can’t find anything about his past, or his later years, or his family and I don’t know where to look or start. I would be grateful, if you hear of anything or anyone who could help me, you would let me know. A big thank you.

  21. My Great-Uncle John Geraghty was a donkeyman on Fort Pelly, he was killed in the engine room at age 21 when the ship sank. Is anyone able to give me more information about the trips he would have made before this final one?

  22. My Grandfather, Joseph Davison, was the Chief Engineer on SS Daleby which sank 180 mile NW of Fasnet Rock on 29 April 1917. Does anyone else have family members who were on this vessel?
    How can I get in contact with Billy McGee as I would very much like a copy of his book.

    • my great uncle william dick was bosun on ss daleby his name appears on memorial in ist islandmagee presbyterian church n.ireland.
      andrew mccosh

  23. Can you help me trace someone – my mother has told me about her uncle Edward (Ted) Watson, she said his name is on a plaque in South Shields on Ocean Road. I would apprieate any information you can pass onto me.

  24. Kim
    I can only find one entry for Charles Pluquet he signed on the Free French ship “Fort Binger” as Steward on the 24th February 1943 in Cape Town. He was aged 33 with 15 years service, his nationality was Belgian, height 5’ – 9”, weight 172 lbs.
    The ship arrived in New York on the 11th May 1943 having sailed from San Pedro 28th April 1943. She sailed again on the 13th May 1943 for the UK via Boston.

    However it appears that Charles Pluquet was left behind in hospital with a dislocated shoulder.

  25. Can anyone help me trace my Grandfather? I know he was in the merchant navy 1920 and he lived in Stockton-on-Tees although he was from Belgium – his name was Charles Pluquet, has anyone got any info to what ship he served on?

  26. My uncle William (Billy) Johnston was a seaman on board the SS Clearpool when she was bombed and damaged off Scarborough on 10th June 1941. He was blown overboard and was eventually picked up. Although the crew abandoned the Clearpool, they, (together with Billy) later returned, kept her afloat and she was towed into Hartlepool. This took place only months after he escaped from Sweden during operation ‘Rubble’ when 5 Norwegian ships carrying vital war material broke out and successfully reached the UK. In 1940 he had been on the crew of the SS Romanby in Narvik where he was captured when the Germans invaded Norway then marched to Sweden. I think both these ships were Ropners.

  27. My maternal grandfather was Capt. Arthur Eves of Whitby, who sailed for Ropners for many years, indeed through both world wars. I understand he was torpedoed and sunk twice in WW1 but sailed 6 years of north atlantic convoys in WW2 without loss! He was later awarded the OBE for services to the Merchant Fleet.

    • Only just found this memo that you posted 7 years ago! My grandmother aged 95 informs me that her family has a connection by marriage to Captain Eve’s but I am struggling to start a family tree to trace any link as I do not know who he was married to. I have a copy of his obituary which was sent to me by Whitby museum but although it states he was married and left one son and three daughters no names are given. Can you please help me in any way? Kind Regards Kim Sharp.

      • Captain Arthur Eves was my grandfather and his children were Les, Molly, Jessie and Winsome (my mother) He was born Whitby 22-6-1878. Hope this of some help.

  28. SS FISHPOOL (2), 4,950grt, built 1940, (ON. 160785) Sunk in an air raid at Syracuse on the 26th July 1943 while discharging ammunition and aviation spirit brought from Alexandria killing 23 crew and 5 DEMS gunners. 18 survived. Earlier in the war on the 14th November 1940 the Fishpool had been sailing from the Tyne to Vancouver in ballast when she was hit by seven incendiary bombs South-West of Rockall killing several crew. The ship was abandoned and one lifeboat with 15 crew was never seen again. The ship was taken in tow and repaired. Also on the 9th May 1941 while loading stores at Barrow-in-Furness the ship was again damaged by a parachute mine, which detonated next to the ship killing 2 crew.

  29. My first trip was on the Thirlby in 1973, I joined the ship in Abadan as a Junior Eng along with other crew members. Soon after leaving Abadan we stopped for repairs to the top piston, during this time the 4th Engineer Ernie (from Manchester)collapsed due to heat exhaustion, tragically he died, he was buried at sea the same day. Does anyone else remember this sad story? Other Engineers (I can’t remember all the names) were John Bell, George… Deck Eng, Phil Simpson from Inverness, Ginger from Hull, Nick… 2nd was Davy… Chief was Fred Barron. 5th was Ray… We eventually paid off in Falmouth.

    • I sailed on Thirlby in 1967 and 1968 as 4th Engineer under Chief Freddie Baron.
      Sad to hear about Ernie.
      Whilst on Thirlby in Canada we lost a Junior Engineer when we were docked in Montreal – he wnt over the gangway late at night – his name was Roy – cannot recall his surname.

  30. My mothers brother John George Mordey was lost at sea on the SS Fishpool’s maiden voyage in 1941. Has anyone got any info on that incident
    brian

  31. I’ve been trying to trace the ship that my mum’s young brother was killed on as they were leaving Southampton Dock in WW2. Their ages were between 18/21, they got blown out of the sky. I am not sure if any survived, it was a torpedo. It was her youngest brother and she didnt like to talk about it.

  32. The Polzella belonged to the J.J. Thomas & Co. of Cardiff so has no connection with Ropner’s or the Ropner Memorial. The 36 men lost from the Polzella are commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial (Panel 82 & 83) in London.

    Cargo ship Polzella, 4,751grt, (Thomas, J.J. & Co.) had been sailing independently on a voyage from Narvik to Middlesbrough via Methil, with a cargo of iron ore. The ship was never seen again and was officially recorded as missing/untraced 20th March 1940. It was later found that on the 17th January 1940 the ship had been intercepted by U-25 in the North Sea, North of Muckle Flugga, Shetlands Isles and sank in twelve seconds after being hit by a torpedo under the bridge deck, sinking in position 60’ 58N 00’55W with the loss of all thirty-six crew.
    Your Grandfather is listed Lynn;
    PORTER, Able Seaman, GEORGE EDWARD, S.S. Polzella (Penzance). Merchant Navy. 13th January 1940. Age 46.

  33. My grandfather died on SS Polzella, Mr George Porter.
    I have his log book which contains a good quality photo and some other details.
    I can’t seem to find much information about him – can anyone direct me?
    Also where is the plaque please, I plan to make my first visit to the North East and find
    my roots.

  34. The best servant the merchant navy has is Billy McGee. I don’t know how many people he has helped over the years in connecting folks with their dads/grandads/great grandads merchany navy past, my late father Robert Casey a merchant navy veteran sailed Atlantic, Arctic & Med convoys. I never saw a photo of my dad as a young man. Billy McGee out of the goodness and love for the merchant vets sent one of his contacts down to the Public Records at Kew and had my dads seamans pouch photographed and sent to me. My dads first I.D photos were amongs these documents. But for Billy McGee I wouldn’t have even known about a seamans pouch, but even more because of the fact that my dads pouch had a certain number Billy dicovered that my father was entitled to the German & France bar to go with is Atlantic Star. Billy your a great lad.

  35. Barry,

    Could you give me some other info on what you have on the sinking. I have checked my book "Ropner’s Navy" and there were no Ropner ships torpedoed in the Indian Ocean during WWII.

  36. I am delighted to have discovered this site. I am desperate for information on my late grandfather Frederick John Peat who served on many Ropners ships starting as galley boy in 1920 and ending as Chief Steward. I know he served on the Danby as my mother can recall going to meet him when he was aboard.

    My grandfather was serving on an unknown Ropner ship that was torpedoed in the Indian Ocean and he and his shipmates were adrift in lifeboats for several days. They were eventually spotted by a Catalina and soon after rescued. This was fortunate as my grandfather had developed appendicitis whilst adrift.

    Any information would be most appreciated.

  37. My father’s first trip at sea was on the Ainderby in 1939 he was 17 years old and a mess room boy. His name was Frank Burns.

  38. Very moved by photo, brings back flood of memories.
    I joined MV Wearpool 17 November 1939 after 3 months training for sea serviceat the Gravesend Sea School.
    Most important to mention that the master (captain) was Arthur Eves who retired after I left vessel 1 year later.
    I do have a list of crew from Port Said to Port Adeliade voyage from 11/04/40 of whom I was part of.
    I have written an account of my first trip aboard the Wearpool.
    I can supply copies to any interested persons.

    • I am trying to trace my father’s (Ronald Berisford Curnow) war service in the merchant navy. Among the many ships he sailed, I know he served very briefly on MV Wearpool 8 December 1941 to 18 December 1941 – but that is all I know.

  39. Barry
    Both GEORGE ATKINSON, Galley boy age 17 and STANLEY ATKINSON, Cabin boy age 18, who both died on M.V.FISHPOOL 14/11/1940. Are mentioned in the book written by Billy McGee “Ropner’s Navy“
    ISBN 978-0-9558593-5-9 published by Cormorant Publishing Hartlepool, TS26 9QD – also obtainable direct from Billy McGee. An earlier post on this tread by Billy gives some detail 07/12/2007 11:41:18 of the “Fishpool” and there are details of his email address should you wish to obtain the book direct.

  40. My Wife’s Gt Uncles GEORGE ATKINSON, Galley boy age 17 and STANLEY ATKINSON, Cabin boy age 18, both died on M.V.FISHPOOL 14/11/1940. I understand she was bombed on her maiden voyage? I was told one drowned as he could not swim and the other died in a lifeboat. Can anyone provide me with more detailed information as to what happened in this incident. Also does anyone have a photo of the FISHPOOL circa 1940. Any information greatly appreciated.

  41. I sailed on the MV Bridgepool twice in ’72 and the MV Rudby from Nov 72 to April 73. A great company. Now, I wished I’d done more.
    What a fitting memorial to all those very brave men who gave their live for us.
    Well done.

    Alec Crichton, if you remember me, I very much remember you. Please get in touch, you (or anyone else who remembers me)can get my email address from the Picture Stockton Team.

  42. Ernest Wilfred Jackson, Master Mariner OBE served with Ropners for many years surviving 2 world wars and retiring in 1953. His last duty was to represent Ropner’s at the Queens Coronation. He was ny great uncle, brother of my grandfather

  43. It was nice to see the “Stonepool” photo as all the names you think you forgot just come flooding back – Mike Rose, John Everett, Graham Ross, Jim Mckillop, John Bunby and even the chief, Jack Dagg. I have some great memories and they will last forever. I must addmit I am new to the internet and it is great to look back.

    • James! It’s Mike Rose hear PLEASE get in touch. My number and email address are available through Picture Stockton, please contact them and get in touch. I live in Gloucestershire now.
      Cheers old son, Mike.

  44. I sailed on the maiden voyage of the Stonepool out of Glasgow and it was great to see the photograph. Greetings to all I sailed with.

    • I am Ian Duncan and was 3rd Mate on Stonepool maiden voyage with Captain Churchill. I live in Castle Eden and retired from the Port of Sunderland in 2010 as the Harbourmaster/Port manager

  45. I’m pleased to help you, Peter Williams, to add information and point you in directions where you may gain more information. I’ve no connection with the SS Carperby that I know of. Almost all my family were involved in WWI and WWII and all survived although two of them came close to losing their lives. It is fitting that all men and women of all nationalities who gave their lives on the Atlantic in both these conflicts should be remembered.

  46. I’ve had a little trouble getting a copy of ‘Ropner’s Navy’. However, I finally contacted Mark at Pockets Papers, Unit 2, Navigation Point, Hartlepool Marina, Tel. 01429 279688, who miraculously can get copies. As a result my copy is in front of me as I write. Thought this might be worthwhile mentioning if others have any problems.

  47. My uncle Charles Henry Gurney was killed at Syracuse on the MV Fishpool 1943. I would love to hear or see any information about him or his boats.

    • Hi James. Please get in touch, I would love to hear back from you. Picture Stockton will pass over my email address and/or phone number to you if you request it. Cheers, Mike Rose

  48. Many thanks Cliff Thornton for pointing me at the memorial register. What a very helpful and friendly lot of people keep their eyes on this website! I worked in London off and on for about 20 years and used Tower Hill tube station every day. So I passed the little park where Tower Hill Memorial stands and Trinity House Corporation building hundreds of times without knowing the connection with my uncle! Best wishes.

  49. Peter Williams, when you go to see the Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill you may wish to examine the memorial register which is held in the adjacent building of the Trinity House Corporation, Trinity Square (Cooper’s Row entrance), Tower Hill, London EC3 N4DH, which can be found behind the Memorial. Tel: 020 7481 6900.

  50. Thank you very much Dee Dale for adding to the information on the SS Carperby. Did you get this info on the ship because you have a particular interest in a member of the crew? Whatever the reason, I do appreciate your kind thought in helping me to discover the detail. I left Teesside in 1959 and have lived elsewhere, including abroad, ever since, but I’m now in Essex and will visit Tower Hill Memorial when next in London. With thanks again and best wishes.

  51. The SS Carperby which was sunk on 1 March 1942. Peter Williams will find more info if he searches the internet regarding this ship. The following is some info that I found on this ship. There is apparently a commemoration plaque at Tower Hill Memorial in London. Panel 23. SS Carperby left the River Tyne on 13 Feb 1942 in Convoy ON-66 heading for St Vincent and Beunos Aires. Off the coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia the convoy was dispersed and SS Carperby sailed on independently. Later she was spotted and sunk by U-588 which was commanded by 29 year old Kapitanleutnant Victor Vogel. The ship’s crew of 41 and 6 D E M S gunners all perished. ON 31 July 1942 the U-588 was sunk by the Royal Canandian Navy.

  52. Thank you sincerely Ray for the information concerning the book on “Ropner’s Navy”. This will be of great value and interset to my mother and myself to find more information on my grandfather and these brave Merchant Navy men.

  53. Many, many thanks Ray. It was very kind of you to go to the trouble of looking up the Carperby in Ropner’s Navy. I shall certainly buy a copy and continue my search for more information about my uncle. Best wishes. Peter.

  54. As mentioned in my earlier post to Christine the book “Ropner’s Navy” also lists the “SS Carperby” and includes Richard Edward Williams and all those that were lost, At 02.00 hours on 1 Mar, 1942, the Carperby (Master Frederick Gardiner), dispersed from convoy ON-66, was torpedoed and sunk by U-588 about 420 miles south of Newfoundland. The master and 39 crew members were lost.

    Ray

  55. There is a book “Ropner’s Navy” which may be of interest to Christine, recently published, author Billy McGee, which list those ships of the Ropner Fleet and also lists those that were lost on the “SS Pikepool” ISBN No 978-0-9558593-5-9, her grandfather, John Vincent Smith, is mentioned.

  56. My grandfather John Vincent Smith was an engineer on the SS Pikepool,when it sank in 1940.
    I was fascinated to hear details from the surviving wireless operator. My mother, Margaret Smith was seventeen when her father died. She is stiil alive and is interested in any details of the incident.Picture Stockton Team have my contact details.

  57. I have the flimsiest information. My uncle Richard Edward Williams was a chief engineer killed in WW2. I can remember my family talking about Ropners and the SS Carperby. I know that the Carperby was sunk by a U-boat on 1 March 1942 in the western Atlantic. I don’t know whether my uncle was lost on that ship. Does anyone know how I can discover the crew list? Can’t think now that anyone still alive knew him. He was, I believe, sort of semi-retired working on tugs on the Tees when war broke out and he went back to sea to do his bit.

  58. I”m looking for a crewman on the Heronspool in the 1920″s with the name Richard Lomax. It arrived in Montreal and he was granted landing in 1929.

  59. Had the pleasure of sailing with Colin on many occasions as 2nd Cook, Cook Steward in the 80″s. One of the nicest men I have ever known and 20 years on we still exchange Xmas cards. Fianlly got to see Colin and Mary last year, he hasn”t changed a bit.

  60. I am trying to find someone that remembers Brian chapman, officer on th Thornaby in 1965. We have tracked him down to 1975 when he was living in 14 Copley Drive, Tunstall, Sunderland. S family member in Canada seeks him. His discharge number was R677779.

    • I served on Thornaby in 1965 and remember Brian very well. I was an apprentice Engineer at the time and the Captain was Fred Carter – great guys great trip – sod of an endine room though!!

    • Hi. Sorry I’ve only just discovered this site whilst tracing my husband’s family tree and his dad is Brian Chapman. I’m sorry to have to inform you that Brian died in 1987 but his son still lives in the north-east.

  61. Whilst I do not remember Colin Tingle as a Captain, I do remember him as a pupil at Stockton Secondary School in the early fourties although he was a couple of years ahead of me. In later years, I too sailed with Ropners as an Engineer aboard their Daleby. Our Captain was Capt.Kenny and a good man he was. Chief Engineers during my time were Mr Smyth and Mr Dagg. We were mostly on the UK to American Gulf Ports. Nice to read that Colin Tingle is still with us. Vivat Scholae Stocktonensis.

  62. The former 2nd Mate of the mv Thornaby, South Shields born Brian Chapman went on to become Marine Superintendent (Deck) for a well known Newcastle shipping company for whom I also worked. Brian died aged only 47 years. Picture Stockton Team have my contact details.

  63. Captain Colin Tingle sailed with the Ropner Line from the late Nineteen Forties staring as a cadet and finishing as Senior Catain of the Line.He must have sailed with a lot of men throughout that time and Colin I”m sure will try and remember anyone who would like to contact him at his home in Hartburn, Stockton. If B Palmer, J Dolan, T Foster, D Wallis, J Gatenby and C Tranter would like to contact me my email address can be obtained from the Picture Stockton team. I will gladly put them in contact with Colin and also anybody who knows Captain Colin from their sailing days.

  64. I am looking for Brian Chapman who was 2nd mate on the Thornaby in 1965. He was born in South Shields and would be about 70 years old. He is my cousin. The last letter received from him was in 1965 from the ship.

    • Hi. Sorry I’ve only just discovered this site whilst tracing my husband’s family tree and his dad is Brian Chapman. I’m sorry to have to inform you that Brian died in 1987 but his son still lives in the north-east with his family.

  65. I sailed with Captain Tingle on the Thirlby 1979 and the Appleby 1981. I also sailed with Billy on Bolten Steam Ship the Reynolds – both great men.

  66. What a fantastic idea of Mr McGee it was to have this plaque erected. My Father, Hector Alwyn Comb, was a seaman for the Ropner Shipping Co before and during WW2. Happily he survived the war but died of cancer in 1977. He served on the following ships SS Stonepool, SS Ainderby, SS Heronspool, SS Felldene, SS Glendene and the Kingswood. My uncle Peter Thompson (my Mothers brother) lost his life at sea on board SS Empire Hurst which sank 11th August 1941. If anyone has any memories of my father or uncle I would be overjoyed to hear from them.

  67. I live quite close to Captain Colin Tingle and if anybody would like to contact him I”m sure Stockon Pictures will forward my email address so I can contact you.

  68. My Father in Law is Captain Derrick Barrow. He sailed with Ropners as Apprentice through to Captain. He then left to work as a Trinity House Pilot at Dover. He is now in his 91st year…Anybody out there sail with him?

  69. I don”t know if this is relevant Bob but John Frederick Lapsien married in South Shields in 1908 in the First quarter volume 10a Page 1073 an Emily Maud Jary, born 1886. There appears to be 7 children John F born 1910, Anne E born1913, Evelyn M born 1915, Irene E born 1920, Lorna born 1922, Vera born 1925, Walter born 1927. Nationality and Naturalisation: Lapsien John, from Germany. Resident in South Shields. Certificate 18660 issued 27 December 1909. See piece HO144/1049/186151 in the TNA Kew. Is it possible that he left the sea for a period, is there any record in Southampton Archives?

  70. My grandfather, Johann Friedrich LAPSIEN/LAPZIEN also sailed in Ropner ships. I have copies of his Crew Agreements from 1905- end of 1909,on Dromonby, Gadsby, Aislaby, Coleby and Wragby – his favourite – (the family has framed prints of Coleby & Wragby) but then he disappears. Also missing a CA for him on Woodville, o/n 102028, for Oct 1905I have searched all the records in Maritime Museum in Newfoundland for all those ships in which he is known to have served,up to WW1 1914 but no luck.Nothing found either at Greenwich or Kew. He was born in Germany but naturalized 1910. Not known if he went back Ropners after 1918. I believe there was a ban on foreign nationals going to sea on UK vessels, immediately after the war, but no idea if this applied to Naturalized persons. Possibly he never went back to sea – he was killed in a roof fall, Boldon Colliery, 1942. Most grateful if anyone can point me in the right direction for the missing years 1910-1914; His last ship was Harrow, o/n 112705,owned by W.Cory. Lapsien left this ship in London, Dec 1909, and was not on board for the return voyage –to Dunstan although he lived in Sth Shields, and had a newborn son!

    • Oh my lord! I’ve tried for ages to find any details of my Great Grandfather, John Frederick LAPSIEN and his sailing/war years and here it is! Bob Price, I dont think John ever returned to sailing? but it looks like we are related! Johns daughter, Evelyn was my grandmother. I’m eager to learn more of his wartime life if anyone can help please?

  71. I sailed with Captain Colin Tingle on numerous occasions in the 1980″s and would liketo get in contact again if anyone knows his whereabouts.

  72. I sailed on mv Bridgepool for two trips in 1972, I can say Ropners were a good company. I think the memorial is an excellent way of saying thank you to so many brave seaman.

  73. I was a cadet in the Thirlby 73 and would like to get in contact with Colin Tingle and for that matter anyone else from that time.

  74. I picked up in this site whilst searching for some information regarding the Polzella. My great uncle James Brennan was one of the unfortunates lost in her sinking and Harry Rhodes does say that he has a photograph, hint hint.

  75. One thing is certain, and that is that with this site there are very few days when something of interest does not crop up. Memories of the Old Town, names and faces of friends and acquaintences whose existence has been overtaken by our day to day struggle to survive. And sometimes coincidences that are surprising. And the entry by Ken Perry regarding his Grandfather and the sinking of the S.S.Polzella is one of those coincidences. For the last couple of years I have been in daily contact with one of the Perry family, now living in the USA and in April of this year he began to make enquiries into the sinking of the Polzella and the loss of his Grandfather. Knowing that I was formerly a Merchant Navy Officer he thought that I would be interested, and I was of course. From your posting Ken it looks as though you are also interested in the fate of your Grandfather, and I wonder if you have done any research into the incident. At the risk of relating facts of which you may already be aware, the S.S.Polzella carrying Iron Ore was sunk by torpedo fired by U68 under the command of Kapitan Richatd Wolfgang and all hands were lost. It is of interest to note that 2nd Engineer Perry, at the age of 74 was the oldest Merchant Seaman to be killed in the Second World War. I do have a photograph of the Polzella.

  76. My Grandfather Frederick William Perry went down on the SS Polzella aged 74 he came from Stockton, is he named on the Memorial. I remember when I was young about 1946 going to a Ropner Park just outside Stockton. I went on a cruise to North Cape a few years ago and the skipper kindly took us over the wreck of the Polzella at Muckle Flugga. A very moving moment when we said our prayers at 0230 in the morning.

  77. Hi Roy, Very interested in your photo as my father Paul Antoine Pfisterer died on 26th July 1943 in Syracuse on this ship, aged 34. I am at present visiting my son in Brisbane but will be home in England on 16th July and would love to see the photo.

  78. Hi I am going through some old family photos and hace come accross one of “SS Fishpool loading pit props Newfoundland” Ther is no other info on the photo but assuming it is the same vessel the photo must have been taken sometime between 1940 & 1943. Whilst there is no reference on the photo to my reli who was a chief engineer one could assume he was on her. My reli was lost overboard under somewhat strange circumstances.

  79. My book “Ropner”s Navy” (ISBN 978-0-9558593-5-9) is due to be published and released by Cormorant Publishing Hartlepool around August 2008. It details the history of the Ropner family and the Ropner Shipping Co. from 1874 to 1997 when the Co. was taken over by Jacobs Holdings Ltd. Also included are the ships owned during the partnership with the Thomas Appleby Co. from 1866 and also includes all ships managed by the Co. for the MOS/MOWT and those supplied to the British Government on the WWII Bareboat Charter during WWI & II. There is fleet list of some 284 ships owned and managed by the Co. 1866-1997, detailing date & yard built, tonnage, name changes and eventual demise. The third part details all 70 WWI & II losses due to enemy action detailing cargo, convoy, how and where lost & casualty figures. It is also a reference book detailing where all the WWII Log Books & Crew Agreements files are held at Kew for each ships war service for those wishing for a more in-depth research.The final part is a Book of Remembrance and details the individual names of the 736 men lost from Ropner ships registered with the CWGC (80 from WWI, 656 from WWII). There are also 66 black & white photographs dating from 1889 to the 1990″s. It is hoped WH Smith will sell a small number. The book will also be sold direct from Cormorant Publishing as well as the Author himself.

  80. Interesting site, found by accident when researching family tree; my great uncle, Christopher Yare, was the Master Captain of SS Salmonpool when it was captured by Germans in Saudafjord, Norway 5th March 1940. Later awarded OBE for his work in POW camp Marlag & Milag Nord

  81. My uncle, Jack Irving, died when the M.V.Fishpool was attacked on its maiden voyage in November, 1940. I don”t know much about the Fishpool”s story, but I believe she suffered engine failure (proper sea trials were a luxury at that stage of the war)and was attacked from the air. I”m told Jack died in hospital from the effects of exposure suffered when in a life boat, even though the ship didn”t sink and was towed back to port. I”d be glad to hear from anyone who knows more accurate information.

  82. Thanks to Ray Buck and AD Blokland. Will recheck UB 123 and try mercantile marine org, re sinking of MV Kolchis

  83. I was Radio Officer on the Pikepool, sunk by a mine off Smalls Light in November 1942. I wondered if anybody knew of anyone else who was on that ship. I was only 22 at the time. The Mate told me to “mind those wires, Sparks” as we prepared to jump off the up-ended ship. I never saw him again. Its a lonely feeling being so young and in the water in the dark, in November, with no ship,no lifeboat, just a few bits of rubbish. I found the Captain a while later with a raft, and 4 of us we were picked up 5 days later, by Norwegians.

  84. Congratulations to Billy McGee on his efforts in supporting this cause so dear to him and many others. His efforts are obviously valued by so many, well done mate! Darran

  85. My name is Adrienne, I am from Canada, my grandfather John Victor Webster served on the Fishpool and was one of the survivors when it was blown to bits in 1943, he married later after his rescue and recovery and he and his wife and Daughter(my Mum) moved to Canada. He enjoyed many years of life belonging to the Canadian Legion and a play was eventualy written about his experiences in the merchant Navy the Play was called “On Convoy” Written by Paul Ciufo, it was developed later as a Radio Play on CBC Radio Canada…sadly my grandfather passed away at the age of 80 never able to see the play performed but he had okayed the script. The play was dedicated to his memory John Webster 1918-1998.

  86. My grandfather was killed on SS Polzella, 1940. His wife worked at the Ropners estate as a scullery maid – does anyone know where that estate is/was??

  87. my uncle george arthur cooper was killed on the fishpool at syracuse 1943.my father jack cooper was also in the merchant navy. sadly he died in 1980 and we dont know which ships he served on. does anyone remember my uncle or my dad

  88. Hello, i have been tracing my family tree and discovered that my gt grandfather William Hill was posted at Ropner & sons by order of the ministry of munitions during WW1. I have found his war records at the national archives at Kew, As far as i can make out at the start he was at Irvine shipbuilding, then Armstrong & Whitworth, before joining Ropners on 6/10/1916. He seems to have had a history in shipbuilding as on most of the certificates he says he is a “holder up in the shipyard”(1903)&(1918) “Labourer at shipyard”(1907)

  89. Hello My father was on ss welcombe when she was sunk. Trying to find a picture of the ship and one of ss wearpool another ship he sailed on, thanks chris.

  90. PFISTERER, Steward, PAUL ANTOINE, M.V. Fishpool (West Hartlepool). Merchant Navy. 26th July 1943. Age 34. Son of Paul Antoine and Isabella Pfisterer; husband of Lily Pfisterer, of Carshalton, Surrey. I have full casualty list if required. SS Fishpool, 4,950grt, built 1940 (Sir J. Laing & Sons, Sunderland) for the Pool Shipping Co. Ltd did not have much of a charmed life. She was attacked and damaged by German aircraft on her maiden voyage with loss of life. After being repaired she was later damaged during an air raid in 1941. Fishpool became the focus of an air attack at Syracuse on the morning of the 26th July 1943 by German JU-88’s & FW-190’s attacking the port in two waves. Fishpool received a direct hit amidships causing a fire amongst the drums of petrol and ammunition. This was soon followed by a further two direct hits igniting the cargo blowing the ship to pieces. Amazingly eighteen of her crew survived.

    • Hello Billy, I am doing some research for a friend regarding her father who served on the Fishpool. Her father’s name was Wilson Wharton. She was only a few months old when he was killed. I would be extremely grateful if you could let me know if he is on the casualty list you have as she is not sure just when he died. Thanking you in anticiaption. Regards Eileen Neill

  91. My Grandfather, Paul Antoine Pfisterer, was one of those who lost their lives when the SS Fishpool was sunk off Siracuse, Sicily in 1943. Apparently, he was only on the Fishpool because he arrived late back at port and missed his own ship (I can”t remember the name of this one). He was put on a charge and then joined the Fishpool. Does anyone have any photos of the Fishpool or any other information? Thanks, Dean.

  92. Sylvia – “Kolchis” Official No 162095. Originally built as “Sybil” 1909 owners when complete Cie des Chargeurs Francais (Plisson), Bayonne Subsequent History: 1931 – WALDINGE. 1937 – KOLCHIS She may have still been under a French flag Missing – sailed Sydney NS 22.11.40 for Belfast You may try posting on the website for mercantile marine.org, Billy, Roger & Hugh may be able to shed more light on the disappearance.

  93. My father was Radio Officer aboard ss Drakepool during 1940. He changed ships Sept/Oct 1940 to go on ss Kolchis bound for Quebec; on leaving Quebec to return they appear to have joined SC-13 Convoy around 20th November 1940. There is no confirmed trace of Kolchis after this date. We have recently spent many hours – my daughter in particular – sweeping the web and have uncovered a great deal of information but it is contradictory – that is showing Kolchis as having been torpedoed but later showing that she foundered in a storm with no survivors. It appears strange to us why no message got through if they were in a storm. We were hoping to find some way of discovering a list of the crew members aboard Kolchis at this time. It is, even so many years after the event, to accept nothing is known for certain as to what happened to the ship and her crew. Would love to receive any infomation of help regarding the previous. At present in Australia returning to UK in 2008

  94. I joined thirlby in 1961 in channel dry dock cardiff sailed to abadan capetown lourenco marques lisbon & point a pierre trinidad paid off in liverpool great ship great crew

  95. In my Church this morning (St Paul”s Cathedral Malta)I was asked by an elderly ex-seafarer if I could ask my sons, who sailed with Ropners, if they could get a photograph of MV Salmonpool later renamed Irene K. Brian sailed on her 1954-55. I am not giving his full name because I haven”t asked his permission, I will next time I see him. I would like to give him a surprise because he has photos of all the ships he sailed on except the Salmonpool. If anyone could oblige I know he would be thrilled. Thank-you

  96. I was electrian on MV Stonepool 1970 1971. Captain Dunn Chief Engineer J Bualk also MV Wandby 1971 also MV Stonepool 1971-1972; MV Rudy 1972-1974; MV Thirlby 1976; MV Lackenby 1977-1978 enjoyed all my time with ropner and miss all my friends I sailed with.

    • Hi Ian, I remember you well, I was on the Stone pool in 1971. We were at Long Beach – do you remember the longshoreman’s strike? I had my 21st birthday there – Dave Sharples Jnr.

  97. nice to see the ww 2 merchant seaman being remembered, long overdue——–john bernard falmouth 4th generation merchant seaman

  98. Further to my previous note about my father Capt Arthur Riding. I have discovered photos of Alderpool, Drakepool, Fishpool, Danby, Clearpool and Wansford, Ainderby, Rosedale Park, not sure if all these are Ropners. My father received his OBE for services whilst Master on Danby. The photo on the Drakepool is of Officers at King George dinner in Montreal given by the Canadian Navy. I also have Xmas menu 1942 for the Danby 1941 for the Drakepool on which ship my father acted as Commadore also have plans from Grays Hartlepool for building the Clearpool. A photo also of SS Welcombe. Just thought this little bit of nostalgia may bring back some memories for some people. He has also served on the Wearpool and Bridgepool which may bring back some memories to someone connected with Ropners

  99. I SAILED WITH CAPT TINGLE ON THE THIRLBY AND FOUND HIM TO BE ONE OF THE BEST IN THE ROPNER FLEET I ALSO SAILED ON THE NORSE VIKING AND WHAT I BELEVED TO BE THE FLAGSHIP OF THE FLEET THE RUDBY THIS WAS 1972/1973.NORSE VIKING1973/74. THIRLBY 1974/1975.

  100. Liz – There are records of your uncle also being 1st officer on the “SS Heronspool” in September 1922 And as Master of the “SS Fort Finley” in 1946 these records are on the Ancestry web site under the US immigration and crew manifests, no doubt there will be other record at the TNA in Kew. If Billy Magee reads this thread he may be able to provide further information on your relative, he has done a lot of research on the Ropner Shipping (Billy did all the organisation & fund raising to have the memorial plaque made and erected in Ropner Park )

    • Hello I’m looking for information on my grandfather Jens Marius Jensen that I believe was on the SS Heronspool about 1922 can you help?

  101. My great uncle…Ernest Wilfred Jackson. Master Mariner.O.B.E. sailed with Ropners for quite a number of years. He flew his Commodore”s Pennant for the first time as he sailed out on the new “Thirlby” in 1951. He survived 2 world wars and a spell in a Japanese prison camp…does anyone remember him???

  102. My late father Capt Arthur Riding OBE served with Ropners navy for a number of years and luckily survived right throughout the war. Born and bred in Hartlepool the names of the ships he served in I will have to dig out from my archives as I only came on this site tonight but the Danby was mentioned above and I know that was one of them I have all his documents whilst training in South Shields also photos of a number of ships.

  103. I was interested to read the comments and thoughts about the Ropner Ships. My father served as an engineer aboard SS Danby, a Ropner Lines ship which was registered in West Hartlepool. I did a little research on the vessel and learned it was a 4,258 tonner, and built in by William Gray in West Hartlepool. In 1952 it was sold to a company in Spain and renamed the Astro. It was sold on again in 1971 when it was renamed Gopegui. Five years later it was scrapped. I will be submitting a photograph of this ship within a day or so.

  104. I served as an engineer with Ropners from 1962 to 1971 & sailed on maiden voyages on Stonepool & Norse Viking. I also served on Thornaby (her last voyage for Ropners) Thirlby (great ship!),Barlby (now at the bottom of the Pacific, Romanby (also her last voyage for the firm) & also Wandby. I enjoyed those days – hard work in the Engine room but set me off for life. All the best Mike

  105. I sailed with captain tingle on the MV Thirlby back in 1974,i was 2nd cook he used to pick up the flying fish and I use to fry them for him, a great man. I had 5 happy years working for Ropner Shipping, I had my first trip on the Norse Viking, was on her for 13 months, also had trips on Rudby, Stonepool.i was on the Bridgepool for a few weeks before they sold her, I did my last trip on the Stonepool then sadly came ashore for work great memories

  106. Billy McGee is a great friend and servant to the Merchant Navy, all who have met the man know the Red Duster runs through the man, the work he did to get the Ropner memorial not forgetting the very hard work he does in providing people from all over the country with information on the War Records & ships our fathers and grandfathers sailed on during WW11, this man has for a long time worked to see our merchant veterans receive the medals they are entitled to as so many of these men were forgotten after the war ended, I also know of the many hours of work he put in to see that our Arctic Veterans receive recognition for the Arctic Convoys during WW11, I count Billy McGee a good friend to me and my family, my own father was a very young merchant seaman during WW11, he never sailed on the Ropner ships but like god knows how many men both young and old answered the call and many never came back and those that made it back were forgotten very quickly as they wore no uniform, to this date many a merchant veterans medals lay unclaimed but thanks to the likes of Billy McGee the veterans wont be forgotten, its about time we had a memorial perhaps at Middlesbrough dedicated to all the merchant men from our area to be finally recognised, all the best to all Derek

  107. I ATTENDED THE UNVEILING AT ROPNER PARK AND WATCHED MY FRIEND SKIPPER COLIN TINGLE UNCOVER THE PLAQUE. WELL DONE BILLY ANYBODY SAIL WITH COLIN?

  108. Michelle Nunez, are from England. Well, I can tell you that I am one of your relatives. I was born in Hopkins Village, Belize and there are a lot of Nunez”s their. Contact me at this same website.

  109. I have a DVD of the unveiling of the memorial if anyone is interested. I was the person responsible for setting up the Ropner Memorial Fund in 2005 to raise the money for the plaque and organising the unveiling attended by 18 standards, Dari Taylor MP Sockton South and Mr Geoff Morton MBE, a survivor from the Ropner ship Fort Pelly. Also in attendance were 100 locals. I visit the park regular to check the plaque and clean up when needed. Each year I will be laying a wreath in memory of the 650 men I traced lost from Ropner ships. I am also compiling a book on the history of the Ropner & Pool Shipping Co. and the 259 ships they owned and managed between 1874-1997. I am also in contact with a number of the Ropner family. Contact Billy1963&ntlworld.com

  110. hello,my name is michelle nunez.my granfather was phillip edward nunez he was born in belize he came over to england in 1941 he came over with the forestry commision and had previously been in the merchant navy.i know this is kind of a needle in a haystack but i would love to hear if anybody maybe knew him. kindest regards michelle taylor

  111. Hello Harry, It was nice to read of your experiences with Ropner Shipping etc. As you will know the Merchant Navy was a much neglected force, and not many people (in official places) recognised them until for a lot of them it was too late. I notice that you regularly contribute to the wonderful Picture. Stockton web site. I took this picture November 2005 with the wreath and poppies and it has been built right next to the new Pavilion and the new children’s play area. I am a member of the Friend of Ropner Park and I live close by. Were you a regular visitor to the park in the old days? My first memories were about 1934. I do not think many days went by with out me either being taken or going there on my own (yes we could go without fear in those day’s) I have quite a lot of photographs on disk that I could send you if you are interested please send me an email to rdicken@gmail.com

  112. To Bob Dicken with thanks for the photograph of the Merchant Navy Memorial to the Men who lost their lives in the two World Wars. Where is this Plaque located? I do have an interest in the Ropner Shipping Co. as I signed on with them at their Coniscliffe Road Head Office in Darlington in 1951 and sailed as an Engineer aboard their Motor Vessel Daleby. Yesterday, April 25th was Anzac Day in Australia, and this year there was a special tribute paid to the Merchant Navy (The forgotten Service). Whilst I marched through Melbourne with the British Airborne Forces, I found space on my blazer lapel for my old Merchant Navy badge.

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